Once upon a time there was a woman who was in a very bad marriage.  She’d remained in this marriage and endured some pretty harsh problems for five years out of respect for her vows.  Finally, she filed for a divorce and got out of the situation.  She re-married, and has never been happier.  She’s come to an understanding of who Christ is and His importance in her life, and has accepted Him as savior.  She’s started going to church, has really begun to grow, and is displaying good fruits. 

But… the church told her she can’t be baptized because she’s divorced.  They said that to repent is to turn from sin, and that she would have to divorce her current husband to be in accordance with God’s work in order to be baptized.  Is this right?  What does the Bible say?

Well… it says a lot, actually.  And not what this church is saying.  This church is not able to support its stance Biblically.  Why?  Several reasons.  First, they want her to repent, but their definition of repentance is not Christ’s definition of repentance. 

In the original Greek, there are two words in the Bible that mean ‘repent’.  The first definition of repentance is found in Matthew 27:3.  Judas, who betrayed Jesus by taking a bribe of thirty pieces of silver from the religious leaders, is now feeling bad because he realizes Jesus is innocent and he is going to be put to death. “Then Judas, who had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented, and gave back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed innocent blood.  And he cast down the thirty pieces of silver in the temple, and departed and went and hanged himself.”

The word repent here is Metamellamai.  It’s a compound word: Meta (change) mellamai (emotions).  He became emotional. Notice also that Judas did the three things that many churches teach as salvation yet he was never saved.  Judas repented of his sin (felt sorry), he confessed his sin “I have sinned in that I have betrayed innocent blood” and he made restitution “And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple.”  Yet Judas was not saved.  He never accepted Christ as His savior, or lived a life of obedience to Him.  This is the demand of the woman’s church, but it’s not in accordance to God’s will.

True repentance is when an unbeliever changes his mind about Christ and decides to accept Him as Savior.  In Luke 13:3 Jesus says “Except ye repent you will likewise perish”  But sin has NOTHING to do with true Biblical repentance.  Like this woman’s church, many churches teach that repentance means to feel sorry for sins, or to turn away from sin. Actually, the word Jesus uses for repent has nothing whatever to do with sin.

The Greek word for repent here is Metanoeo. It is also a compound word which means; Meta (change) noeo (thinking). It means to have a change of thinking or a change of mind. In other words Jesus was saying, You unbelievers unless you change your mind (about Me) you will wind up in hell also.  When an unbeliever goes from an unbelieving mind to a believing mind he is repenting.  You can’t believe without repenting and you cant repent with out believing.

Now, feeling bad about your sin or turning away from it can lead to Biblical repentance – for example, a person who habitually commits adultery can become sorrowful of it when he hits bottom and decides to turn to Christ. However, it is the changing of the mind about Christ which is salvation, not the changing of the mind about sin. If the person changes his mind about his adultery and not about Christ he is not saved even though he has repented of his sins.

So has this woman fulfilled Biblical repentance?  Her fruits and her testimony say yes.  Her decision to follow Christ itself says yes.  And since baptism is an outward act symbolizing that decision to folow Christ (see Baptism 101 in my sidebar for scripture), no man has the right to deny her that act, if she is committed to following Christ, doing right, and fulfilling the purpose God has set her to (Glorifying Him). 

Further… this church has demanded that she divorce her current husband.  Does God condone divorce?  Of course not!  So this church is calling this woman to disobey God and commit an act that is an abomination to Him in order to try to justify a sin Christ has already taken from her.  Not only does that COMPLETELY contradict scripture in at least six places, but it’s logically hypocritical!!!  What a croc!

Another thing to consider is this woman’s present marriage.  God instituted marriage to symbolize the union of Christ and the church – see Ephesians 5:25.  ((Which is a good part of why He doesn’t condone divorce!))  That marriage union is to be unbroken, pure, and operating in such a way to give glory to God.  Her previous marriage was not pure, did not operate in a way to give glory to God, and hence was broken.  Why would a church endorse a return to that, when Christ has forgiven her of her previous sins, she has had a change of heart, and is striving to glorify God in her current union?

Remember what I said about the church of Laodicea?  I’m not kidding, you guys.  What a MESS our churches are – because they don’t uphold scripture, but endorse bogus teaching pulled from who knows where.  And look at the hypocrisy that results from it!

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