Is Penance Different from Repentance?
What is the difference between penance and repentance?
I was wondering if you could explain what penance is, after confessing sin and repentance.
In the thinking of most religious people. penance is what a person does to demonstrate their repentance. Now, some people consider penitence to be sorrow over sin in the heart and in the mind, and penance (two words that sound very similar but they’re different words) to be the action that someone does or is willing to do when they’re sorry over their sin.
This term penance is commonly used among Roman Catholics in particular, but not only among Roman Catholics. There are other Christian traditions that have this concept of penance and kind of have their own variation on it. These include Orthodox believers, Anglicans, Lutherans as well as some other groups that have their own ideas of penance. But in the Roman Catholic idea, penance is what the confessing priest assigns you to do after you confess, to demonstrate your repentance. You go into the confessional, you confess your sins to the priest – and he says in return, okay, this is your penance. Commonly would be something like this: “Say 5 Our Fathers and 10 Hail Marys or something like that. I can remember as a boy, being raised a nominal Roman Catholic, going into the confessional and having the priest give me an assignment – and it could very well be something like that. Then I would go inside the church proper, and of kneel down on the steps leading up to the platform of the altar. Then I would say my 5 Our Fathers and 10 Hail Marys, and that was my penance. The priest could also assign other things to be one’s penance.
Now, the Roman Catholic Church even carried this idea to the point that you could do your penance ahead of time. In the year 1095 Pope Urban II called for the First Crusade, and he promised the remission of all penance to those who fought in the crusade to liberate the Holy Land. Later the Pope extended that remission of all penance to those who simply gave money to support the crusades, and then on to other causes as well. Simply by their soldiering or by their money, these people pre-bought their penance. Now obviously this is a twisting of any kind of biblical idea for these things. When Martin Luther wrote his 95 theses to question practices in the Roman Catholic Church, number 36 of those 95 statements was this: Every Christian who is truly contrite has complete remission of both penance and guilt, even without a letter of pardon from the Pope. Luther was trying to get back to the idea that penance or more properly repentance is something that we do before God. It’s not something that’s assigned to us by a priest.
Let’s leave aside penance just for a moment and talk about repentance. Repentance is necessary, but it does not pay for our sins. And that’s one of the worst aspects of any system of penance that makes the sinner feel as if they are paying for their sin by the practice. There is no number of Our Fathers and no number of Hail Marys that can pay for my sin. Only what Jesus did on the cross pays for our sins.
It is true that confession of sin is important. We remember what it says in 1 John 1:9 that if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness – what a precious promise that is, but it’s based on a condition. If we confess our sins, we need to openly and honestly confess our sins before God. Then there’s a second aspect to confession found in James 5:16, which tells us that we should be confessing our trespasses or our sins to each other in the body of Christ and there is a place for confessing our sins before others. From this we see that confession of sin is important.
Repentance is also important. You could say that “repent” was the first word in the preaching of John the Baptist. We read in Matthew 3:1-2: In those days, John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. That was his message, or at least the beginning of his message: repent. You could say that the beginning of the message of Jesus, His preaching and his public ministry was repentance. Mark 1:14-15 tells us this. Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came together Galilee preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God and saying, the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand, Repent and believe in the Gospel – this was a call to repent. The message of repentance was in the mouth of John the Baptist, it was in the mouth of Jesus in his preaching. It was in the mouth of the 12 disciples. It was in the mouth of Jesus’s final instructions to His disciples. Luke 24:46-47 says this: Then he said to them, it is written and thus it was necessary for the crisis, suffer and die, suffer and rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name to all nations beginning at Jerusalem. When Peter preached to the crowd, on the day of Pentecost, he told them to repent. Again and again, we see that repentance is important and not something that just begins the Christian life. We repent and we keep repenting, as the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin and as we become aware of it.
So while confession of sin is important and repentance is important, we should never think of penance in the sense of paying for our sins, especially with a religious ceremony. That’s not good.
Somebody could say they can make this argument: “Well, penance is just demonstrating repentance.” And if penance were to mean restitution – if it were mean to try to make right wrongs that you have done it that is okay. But I still think that it is better to stay away from that terminology altogether. Penance connotates a religious ceremony, and one that, in some sense, pays for our sin.
We believe what Jesus said at the cross. With His last breath before yielding His spirit to His Father, Jesus said, It is finished – in other words, it is paid in full. And if Jesus Christ paid for my sins, then I don’t need to pay for them in the sense of satisfying God.
