Repentance and Salvation In Scripture – Pt. 1

Ronald R. Shea, Th.M., J.D.

REPENTANCE 

Ron Shea is in the process of updating his site, this is his series on Repentance in Salvation. I am presenting his Repentance article in an ongoing series on Redeeming Moments. I originally found Ron when I was doing my own search on the meaning of repentance in the oldest secular occurrence I could find. At that time it was Plutarch and through that search I found Ron Shea’s site. I saw that his gospel was clear and was pleasantly surprised to see the mention of Plutarch’s writings in literature. Through this I saw men could repent to do good and men could repent to do badly.

What does Repentance mean?

This work presents an exhaustive examination of every verse in Scripture in which the word “repent” occurs.  But after all the ink has dried, the lessons contained herein can probably be summed up in eight or so basic truths.

  • Repentance has no intrinsic subject.  Anyone can repent, even God!

 

  • Repentance has no intrinsic object.  It is not automatically directed toward sin.  One can repent about virtually anything.  One can even repent from good to evil!

 

  • Repentance has no intrinsic consequence.  It does not automatically result in eternal salvation.  It can result in result in any consequence that naturally follows the exercise God’s free will, or man’s free will.

 

  • The actual phrase “repent of your sins” never occurs in Scripture.  NEVER!

 

  • The Bible never teaches that one must repent of their sins to be saved.

 

  • Whenever sin is the object of repentance, the consequence of repentance is never eternal salvation.

 

  • Whenever eternal salvation is the consequence of repentance, the object of repentance is never sin.

 

  • In every passage on repentance relating to eternal salvation, the object of repentance is, in some way or another, the person of Jesus Christ, his eternal divinity, his atoning death, His resurrection, or the freeness of the eternal salvation he provides.  The object of saving repentance is no different than the elements of saving faith described in other terms throughout Scripture:

john6-47If you are able to remember these simple truths about biblical repentance, you will know more about repentance, and more about the doctrine of salvation, than 99.9% of the ministers filling the pulpits of Christian churches across the land. In the pages of this work, you will hopefully come to appreciate how deeply confused the church is over the very message of salvation, even at the pastoral level.  With this dawning realization hopefully, you will develop a renewed sense of purpose in your Christian life . . . perhaps a purpose in your life that you have never before experienced.

The church will never fulfill the Great Commission as long as it is confused on the very message of the gospel!  Certainly not while it continues to proclaim salvation by faith plus.  And the church will never be lifted from its confusion unless each of those who understand the truth of the gospel labor to change it.

After reading the pages of this book, as you look at the elite pulpits across our land, you should realize the depth of this crisis.  May God rouse you from your slumber, and impress upon you how deeply God covets your labor as a faithful witness of His grace.  Perhaps you will acknowledge a long ignored call to vocational Christian work in the Gospel ministry.  If not, perhaps you will seek the opportunity to teach Sunday school, or a youth ministry or Bible Study, and strengthen the focus of the church through those venues.  But regardless of the hilltop on which God may or may not place you, whenever you walk out the front door of your home, you are entering your mission field.  To whom much is given, much will be expected.

Confusion Over Repentance

The phrase “repent of your sins,” is so embedded in Christian culture that it is hard to hear the word “repent” without mentally adding on the three words “from your sins.”  And since the word “repent” is often associated with eternal salvation, this leads to further adding on, either mentally, or verbally from the pulpit,  the words “to be saved” to the end of the sentence.  Together, they form the greatest myth in the history of Christianity . . . “You must repent of your sins to be saved.”

This belief is not only wrong, it is an error that threatens the eternal destiny of every man, woman and child on the planet.  For it reduces the gospel of grace to a gospel of works.  Scripture teaches with unmistakable clarity that a man is justified by faith apart from the works of the law, (Romans 3:28) and that to entrust one’s eternal salvation to one’s own obedience to God’s laws is to frustrate God’s offer of the gift of forgiveness of sins and eternal life, and make void the promise (Romans 4:4-5, 24; 11:6-7, Galatians 5:1-4).

