Arminian Today

A Jesus-Centered Arminian Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Repentance

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

Why We Sin

We sin because we want to sin.  Satan does not make us sin.  God does not make us sin.  We sin because we want to sin.  James 1:12-15 is clear on this:

12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

Notice verse 14.  We are enticed by our own desires.  Our desires of the flesh want to rebel against God and His Word (1 John 3:4).  Our flesh wants to be Romans 1:18-32.  Our flesh wants to ignore the commands of the Lord and live for ourselves.  We deceive ourselves and think that our obeying our flesh will produce joy and happiness and contentment but it only produces death (Romans 6:23).

In our day it is common to want our sins to be legalized.  Whether it be sexual sins or drugs, we believe that if the government will just make it legal in the eyes of the law of men then this will sooth our guilty conscience and we will have peace in our sins.  This will never be!  God has given us a conscience to warn us that we are in rebellion against Him.  Every person on the face of the earth has a conscience from God and every single person, apart from the grace of God, knows that we have violated His just laws and have rebelled against Him just as Adam and Eve did in Genesis 3.  We know that we are guilty before a holy God and we know that we are doing things worthy of death but we believe that we should have a “right” to our sins and no one should tell us that we are sinning (not even God Himself).  This will not bring peace.

Peace will only come when we repent.  Romans 5:1 assures us of this peace through Jesus Christ.  Jesus died to take away our sins (1 Peter 3:18).  He shed His own blood in our place (Isaiah 53:5-6) and through His blood alone can we find peace with God (Matthew 26:28; Ephesians 2:8-9).  His blood alone is able to wash away all our sins (Isaiah 1:16; Ephesians 1:7; 1 John 1:7).  We must repent before a holy God which is turning away from sin toward God (Matthew 3:8; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 17:30-31; Romans 2:4; 2 Corinthians 7:10).  Repentance is the will of God (2 Peter 3:9).  Turning from sin is the will of God (1 Thessalonians 4:3; 5:23-24; 1 John 2:1-2).  By His grace alone are we able to turn away from our sins (Titus 2:11-12).  Our flesh cannot please God (Romans 8:7) but by the power of the Holy Spirit we can turn away from sin and repent (John 16:8-11).

I despise sin!

Written by The Seeking Disciple

03/14/2014 at 8:43 PM

Martyn Lloyd-Jones on Repentance

Found this great quote while reading John MacArthur’s excellent book, The Gospel According to Jesus:

Repentance means that you realize that you are a guilty, vile sinner in the presence of God, that you deserve the wrath and punishment of God, that you are hell-bound.  It means that you begin to realize that this thing called sin is in you, that you long to get rid of it, and that you turn your back on it in every shape and form.  You renounce the world whatever the cost, the world in its mind and outlook as well as its practice, and you deny yourself, and take up the cross and go after Christ.  Your nearest and dearest, and the whole world, may call you a fool, or say you have religious mania.  You may have to suffer financially, but it makes no difference.  That is repentance.

Amen.  Thank God for the gift of repentance (Acts 11:18)!

Written by The Seeking Disciple

07/01/2013 at 9:36 AM

Preaching Repentance

I was reading from Luke 24:47 this morning and noticed a difference between the NASB and the ESV over this verse.  The ESV reads:

47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.

The NASB reads:

47 and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.

Do you notice the difference?

The difference is in the usage of the word “and” in the ESV and the word “for” in the NASB.  The NASB footnotes the verse as saying that later Greek manuscripts read “and.”  I prefer the NASB reading.  The NASB points to the repentance as bringing the forgiveness of sins.  The ESV makes the repentance and the forgiveness of sins as separate.  I agree with the NASB here.  Repentance produces the forgiveness of sins.  This is clear in the rest of the New Testament such as in Acts 2:38; 3:19; 5:31; 8:22; 17:30-31; 20:21; 26:20.  While Acts 5:31 does seem to separate repentance and the forgiveness of sins, it is clear from the Scriptures that repentance does secure the forgiveness of our sins.

Now there is some truth of course to the fact that God grants us both as separate.  God grants repentance (2 Timothy 2:25) and He grants forgiveness of sins through Christ (Ephesians 1:7).  They are not exactly the same but you can’t have one without the other.  Repentance and forgiveness of sins go hand in hand.  One must repent to be forgiven.