Now one more thing: when people replace the word repentance with penance or especially with the word penitence, it puts the emphasis on how someone feels. When they hear the word penitence or penance, this is what they hear – that I need to feel sorry for my sin. Instead, the emphasis of the New Testament word for repentance (metanoia) is not on feeling sorry for your sin. The emphasis is on turning from your sin. doing a 180-degree turn, having a change of mind, a change of action that is corresponding to the change of mind.
I think it’s better to just speak with the biblical terminology of confession and repentance. The idea or the word penance is one that just doesn’t need to be introduced into the conversation.
How can I be seated with Christ while I am still on this earth?
How can I be seated with Christ in the heavenly places if I’m still sitting upon the earth (Ephesians 2:6)?
Obviously when Paul refers to being seated with Christ in heavenly places, as he does make mention of in Ephesians 2:6, about how we have been raised up together and made to sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, there’s a few things Paul is talking about there.
First of all, he’s talking about how our ultimate destiny is to be with Jesus in heaven. But also, how our ultimate destiny is so real, that there’s a spiritual aspect of it, that can be true and present right now.
There is no doubt that we live we walk on this earth, but there is a spiritual sense in which our life is hidden in Jesus Christ. An important concept in the New Testament is the oneness of the believer with Jesus Christ. And that oneness in a spiritual sense is so real, that if He is seated in heavenly places, we are also seated in heavenly places. We are brought into a real abiding relationship with Jesus Christ. Paul is speaking of something that will be, in every sense, a future reality. And in the present time, it is a spiritual reality.
Who will have access to the Millennium?
When the Millennial Kingdom comes, everyone will worship Jesus. When will all other believers go away, and how? Will it happen at once, or gradually?
This is what I believe the Bible teaches about this. When Jesus returns in glory, there will be a judgment of the nations to determine who is allowed to go into the millennial kingdom and who just simply goes to Hades, awaiting the final judgment. So that will eliminate some people.
In addition, I would not say that worship or the recognition that everyone will give in the Millennium will be more than an outward recognition and worship. Everyone will be required to submit to the rule and reign of Jesus Christ. If they will not, they will certainly be punished immediately. As it says in the scriptures that Jesus will rule with a “rod of iron” when the Messiah rules over the millennial Earth. I mean, that means a way, a very strict rulership over the earth. But all that will be required will be the outward actions of people. We know that not everyone on the earth in the millennial Earth is truly worshipping Jesus, because at the end of the millennium when Satan is released (Revelation 20), Satan is immediately able to gather some kind of multitude to help him oppose God all over again.
This leads me to believe that it will really be the outward form of worship that is required, – one must respect and honor Jesus Christ, but the inward thing will still be a matter of the heart for each individual.
Did Jesus drink alcohol?
Mathew 11:19 says they called Jesus a drunkard. Does this means that Jesus did drink alcohol?
I believe that Jesus drank what was commonly drank, which was a wine that was quite watered down. It didn’t have the same alcohol proportion that our wine would today have, though if you were determined to drink enough, you could certainly become drunk. We have reason to believe that Jesus drank what people commonly drank and that day and there are many reasons why people drank wine that was watered down wine in those days. The first being that that process of fermentation had a purifying aspect to the water and it could be healthier to drink. I have read the arguments that try to make the case that what Jesus drank was unfermented wine, essentially grape juice. I have to say that I have found those arguments unpersuasive, though I have read them and considered them.
We also know that Jesus took part in the Jewish ceremonial meals, such as Passover celebrations with His disciples, and at those we would expect that He drank wine. There’s really no reason to believe that He didn’t drink it at other times as well.
What we do know is that Jesus Christ was never drunk. He was never impaired in His faculties from drinking too much wine or any other alcoholic beverage, because being drunk is a sin. Jesus did not and would not sin in this way.
What is Pastor David’s opinion on the rapture?
Could you please share your opinion on the rapture?
I’m happy to I’ll do it in a very brief way. If you go to other places on my YouTube channel, you can find videos and then on my own website enduringword.com you can certainly find my teaching on the rapture of the church, with the relevant passages with my Bible Commentary.
I believe in what is often termed to be the pre-tribulation rapture of the church. I know that there are many people today who mock that idea. I believe what it says in 1 Thessalonians – that Jesus Christ is going to catch away the church, and He’s going to come and the church will meet Him in the clouds. If that makes me a crazy person, or radical, well, I’ll take that title gladly. I’m really not impressed by those arguments that try to make people who believe in the pre-tribulation rapture feel like they’re stupid.
