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The thread concerning "What is a NT Church" has recently veered off topic to the matter of repentance for salvation.  I believe that is best to handle this matter in its own thread; therefore, I am presenting it here.  If those who have already commented concerning this matter on the other thread wish to transfer their comments to this one, it would be of benefit.  Thank you.

 

Now, the question that I present herein is two-fold:  First, what is the Biblical definition of repentance for salvation?  Second, what does repentance for salvation actually look like in a real application? 

 

(Please note that although I fully recognize that Biblical repentance is regularly necessary for spiritual growth in a believer's life, I am only asking concerning the matter of repentance for salvation; and yes, I am not allowing any room for the thought that Biblical repentance is not necessary for salvation.) 

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Please explain what you mean by: "and yes, I am not allowing any room for the thought that Biblical repentance is not necessary for salvation."

 

Are you saying that biblical repentance is not necessary for salvation?

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Please explain what you mean by: "and yes, I am not allowing any room for the thought that Biblical repentance is not necessary for salvation."

 

Are you saying that biblical repentance is not necessary for salvation?

 

Sister Linda,

 

God forbid!  I am actually indicating the exact opposite.  Grammatically, my statements includes a double negative -- "I am not allowing any room for the thought that Biblical repentance is not necessary for salvation."  To rephrase this statement -- Concerning the thought that Biblical repentance is not necessary for salvation, in the questions of this thread I am not allowing any room for that thought.

 

I pray that this helps to explain my purpose in the statement under question.

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I think the confusion over repentance is the attempt to define it based on the evidence that occurs AFTER salvation. Hence no fruit seems to equal no repentance, so the attempt to define repentance has came out of an anger towards teachings in some circles that one can pray 1-2-3, repeat after me, congratulations see you in eternity is the prescription for Biblical salvation. The IFB is certainly divided over that issue with the Hyles type churches emphasizing the latter, at least according to FBC's critics.

I think some of the debate over that can be very semantical. It does no good to argue WHEN repentance took place since the evidence of it can only be seen after conversion. To make the assumption that subsequent works that should have followed and did not demonstrate a lack of repentance, and to define repentance based on that observation argues for a works based repentance prior to salvation. It can certainly be argued that an alleged convert did not undergo Biblical repentance, but that does not help define it, it only clarifies its result. The thief on the cross is often used as an example of "death bed" conversions, where there is no chance to observe the fruit of the repentance since the thief died shortly after his profession, and regardless of the criticism toward reliance on that passage, it is a profession that Jesus accepted and should speak volumes on the definition of repentance.

 

Now as much as I disagree with many of the doctrines of First Baptist Church ("FBC"), and I can not be too critical of their emphasis on soul winning. Perhaps they could do more to emphasize Biblical repentance, but in a manner that a potential convert would understand. What I do know is that 15,000 people showed up on Sonday mornings that would not have shown up had a soul winner not knocked on their door and prayed with them. Many of those who were saved and now lead productive lives, followed that 1-2-3 prescription. Now repentance may not have been specifically mentioned in the presentation, but must the potential convert understand a theological term that even Christians for years have debated? And if we are to "preach the gospel unto every creature" are we supposed to knock on doors and then watch our watches and wait 15 minutes for them to memorize the books of the NT and get baptized? I mean, the NT converts were all bapitized immediately, so if we are to emphasise repentance based on Acts examples, why wait until Sonday morning, find a local gym with a pool and declare "here is water". 

 

The issue I have seen over repentance is that the FBC crowd doesn't emphasize it enough, yet they go soul winning, and there are some converts that do then go to church faithfully, and turn out to be productive Christians. Then there are those who oppose the FBC manner, and don't go soul winning at all because of the fear that it is impossible to gain a convert in a 5 minute conversation or even 15 at the most. But that begs the question, how much does the potential convert need to know and understand before it is called salvation? All of the converts in Acts were IMMEDIATELY baptized after a profession, so that implies that the soul winner believed them to be saved since they didn't baptize non-believers.

 

So is it enough to give a "Romans Road" presentation where repentance is IMPLIED in the presentation, or must repentance be explained thoroughly and then the convert left to ponder whether or not they want to ruminate on that, call you later and declare they have considered repenting and are now ready to make Jesus Lord. Can there be repentance in an instant during a short conversation? It seems to me to criticize this is to put emphasis on the results, not to mention the ability of the soul winner to state their case for repentance, and this is the error that I see on both sides debating repentance.

