Gaining eternal life through faith in the Lord is the longing of many Christians. But is it true that we can attain the way of eternal life by accepting the Lord’s salvation, repenting and confessing our sins to Him? What is the difference between the way of repentance and the way of eternal life?

2 Answers 2


I confess I’ve never heard the expression “the way of repentance” but the Bible has plenty to say about the way of salvation that leads to eternal life. However, eternal life is a free and undeserved gift from God and cannot be earned:

Ephesians 2:8-9

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.

Jesus is “the way” of salvation that leads to eternal life:

John 14:6

I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Before salvation, we were slaves to sin and destined for death. But through faith in Jesus Christ, we receive the gift of God, which is the salvation of souls unto eternal life:

John 3:16–17

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

Before any person can receive this free and undeserved gift from God, they must acknowledge that they are unrighteous sinners, ask forgiveness, and confess they have placed their faith in Jesus:

Romans 6:20-23

20 When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. 21 What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Jesus issued this dire warning to those who are spiritually dead and who reject Him:

John 8:24

I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins.

Repentance is the first step on the way to salvation that leads to eternal life and is absolutely essential. In the Bible, the word “repent” means to change one’s mind and turn around. The Bible also tells us that true repentance will result in a change of actions:

Acts 3:19

Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out...

This article explores the connection between repentance and salvation, part of which says this:

Repentance and faith can be understood as two sides of the same coin. It is impossible to place your faith in Jesus Christ as the Savior without first changing your mind about your sin and about who Jesus is and what He has done. Whether it is repentance from willful rejection or repentance from ignorance or disinterest, it is a change of mind. Biblical repentance, in relation to salvation, is changing your mind from rejection of Christ to faith in Christ.

Repentance is not a work we do to earn salvation. No one can repent and come to God unless God pulls that person to Himself (John 6:44). Repentance is something God gives—it is only possible because of His grace (Acts 5:31; 11:18). No one can repent unless God grants repentance. All of salvation, including repentance and faith, is a result of God drawing us, opening our eyes, and changing our hearts. God’s longsuffering leads us to repentance (2 Peter 3:9), as does His kindness (Romans 2:4). Source: What is repentance and is it necessary for salvation?

Basically, you can’t be saved and receive God’s gift of eternal life until you first repent, and even then, it is God who draws us to Him and to the point where we recognise our great need:

Romans 2:4

Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realising that God’s kindness leads you towards repentance?

Salvation is entirely the work of God, from start to finish.


This answer tries to represent the position of most major Christian denominations by using undisputed interpretation of select Bible verses.

The general idea is that Jesus is the Way [of Eternal Life]:

Jesus told him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." - John 14:6 (CSB)

Our responsibility is to come to Jesus, and this coming (which is a kind of turning from the Way of the World, like choosing a different route) is the Way of Repentance:

From then on Jesus began to preach, "Repent, because the kingdom of heaven has come near." - Matt 4:17 (CSB)

Prior to Jesus's own ministry, John the Baptist already preached the Way of Repentance (Matthew 3:1-12):

In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, “Repent, because the kingdom of heaven has come near!” ... 11 “I baptize you with water for repentance, but the one who is coming after me is more powerful than I. I am not worthy to remove his sandals. He himself will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. ... ”

The passage above makes it clear that the Way of Repentance is only the first half the journey. The second half, the Way of Eternal Life, we cannot do on our own. We need to be united with Jesus (who is the way), and with him we journey together back to God. The first step of this second-half-journey is by receiving God's life ("born again") and keeping this life in the innermost of our being so that we start living a new life AS adopted sons/daughters of God, which is the "good pleasure of his will" (Eph 1:5).

But even receiving this gift of life, not to mention keeping this life until we die, we need Jesus's assistance (grace) by trusting Jesus as our savior, similar to how when we hop on a bus / plane / taxi we trust the driver to get us there. Faith is simply trusting the driver (Jesus) and willing to undergo the journey (without getting off the vehicle) that involves God's life purifying our sinful nature so we can be made "holy and unblemished in love before him" (Eph 1:4). Without faith we don't hop on the second half of the journey. That's why the "way of eternal life" is tightly associated with "faith", i.e. our conscious state of mind that we ARE on this journey back to God.

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