Summarization of the Doctrine of Repentance
FROM - "Systematic Theology"
Quite contrary to the impression which the usual theology
has spread abroad is the correct definition of repentance, the usual idea being
that it means sorrow or agony of heart respecting sin and wrongdoing. The true
meaning of the word shows that it is a change of mind; and although there may
be nothing to preclude that change being accompanied by grief, yet the sorrow
itself is not repentance. Instead, it is the reversal of mind.
Another serious error respecting this doctrine occurs when repentance is added to faith or believing as a condition of salvation. It is true that repentance can very well be required as a condition of salvation, but then only because the change of mind which it is has been involved when turning from every other confidence to the one needful trust in Christ. Such turning about, of course, cannot be achieved without a change of mind. This vital newness of mind is a part of believing, after all, and therefore may be and is used as a synonym for believing at times (cf. Acts 17:30; 20:21; 26:20; Rom. 2:4; 2 Tim. 2:25; 2 Pet. 3:9). Repentance nevertheless cannot be added to believing as a condition of salvation, because upwards of 150 passages of Scripture condition salvation upon believing only (cf. John. 3:16; Acts 16:31). Similarly, the gospel by John, which was written that men might believe and believing have life through Christ's name (John. 20:31), does not use the word repentance. In like manner, the Epistle to the Romans, written to formulate the complete statement of salvation by grace alone, does not use the term repentance in relation to salvation.
Again, confusion over this doctrine arises when it is not made clear that covenant people such as Israel or Christians may repent as a separate act. Throughout the time when the gospel of the kingdom was preached by John the Baptist, Christ, and the Lord's disciples, there issued a call to repentance which was for none other than the anticipated repentance of that Jewish nation, as Matthew 3:2 has indicated: "Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." This is not a gospel call, but one leading to restoration of a covenant people into its right and original relationship to God (cf. Matt. 4:12-17). In like manner, a Christian, once having sinned, may repent as a separate act, whic is something far removed from being saved over again (cf. 2 Cor. 7:8-11).
Repentance itself is one act only and not two. This observation is well illustrated by 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10, "...how ye turned to God from idols."
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