 

Repentance can not be a "sorrow for sin" because Paul separates the difference between the two. In 2 Cor 7 Paul said the church sorrowed UNTO repentance, but they were already believers and knew what it was that they were in error about, i.e., permitting the presence in the church of one actively committing fornication with his mother in law. An unbeliever can not experience that same sense of repentance because it requires them to understand what law they are violating, and an unsaved person has no understanding of those requirements until AFTER they are converted. 1 Cor 2:14.

 

It has been opined ad infinitum in books and articles that repentance is from the Greek words metanoia, and even though there are skeptics that do not like expositions of Greek, it is helpful to know where the definition came from since the definition and application are at issue. Metanoia is from "meta" meaning to change, and "gnosis" meaning the "mind". Meta is used in other words like metamorphosis which when meta is attached, it changes what it is attached to. And that changing means the exact 180 degree opposite of what the object was before it was "meta'd". Actions are based on beliefs. The reason men act the way they do is because they BELIEVE it is the right way to act.

 

Therefore a meta gnosis, change of one's mind, is a turning from what one once believed TO GOD. It is not necessarily an emphasis of what they are turning FROM more than it is what or Who they are turning TO. In I Thess 1, Paul praised the Thessalonians in that they turned from idols to serve the living God. And what is it about turning from the idols that was important? Because an idol is a false representation of a belief in who and what God is.

 

This is why a Jehovah's Witness is not saved. Repentance involves a change of mind of who God is. Jesus Christ is God Almighty (Rev 1:8), and although a believer does not have to completely understand the dynamics of the Trinity, one can NOT reject it and claim to be saved because it denies God for Who He is.

When one acknowledges in his heart who God is, there is an implied change of lifestyle involved because with that understanding of who God is comes with entering into His holiness and a conviction of sin occurs even though the potential convert may not understand all of the dynamics that constitute what sin is. At that moment, he has been living in unbelief that the God that created heaven and earth, is that God that is to be worshipped and made Lord "who shall not fear thee O  Lord, and glorify thy name; for thou only art holy, for all nations shall come and worship before thee for they judgments are made manifest" Rev 15:4.

 

The problem that sinners have is that they KNOW that putting trust and belief in Christ will inevitably require a demand in a change of lifestyle, and THAT is why many of them refuse to believe and submit to Christ. They enjoy their current lifestyle and so their heart will not accept that Jesus Christ had to pay a price to redeem them from sin and reconcile them to Himself. It is within their heart that they rationalize all the reasons why Jesus is not God, why there is no such thing as sin, that being holy is boring or that God even created the universe. And it is within that context that the rejection of repentance damns a person because they refuse to turn from their unbelief in God which results in a change of life. Failure to understand this dynamic causes one to place emphasis on the change before salvation occurs rather than the fruit that follows afterwards, the dynamic being that although one does not have to understand the intricate details of repentance to be saved, he can not reject in his mind and heart that he will pray a prayer with the attitude and belief that he does not ever need to change because that is a denial of who God is, and repentance is a changing of the mind about who God is.

Edited by DrJamesA

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Repentance unto salvation is agreeing with God about our sinful, fallen state and turning from that to Christ.

But what if I "agree" that I am sinful but the Christ that I am turning to is the brother of Satan (as in Mormonism) or is just "a" Son of God (as in Jehovah's Witnesses), is it still saving faith even if the person was genuinely in agreement about his sinful condition and sincere about his belief in "Christ"? While it is certainly necessary to not denounce ones sinful state, the dead works of the sinner are the result of a failure to believe in who God is and turning from that unbelief to God; "repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ" Acts 20:21. There can be a danger in over emphasis of the role of repentance that makes repentance itself the saviour instead of Jesus Christ. This is why repent is often accompanied by believe the gospel (Mark 1:15), they are synonymous as it is a turning from one's previous unbelief to a belief in God by turning from every preconception and supposition one had against God prior to his turning to God as He is. 

 

Turning from sin will be a result of believing in the gospel because the gospel states that someone was crucified to pay for sin. It would be difficult to fathom that one could acknowledge the crucifixion and ignore the seriousness of the sin in which it paid for. Simple agreement of sinfulness may be only a mere mental assent (as the devils have) it is total reliance on Christ alone, who He is, what He did. The acknowledging of the sin nature comes when the sinner realizes that Christ had to pay a debt that the sinner could not pay because of his naturally poisoned soul.

 

I am not debating the various sides of repentance, per say, but the emphasis that is placed on repentance when attempting to explain the gospel to a potential convert that ignores what the core definition of repentance is, which is an emphasis on turning to God as He is from the belief that one had about Him prior to salvation. A presentation of the gospel should always begin with the nature of Christ and what He has done. 