The command “repent from your sins to be saved” is wrong on any level, but because there is so much confusion surrounding the word “repentance,” multiple distinct errors surround the concept of repentance.

  1. Some believe one must have some transcendent experience of emotional remorse over one’s sins to be saved.
  2. Others believe that a sinner must actually begin living in obedience to the laws of God before they can be saved.
  3. Most frequently, however, the phrase “repent of your sins” is understood to mean that a lost sinner resolve (determine, internally promise, commit) to “turn from his sins” in order to be saved from hell.

This first view necessarily means that one is beyond redemption simply because he suffers from autism, a schizotypal disorder, or some other medical disorder that suppresses personal emotion.

The second view requires the actual works of the law to be saved.  It is seldom taught to its logical conclusion simply because most people are not in the middle of some overtly sinful act at any one time.  Although, by Biblical standards, it is doubtful that any of us have perfectly pure motives at any moment, few of us are engaged in an overtly sinful act very often.  A drug dealer is not dealing drugs between deals.

Because of this, the third view is the most pervasive form of confusion over repentance, and has truly become the staple of confused Christendom.  It is a cancer on the Christian community.  In this view, eternal salvation is not dependent on the performance of a work, but only the promise of future works.  In the minds of those determined to adhere to salvation by works, this distinction supposedly allows the works of the law to be somehow added to the equation of salvation without annulling the doctrine of grace.  Paul’s Epistle to the Romans would disagree.  “For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise is of none effect.

At law, an exchange of promises is known as a bilateral contract.  If you have already read the previous section on “Bilateral Contract Salvation” (also know as “Lordship Salvation), you will recognize that the third expression of “saving repentance” is nothing more than a specific form or expression of Bilateral Contract Salvation  . . . “a promise for a promise.”  The lost sinner “promises” future obedience in exchange for God’s “promise” of eternal life.  This errant understanding of the term “repentance” is the most common and pervasive form of “Lordship Salvation” taught within Christendom throughout the world.

READ PART 2 OF REPENTANCE IN SALVATION HERE

Repentance.  What does the Bible Mean? by Pastor Lindstrom

Ronald Shea’s ministry, cleargospel.org can be supported at this page.  We do not accept donations, but if you appreciate the years of work of faithfulness to God’s Scriptures, Mr. Shea’s ministry does and we support him.  He also has some good gospel booklets you can use as tracts.

He has downloadable gospel tracts in many languages.  Albanian, Arabic, Bulgarian, Burmese, Chinese – both simplified and traditional, English, French, Fulfude – Nigerian, German, Hindi, Igbo – Nigerian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Lugandan (Uganda), Polish, Punjabi – Pakistani script, Romanian, Russian, Rwandan, Saraiki – Southern Punjab, Pakistan, Sindi – Pakistan, Spanish, Swahili, Tagalog – Filipino Islands, Tamil – India & Singapore, Ukrainian, Urdu – Pakistan, Vietnamese.

GO TO CLEAR GOSPEL

22 Responses to “Repentance and Salvation In Scripture – Pt. 1

  • Oh I could cry. I honestly feel like crying.

    I’ve spent the past 6 months working through the Repent/Repented/Repentance verses in order to clarify exactly what the context is about in order to confirm what the word/s DON’T say ie: “Turn from sin”.

    I am honestly so blessed by your site and ExP.

    I could cry.

    I feel so lonely at the point in my life. It feels like all the believers around me think I’m nuts for walking away from the establishment and saying JMac teaches heresy.

    It is a sad time but I find much consolation from reading my bible and knowing that I’m not the only “crazy” in the world (haha)

    • BeholdaSon….

      I know how you are feeling, you know Jesus had the truth. He was the truth. He spoke the truth. Yet they would not hear, they would not believe, they would not come to Him. They mocked Him and plotted how they could kill Him even as He told them the story of the Vineyard owner. These Pharisee’s and rulers perceived they spoke about them. They would not have Him rule over them.

