What is Repentance About? Part 2 (Understanding God’s Great Salvation #32)

The Bible says in Romans 10:8-10: “But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”

Today’s God’s Great Salvation quote is from Rick Warren. He said: “Through salvation our past has been forgiven, our present is given meaning, and our future is secured.”

Our topic today is titled What is Repentance About? (Part 2) from the book, “So Great Salvation: What it Means to Believe in Jesus Christ” by Dr. Charles Ryrie.

“The New Testament usage of repentance can be separated into three categories. First, there can be a repentance that either has no relation to eternal salvation or at least does not result in salvation. This may be labeled nonsaving repentance. It is not superficial, and it has a result or effect, though not salvation.”

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What is Repentance About? Part 1 (Understanding God’s Great Salvation #31)

The Bible says in Galatians 3:26-27: “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”

Allow me to share with you some commentary on this passage from the Bible Knowledge Commentary by Dr. John F. Walvoord and Dr. Roy B. Zuck:

First, all who believe in Christ become sons of God. The change in person from the first to the second indicates that Paul turned from looking at Israel as a nation to address the Galatian believers. Under the dispensation of Law, the Law was a discipling pedagogue, and those under its supervision were regarded as children. However, now that Christ had come, the Galatian believers were adult sons through faith and were no longer under a Jewish slave-guardian. Why should they seek to revert to their inferior status? The exalted position of “sons of God” is explained in verse 27 to involve a living union with Christ brought about by being baptized into Christ. This is the baptism of (or in) the Holy Spirit, which according to Paul joins all believers to Christ and unites them within the church, Christ’s body. This union with Him means being clothed with Christ. In the Roman society when a youth came of age he was given a special toga which admitted him to the full rights of the family and state and indicated he was a grown-up. So the Galatian believers had laid aside the old garments of the Law and had put on Christ’s robe of righteousness which grants full acceptance before God. Who would want to don again the old clothing?

Today’s God’s Great Salvation quote is from Alan Redpath. He said: “The conversion of a soul is the miracle of a moment, but the manufacture of a saint is the task of a lifetime.”

Our topic today is titled What is Repentance About? (Part 1) from the book, “So Great Salvation: What it Means to Believe in Jesus Christ” by Dr. Charles Ryrie. 

Most of you are probably too young to remember the “mourners’ bench.” I did not grow up in a church that had one, but I knew friends who did. The mourners’ bench was simply a place to kneel at the front of the church where the sinner could weep over and confess his sins. Then, with a resolve to turn from those sins, he would receive Christ as his Savior. Mourning, turning, and believing met at the mourners’ bench.

No criticism of this practice is implied. Indeed, it would be a healthy thing to see more sorrow for sin today. But what is the place of sorrow for sin or a resolve to turn from sin in relation to salvation? Since many consider sorrow for sin and repentance to be equivalent, then the questions could be worded, What is the place of repentance in relation to salvation? Must repentance precede faith? Is it a part of faith or a synonym for it? Can one be saved without repenting? What does it mean to repent?

GENERIC MEANINGS

A number of scriptural terms have a basic, almost generic meaning yet require that one ask some questions in order to understand the exact meaning in a particular situation. For example, the word salvation means “to rescue or to save.” But you must ask a further question about this basic meaning if you are to understand the meaning in a particular context: To be rescued from what? In Philippians 1:19 Paul uses the word salvation to mean rescue from his confinement in Rome. In that text, salvation does not mean rescue from eternal damnation but deliverance from his present incarceration. But, of course, in other contexts salvation does refer to being rescued from eternal condemnation. Yet the basic meaning of salvation remains the same whether it refers to a temporal or an eternal rescuing.

Or another example. What does it mean to redeem? It means “to buy or purchase something.” To purchase what, one must ask, in order to tailor this generic meaning to its use in a particular passage? In Matthew 13:44 a man redeems a field; that is, he buys it. This use has no relation to the redemption our Lord made on the cross, though the same word is used of the payment He made for sin when He died. The basic meaning remains the same—to purchase—whether the word refers to paying the price for a field or for sin.

The same principle applies to the word repentance. In both the Old and New Testaments repentance means “to change one’s mind.” But the question must be asked, About what do you change your mind? Answering that question will focus the basic meaning on the particular change involved.

Back to the mourners’ bench. Many people consciously or unconsciously connect repentance with sorrow, so much so that sorrow becomes for all practical purposes the meaning of repentance. Sorrow may well be involved in a repentance, but the biblical meaning of repentance is to change one’s mind, not to be sorry. The presence or absence of sorrow does not necessarily prove or disprove the genuineness of the repentance. The change of mind, however, must be genuine and not superficial.

