The apostle Paul declares, “But what does it [scripture] say? ‘The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’ (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture says, ‘Whoever believes on him will not be put to shame’” (Romans 10:8-11, NKJV).

Simply put, we are brought to salvation through our open confession of repentance. Jesus states, “I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (Matthew 9:13). He also says repentance is how we are healed and restored: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (Luke 5:31-32).

This is good news. Jesus is telling us, “In my church, everyone is healed through repentance. It doesn’t matter who you are — the physically broken, the mentally ill, the spiritually sick — because everyone must come to me the same way. All find healing through repentance.”

What is the central message of Christ’s gospel? He makes it plain throughout the four gospels. “Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to 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’” (Mark 1:14-15). This was Jesus’ first recorded message, and he preached repentance!

To some Christians, this may sound like overbearing language. They may respond, “Okay, but how strongly did Jesus preach repentance?” Luke answers that in his gospel. Jesus told his listeners, “But unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:5).

How many churches don’t open their altars for heart-smitten people to come forward and repent? How many pastors have stopped giving invitations for this all-important spiritual work?

We must not lose all sense of our need to confess sin!