      These people who preach ‘repent from sin’ or ‘turn from sin’ as part of the gospel, should really have it out with John (the beloved disciple) and with Paul for when he declared the gospel they all preached, they all believed, received and where saved by and stood in, he FORGOT turn from sin? Or just lied? Or took away from God’s Word? Or didn’t declare the whole gospel?

      What about John who tells us in John 20:31 WHY the entire book was written?

      Why oh why did John leave out ‘repent from sin’ or ‘turn from sin’ in order to be saved? It can go on and on, but people are not realizing there is no ‘percentage’ of repent or turning from sin that could work unless perfection. There is no ‘right attitude of a decision to ‘try’ to repent from sin’ in order to be saved that could be enough unless perfect, and is impossible for a human being, let alone an ungodly, sinner, who is without strength (Rom 5:6-8)

      Part 4 coming up 🙂

    • Behold a Son, sorry, seems like I have somehow lost both comments, will try again. It is a lonely feeling, we are partaking in some of His sufferings. Seems like some think there will be some sort of revival at the end. Jesus said differently.

      Seems like others verify man by their credentials and popularity, even likability vs. what gospel they preach. People do not want to be Bereans (Acts 17:11), nor ‘prove all things’ – 1 Thess 5:21. They think of men beyond what is written 1 Cor 4:6.

      I find comfort from His Word too 🙂 (Rom 15:4)

    • Hi Behold a Son – new part is here 🙂

  • Hi Beholdason,
    Its Mary from Australia, hang in there. You are not alone, so many of us all over the world are doing it tough and alone. If its ok with Holly, you can try and leave your email and we can exchange them in order to contact each other.

  • Thanks Holly! Fascinating about the blueletterbible change. I wonder if there are any CC pastors aware of it, or if they just all trust it.

    • Thanks Lori, a lot of the Calvary Chapel pastors I believe are aware of a lot of the ecumenism along with Calvinism that have been creeping in. There is error from all sorts of places with them. Praying people will get into His Word.

  • Kallyjon
    1 month ago

    Do we confess our sins once we are saved and believe, if we should fall, and become unrighteous, and walk in the darkside??, there seems to be some confusion, Jesus died on the cross for All our sins, if we sin, do we say thanks Jesus, you died for that sin I just committed, and guilt made me think of you?, So many teach confess your sins to God? some confusion here, thanks

    What of this
    Fellowship and Filling of the Holy Spirit We believe, however, that our fellowship with God (1st John 1:3), and the filling of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:1 , are not automatic products of salvation, but are dependent on our moment-moment-walk with Christ. Believers, though saved once and for all for eternity, can be carnal (1st Corinthians 3:1-4), and out of fellowship with their Redeemer (1st John 1:6) [1], and are instructed to maintain that fellowship by an ongoing evaluation of their lives and motives (2nd Corinthians 5:10-11), by confessing their sins to God (1st John 1:9), and drawing upon the power of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:1 to conform their lives to holiness and godliness (Galatians 5:22, Ephesians 5:1-9; 1st John 1:3-10).

    Is this not confessing your sins after you believe??

    • Thank you for this great question.

      I do believe confessing (admitting) our sins after we believe. And I understand it for the purpose stated in 1 John written to believers. So that our joy may remain full and so that our fellowship may continue with other believers and with God. It is also so we will know if we are walking after the lusts of the flesh (in darkness) vs. walking in the Spirit (in light).

      I don’t believe it’s sitting down trying to come up with a laundry list, but when the Word convinces us of sin in our lives, admitting it to the Lord (or maybe to the one we sinned against also) so that we don’t have walls built up with others. If we walk around in pride, but we don’t admit it, it can obviously be a problem on our side with God. So my thoughts are the difference is practical sanctification (our walk in this lifetime, where our feet get dirty) and positional sanctification (once for all by His one sacrifice, we are perfected forever in the new man – Heb 10:10-14; 1 Pet 1:23; 2 Cor 5:17).

