Repentance and Faith
Acts 17:22-34; Romans 10:17
Prayer: That God will use the Christians in this group to understand the terms of salvation and witness for Christ that they show others the way to Christ.
· Repentance - 2Cor. 7:8-10; Jer. 3l:l8,19; 2Tim. 2:25; Acts 5:31, 11:18.
· Faith - Jn. 1:12; Jn. 6:32-71; Rom. 10:9-17; 1Jn. 5:4,5.
· Conversion – Acts 20:21
Conversion is that voluntary change in the mind of the sinner, in which he turns, on the one hand, from sin, and on the other hand, to Christ. This conversion involves repentance and faith. Many have had a problem with - which comes first, repentance or faith? The answer can be found in Mark 1:15 and Acts 20:21. Then there is the old illustration that some can’t seem to resolve - which came first, the bullet or the hole made by the bullet? Both occur simultaneously as the bullet makes the hole. Merely to believe in the existence of God is not what is meant by faith. To believe in a man’s existence is one thing and to believe in that man is altogether another thing.
We all believe that Dennis Riddick is the Pastor of Twinbrook Hills Baptist Church, but do we all believe in him as Pastor? Is he worthy of our honor and respect? Is he to be trusted and believed and followed? When he preaches from the Bible, should we take his words to heart and do as he says, or are we free to ignore him if we don’t like what he is saying?
We believe in the existence of men and institutions that we have no faith in. So Bible belief or faith means trust, dependence, confidence, reliance. To believe in Jesus Christ is to trust Him to save, depend on Him for salvation, and you do this only after repenting from dead works (Heb. 6:1). Hence repentance, necessarily, logically and scripturally comes before faith.
The Scripture doctrine of repentance is to be learned in part from the meaning of the Greek word used to express it. Metanoia (meta-noia - noun), means change of mind and is used of repentance from sin or evil (Matt. 3:8; Acts 26:20, 5:31; Rom. 2:4). Metanoeo (met-an-o-eh'-o - verb), means to perceive afterwards expressive of moral action and issues, and hence to change one’s view, mind or purpose, or even judgment, implying disapproval and abandonment of past opinions and purposes, and the adoption of others which are different (Matt. 21:29,32; Matt. 27:3; Rom. 11:29; 2Cor. 7:8,10). It is seen that repentance involves a change in the outward life because such change is a result of the change of inward opinions. It also includes sorrow for sin because a change of view as to the nature of sin and of holiness must be accompanied by regret and sorrow as to the past acts of sin.
There is an evangelical repentance and there is also a legal repentance. Legal repentance comes about wholly through fear of the consequences of sin. This is the kind Judas experienced in Matt. 27:4 (See also Acts 1:25). Evangelica1 repentance is accompanied by godly sorrow and is wrought in the heart by the regenerating Spirit of God. The unsaved person, being alienated from God and spiritually dead in sin, is physically, morally and spiritually incapable of doing anything to remedy his condition. For this reason, any remedy must come from outside himself, from the Lord (Ps. 121:1-2). The work of conviction for sin belongs to the Holy Spirit (Jn. 16:8-11), and we must not frustrate His work by trying to thrust ourselves into His office, which is the mistake of many over-zealous soul-winners. Our work is to preach the word, and witness of Jesus Christ.
Let us notice some of the elements of repentance.
1. Sin admitted – Conviction (you know). This is an intellectual and spiritual perception of the opposition between holiness in God and sin in man. It does not look at sin as the cause of punishment but abhors it because it is vile in the sight of a Holy God, and involves in heinous guilt all who are sinners.
2. Sin abhorred – Contrition (you hate). It includes sorrow and self-loathing, and earnest desire to escape the evil of sin. The penitent soul does not so much feel the greatness of its danger as the greatness of its sinfulness. This is the emotional element in repentance.
3. Sin abandoned – Conversion (you turn). This is an inward abandoning of sin which leads to an outward change of conduct. This is the voluntary or volitional element in repentance. Thus repentance concerns the whole inner nature: intellect, emotion, and will.
The Roman Catholic translation of the Bible (Douay Version) substitutes “penance” for “repentance” as a translation of “metanoeo”. Thus we read - “Do penance…” (Matt. 3:2; Luke 13:5). They also comment that penance means punishing past sins by fasting, and such like penitential exercises. Of course this is false because of the meaning of metanoia and the fact that it denies the sufficiency of Christ’s satisfaction for our sins (Rom. 4:7,8, 10:4; Heb. 10:14; 1Jn. 1:7). Christ left us nothing to pay, and we can truthfully sing, “Jesus paid it all…”.
It is declared in 1Cor. 2:13,14 that the unsaved, unenlightened person cannot understand spiritual truth apart from the work of the Holy Spirit. Where the Spirit works effectively, men see and understand the truth, they repent of sin and surrender themselves in an unquestioning trust to Christ and then bring forth fruits to prove the reality of their repentance and faith (Lu. 18:9-14; Matt. 3:7-11). However, we must not think that repentance and faith are causes of the new birth, as the arminians teach, for the tenses of “believe” (present) and “born” (past) in Jn. 1:12,13; 1Jn. 5:1, show that the new birth precedes faith, for it is the cause of repentance and faith, and not vice versa. When the Spirit regenerates a man, that man will then certainly exercise the fruits of regeneration - repentance and faith.
Saving faith is trust in, and reliance on the Lord Jesus Christ, as one’s persona1 Saviour and sin-bearer. It is by faith that men come into vital union with Christ. It is by faith that we are justified, offer worship, live, serve God, and exercise hope in the future. Campbellism is nothing more than a mental acceptance of the existence of God and Christ. They repent and believe without regeneration. Therefore they baptize an unregenerate believer to try and complete their false salvation. In the Bible Christianity is presented in such a contrast to Judaism and Paganism that none would believe in the deity of Christ without true faith in Him. So saving faith becomes assurance of faith when the Holy Spirit “beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God” (Rom. 8:16).
As we said about repentance, there is also an intellectual, emotional and voluntary element involved in faith (Jn. 2:23; James 2:19, Ps. 106:12; Jn. 8:30,31). The sick man’s faith in his physician is shown not simply by trusting him, but by obeying him. Doing what the doctor says is the very proof of trust. Faith is self-surrender to the great Physician and the leaving of our case in His hands. But it is also the taking of His prescriptions, and the active following of His directions (Jn. 1:12, 4:14, 6:53; Eph. 3:7).
Faith is a gift of God (Eph. 2:8). Faith is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22). Repentance and faith are inseparable graces of God. Each one, when appearing alone in the scriptures embraces the other. Faith has no merit in itself. It is merely the channel through which God’s justifying and sanctifying grace flows into the soul. It is the act of the dead, empty soul receiving, prompted by a drawing of the heart toward God, inwrought by the Holy Spirit. When a man is quickened into life there can be no lapse of time before he repents, nor can there be any before he believes. Otherwise we would have the new nature in rebellion against God and in unbelief. Our faith is not temporary but eternal. Consider the parable of the sower in Mark. 4:3-20. The first three are lost, whereas the fourth ground bears fruit, the proper evidence of faith.