1 Thessalonians 4:16 tells us, for the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with a voice of an archangel, with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first, then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with him in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we will always be with the Lord. I believe that!
As for when exactly that happens, or how it happens in the outworking of God’s prophetic plan – again, I am a person that believes that Jesus Christ will return to this earth and then set up His kingdom. I don’t believe that God will work through the church to set up the kingdom, and then Jesus returns. This ordering makes me pre-millennial. I also believe that there will be a unique seven-year period before the glorious return of Jesus, and that the rapture will happen before that seven-year period or at the very start of it, making me what’s known as believing in the pre-tribulation rapture.
You can find more resources about what I believe about the rapture of the church on my website or the YouTube channel.
What is the difference between the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven?
Can you explain what is the kingdom of God and the kingdom of heaven?
There are some people who want to make a significant distinction between the idea of the “kingdom of God” and the “kingdom of heaven.” I’ve read what those people are trying to get at with their case, that there’s some distinction to be made – but I just don’t agree with that. I believe that the “kingdom of God” and the “Kingdom of heaven” are almost always just simply used as interchangeable terms in the New Testament. I don’t believe there’s a distinction between them, especially knowing that the phrase “Kingdom of heaven” appears many times in the Gospel of Matthew, which was written for a Jewish audience.
And we also know that Jews in both the modern world but also in the ancient world, would often substitute words for the word “God” because they didn’t want to (in their mind) break the second commandment by taking the name of God in vain. So, they would often use placeholders for the word God, one of the placeholders they would use was heaven. So, it’s not strange at all to hear a first century Jew speak of the “kingdom of God” and the “kingdom of heaven” as being the same thing, because they would often use the word heaven as a placeholder for the name God.
What are good resources for studying the Bible verse-by-verse?
What’s a great resource on how to study the Bible, verse by verse, books, etc.?
I recommend one book by Max Anders: 30 Days to Understanding the Bible. This is a great survey of the Bible, to get a good comprehensive view of what the Bible is all about. This is something that many people, even people who’ve been Christians and Bible students for some years. They don’t have a framework for understanding the Bible as a whole, of the biblical story from Genesis to Revelation as it progresses. So if you lack that knowledge, this is a great book.
Also, I think that my online commentary is very helpful for people who just want to walk verse by verse through the Bible. That’s what I do in my Bible Commentary. Go to enduringword.com and It’s also available at Blue Letter Bible – that is blb.org. Look for my commentary through the Scriptures, pick up the book of the Bible, read the text and just walk through it with me together. I think that will help a person just to understand the Bible, and to learn how to study it.
A third thing I would recommend is take what’s called an Inductive Bible Study course – that can be helpful in teaching you how to properly ask questions and what questions to ask as you’re going through a Bible text.
Finally, I recommend that you read through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. Use a notebook and a journal and write a one sentence summary of every chapter of the Bible. That’s it – not more than a sentence. You’re not writing a commentary, you’re trying to boil down what happened or the meaning of that chapter in one sentence. When you’re all done, you got a notebook or a journal that’s going to be very precious to you. Read through the entire Bible and write a one sentence summary of every chapter. You’ll be blessed for doing it.
How was the thief on the cross born again?
In John 3:3, Jesus tells Nicodemus that you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven unless you’re born again. How then was the thief on the cross born again?
Jesus completely completed his work at the cross. That’s what instituted the New Covenant. We know that the thieves on their crosses lived longer than Jesus, because they had to have their legs broken on the cross – Jesus had already yielded his life to God the Father on the cross. Before the thief on the cross died, Jesus had paid for his sins and instituted the New Covenant. Therefore, the way was open for the thief on the cross to be born again by God’s Spirit, and to receive that.
Jesus instituted the New Covenant by His death of Jesus, and that happened also regarding the thief on the cross. That happened before the thief on the cross died.
Isaiah 60:10-16 says the heathens will build up the Israelites kingdom. Is this true?
Can you explain Isaiah 60:10-16? It says that the heathens will build up the Israelites kingdom. If this is this is not true, does that mean that Isaiah was a false prophet? In Acts 1:6 says the kingdom is for Israel.