      I think God put this in for us, because continued sin in our lives hardens us. All our sins have been forgiven positionally (Col 2:13-15; Acts 13:38-39) but we are like our forefather Adam and mother Eve. We tend to hide from God when we recognize our sin.

      I think the foot washing we see in John 13 is a picture of positional and practical sanctification. We are ‘already clean’ but we still need Jesus to wash our feet. And that will be until we die, since we still have evil dwelling in our flesh (Rom 7:19-25).

      As far as the filling of the Spirit, I don’t believe we get any more of the Spirit, but it’s a term to recognize the difference between grieving or quenching the Spirit by walking in our flesh, or being filled with Him when we are walking in Him.
      I agree that this is not ‘automatic’ as to me it is synonymous with a choice to walk in the Spirit. I believe too (whoever they are) that it is a moment by moment walk, which is helpful if we choose the good part, vs. letting ourselves even get distracted (Lk 10:38-42). Or at least that’s how I’ve finally come to understand why I can fail consistently, but when I stay closer to His Word, continuing in it, it’s easier (John 8:30-31) to be that disciple He desires us to be.

      2 Cor 5:10-11, not sure about that being about an ongoing evaluation but about the Bema Seat of Christ. So not quite sure what they meant there. Rom 12:1-2 is helpful as is Heb 12:1-2. And 1 John 3:9-10 is more about our position in Christ vs. our conformation as far as I understand it. The original word some translate ‘practice’ means ‘commit’ or ‘do’. So if you sin once, you’re out. So what is that speaking to? I believe the new man which is born again of the incorruptible seed according to 1 Pet 1:23.

      I highly recommend this two part series of Understanding the Two Natures by Pastor Tom Cucuzza of Northland Bible Baptist church.

  • Kallyjon
    1 month ago

    The question
    What of this: Fellowship and Filling of the Holy Spirit ……….was from Ronald R. Shea, Th.M., J.D.

    In 1 John 1:9 I want to look at the word “forgive” because John’s choice of words is rather strange. John describes forgiveness as a verb (aphiemi in Greek) when all the other New Testament writers tend to describe it as a noun (aphesis).

    Prior to the cross, God’s forgiveness is almost always described as a verb. After the cross it is almost always a noun. Forgive= before cross verb, Forgiven=Noun after the cross.

    Do you see the significance of this? Prior to the cross God related to the Israelites on the basis of the law-keeping covenant. “If you do A, B, and C, then I will forgive your sins and heal your land, etc.” This is called conditional forgiveness and it’s what Jesus preached prior to the cross: “If you forgive others, God will forgive you.” It’s an eye for an eye and a verb for a verb.

    But after the cross, everything changed. The law was fulfilled, grace was revealed and verbs became nouns. Forgiveness was no longer conditional on you doing A, B, and C. Forgiveness became a free gift paid for by the blood of the Lamb. Jesus Himself was the first to announce this:

    He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness (aphesis – a noun) of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” (Luk 24:46-47)

    But this is not what Jesus preached after the cross. In Luke 24 Jesus says, “From now on, forgiveness is a noun. Forgiveness is not something God does, it’s something “He’s done.”

    But 1 John didn’t. He said, If you confess, God will forgive. He went with the old style verb instead of a new covenant noun. Why? Was He not in the room when Jesus made His Luke 24 announcement? Did he not get the memo that a new and better covenant was in town and that God’s forgiveness has been lavished upon us according to the riches of His grace?
    No, John uses the old verb for the same reason Paul does in Romans 4:7-8 – they were both quoting Old Testament scripture. Indeed, they were both quoting the same Old Testament scripture – Psalm 32.

    Here is my conjecture that Old 1 Johns brain was going faster than his writing, being in his 80s, he simply forgot to add in like Paul did, In the days of old King David said If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.???

    • Kallyjon,

      I’ll post your comments and put my thoughts in bold so people can distinguish.

