“So, I'm going to say repentance occasionally, but when I say it, I can't say it until you know what it means. Because if I say it and you think it means reformation, than I'm misleading you. I've got to teach you what it means. Follow me? So, when John said 'believe,' repentance was included in the believing. If by repentance you mean 'turning from sin,' I don't preach it. If by repentance you mean 'reformation,' I don't preach it. If by repentance you mean 'a change of mind or reconsideration,' I preach it!”
SOURCE: Dr. Curtis Hutson, “Curtis Hutson On The Repent Of Sins HERESY”
There are those hyper-dispensationalists who think that John the Baptist preached a different Gospel from Christ when he commanded repentance (Matt. 3:2). But it is the same repentance Jesus commanded in Matthew 4:17, in Luke 13:3 and 5, and the same repentance that Paul preached in Athens that God “now commandeth all men every where to repent” (Acts 17:30 31). Repentance is not a different plan of salvation from having faith: it is part of the same plan of salvation. Or rather repentance is simply another way of describing or looking at the plan of salvation. One who turns from sin to God has done so by trusting in Jesus Christ. A change of mind toward sin is necessarily involved in saving faith. [emphasis added]
SOURCE: Evangelist John R. Rice, “Acts: Filled With The Spirit,” pp. 251-252; Sword Of The Lord, Murfreesboro, Tennessee; ©1963
What Repentance Is Not
Repentance is NOT a change of lifestyle. I think Pastor Harry Ironside (1876-1951) of the Moody Memorial Church said it very well...
“Repentance is the very opposite of meritorious experience. It is the confession that one is utterly without merit, and if he is ever saved at all it can only be through the merits of our Lord Jesus Christ, 'who gave himself a ransom for all.' Here is firm footing for the soul who realizes that all self-effort is but sinking sand. Christ alone is the Rock of our salvation.”Clearly, Ironside taught a Free Grace view of the Gospel. Consider further the following awesome quote by Dr. Ironside...
SOURCE: Harry A. Ironside; 'Except Ye Repent,' p. 36
“The Gospel is not a call to repentance, or to amendment of our ways, to make restitution for past sins, or to promise to do better in the future. These things are proper in their place, but they do not constitute the Gospel; for the Gospel is not good advice to be obeyed, it is good news to be believed. Do not make the mistake then of thinking that the Gospel is a call to duty or a call to reformation, a call to better your condition, to behave yourself in a more perfect way than you have been doing in the past …Sadly, Moody Ministries in Chicago today (71 years after Dr. Ironside's pastorate ended in 1948) has become doctrinally corrupted by false prophets such as John MacArthur (they publish all of MacArthur's heretical books, and have shamefully honored him at their Founder's Week for many years). MacArthur plainly teaches a false plan of salvation in his book titled: 'HARD TO BELIEVE'...
Nor is the Gospel a demand that you give up the world, that you give up your sins, that you break off bad habits, and try to cultivate good ones. You may do all these things, and yet never believe the Gospel and consequently never be saved at all.”
SOURCE: Harry A. Ironside, from the sermon: What Is The Gospel?
Don’t believe anyone who says it’s easy to become a Christian. Salvation for sinners cost God His own Son; it cost God’s Son His life, and it’ll cost you the same thing. Salvation isn’t gained by reciting mere words. Saving faith transforms the heart, and that in turn transforms behavior. Faith’s fruit is seen in actions, not intentions. There’s no room for passive spectators: words without actions are empty and futile. Remember that what John saw in his vision of judgment was a Book of Life, not a book of Words or Book of Intellectual Musings. The life we live, not the words we speak, reveals whether our faith is authentic. [emphasis added]
SOURCE: Dr. John MacArthur, Grace To You, an updated quote from his book 'Hard To Believe', p. 93
Second, the upright life that we try to live as believers is the FRUIT of the indwelling Holy Spirit, and not a part of the ROOT of saving faith. We live right because WE ARE saved, not TO BE saved. The Holy Bible teaches that Jesus Christ lives the Christian life through us. Galatians 2:20, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” The life we live cannot get us to Heaven, because God does NOT accept works of self-righteousness. Isaiah 64:6, “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” Your best is filth to God (Matthew 7:21-23). God's will is for you as a rotten sinner to BELIEVE ON JESUS to be saved (John 6:40).