 

Paul's presentation on Mars Hill in Acts 17:23-34 is a great example. Paul began by pointing out they ignorantly trusted in false gods, and the one they claimed was the "unknown God" Paul explained to them who Jesus Christ was. Notice that before Paul made the statement to repent in verse 30, he gave a lengthy discourse about the nature of God, and repent is in context with their unbelief. The result was that some mocked the resurrection, others put it off for later, and then some believed.

 

Again in Acts 13, Paul follows the same manner. He gives a discourse of who God was throughout Israel's history, and then states in v 26 that the rulers of Jerusalem condemned Jesus because "they knew him not" Paul then follows up with preaching on forgiveness of sins in v 38.

 

It is very helpful to study Acts on how the gospel was presented and how they explained repentance. The epistles are great doctrinally, but the epistles are for those who are ALREADY saved, Acts gives examples on how the gospel was presented to unbelievers. Learning how to present this to an unbeliever is important because that's why we were left on earth. You can be perfect in a theological presentation on the dynamics of repentance to a congregation of believers, but if one can not make it simple enough for a sinner to understand it's a pointless debate. 2 Cor 11:3.

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But what if I "agree" that I am sinful but the Christ that I am turning to is the brother of Satan (as in Mormonism) or is just "a" Son of God (as in Jehovah's Witnesses), is it still saving faith even if the person was genuinely in agreement about his sinful condition and sincere about his belief in "Christ"? While it is certainly necessary to not denounce ones sinful state, the dead works of the sinner are the result of a failure to believe in who God is and turning from that unbelief to God; "repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ" Acts 20:21. There can be a danger in over emphasis of the role of repentance that makes repentance itself the saviour instead of Jesus Christ. This is why repent is often accompanied by believe the gospel (Mark 1:15), they are synonymous as it is a turning from one's previous unbelief to a belief in God by turning from every preconception and supposition one had against God prior to his turning to God as He is. 

 

Turning from sin will be a result of believing in the gospel because the gospel states that someone was crucified to pay for sin. It would be difficult to fathom that one could acknowledge the crucifixion and ignore the seriousness of the sin in which it paid for. Simple agreement of sinfulness may be only a mere mental assent (as the devils have) it is total reliance on Christ alone, who He is, what He did. The acknowledging of the sin nature comes when the sinner realizes that Christ had to pay a debt that the sinner could not pay because of his naturally poisoned soul.

 

I am not debating the various sides of repentance, per say, but the emphasis that is placed on repentance when attempting to explain the gospel to a potential convert that ignores what the core definition of repentance is, which is an emphasis on turning to God as He is from the belief that one had about Him prior to salvation. A presentation of the gospel should always begin with the nature of Christ and what He has done. 

 

Paul's presentation on Mars Hill in Acts 17:23-34 is a great example. Paul began by pointing out they ignorantly trusted in false gods, and the one they claimed was the "unknown God" Paul explained to them who Jesus Christ was. Notice that before Paul made the statement to repent in verse 30, he gave a lengthy discourse about the nature of God, and repent is in context with their unbelief. The result was that some mocked the resurrection, others put it off for later, and then some believed.

 

Again in Acts 13, Paul follows the same manner. He gives a discourse of who God was throughout Israel's history, and then states in v 26 that the rulers of Jerusalem condemned Jesus because "they knew him not" Paul then follows up with preaching on forgiveness of sins in v 38.

 

It is very helpful to study Acts on how the gospel was presented and how they explained repentance. The epistles are great doctrinally, but the epistles are for those who are ALREADY saved, Acts gives examples on how the gospel was presented to unbelievers. Learning how to present this to an unbeliever is important because that's why we were left on earth. You can be perfect in a theological presentation on the dynamics of repentance to a congregation of believers, but if one can not make it simple enough for a sinner to understand it's a pointless debate. 2 Cor 11:3.

If this were not a solid forum of believers I would have been very specific. When I refer to Christ, unless I say something like "false Christ", then I'm referring to the Christ of the Bible.

 

Scripture is clear that Christ Jesus of the Bible is the only Way. One cannot truly repent unto salvation unless they agree with God regarding the fact of their sinful, fallen nature and accept Christ Jesus (the One presented in Scripture) as the Son of God, as His Saviour and Lord.