Biblical repentance also involves changing one’s mind in a way that affects some change in the person. Repentance is not merely an intellectual assent to something; it also includes a resultant change, usually in actions.

The Eye of the Needle, Part 3 (Understanding God’s Great Salvation #30)

The Bible says in John 6:45: “It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.”

Allow me to share with you some commentary on this passage from the Bible Knowledge Commentary by Dr. John F. Walvoord and Dr. Roy B. Zuck:

In support of this doctrine of salvation by God’s grace, Jesus cited the Old Testament. The quotation, ‘They will all be taught by God,’ is from the Prophets, probably Isaiah 54:13, though Jeremiah 31:34 has the same thought. This “teaching” of God refers to His inner work that disposes people to accept the truth about Jesus and respond to Him. Everyone who listens to and learns from God will come to and believe in Jesus. Yet this secret teaching of God is not a mystical connection of people with God directly. Knowing God comes only through Jesus, the Logos of God. As one is confronted by Him and hears His words and sees His deeds, the Father works within him.

Today’s God’s Great Salvation quote is from John Newton. He said: “When I was young, I was sure of many things; now there are only two things of which I am sure: one is, that I am a miserable sinner; and the other, that Christ is an all-sufficient Saviour. He is well-taught who learns these two lessons.”

Our topic today is titled The Eye of the Needle (Part 3) from the book, “So Great Salvation: What it Means to Believe in Jesus Christ” by Dr. Charles Ryrie.

First, let’s consider the question: HOW DOES DISCIPLESHIP RELATE TO ETERNAL LIFE?

Suppose the rich young ruler had been willing to give away all his fortune and even become one of the band who followed Christ. That raises another question: Does being a disciple assure eternal life? Or put another way, Can one be a disciple and not possess eternal life?

Willing disciples sometimes resign their discipleship. Early in our Lord’s ministry many did. These were actual disciples of Christ, that is, pupils, which is what the word disciple means. But surely one cannot conclude they all had eternal life. Judas furnishes another example of a disciple who evidently did not have eternal life. So do the antichrists in John’s day; of these John wrote, “they were not really of us.”

Being a disciple—even of Christ—does not guarantee eternal life.

LOVE REACHED OUT BUT WAS REJECTED

The Lord loved this rich young man. Incidentally, the verb used for love in Mark 10:21 is agape. As far as we know this man was never saved; therefore, he was one of the non-elect. Observe, then, the Lord loved a non-elect man. His agape love extended beyond the world of the elect. How, then, can the “world” of John 3:16 be limited to the elect, as some say it is?

Our Lord was trying to get the man to admit his unrighteousness, his need of help from outside himself. All the time this leader only asserted his own righteousness by his claim to have kept the commands that the Lord cited to him from the Law. So, unwilling to acknowledge Jesus as God and unwilling to admit his own personal failures and self-centeredness, he went away.

The Lord then applied the lesson for the disciples: It is difficult for anyone who trusts in riches to enter the kingdom. It is not the amount of money that makes it difficult, but the trust in any amount of money. We all tend to trust our strong points or our achievements. It is that trust that often keeps us from seeing our real needs. So was the case with this young man. His strength was in his possessions, and trusting them blinded him from seeing his sin.

HOW DIFFICULT IT IS

How difficult is it for a rich man to enter the kingdom? As difficult as it would be for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, Jesus said.

A camel was the largest animal in Palestine in those days. The needle was a sewing needle, not a small gate within a larger gate, as is sometimes suggested. No way could a camel with or without its humps squeeze through the eye of a needle. The disciples understood that the Lord was saying that it is impossible for anyone who trusts in riches to enter the kingdom—unless God intervenes and offers a way of salvation that is unrelated to human resources and abilities. The young man did not stay around long enough to hear that message. He would not acknowledge his need of outside help, so he did not receive it. But he could have, for the Lord said that with God all things are possible—even the salvation of this rich young man. But salvation was not on the basis of giving away his wealth.

Possessions make us comfortable. Money focuses our eyes on this world, not the one to come. Being able to have what we want deceives us into thinking we have no needs, especially spiritual ones. We assume that success “obviously” means that God is smiling on us with great favor. It meant that to the Jewish people of Jesus’ day; that’s what made it inconceivable to them to think that money could actually keep anyone from the kingdom. But it, or anything else that blinds us from acknowledging our sin and need of a Savior, can.

But suppose we do recognize that things cannot give us eternal life. Will giving up those things, or being willing to give them up, then give us salvation? To acknowledge our sins and even to turn from those sins will not gain forgiveness. Only receiving the gift of eternal life from the Savior who died for those sins will.