      YOU SAID: In 1 John 1:9 I want to look at the word “forgive” because John’s choice of words is rather strange. John describes forgiveness as a verb (aphiemi in Greek) when all the other New Testament writers tend to describe it as a noun (aphesis).

      Prior to the cross, God’s forgiveness is almost always described as a verb. After the cross it is almost always a noun. Forgive= before cross verb, Forgiven=Noun after the cross.

      Do you see the significance of this? Prior to the cross God related to the Israelites on the basis of the law-keeping covenant. “If you do A, B, and C, then I will forgive your sins and heal your land, etc.” This is called conditional forgiveness and it’s what Jesus preached prior to the cross: “If you forgive others, God will forgive you.” It’s an eye for an eye and a verb for a verb.

      But after the cross, everything changed. The law was fulfilled, grace was revealed and verbs became nouns. Forgiveness was no longer conditional on you doing A, B, and C. Forgiveness became a free gift paid for by the blood of the Lamb. Jesus Himself was the first to announce this:

      He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness (aphesis – a noun) of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” (Luk 24:46-47)

      But this is not what Jesus preached after the cross. In Luke 24 Jesus says, “From now on, forgiveness is a noun. Forgiveness is not something God does, it’s something “He’s done.”

      I haven’t had time to look up your assertion that it’s always a noun after the cross except 1st John. That wouldn’t change my thoughts on positional forgiveness. I’d have to look up each instance and see the context.

      YOU SAID: But 1 John didn’t. He said, If you confess, God will forgive. He went with the old style verb instead of a new covenant noun. Why? Was He not in the room when Jesus made His Luke 24 announcement? Did he not get the memo that a new and better covenant was in town and that God’s forgiveness has been lavished upon us according to the riches of His grace?
      No, John uses the old verb for the same reason Paul does in Romans 4:7-8 – they were both quoting Old Testament scripture. Indeed, they were both quoting the same Old Testament scripture – Psalm 32.

      Here is my conjecture that Old 1 Johns brain was going faster than his writing, being in his 80s, he simply forgot to add in like Paul did, In the days of old King David said If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.???

      I completely and strongly disagree with John’s brain somehow going faster than his writing, etc. That would make the Word of God fallible and you would not know if something was a mistake due to age or not. The Word is inspired by His Spirit and infallible. And so what can the answer be?

      1) No one was ever forgiven positionally by confessing sins. Those conditions you mentioned always had to do with some receipt of a particular blessing, or not receiving a punishment. Gal 2:6 is clear, No one has ever been justified by the law. The just have always lived by faith (Hab 2:4; Rom 1:17).

      2) Some say it is because 1 John was written to Jews who had to keep the law. Scripture disagrees, and confessing sins was a work of the law (see Num 5:6-7), and cannot be added as a work TO salvation, BUT certainly (again as the purpose statement reveals) make us aware of whether we are walking in the flesh or the Spirit, and creates a more intimate fellowship with God (on our side as hiding sinners) and helps our joy to remain full (as sin is damaging).

      3) As far as citing OT Scripture, it is often done, and remember, the OT saints were saved in the same manner — by faith. David was already saved eternally, but he confessed his sins for the same reasons. Acknowledgement that his sins were against God and to keep him headed on the right path.

  • What about …….Isaiah 59:20

    “The Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who REPENT OF THEIR SINS (emphasis mine),” declares the Lord.

    • Thanks for your comment Jan. It’s good to ask questions and I want you to understand I never suggest that we do not turn from sins. There are many places that tell us to do just that. But we do not see that in the offer of eternal life which is free and apart from works. Turning from sin is a very good work to do, but we know it is not by works of righteousness that we have done (Titus 3). Nineveh is a good example of God telling people to turn from their sin, if they want Him to repent from what He was going to do (destroy their city). Please pay close attention to the fact that their ‘turning from sin’ God called a ‘work’.

      Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not? And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.

      Hab 2:4 tells us the just have always lived by faith. Romans 4 is clear that righteousness comes by faith alone apart from works. Ephesians 2:8-9 says the same, and Galatians 2:16 says no one has ever been justified by a work of the law.