We are saved by HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS (that is, Christ's robe of righteousness), and not our own (Matthew 6:33; Romans 10:3-4; Philippians 3:9). I try to live upright because I love my Lord and don't want to grieve Him (John 14:15). I fail horribly sometimes, and it makes me upset at myself, and I get up and ask God to help me to do much better in the future (2nd Corinthians 10:5-6). That's how the Christian life is lived, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Even the best Christians are still rotten sinners who battle daily with the flesh (Romans 7:14-25).
The Greek verb “repent” (metanoeo, such as in Mark 1:15, “Repent ye, and believe the gospel”), simply means “to think differently.” Evangelist David Cloud errantly defines the meaning as “a change of mind that results in a change of life.” This is also the Satanic definition ascribed to the word “repent” by PCC. That's not what the Bible teaches! Biblically, a changed life is the fruit of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which is not required for salvation.
I think Michael P. Bowen, in his excellent defense of the Christian faith titled, I NEVER KNEW YOU, says it best. ...
I am at eternal odds with the false, counterfeit messages of salvation-by-works that are taught from virtually every pulpit today, on every television channel, and on every Christian radio station; however, I am not at eternal odds with the individuals who preach these counterfeit messages. My heart literally goes out to all of them because they simply do not understand Christ’s plan of salvation. They have been lied to by a crafty enemy named Satan, whose sole aim is to take as many people with him to the lake of fire as he can possibly manage to steal away from God using a counterfeit plan of salvation that appears so real, so genuine, and so holy that few ever realize they have been deceived by it. Oh reader, so many of today’s professing Christians who think they are going to heaven when they die are not going to make it to heaven as they had assumed because they’ve been lied to by today’s error-filled gospel messages.A tree without fruit is still a tree with roots. This is evidenced by the parable of the sower and the seed in Luke 8:12-15. Of the four groups, only the first are unsaved, because the Devil removed the seed from their heart before it could sprout into new life. The second and third group represent believers who never mature to bear fruit (leading others to Christ). They never mature into fruit-bearing Christians because of shallow roots, or because they are choked by the cares, riches and pleasures of this life. Ah, but the fourth group mature, having an honest heart, keeping the Lord's Word, bearing much fruit unto Christ (John 15:1-7). Just because the second and third groups don't bear fruit doesn't mean that they are not saved, as Ray Comfort and David Cloud errantly teach.
SOURCE: Michael Patrick Bowen, I NEVER KNEW YOU, p. 17; © 2009, Xulonpress.com. Hard Copies Available
Repentance “Of Sins” For Salvation is Not Biblical
There are only a few references in the Bible where the word “repentance” is used with sin. The Bible usually speaks of “the remission of sins,” but never commands anyone to repent from sins to be saved. Search the Bible and you will find that “repentance” is almost always mentioned with salvation, but it never tells us that forsaking sinful bad habits is the way to be saved. Ceasing from sin is self-righteousness. The truth is that God's indwelling Holy Spirit begins to change us when we get saved, that is, if we yield to Him. This means a lifetime of being sanctified by the Holy Spirit. Getting saved happens in a moment of time by trusting Jesus Christ, but becoming Christlike takes a lifetime. That's how it's supposed to work. The world is filled of immature, carnal and backslidden saints. They are so worldly that you'd never know they are saved, just as with Lot in the city of Sodom. Nobody knew he was saved.
False prophets mandate change as a requirement to either be saved, or as evidence to prove that you are saved. That is the Devil's lie of Lordship Salvation, not the free grace of God. Proponents of Lordship Salvation “frontload the Gospel,” that is, they require a commitment to perform the traits of a mature Christian upfront, as a condition to be saved. They're trying to do God's job instead of letting the Holy Spirit do His silent work. God changes lives, not we ourselves. Man trying to change himself is reformation, not regeneration.
Listen to what Pastor Harry Ironside correctly states about repentance in chapter 16 of his book, EXCEPT YE REPENT . . .
