Arminian Today

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Repentance is Not a Mere Recognition of Sin

Notice the contrasts in Scripture concerning repentance.  There are many examples in the Bible of people who acknowledged that they had sinned but a mere recognition of sin is not enough to qualify as biblical repentance.  Repentance involves the entire person.  The entire nature of the person is changed.  Jesus described this as a new birth in John 3:1-8.  Biblical repentance does that to a person, completely makes them a new creation in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17).  This is why biblical repentance can only come from the Holy Spirit.  A person is simply unable to biblically repent without the aid of the Spirit of God.  We still preach repentance and we still call all to repent but the Holy Spirit is the one who enables people to repent.

In the Bible we have many examples of people who recognized their sins but did not truly repent.  This would include:

  • Pharaoh (Exodus 9:27-28)
  • Israel (Numbers 14:39-45; Psalm 78:34-37)
  • Balaam (Numbers 22:34)
  • Achan (Joshua 7:20)
  • King Saul (1 Samuel 15:24-30)
  • King Ahab (1 Kings 21:27-29)
  • Judas (Matthew 27:3-5)
  • The ungodly (Romans 1:32)

To truly repent is not to acknowledge that we are sinners (Romans 3:23) but a radical transformation of the entire person as we encounter the holiness of God.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

06/10/2014 at 4:39 PM

4 Responses

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  1. Since repentance requires a radical transformation of the entire person to put it in your words, perhaps another post on your view of how this relates to discipleship would be an appropriate follow up. Most of our churches are geared toward making converts while the focus on making disciples is lacking. The OSAS paradigm obviates the need to make disciples because emphasis is made on a past moment of belief instead of viewing salvation as a process in which the fight still needs to be fought and the race needs to be finished. My thinking is that if people in our congregations were taught this, then they would realize that salvation is “a yes but not yet” deal versus a “done” deal and the need for being discipled as well as to disciple others would become paramount. We would then understand why we need to love, edify, encourage and strengthen one another as we seek to follow and remain on the narrow road. The “one-anothers” in Scripture would begin to make sense as salvation would be seen as a mutually collective and beneficial endeavor within our churches instead of the prevalent view of salvation as seen primarily as being an individual matter (Lone Ranger Christianity). I would love to be in a body of believers who share this kind of mind-set. I have been disappointed to find little if any discipleship material/curricula that approaches discipleship from this perspective.


    06/14/2014 at 2:36 PM

    • I think we need to be balanced in our teaching on the issue of the security of the believer. I think we need to stress there is security for believers, disciples of Jesus. Yet we need to also warn disciples about fleeing sin and obeying God and we need to also call all disciples to perseverance. Even my Calvinist brethren readily admit that perseverance is necessary to prove we are the elect of God (2 Peter 1:10-11). Only the extreme forms of OSAS (such as Charles Stanley) teach that a person need not continue in the faith. Most simply say that a person was never saved to begin with if they fall away. This, however, in my estimation leads to a lack of assurance apart from teaching that God saves those who place their continued faith in the Lord Jesus (2 Cor. 1:24).

  2. By definition it is impossible for an unsaved person to apostatize from the faith as one cannot fall way from something that he or she was not a part of to begin with. Apostasy only applies to believers. By clinging to their doctrine, Calvinists give false assurance that true converts cannot fall away and will always persevere despite the plain reading of the scriptures such a 1 Tim 3:6.


    06/15/2014 at 2:58 AM

    • I agree. The NT language on apostasy is pointed toward disciples and not “false converts.” While I do believe there are false converts, there are also people such as Demas who turn away from the faith.

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