This is needed preaching in our day.  Some churches will preach faith in God without talking about repentance.  My boys went to VBS (vacation Bible school) last week at another church and received “gospel tracts” one day.  These tracts talked about “steps to peace with God” but said nothing of repentance.  Not one word.  It talked about faith in Jesus but nothing about repenting of their sins.  Nor did it define sin.  It simply said, “All have sinned” (Romans 3:23) but didn’t show our own personal guilt before God (Romans 7:7).  This is the purpose of the moral law (Galatians 3:23-24).  The law reveals our need for salvation and shows that we are sinful before a holy God.  The law does not save us but it shows our need for salvation.  The law says, “You are guilty!” but leaves us there.  The gospel shows our Savior and our response to that gospel is faith and repentance of our sins.  This brings about the forgiveness of our sins.

We must then preach repentance.  We must preach repentance to all.  We must warn sinners to repent of their sins by showing them their sins by the Law of God.  Repentance is often used in a negative sense but it is in reality a positive event as we see our sins by the Law of God and come to repentance by the grace of God and the divine work of the Holy Spirit (John 16:8-11).  Repentance is the first message the great John the Baptist preached (Mark 1:4) and the first message of Jesus Christ Himself (Mark 1:14-15).  Should it not be ours as well?

Written by The Seeking Disciple

06/30/2013 at 12:55 PM

Personal Responsibility For Sin

Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin!
3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
and blameless in your judgment.
– Psalm 51:1-4

David did not seek to avoid the fact that he had sinned against God.  He clearly took personal responsibility for his own sins in Psalm 51.  In fact, Psalm 51 says at the beginning that this psalm is “To the choirmaster.  A Psalm of David when Nathan the Prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.”  Do you understand what David is saying here?  He is asking that the choirmaster lead the entire Jews in singing about his sins.  He is wanting it shouted from the rooftops of Israel, “I HAVE SINNED!”

How vastly different from today’s culture where we blame everyone for their sins but the person who sinned.  An NFL player kills his girlfriend and then shoots himself and people blame the girlfriend.  In Connecticut, a man shoot his mother, kills 26 people at a school, shoots himself and then the media blames his mother for having guns.  People are being told that sin is not their fault.  It is someone else’s fault that we are the way that we are.  I have read books that seek to understand Hitler.  They explain that Hitler hated the Jews because of this reason or that.  They explain that his hatred begin while a young man or while in the World War I but they never admit that Hitler himself was just evil.  Our world wants to avoid labeling anyone with that term.  People are not born evil.  They are not born corrupt.  They are not evil at all but all people, or so we are being told, are basically good.  No personal responsibility for our own sins.

The fact is that we are dead in our trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1-3).  We are, by nature, children of wrath.  Unless we repent, we deserve the just wrath of God against us for our violation of His laws and for the justice demanded by His holiness (Leviticus 17:11).  We want to sidetrack the issue of our personal guilt but we are guilty before God (Romans 5:12).  None of us can escape God’s just wrath against our sins (Romans 3:23; cf. Ecclesiastes 7:20).  The fact is that none of us deserve the goodness of God.  We have earned His wrath (Romans 1:18-32).  We have shaken our fists in His face and demanded that He leave us alone (Romans 3:10-18).  We do not love God.  We hate Him.

Thankfully, God is rich in mercy just as David prayed above in Psalm 51.  David appealed to the steadfast love and abundant mercy of God.  That truly is what God is.  He is merciful.  No doubt He is just and He will repay sin (Romans 2:7-11) but He is also merciful as He has shown throughout the Scriptures and through the death of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, for our sins (John 3:14-18).  Romans 2:4 says that it is the kindness of the Lord that leads us to repentance.  When we see how we have violated His law, broken His commandments (1 John 3:4) and we deserve His wrath, it is there that we see the great love and mercy of God with the cross and we are humbled by His love.  I know that I deserve His wrath.  I know that I don’t deserve His love.  Yet I am equally amazed at His love.  I stand in awe of His love.  I stand in awe of His saving grace.  The Lord saved me completely by His own power and love (John 1:12-13; Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5-7) and I stand in awe of that act.

