Saturday, August 06, 2011

Repentance and Salvation

I am currently thinking through why I believe what I believe about salvation. I believe that repentance is a necessary part of salvation, and that where there is no repentance, there is no salvation. There are those who disagree with me and say that I am advocating a works-based salvation. I am not.
After doing some more research, I came across this tidbit by John MacArthur which can be found here. I've pasted it blow.

What is repentance and how does it relate to salvation?
Acts 11:18; 2 Peter 3:9
Code: QA163

The meaning of the word repentance has been twisted in recent years to the point that its biblical meaning is now obscured in the minds of many. The idea that genuine repentance could result in anything but a change of life is completely foreign to Scripture.

What does the Bible teach about the relationship between salvation and repentance? First, it teaches that repentance is essential to salvation. One cannot truly believe unless he repents, and one cannot truly repent unless he believes. Repentance and faith are two sides of the same coin (but they are not synonymous terms). Acts 11:18 and 2 Peter 3:9 are two of the many verses that teach that repentance is necessary for salvation. Perhaps 2 Timothy 2:25 best sums up the relationship between repentance and saving faith when it speaks of "repentance to the acknowledging of the truth" (see also Acts 20:21).

Second, the Greek word for repentance (metanoia) means "to have another mind," but it cannot properly be defined to exclude a sense of hatred of and penitence for sin. The biblical concept of repentance involves far more than merely a casual change of thinking. Biblically, a person who repents does not continue willfully in sin. Repentance is a turning from sin, and it always results in changed behavior (Luke 3:8). While sorrow from sin is not equivalent to repentance, it is certainly an element of scriptural repentance (2 Corinthians 7:10).

Finally, despite what is being widely taught today, affirming that repentance and acknowledgement of Jesus' lordship are necessary to salvation does not "add" anything to the requirement of faith for salvation. It is not "faith plus repentance" that saves, but rather a repentant faith. The notion that salvation is possible apart from a genuine, heartfelt repentance, which includes a deep hatred of sin, is a relatively new one, neither believed nor taught by the people of God until the twentieth century.

-- John MacArthur
My point of view (and MacArthur's) has been labeled as "Lordship Salvation."  The other side, which denies that repentance is a necessary part of Salvation, likes to call their position "Free Grace."  I do not like either of these terms, because "Lordship Salvation" makes it sound like we're adding extra requirements to be saved (we're not -- we're describing the nature of true saving faith) and "Free Grace" implies that my side of the issue doesn't believe grace is free -- which isn't true at all.  We do indeed affirm that grace is given freely by God.
For further reading, you can check out this article on Theopedia.

6 comments:

Lostariel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lostariel said...

Repentance and faith are two sides of the coin of regeneration. You can't turn to Christ without turning away from sin - and of couse, He's the only one who enables you to do that.

Molly said...

It may be narrow-minded of me...but I don't see how anyone could think that repentance based salvation = works based salvation...Repentance is the act of turning from your sins, admitting you were wrong...this does not mean that you will never sin again, that is impossible for humans, but what is important is that you confess that you are sinfull, admit that you were wrong, and accept God's forgiveness...I just don't see how any of these actions could be considered "works". :/ Interesting thing to think about, though.

James Dunn said...

You know, Molly, narrow-mindedness can be a good thing sometimes. I know, it sounds shocking. :) But yes, repentance is a part of faith. It is no more a "work" than faith itself. True faith and repentance can be distinguished from each other, but they can't be separated.

Kyleigh said...

To say that you don't need to repent to be saved almost says that everyone is saved, doesn't it?
And, like Anna was saying, He's the one who enables us to repent so it isn't really a work of ourselves in the first place.

Molly said...

after a few well placed conversations this last weekend I totally see where this musing came from...but still my thought process has not changed. That was an absurd allegation. Repentance /= works. 'nuff said.