If you go back to Isaiah, and there are many, many passages in the book of Isaiah, that speak of this ultimate kingdom that God would establish. Isaiah 60:10 starts:
The sons of foreigners shall build up your walls,
And their kings shall minister to you;
For in My wrath I struck you,
But in My favor I have had mercy on you.
Therefore your gates shall be open continually;
They shall not be shut day or night,
That men may bring to you the wealth of the Gentiles,
And their kings in procession.
I think this finds its ultimate fulfillment in the millennial kingdom to come. One of the things I think that the Bible makes very clear about the millennial kingdom to come, which will be established by Jesus Christ, is simply this is: that Israel will be the superpower of the world. How strange that is, little Israel, and by size and population, is a fairly insignificant nation. In that day, God will make Israel the leading nation of the world – this is shown in many of these prophecies. You could have quoted from many passages in the Old Testament that speak of the ultimate restoration and exaltation of Israel in the coming Kingdom.
That doesn’t mean that Isaiah is a false prophet. This will happen. God has promised it’ll happen. It’s very much a part of God’s covenant promise in the New Covenant.
What did Jesus mean when he said He wouldn’t drink again from the fruit of the vine until that day that He drinks it new in the Kingdom of God?
What did Jesus mean, when he said that he wouldn’t drink again from the fruit of the vine until that day he drinks it knew in the kingdom of God? (Mark 14:25)
I find this a bit of a difficult question, because in the plainest sense seems that Jesus said, “I’m not going to drink of any grape products, anything that comes forth from a vineyard. I’m not going to drink any of that, until everything is resolved in the kingdom of God.”
Yet, Jesus did receive some kind of sour wine product vinegar product at the cross. He did not drink the stupefying wine that they often gave to those people were being crucified, but He did take that refreshing vinegar drink that they would refer to as sour wine. Jesus took that to clear his throat. And it would seem that in the many post-resurrection appearances that Jesus had with disciples. It seems normal that Jesus as He ate with the disciples might have drank wine then as well.
I’ve kind of settled on the idea that especially giving the setting in which Jesus said that He “would not drink of it again” – Jesus said it at a Passover meal. That that was the context that Jesus was speaking of – I’m not going to drink again of this. I’m not going to celebrate another Passover until I celebrate it together with all My people in the kingdom. The next Passover is the wedding supper of the Lamb.
So when Jesus said this, the emphasis was not on the liquid in the cup – but on the simple idea that Jesus is not going to celebrate another Passover, until he does it collectively with all His people.
Will the temple in Jerusalem be built again?
Will the temple in Jerusalem be built again?
Yes, I believe it will. I believe it will. And again, this is a thought that is mocked by many people but doesn’t really bother me that they mock it. Yes, I think that there will be a rebuilt temple. As I look at the Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24, the key idea in Jesus’s message is the abomination of desolation. And the most literal, straightforward understanding the abomination of desolation, is that it is an idolatrous image standing in the Holy of Holies. To have a Holy of Holies, you need to have a temple.
I know that there’s a spiritual sense in which we individually and collectively, the people of God are the temple of God – the Bible talks about that in a spiritual sense. But it doesn’t use the terminology of in the Holy of Holies are in the Most Holy regarding that spiritual picture. So, it’s true in a spiritual sense, the people of God are the temple of God. But the most straightforward, understandable reading of the idea of a future abomination of desolation – for that to happen, there will be some kind of temple rebuilt presumably upon the Temple Mount.
Who are the “little ones” of Zechariah 13:7?
When reading Zechariah 13:7, what does he mean? I will turn my hand against the little ones.
Zechariah 13:7 says this:
“Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd,
Against the Man who is My Companion,”
Says the LORD of hosts.
“Strike the Shepherd,
And the sheep will be scattered;
Then I will turn My hand against the little ones.”
This is quoted in the New Testament – it is clearly a messianic prophecy. And the little ones talk about there are the disciples of Jesus Christ. So, that is a messianic prophecy. It was fulfilled in what Jesus did in his betrayal, his arrest and his sufferings. And so, Jesus was the shepherd savior there in that simple context. And the little ones there really refers to the disciples of Jesus. It’s not referring to like little children. That’s just not the context.
Do the words “Hail Mary” mean that Mary is the Queen of Heaven?
Roman Catholics say that the Virgin Mary is a queen, because in Luke 1:28, in the King James Version, the angel salutes Mary saying “hail” and they say “hail” is only used for queens or kings. What are your thoughts on this?