“In all that I have written I have failed completely to express what was surging up in my soul if I have given anyone the impression that I think of repentance as something meritorious which must be produced in man by self-effort ere he is fit to come to God for salvation.”I agree 100%! The entire concept of Lordship Salvation is based in human effort. Most of our evangelical churches today have bought into the Devil's lie that it's not enough to believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ to be saved. The “Gospel” is that Jesus Christ DIED on the cross for our sins, He was BURIED, and He bodily RESURRECTED from the dead three days later (1st Corinthians 15:1-4). If you receive Christ's sacrifice on the cross as full payment for your sins, then you are saved.
SOURCE: Dr. Harry Ironside, a quote from chapter 16, 'THE PREACHING THAT PRODUCES REPENTANCE,' from his timeless classic book, 'EXCEPT YE REPENT'
But don't I have to repent? Yes, of course! Biblical repentance is “a change of mind” that causes a person to believe the Gospel. Repentance is NOT a desire to stop sinning. Repentance is realizing that you are a guilty SINNER, so you believe the Gospel and are saved. Repentance is changing your mind about whatever was previously hindering you from completely resting in Christ for salvation. Pastor Reuben A. Torrey (1856-1928) makes the following half-truth statement:
“In our day there is a danger of underestimating the importance of sorrow for sin. Sorrow for sin is not repentance, but it is an element in repentance. What the repentance or change of mind is about must always be determined by the context. Repentance of sin is such a sorrow for sin or abhorrence of sin, such a change of mind about it, as leads the sinner to turn away from it with all his heart.”Now I agree with Dr. Torrey that sorrow for sin is not repentance, but he totally contradicts himself when he says that “repentance of sin is such a sorrow for sin.” He just got done saying that “sorrow for sin is not repentance”! The Bible teaches that “sorrow worketh repentance.” 2nd Corinthians 7:10a, “For godly sorrow worketh repentance.”
SOURCE: R. A. Torrey; “What The Bible Teaches,” p. 355; © 1898; Fleming H. Revell Company
I also agree with Pastor Torrey from the preceding quote, who says, “What the repentance or change of mind is about must always be determined by the context.” For example: For a devoutly religious man, whose religion has hindered him from seeing the truth of the Gospel—he must repent (change his mind) from trusting in DEAD WORKS (Hebrews 6:1) to BELIEVING THE GOSPEL (Mark 1:15). For a man living in gross immorality, he must repent (change his mind) from the denial of his sins (1st John 1:8-10), to the acknowledgment of the truth, BELIEVING THE GOSPEL. 2nd Timothy 2:25, “In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth.”
Repentance is not a separate event from faith, although they are not the same thing. Here is the best quote that I've found on repentance, by Dr. Harry A. Ironside (1876-1951):
“Which comes first, repentance or faith? In Scripture we read, 'Repent ye, and believe the gospel.' Yet we find true believers exhorted to 'repent, and do the first works.' So intimately are the two related that you cannot have one without the other. The man who believes God repents; the repentant soul puts his trust in the Lord when the Gospel is revealed to him. Theologians may wrangle over this, but the fact is, no man repents until the Holy Spirit produces repentance in his soul through the truth. No man believes the Gospel and rests in it for his own salvation until he has judged himself as a needy sinner before God. And this is repentance.” (Except Ye Repent, p. 16)The only thing that we need to repent from to be saved is UNBELIEF. Do we have to realize our sinful condition to be saved? Of course, yes! But there is not one verse in the entire Bible which requires a person to forsake sin to be saved. Nor does the Bible give anyone God's permission to commit sin just because they are saved (Romans 3:31). Every time Jesus forgave someone and healed them, it was only AFTERWARDS that He said... “Go and sin no more.” John 5:14, "Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee." Repentance simply means “a change of mind.” Believers change our minds every day about all kinds of things, including the sins in our life. Repenting of sins throughout one's Christian life is solely a matter of DISCIPLESHIP, not SALVATION. It is a matter of growing in the Lord's grace (1st Peter 2:2), as we yield to the Holy Spirit's leading in obedience to the Holy Scriptures (2nd Corinthians 10:5).