      So, with that foundation, I’ll give you my thoughts on the entire context of Isaiah 59 (which is crucial whenever we look at Scripture). We have to look at ‘who’ is spoken to, and ‘what’ is being addressed.

      ‘Who’ is national Israel, who has been identified previously in Isaiah as His wife and also Zion. The ‘what’ is about them breaking His covenant with them. Remember they (His people, the Nation of Israel) have ‘departed from our God’ (vs. 13 – see what else they have done in this chapter). So this is about His people (national Israel) being reconciled with Him which we know will happen because of the time of Jacob’s trouble. The remnant will be saved out of it. But this is speaking of that time, and His second coming. Those in Israel will look upon the One they pierced and will mourn. They will turn from sin and He will come to them. This is a prophecy of what will happen at that time and how He will deliver them. This is not a formula for the receipt of eternal life though. A better chapter in Isaiah would be 55.

      Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David. (vs. 1-3).

      God bless your month Jan, I hope that all is well wherever you are. In Christ.

    • Jan, since you don’t wish to engage any longer, I won’t approve your last post. There is a difference between being justified in the sight of men and being justified as in declared righteous (James 2 is a good example although by your post I see you somehow see it as a proof of whether someone is truly eternally saved). There is also a need in several of your passages to examine the word ‘saved’ or ‘save’. Sozo or soteria most often do not speak of a deliverance from hell, or conversely the free gift of eternal life. I don’t want you to be impressed with my studies, my studying is for His approval alone, my desire is to feed His sheep because I get to demonstrate my love for Him in so doing.

      Romans 4 is certainly clear whether you see it or not, that one is justified (as in declared righteous positionally). And that James 2 one is justified (in the sight of others) by having a working faith. This saves not only them (a loss of potential rewards and consequences in this lifetime) but it saves the ones they were ignoring (the naked, cold and hungry) by a outworking, lively faith. I’m sorry that you seem to have a Roman Catholic/reformed understanding (both seem to have it).

      As for the discussions never changing the other person’s minds?

      It’s God’s Word that is living and powerful Word, so in these discussions, some may be convinced by His truth. That’s all that matters.

      Love in Christ

  • There are two more parts here, and getting ready to post another. God bless your week. I remember when I first decided to study in context every single usage, with no men or commentary, not even a concordance. The reason is, I first wanted to just see if the different definitions I had always heard, fit. I wanted to be sure I wasn’t listening to my ears being tickled, I wanted to be sure. Ronald Shea was not the first one I ran across once I decided to then look into it from a Greek and Hebrew perspective, outside of Biblical influence. That was when I saw blueletterbible change their definition of repentance added from F.F. Bruce. And I KNEW that name. And it was like, wait a minute. He’s always on the Catholic pages for their definition of repent or penance or penitent. And I looked just to be sure, and sure enough, it was him.

    And I thought, why on earth would they be using him? Later I saw and heard about some of Chuck’s comments about Catholics being Christian, etc. (Well certainly a Catholic can be a believer, but only if they trust on Jesus as the only way of salvation (alone, apart from any sacraments). But in doing a little more research I saw the claims of those who said the words were different in the Hebrew than the Greek, but wait a minute, repent and repentance in the Septuagint, the 72 I believe it was, Jewish Scholars commissioned to turn the OT from Hebrew into Greek, and even the Apocrypha, (which they never considered canon, and the only ones who were given the oracles of God), THEY themselves translated it into metanoeo and metanoia, and so, why then, was it being translated as a different meaning from the Latin to English? With the Word now coming from penance, penitent, or penitence? Straight from the Roman Catholic ideology.

    So many people have helped along the way. I put Ron’s article into sections so people can take their time and ‘prove all things’ and see if these things are so. I used the simple method in the beginning. I started inserting “feel sorrow” or “turn from sins” etc. in all the place I saw repentance or repent. It’s an exercise worth completing. But I think Ron does a far better job of my simplistic way 🙂

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