I would just say, that’s really incorrect. All someone has to do is realize what the New Testament says. Go to the New Testament word that is translated “hail” in the King James of Luke 1: 28, and then see how that’s used in common usage of the time. I would be shocked, to find that in the first century in Greek that that word was used only for royalty. Perhaps it was used of royalty, but not only of royalty. It really doesn’t matter how we use the word “hail” today. What matters is how it was used in the language that the New Testament, what was given to us in Koine Greek, the language of the New Testament. I would say that “Queen of Heaven” is not a title that should be applied to Mary. We could certainly call her “Blessed Mother,” “Mother of Jesus” – that’s fine – but “Queen of Heaven” – no.
Do the Apostles supersede the Patriarchs of the Old Testament?
Do apostles supersede patriarchs of the Old Testament in heaven?
I wouldn’t use that term supersede. They’re different. apostles and the patriarchs are different. There’s some overlap in the sense that they are, in a sense, foundational and God did use their work as something to build upon. But they’re different. It’s just not the same. So, I wouldn’t say they supersede I would just say that they have different functions in God’s great plan.
What is the mark of the beast?
Can you explain Revelation 13:16-17 – what is the mark of the beast?
Well, I can just tell you from those passages in the book of Revelation, it doesn’t exactly tell us what kind of mark, having to do with the right hand and/or the forehead. And it doesn’t specifically tell us what the mark was. Through history people have guessed that it is some kind of tattoo, or a bar code or something like that. But honestly, we’re just not told what the mark is. And so I think this is one of the areas where we have to say, we don’t really know exactly what form the mark of the beast will take, simply than just to say that we know that it will happen, says he causes all both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads that no one will be by yourself except the one who has the mark of the name of the beast. or the number of his name. So this is just simply what we’re told we’re not told specifically what the mark is.
Today, we can talk about microchips and capsules implanted under the skin and this and that and the other thing, but all we can say confidently is that the Bible tells us it’s a mark, that’s just what we know.
Can a Christian be an intellectual anarchist?
Can a Christian be an intellectual anarchist, meaning he obeys the state, but simply thinks that we would be better off without it?
Since you’re talking about in an intellectual sense, I would say that anarchy or anarchism is not compatible with the biblical frame of mind. The biblical frame of mind believes in government. It talks about human government being the instrument of God. And it also talks about the ultimate government that Jesus Christ will establish, when Jesus rules and reigns in perfection on this earth, it will not be no government, it will be perfect government. The Bible’s answer to bad government, which there’s lots of in the world today, is not no government, its godly or at least ethical government.
The mere fact that God shows no anarchist impulse in the Scriptures, but that God is a God of government Himself shows not that the governments of this world are always right. No, they are often corrupt, and foolish and wicked. That’s just true. You can see it with your own eyes. But again, God’s answer to that is not no government as in anarchy, but rather a better government and ultimately, the government that Jesus Christ Himself will bring.
Why did the women go to the tomb if they didn’t expect it to be open?
Why did the women go to the tomb if they didn’t expect it to be open? We know from the Lazarus account that the body would be smelling by the third day, so why did they bring spices to prepare the Lord’s body?
I think the best most logical answer for this is they came out of devotion and out of hope. They did say, “We don’t know who’s going to roll the stone away for us. We’ll figure that out.” When they got there, they knew that the tomb was being guarded by soldiers. And if the soldiers were there, and under their supervision, if the women might have said to the soldiers, “Could you guys, please roll away the stone? We need to finish the proper preparation for this body. You’re welcome to stand guard around us here. So you know that we don’t steal the body. Can you do that?”
That seems logical to me. And, as far as their bringing spices, it was because a hurried job was done by Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus on the day Jesus died. The women came because wanted to prevent the body of Jesus from smelling even more. What they were going to do is basically cover up the smell of that decomposing body with the ointments and perfumes and such that they brought.
The most logical explanation is that they expected the soldiers would roll the stone away. And they just wanted to complete a job and they knew that it would be awful work, but they were just there, ready to do it out of devotion to Jesus.
Is the book of Jonah satire?
My friend believes the book of Joan is satire. What are your thoughts?
This is an idea that several people have put forth, so your friends are not alone in that thinking. I won’t say that that’s impossible, but it’s not the interpretive approach that I would take. I would take it as being much more literal than many modern scholars are comfortable accepting. I believe it’s literal, but I wouldn’t consider a person a heretic for trying to explain it as satire. But again, I consider the book of Jonah to be literal.