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"The problem that sinners have is that they KNOW that putting trust and belief in Christ will inevitably require a demand in a change of lifestyle, and THAT is why many of them refuse to believe and submit to Christ. They enjoy their current lifestyle and so their heart will not accept that Jesus Christ had to pay a price to redeem them from sin and reconcile them to Himself. It is within their heart that they rationalize all the reasons why Jesus is not God, why there is no such thing as sin, that being holy is boring or that God even created the universe. And it is within that context that the rejection of repentance damns a person because they refuse to turn from their unbelief in God which results in a change of life. Failure to understand this dynamic causes one to place emphasis on the change before salvation occurs rather than the fruit that follows afterwards, the dynamic being that although one does not have to understand the intricate details of repentance to be saved, he can not reject in his mind and heart that he will pray a prayer with the attitude and belief that he does not ever need to change because that is a denial of who God is, and repentance is a changing of the mind about who God is." (Dr. James A)

 

 

Well spoken bro Dr JamesA, and very true.  This is the position I have taken when the "repentance" question came up, and I tried to explain it as you did, but to no avail, it seems.  Thank you for the post.

Edited by irishman

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This is my favorite (and simplest) explanation of what biblical repentance is.  It's from the Way of Life Encyclopedia by David Cloud:

 

Way of Life Encyclopedia
REPENTANCE

 

Repentance is a supernatural work of God whereby a responsive sinner, being convicted by the Holy Spirit of his rebellion, turns to God from his sinful ways and trusts Jesus Christ for salvation (2Ti 2:25; Joh 16:8; Ac 11:18; 26:20).

 

 Bible repentance means a turning to God and a change of mind toward God that results in a change of life (Mt 3:1-2; Lu 5:32; 13:1-3; 18:13; Ac 2:38; 5:31; 17:30; 20:21; 26:20; 2Pe 3:9).

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To all,

 

I do apologize for not remaining more involved in the discussion thus far.  It appears the I should not involve myself in more than one significant discussion at a time, especially if the responses are going to be of significant substance and length.  (Note: This is not a complaint against any one else, just an attempt to excuse my own lack of invovlement. :icon_smile:  Did my excuse-making work?)

 

Brother JamesA,

 

As a response to your comments concerning FBC of Hammond and the issue of repentance for salvation, I do not personally have an agenda either for or against FBC.  Even so, I did not begin this thread discussion with any thought of FBC at all.  I was and am simply seeking an understanding concering how members of this forum handle the defiintion of repentance for salvation.  In addition, I am interested in a thoughtful and Biblical engagement concerning the definition of repentance for salvation.

 

As a response to your opening comments in post #5 concerning the definition of repentance for salvation:

 

I think the confusion over repentance is the attempt to define it based on the evidence that occurs AFTER salvation. Hence no fruit seems to equal no repentance, so the attempt to define repentance has came out of an anger towards teachings in some circles that one can pray 1-2-3, repeat after me, congratulations see you in eternity is the prescription for Biblical salvation.

 

I agree that much confusion has been generated by this attempt to define repentance base upon the AFTER salvation behavior (which for me always raises the questions concerning "how much proves repentance" and "how long proves repentance). 

 

 

To make the assumption that subsequent works that should have followed and did not demonstrate a lack of repentance, and to define repentance based on that observation argues for a works based repentance prior to salvation. It can certainly be argued that an alleged convert did not undergo Biblical repentance, but that does not help define it, it only clarifies its result. The thief on the cross is often used as an example of "death bed" conversions, where there is no chance to observe the fruit of the repentance since the thief died shortly after his profession, and regardless of the criticism toward reliance on that passage, it is a profession that Jesus accepted and should speak volumes on the definition of repentance.

 

AMEN!  (Note: I especially agree with that portion of your comment which I underlined, and I am very concerning about the implications of this approach.)

 

By the way, did you intend the third rhyme in your phrase:

 

"Pray 1-2-3,

repeat after me,

congratulations

see you in eternity."

 

I had previously heard the "pray 1-2-3, repeat after me" portion, but not the "congratulations see you in eternity" portion.

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Concerning the Biblical gospel of Christ unto eternal salvation, I would contend that it contains two primary emphases of truth --

 

1.  The truth concerning our utterly wicked sinfulness before God.

2.  The truth concerning the Lord Jesus Christ as the only Savior from God.

 

Certainly, I would acknowledge that these two primary emphases involve various points of detail.  Yet I would present that the two-fold requirement of repentance and faith for eternal salvation relate to these two primary emphases --

 

1.  The requirement of repentance relating to our sinfulness before God.

2.  The requirement of faith relating to Christ as the only Savior from God.

 

Even so, I would contend that any so-called gospel that neglects either one of these two primary emphases or either one of these two requirments is a false gospel.  (Note: I do necessarily believe that the word "repent" or its cognates has to be employed in the gospel presentation.  The entire gospel of John is intended to present the gospel truth of God's Word, yet it does not employ the word "repent."  On the other hand, I do believe that repentance is necessary for salvation; and I would contend that the gospel of John definitely provides the call to repentance even though it does not employ the word.)