Thus, we don't give up our sins to become a Christian (Romans 3:20); rather, we forsake our sins because we are a Christian (Romans 12:1-2). There are no prerequisites or conditions for salvation (Galatians 3:2). God will save any guilty sinner who trusts upon the Gospel of Jesus Christ for salvation (Romans 10:13). John 6:37, “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.”
Repentance unto salvation is a ONE-TIME repentance, but the repentance from sins has no limit. Christians are people, and people are sinners. Just as a man cannot be UNBORN physically, neither can he be UNBORN spiritually. If saved, always saved! For anyone to teach otherwise is to add works-to-faith alone and corrupt “the simplicity that is in Christ” (2nd Corinthians 11:3-4).
Once a person is saved, they begin to grow in grace by nurturing on the milk of God's Word (1st Peter 2:2). As a believer grows in the Lord, he or she realizes that there are changes in life that need to be made. God's Holy Spirit works in that person's heart. Thus, we begin to see the “FRUIT” of genuine repentance. A changed life is the FRUIT of the indwelling Holy Spirit, and NOT a prerequisite to salvation or a part of saving-faith. Proponents of Lordship Salvation place the cart before the horse and have it all backwards. They frontload the Gospel, requiring all the mature aspects of a believer's life upfront. This is not the Gospel, it is bad religion.
In Mark 1:4, John the Baptist speaks of “...repentance for the remission of sins”; NOT “repentance of sins.” Acts 20:21 reads, “Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ." Notice that Biblical repentance is “TOWARD GOD.” In Acts 11:21 we read, “And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord.” So you see, in the Bible “repentance” was always “TOWARD GOD,” never from sin. A man may have to repent from the denial of his sins, so that he will BELIEVE THE GOSPEL, but there is no Biblical requirement to “turn from sins” to be saved.
Consider the following quote by the mighty man of God, Dr. Harry Ironside (1876-1951)...
"Repentance is the recognition of my sinnership — the owning before God that I am as vile as He has declared me to be in His holy Word."This is vastly different than actually ceasing from one's sin to be saved, which is a false gospel. Pastor Ironside is correct—repentance is simply realizing that one is a guilty, dirty, rotten, hopeless sinner in God's eyes. This is why we need a Savior. Thankfully, Jesus paid the price with His own literal precious blood (1st Peter 1:18,19; Hebrews 9:12).
SOURCE: 'Except Ye Repent,' by Dr. Harry Ironside, chapter 3
Repentance is the admission that I am as guilty a sinner as a holy God hath declared me to be in His Holy Word (Romans 3:19). This is Biblical repentance... turning to the Lord. To turn towards Jesus Christ in faith for salvation is to turn one's back against sin, even though the person may not be willing to forsake sin at the time of salvation. It is ludicrous for anyone to teach that a lost sinner must give up their sins to be saved. As we saw with Lot and Samson in the Old Testament, and Demas and Peter in the New Testament, not all believers always live for God. Jesus even called the apostle Peter, “Satan” (Matthew 16:23).
Christian author Michael Patrick Bowen states in his excellent book titled, “I NEVER KNEW YOU,” on page 114...
“Repent, as Christ meant it to be in terms of salvation, means to change your mind from trusting in what you can do for God to trusting only in what He can do for you.”The beloved Pastor Bob Gray Sr. of the Longview Baptist Temple church in Texas correctly preaches...
SOURCE: Michael Patrick Bowen, a quote from the awesome book, “I NEVER NEW YOU” (Page 114)
“Repentance means to change your mind—change your mind—change your mind about how you want to get to Heaven to what God says you've got to do to get to Heaven. If you've got to repent of all your sins, you're still headed for Hell tonight.”Dr. Mark G. Cambron Has Repentance 100% Correct
SOURCE: Pastor Bob Gray Sr., 'Why You Should Be A Part Of A Growing Church'
Here is an excellent and needful writing by Dr. Mark G. Cambron (1911-2000) on the subject of REPENTANCE. Please read the following quote carefully, because Dr. Cambron is one of few theologian who gets it, that is, he understands the simplicity of the Gospel and that repentance does not mean turning from sin as proponents of Lordship Salvation foolishly teach...
Repentance is necessary for salvation.
The Greek word for repent is metanoeo, which, translated into English is: to change ones mind. It does not mean to turn from sin. That would add works to salvation.