The truth is that forgiveness of sins does not come until we repent of our sins and recognize that we have personally broken God’s laws.  We must take ownership of our sins.  We cannot cast our blame upon another (Ezekiel 18:4).  We cannot blame Adam for our sins.  We cannot blame our parents for our sins.  We cannot blame our culture on our sins.  We can only blame ourselves and admit that we are evil (Luke 11:13).  We are not “basically good” but we are corrupt, ungodly, a hater of good, a lover of pleasure, and selfish.  We do not deserve life but death.  We don’t deserve God’s goodness but His wrath.  We deserve hell.  Until we see that, the cross will matter little to us.  However when we see our sins and repent of OUR sins then we will see how great is the love of God in His forgiveness of ours sins.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.
– 1 John 1:9-2:1

Written by The Seeking Disciple

12/19/2012 at 5:19 PM

Why Are Sinners Condemned?

All of salvation is a gift of God.  This is the position of many Calvinists.  No Arminian would disagree.  We firmly believe that salvation is the gracious work of Christ and that salvation is fully accomplished by God and for His glory.  The only “work” for the sinner is to believe the gospel (John 6:29) which Paul clearly shows in Romans 4:4-5 is not a work.  Here Paul the Apostle contrasts faith with works and shows that faith is the opposite of work.  To work for one’s salvation would nullify grace (Romans 11:6).  Faith is the full acceptance of the gracious work of God that He has given to us in Christ Jesus who finished the work of saving sinners through His sacrificial death on the cross (John 19:30).

However, why will people then be condemned at the judgment seat of Christ?  Will it be because they were not sovereignly chosen by God to be saved?  Will it be because they refused the gospel?  Will it be for the sins?  The answers to those questions are vital to our understanding of God, His nature, the purpose of the atonement, evangelism, discipleship, etc.  So let us work through these questions.

First, why are people condemned?  The obvious answer is sin.  It was the warning of Genesis 2:17 that brought death to the human race in our forefather Adam (Romans 5:12).  Adam was created with a sinful nature, without being depraved, yet he sinned against God.  He violated God’s holy law.  This brought condemnation to all and now all of Adam’s posterity is born with a sinful desire.  Arminius rightly saw this as total depravity.  Arminius wrote:

The whole of this sin, however, is not peculiar to our first parents, but is common to the entire race and to all their posterity, who, at the time when this sin was committed, were in their loins, and who have since descended from them by the natural mode of propagation, according to the primitive benediction. For in Adam “all have sinned.” (Rom. v, 12.) Wherefore, whatever punishment was brought down upon our first parents, has likewise pervaded and yet pursues all their posterity. So that all men “are by nature the children of wrath,” (Ephes. ii, 3,) obnoxious to condemnation, and to temporal as well as to eternal death; they are also devoid of that original righteousness and holiness. (Rom. v, 12, 18, 19.) With these evils they would remain oppressed forever, unless they were liberated by Christ Jesus; to whom be glory forever.

So people are condemned because of sin.  This is obvious.  Sin is the transgression of the law (1 John 3:4).  Sin brings death (Romans 6:23) and sin only breeds more sin (Galatians 6:7-8).  James 1:14-15 (NKJV) tells us where sin comes from:

But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.

Jesus said that whoever sins is a slave to sin (John 8:34).  Ecclesiastes 7:20 says, “For there is not a just man on earth who does good and does not sin.”  Romans 3:10-18 perfectly describes our condition before a holy God:

“There is none righteous, no, not one;
There is none who understands;
There is none who seeks after God.
They have all turned aside;
They have together become unprofitable;
There is none who does good, no, not one.”
“Their throat is an open tomb;
With their tongues they have practiced deceit”;
“The poison of asps is under their lips”;
“Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.”
“Their feet are swift to shed blood;
Destruction and misery are in their ways;
And the way of peace they have not known.”
“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

We sin because we are both sinful and we are sinful because we sin.  Condemnation comes because of sin.  The fact of Genesis 2:17 did not change.  Those who sin deserve death and the wages of sin is death.  People are condemned because of sin.  Paul writes in Galatians 5:19-21 about the works of the flesh and how such acts will keep us from the kingdom:

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Notice that it is sin that will keep a person from the kingdom.  There is nothing in Scripture to suggest that the sovereignty of God will keep us from heaven or that God has decreed such.  The fact is that people are condemned because of sin.