 

What then is my definition of repentance for salvation?  I lack the time at the moment, but I do intend to answer that question through further posting.  At the moment, I would refer you to Brother John's definitional statement in post #6.  I believe that more explanation is necessary, but I would contend for that definition as a good short definition.

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To all,

 

I do apologize for not remaining more involved in the discussion thus far.  It appears the I should not involve myself in more than one significant discussion at a time, especially if the responses are going to be of significant substance and length.  (Note: This is not a complaint against any one else, just an attempt to excuse my own lack of invovlement. :icon_smile:  Did my excuse-making work?)

 

Brother JamesA,

 

As a response to your comments concerning FBC of Hammond and the issue of repentance for salvation, I do not personally have an agenda either for or against FBC.  Even so, I did not begin this thread discussion with any thought of FBC at all.  I was and am simply seeking an understanding concering how members of this forum handle the defiintion of repentance for salvation.  In addition, I am interested in a thoughtful and Biblical engagement concerning the definition of repentance for salvation.

 

As a response to your opening comments in post #5 concerning the definition of repentance for salvation:

 

 

I agree that much confusion has been generated by this attempt to define repentance base upon the AFTER salvation behavior (which for me always raises the questions concerning "how much proves repentance" and "how long proves repentance). 

 

 

 

AMEN!  (Note: I especially agree with that portion of your comment which I underlined, and I am very concerning about the implications of this approach.)

 

By the way, did you intend the third rhyme in your phrase:

 

"Pray 1-2-3,

repeat after me,

congratulations

see you in eternity."

 

I had previously heard the "pray 1-2-3, repeat after me" portion, but not the "congratulations see you in eternity" portion.

The 1-2-3 is a phrase I stole from Dr Joe Boyd a long time ago. He had quite a way of explaining repentance to converts in a way that I could never get away with. We were invited to a home to have dinner to discuss the Bible and questions that a family had about their Catholic church, and brother Joe said, "You all eat like my dogs, they don't pray before they eat either". I was shocked! They thought it was hilarious, and then allowed him to pray for the meal, but I could have never got away with saying something like that.

 

And I am aware of why you started the thread, but your thread was in response to another thread, so my exposition of repentance was not necessarily in response to your motives for posting it in a different section, but rather to address why the issues are addressed the way they are in other threads that you responded to that prompted the creation of this one. This subject has been addressed at length before from comments when David Cloud's article on repentance was posted here from his wayoflife website. 

 

So hopefully you understand I am not trying to hijack the thread, just giving some background as to the possible reasons why some are agitated by certain views on repentance.

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Concerning the Biblical gospel of Christ unto eternal salvation, I would contend that it contains two primary emphases of truth --

 

1.  The truth concerning our utterly wicked sinfulness before God.

2.  The truth concerning the Lord Jesus Christ as the only Savior from God.

 

Certainly, I would acknowledge that these two primary emphases involve various points of detail.  Yet I would present that the two-fold requirement of repentance and faith for eternal salvation relate to these two primary emphases --

 

1.  The requirement of repentance relating to our sinfulness before God.

2.  The requirement of faith relating to Christ as the only Savior from God.

 

Even so, I would contend that any so-called gospel that neglects either one of these two primary emphases or either one of these two requirments is a false gospel.  (Note: I do necessarily believe that the word "repent" or its cognates has to be employed in the gospel presentation.  The entire gospel of John is intended to present the gospel truth of God's Word, yet it does not employ the word "repent."  On the other hand, I do believe that repentance is necessary for salvation; and I would contend that the gospel of John definitely provides the call to repentance even though it does not employ the word.)

 

What then is my definition of repentance for salvation?  I lack the time at the moment, but I do intend to answer that question through further posting.  At the moment, I would refer you to Brother John's definitional statement in post #6.  I believe that more explanation is necessary, but I would contend for that definition as a good short definition.

The contentions that I see arising from this thread seem to me debates over different sides of the same coin:

*The definition of repentance (it's doctrinal statement),

*The application of repentance (it's theology), and

 *The presentation of repentance. (how it is explained to a potential convert, and how it can be taught to a soul winner that can then explain it to a potential convert).

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