Repentance for salvation means a change of mind from men's ideas of salvation and religion, to an acceptance of Gods only way of salvation.
This results in a completely new creation, not a reformation of the old. The old nature remains as evil as ever after salvation and has not been reformed . . . The old nature can now be controlled by the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit.
God guarantees salvation. This is His gift to us.
God guarantees reward and fruit to the obedient son.
God guarantees chastening and loss of rewards to the disobedient son.
God does not cast out disobedient children, but in some cases, does take them home. He does not permit His children to live as they please without His discipline and guidance.
Many teach repentance for salvation incorrectly, by including some form of human effort or righteousness, such as willingness to turn from sin, or turning from sin. This is heresy and has confused many people. It adds works to salvation and causes many to not understand Gods great gift. It is probation, not salvation. It is completely unscriptural. It is Galatianism and a counterfeit of the gospel.
It is a tragedy that many Christians live shallow Christian lives. The Cambron Institute is dedicated to the task of training Christian men and women in the importance of total dedication and making Jesus the Lord of their lives not to be saved but because they are saved.
Shallow Christianity cannot be cured by adding works to salvation.
Salvation is not the result of what we do, but is by receiving what God has done for us. Acts 13:38, 39; Acts 20:20: Gal. 1:8,9; Gal. 2:4; Gal. 2:21; Gal. 3:1.3; Gal. 5:1-4; Eph. 2:8-10; II Cor. 5:21;John 3:16-18; Phil. 3:9; Titus 3:5-8:11 Cor. 11:13-1 5.
SOURCE: The Cambron Institute
Boy that's good stuff! I love preachers, God knows my heart. And every preacher is different. There are no perfect pastors or clergy. The best saints are still rotten sinners! The Bible teaches that the tongue is full of the poison of snakes, set on fire of Hell (James 3:5-8). We could park here for awhile, couldn't we? I don't care how long you may have been a born-again believer, you are still a wicked sinner, and so am I. It is only by God's merciful grace, through faith in His only begotten Son, that any of us have escaped the judgment of God to come.
God is a merciful God, He doesn't judge sin yet in this world, but the time will come when all wickedness will be dealt with by a holy God. 1st Peter 4:17, “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?” Carefully notice that judgment is not coming for those who haven't repented of their sins, but to those who have not obeyed the Gospel. You obey it by making it your only hope for Heaven. Simply believe that Jesus has already done it all for you.
Thank you for bearing long with me. This has been a fairly lengthy blog. My heart yearns for all of my blog readers to have the 100% blessed peace of KNOWING that you are saved. I never have a doubt about God's promise of eternal life to them that believe. I have peace like a river in my soul that my name is written in Heaven. I want you to have that assurance too, without which you will never feel as close to God as you'd like dear friend.
I have perfect peace, because I fully understand God's simple plan of salvation. But I didn't always have that peace. I have been saved now for 43 years! Amen. For the first several years I worried continually, scared that I missed something, and didn't understand how God's plan of salvation worked. I thank God, I thank God, I thank God, that I didn't have some unlearned pastor confusing me, by telling me to turn from my sinning to be saved.
These unlearned preachers today like at Pensacola Christian College (PCC/0 and Bob Jones University (BJU), who go around telling lost sinners to “repent of your sins” to be saved are confusing people. I have shared with you some helpful quotes on repentance from Harry Ironside, Bob Gray Sr., Michael Bowen, Mark G. Cambron and others. I hope that you will ponder their quotes, because they are correct doctrinally on repentance. Most pastor today are corrupt on repentance!
One of the biggest inherent problems with telling people to “repent of your sins” is that they simply don't know what you mean. Think about it. What does it mean to “repent of your sins”? Dr. Curtis Hutson mentioned this same problem earlier, in the quote I shared with you. I do the same thing as Dr. Hutson does, I never use the word “repent” without explaining to someone what it means. Because if you don't explain it to them, they are almost assuredly going to assume that you are telling them to stop living in sin to be saved, which is demonic false teaching. Foolish is the pastor who tell people to “repent of your sins” without clarifying what he means, because forsaking a sinful lifestyle is works (Jonah 3:10).