The only remedy for sin is the precious blood of Jesus.  Hebrews 9:22 says, “Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.”  Why?  Because God demands that the one who sins shall die (Genesis 2:17) and He requires blood to atone for sins (Leviticus 17:11).  Only the blood of Jesus can cleanse us from sin (Hebrews 9:28; 1 John 1:7).  The blood of Jesus was absolutely perfect and holy blood that had never sinned (2 Corinthians 5:21).  The blood of Jesus is our only hope for salvation (Matthew 26:28; 1 Timothy 2:5-6).  The soul that sins shall die (Ezekiel 18:4).  Someone must die when someone sins.  Whether it be the Lamb of God, our substitute, our Passover (1 Corinthians 5:7) or our own blood, someone must die.  The problem is that our blood is tainted with sin.  Jesus’ blood was not.  He stood condemned in our place, for our sins (Isaiah 53:4-6).  He died on the cross for our transgressions.  And not just ours but for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2).  What a great sacrifice was the cross!  How unlimited is His atonement!

People then will stand before God at the final judgment and will be cast aside not because of election or reprobation but because of their own sins and their rejection of the truth.  Romans 1:18-32 establishes universal condemnation.  The necessity of the gospel and world evangelism are seen in the words of Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:47; John 20:21; Acts 1:8) and in the words of Paul in Romans 10:14-17.  The way for people to be saved is through the gospel.  We are under obligation to preach to all (2 Corinthians 5:18-6:3).  We must declare that Jesus alone can forgive sins by His blood.  And what brings condemnation is their own sins before a holy God and rejection of His truth (John 3:17-21).  No person will stand at the judgment and say that it was God’s decree that sent them to hell but their own sins.  They know that they are guilty before God (Romans 2:12-16).  Arminius stated, “The opposite to justification is condemnation, and this by an immediate contrariety, so that between these two no medium can be imagined.”  In other words, Arminius acknowledged that we are either justified through faith in Christ or we are condemned in our sins.  There is only one way to justification before God and that is in Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9).  He alone is the way, the truth, and the life and no one comes to the Father but through Him (John 14:6; cf. Acts 4:12).

I believe, in closing, that the will of God is for all to be saved and He has demonstrated this in the giving of His Son (John 3:16).  I believe He takes no delight in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 18:32).  People will be condemned not because of God’s failure to provide His Son for their sins but their rejection of His gospel.  Through their own sins, their false worshiping and idolatry, they will stand before God and face condemnation.  The only hope is Jesus.  We must preach the gospel to all.  The gospel of Christ alone has the power to save those who believe (1 Corinthians 1:21; cf. Romans 1:16-17).  Our salvation will come only in Christ and what He has accomplished with His death on the cross and His glorious resurrection (Romans 4:24-5:1).  Arminius rightly said about men rejecting the gospel,

The accidental issue of vocation is, the rejection of the doctrine of grace, contempt of the divine counsel, and resistance manifested against the Holy Spirit, of which the proper and per se cause is, the wickedness and hardness of the human heart; and to this not unfrequently is added the just judgment of God, avenging the contempt shown to his word, from which arise blindness of mind, hardening of the heart, and a delivering up to a reprobate mind, and to the power of Satan.

But Arminius also noted that justification before God only comes through faith and with it comes blessings:

The object of justification is man, a sinner, acknowledging himself, with sorrow, to be such an one, and a believer, that is, believing in God who justifies the ungodly, and in Christ as having been delivered for our offenses, and raised again for our justification. As a sinner, man needs justification through grace, and, as a believer, he obtains justification through grace.

May we preach to all to come and be saved, to look to the Lord Jesus for salvation (John 3:14-15) and repent of their sins (Acts 17:30-31).  All can be forgiven and accepted in the chosen Son of God (Ephesians 1:7).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

12/12/2012 at 12:39 AM

Arminius on Repentance

DISPUTATION XLIII

ON THE REPENTANCE BY WHICH MEN ANSWER TO THE DIVINE VOCATION

I. As, in the matter of salvation, it has pleased God to treat with man by the method of a covenant, that is, by a stipulation, or a demand and a promise, and as even vocation has regard to a participation in the covenant; it is instituted on both sides and separately, that man may perform the requisition or command of God, by which he may obtain [the fulfillment of] his promise. But this is the mutual relation between these two — the promise is tantamount to an argument, which God employs, that he may obtain from man that which he demands; and the compliance with the demand, on the other hand, is the condition, without which man cannot obtain what has been promised by God, and through [the performance of] which he most assuredly obtains the promise.

