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Tuesday
Jan122010

Theological Term of the Week

repentance
A God-worked change within the sinner whereby he hates his sin and becomes genuinely sorry for it, turns from his sin to Christ, committing himself to walk in obedience to Him.

  • From scripture:
    For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. (2 Corinthians 7:10 ESV)

    The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” (Acts 17:30-31 ESV)

  • From The Second Helvetic Confession:

    Chapter 14 - Of Repentance and the Conversion of Man

    The doctrine of repentance is joined with the Gospel. For so has the Lord said in the Gospel: “Repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in my name to all nations” (Luke 24:27).

    What Is Repentance? By repentance we understand (1) the recovery of a right mind in sinful man awakened by the Word of the Gospel and the Holy Spirit, and received by true faith, by which the sinner immediately acknowledges his innate corruption and all his sins accused by the Word of God; and (2) grieves for them from his heart, and not only bewails and frankly confesses them before God with a feeling of shame, but also (3) with indignation abominates them; and (4) now zealously considers the amendment of his ways and constantly strives for innocence and virtue in which conscientiously to exercise himself all the rest of his life.

    True Repentance Is Conversion to God. And this is true repentance, namely, a sincere turning to God and all good, and earnest turning away from the devil and all evil. 1. REPENTANCE IS A GIFT OF GOD. Now we expressly say that this repentance is a sheer gift of God and not a work of our strength. For the apostle commands a faithful minister diligently to instruct those who oppose the truth, if “God may perhaps grant that they will repent and come to know the truth” (II Tim. 2:25). 2. LAMENTS SINS COMMITTED. Now that sinful woman who washed the feet of the Lord with her tears, and Peter who wept bitterly and bewailed his denial of the Lord (Luke 7:38; 22:62) show clearly how the mind of a penitent man ought to be seriously lamenting the sins he has committed. 3. CONFESSES SINS TO GOD. Moreover, the prodigal son and the publican in the Gospel, when compared with the Pharisee, present us with the most suitable pattern of how our sins are to be confessed to God. The former said: “‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me as one of your hired servants’” (Luke 15:8 ff.). And the latter, not daring to raise his eyes to heaven, beat his breast, saying, “God be merciful to me a sinner” (ch. 18:13). And we do not doubt that they were accepted by God into grace. For the apostle John says: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us” (I John 1:9 f.).

  • From Big Truths for Young Hearts by Bruce Ware: 
    Repentance involves seeing sin for the deceitful and deadly thing that it is, so that we turn from it. Belief in Christ involves seeing Christ for the gracious and powerful Saviour that he is, so that we turn to him. These two acts go together in a person’s salvation. Repentance and belief are like two sides of the same coin. You can’t have one side of the coin without the other side also.
  • From Arthur Pink in The Nature of Repentance:

    Evangelical repentance is a heart-apprehension of the exceeding sinfulness of sin. It is the recognition of the chief thing wherein I am blame-worthy, namely, in having so miserably failed to render unto God that which is His rightful due. As the Holy Spirit sets before me the loveliness of the divine character, as I am enabled to discern the exalted excellency of God, then I begin to perceive that to which He is justly entitled, namely, the homage of my heart, the unrestricted love of my soul, the complete surrender of my whole being to Him. As I perceive that from the moment I drew my first breath God has sought only my good, that the One who gave me being has constantly ministered to my every creature need, and that the least I can do in return is to acknowledge His abounding mercies by doing that which is pleasing in His sight, I am now over-whelmed with anguish and horror as I realize I have treated Him more vilely than my worst enemy.

    Oftentimes example is better than the most accurate definition. The New Testament furnishes quite a number of concrete instances, even where the term itself is not found. When the “publican” stood afar off and would not so much as lift up his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, “God be merciful to me a sinner” (Luke 18:13), we behold repentance in action. He recognized that awful moral distance which sin had taken him from God; he was deeply conscious of his utter unworthiness to gaze upon the Holy One; he unsparingly judged himself; he realized that his only hope lay in the sovereign mercy of God. So, too, the thief on the cross: in his words to his hardened companion, “Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation, and we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds” (Luke 23:40-41). There was no self-extenuation, but a ready owning of his sinnership and his desert to be punished.

Learn more:

  1. GotQuestions.org: What is repentance and is it necessary for salvation?
  2. Bob Burridge: Repentance Unto Life
  3. Arthur Pink: Repentance
  4. R. L. Dabney: Repentance
  5. Wayne Grudem: Doctrine of Conversion - Faith and Repentance (mp3) 

Do you have a a theological term you’d like to see featured here as a Theological Term of the Week? If you email it to me, I’ll seriously consider using it.

I’m also interested in any suggestions you have for tweaking my definitions or for additional (or better) articles or sermons/lectures for linking. I’ll give you credit and a link back to your blog if I use your suggestion.

Clicking on the Theological Term graphic at the top of this post will take you to a list of all the previous theological terms organized in alphabetical order or by topic.

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