II. Hence, it is apparent that the first of all which accepts this vocation is the faith, by which a man believes that, if he complies with the requisition, he will enjoy the promise, but that if he does not comply with it, he will not be put in possession of the things promised, nay, that the contrary evils will be inflicted on him, according to the nature of the divine covenant, in which there is no promise without a punishment proposed to it. This faith is the foundation on which rests the obedience that is to be yielded to God; and it is, therefore, the foundation of religion.

III. But divines generally place three parts in this obedience. The first is repentance, for it is the calling of sinners to righteousness. The second is faith in Christ, and in God through Christ; for vocation is made through the gospel, which is the word of faith. The third is the observance of God’s commands, in which consists holiness of life, to which believers are called, and without which no man shall see God.

IV. Repentance is grief or sorrow on account of sins known and acknowledged, the debt of death contracted by sin, and on account of the slavery of sin, with a desire to be delivered. Hence, it is evident, that three things concur in penitence – – the first as an antecedent, the second as a consequence, and the third as properly and most fully comprising its nature.

V. That which is tantamount to an antecedent is the knowledge or acknowledgment of sin. This consists of a two-fold knowledge:

(1.) A general knowledge by which is known what is sin universally and according to the prescript of the law.

(2.) A particular knowledge, by which it is acknowledged that sin had been committed, both from a recollection of the bad deeds perpetrated and of the good omitted, and from the examination of them according to the law. This acknowledgment, has, united with it, a consciousness of a two-fold demerit, of damnation or death, and of the slavery of sin; “for the wages of sin is death;” and “he who sins is the slave of sin.” This acknowledgment is either internal, and made in the mind, or it is external, and receives the appellation of “confession.”

VI. That which intimately comprises the nature of repentance is, sorrow on account of sin committed, and of its demerit, which is so much the deeper, as the acknowledgment of sin is clearer, and more copious. It is also produced from this acknowledgment by means of a two-fold fear of punishment:

(1.) A fear not only of bodily and temporal punishment, but likewise of that which is spiritual and eternal.

(2.) The fear of God, by which men are afraid of the judgment of such a good and just being, whom they have offended by their sins. This fear may be correctly called “initial;” and we believe that it has some hope annexed to it.

VII. That which follows as a consequence, is the desire of deliverance from sin, that is, from the condemnation of sin and from its dominion, which desire is so much the more intense, by how much the greater is the acknowledgment of misery and sorrow on account of sin.

VIII. The cause of this repentance is, God by his word and Spirit in Christ. For it is a repentance tending not to despair, but to salvation; but such it cannot be, except with respect to Christ, in whom, alone, the sinner can obtain deliverance from the condemnation and dominion of sin. But the word which he uses at the beginning is the word of the law, yet not under the legal condition peculiar to the law, but under that which is annexed to the preaching of the gospel, of which the first word is, that deliverance is declared to penitents. The Spirit of God may, not improperly, be denominated “the Spirit of Christ,” as he is Mediator; and it first urges a man by the word of the law, and then shows him the grace of the gospel. The connection of the word of the law and that of the gospel, which is thus skillfully made, removes all self-security, and forbids despair, which are the two pests of religion and of souls.

IX. We do not acknowledge satisfaction, which the papists make to be the third part of repentance, though we do not deny that the man who is a real penitent will endeavour to make satisfaction to his neighbour against whom he owns that he has sinned, and to the church that he has injured by the offense. But satisfaction can by no means be rendered to God, on the part of man, by repentance, sorrow, contrition, almsgiving, or by the voluntary susception and infliction of punishments. If such a course were prescribed by God, the consciences of men must necessarily be tormented with the continual anguish of a threatening hell, not less than if no promise of grace had been made to sinners. But God considers this repentance, which we have described, if it be true, to be worthy of a gracious deliverance from sin and misery; and it has faith as a consequence, on which we will treat in the subsequent disputation.

COROLLARY

Repentance is not a sacrament, either with regard to itself, or with regard to its external tokens.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

09/25/2012 at 10:00 AM

%d bloggers like this: