What is repentance?

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BobVigneault

Bawberator
Dear friends,
In my continuing personal reformation of thought and theology I find myself wrestling with the definition of repentance. I have read much and I am having trouble synthesizing the various ideas I have run across.

I guess the first question I'm looking for the answer to is this: Is 'metanoia' the turning from the practice of sin and the worlds sinful pattern to obedience, or is it a turning from self to God?

Secondly, is repentence (if it's the 1st definition) a visible evidence of regeneration.

My reason for asking is practical and personal. I have two daughters who grew up surrounded by 'sound' (not complete and not reformed) teaching but both have rebelled against the Lord. I have confronted them regarding the truth of Scripture and they even see that their lifestyles are inconsistent with the Word but they seem unable to change.

My conclusion has been - if they are truly regenerate then the presence of the Holy Spirit would cause great struggle in their lives - enough to make them change.

Yet, I'm told the basis of forgiveness is not in them but in the cross, in the Gospel, in the electing pupose of God. I pray daily that the Lord will bring them back to himself but I am also quite muddled as to their present relationship to God.

Any input would be greatly appreciated to help me find my way through this labyrinth in my otherwise "sytematic" theology.

God bless you all richly!
 

cupotea

Puritan Board Junior
From One Father's Heart to Another

My Brother,

You touch on a nerve which runs deep in the soul of each and every 'Dad' who loves his children. I have lived long enough as a 'Papa' to experimentally know our fatherly concern, love, intercession, example, availability and forgiveness do not terminate once a child turns eighteen. And may atrophy of these graces from father to child be not realized as time moves on. Faithfulness on our part is paramount.
Relative to your first question about 'metanoia:' there are two aspects of the word that must be clearly presented in order for an "act of repentance" to be seen as genuine.
First, there must be a true presence of Godly sorrow emanating from the person's heart over what the person has come to understand about sin and God. The issue is a God issue, sin is a God issue. In the person's mind, sin is not simply a matter between them and another human being. It is ultimately between the person and God. Very personal. Very intimate. Very honest.
Second, there [i:165e21946d]is[/i:165e21946d] a 180 degree change of the mind realized in the person. By the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, the metamorphosis begins.

"Is 'metanoia' the turning from the practise of sin and the worlds sinful pattern to obedience, or is it a turning from self to God?"

In Ephesians 2:1-3, three enemies of a child of God are identified:
1.) "the course of this world" - v.2a
2.) "the prince of the power of the air" - v.2b
3.) "lusts of the flesh...by nature children of wrath" - v.3

I believe the answer to your question - based upon what we have seen in Ephesians 2:1-3 - is [b:165e21946d]both[/b:165e21946d].

"Secondly, is repentance (if it's the 1st definition) a visible evidence of regeneration?"

Regeneration is the internal work of the Eternal Spirit in the heart of a redeemed soul. Conviction, contrition, confession and conversion (repentance) are all external manifestations of that inward reality.

My Brother, much confusion is made over the misuse of the two terms "[i:165e21946d]relationship[/i:165e21946d]" and "[i:165e21946d]fellowship[/i:165e21946d]." as they pertain to individuals who have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. The relationship a saved sinner enjoys with his Heavenly Father is totally based upon the righteous work of redemption accomplished by Jesus, the Saviour of sinners. Once a 'new birth' occurs, growth naturally follows.
New birth = relationship = Regeneration
Growth = fellowship = Sanctification

Keep your focus on His face. My heart and prayers are with you concerning your two daughters.

Creth

P.S. Three days ago, my wife announced to me that the Lord has blessed us again with a baby! The baby will be born the first of December. This child will be our eleventh (11) child.
 

mnkid53

Inactive User
I'm no scholar but what I feel the Lord has taught me are the following:
1. Repentance is a grace given by God.
2. The Holy Spirit leds me to repentance as He convict of sin.
3. I don't look at the lives of others to see if their repentance is equivalent to mine.
4. I don't try to be the one bringing others to repentance for things God has convicted me of. Otherwise I make hippocrites or worse impose legalism on others.

I have a son who is in the same position. I walk in the faith that the Lord has given me. I repent and live the way the Lord wants me to live. He sees it and is aware of it. I trust God to work the truth in his life.
 

ChristianasJourney

Puritan Board Sophomore
[quote:75701c7e77][i:75701c7e77]Originally posted by CDHopkins[/i:75701c7e77]
P.S. Three days ago, my wife announced to me that the Lord has blessed us again with a baby! The baby will be born the first of December. This child will be our eleventh (11) child. [/quote:75701c7e77]

Congratulations!!! 11 Wow!

(I have a friend whose e-mail is "mom of 10 so far")
 

BobVigneault

Bawberator
My goodness Pastor Hopkins, your quiver does indeed sound full - but then again why not try for that even dozen.

Thank you so much for your gracious words and for your prayers, you will likewise be in mine. It seems that I have learned most of my theology in the crucible of suffering. After a season I am able to organize and sytematize what I've learned with the help of the great reformed theologians and through my brothers and sisters in Christ. But when the lessons are coming through my daughters it affects my ability to think objectively about these matters.

Your response and the observations of mnkid53 are very helpful to me. I am also reading Turretin on the matter. Thanks again friends.
:)
 

pastorway

Puritan Board Senior
Very good answers so far. We do need to remember that repentance is more than sorrow. It is godly sorrow that changes the way we think and as a result ultimately changes the way we act.

If we claim to have repented and yet still embrace the sin, we have not truly repented. We may be sorry. We may hate the sin. But a true change of heart and mind always produces a change in behavior!

Phillip
 

alwaysreforming

Puritan Board Sophomore
True repentance

I think its important to keep in mind as one considers the nature of repentance, that a good practical working definition is often hard to come by because we want to give the word enough force and power, but by the same token we are sinners and are going to fall short of our definition (unless it is made so weak as to be of no use at all).

So, if we fall short of our definition, does that mean that we haven't repented? And if so, does that mean that we have not come to saving faith?

Many times it will be said, "If you have "truly" repented then you wont be repeating those sins you've repented of. If you commit those same sins, then your repentance wasn't genuine!"

I don't find that to be terribly helpful, nor accurate. Why? Because we CAN'T refrain from commiting sins! I feel that we burden sinners terribly when we force them to subscribe to such a definition because it pushes them to despair that they haven't ever "truly" repented. Repentance is probably best defined when we leave off the qualifiers such as "true." Repentance is turning from sin to God. And its also a "changing of the mind." When we repent, we agree with God that what we did was "sin," and that we are justly condemned because of it. And we change our mind towards it in that we no longer are comfortable with it. We no longer can "live" in it. It causes our minds and spirits uneasiness, pain, restlessness, angst. We hate it and wish we had no attraction towards it at all. And if need be, we enlist the help of others to conquer it.

But to say that we never "commit" a certain sin again if we've truly repented would have us base our salvation upon our own obedience, and if so, we'd have to wait until the next "altar call" to "truly" accept Christ next time!

:wr50:
 

BobVigneault

Bawberator
Yes, thank you Pastor Way and Christopher. Pastor Way, I agree with you that the sorrow felt is a godly sorrow. That's the sorrow we see David expressing when he says "Against You only have I sinned". His emotional focus was toward God.

We see it again in the publican who could not even raise his eyes to heaven and didn't even try to justify his sinfulness as the pharisee had. My head wants to agree with you that if one truly repents then it will bring on a change of behavior. That is what I have always taught.

But I find my heart embracing what Christopher has said. The holy record doesn't say that the publican left the temple a changed man. We hope he did. It makes sense but the scriptures instead only record that because of his great sorrow and his agreement with God as to his standing that "he went down to his house justified."

May God be glorified in your worship today and Pastor Way, may God bless you and your flocking through your preaching the Word.
 

C. Matthew McMahon

Christian Preacher
Sight of Sin
Sorrow for Sin
Confession of Sin
Shame for Sin
Hatred of Sin
Turning from Sin

Thomas Watson outlines this nicely in "The Doctrine of Repentacne."
:amen:
 

pastorway

Puritan Board Senior
Just to be clear -

A change of behavior does not mean I will never struggle with or fall for that temptation again. It does mean that when I repent, by grace my mind is changed, and if my mind is changed my behavior will follow suit.

If we claim to believe something but it does not affect our behavior, then we don't really believe it!

If you are in the woods and believe a bear is chasing you (whether there is a bear or not), you will ACT like a bear is chasing you. If someone yells, "Fire!" and you [i:a4c4a62d61]believe[/i:a4c4a62d61] that there is a fire, you will ACT accordingly.

If you claim to believe that your sin is bad and you reject it, you turn away from it to God in faith (repentance), then you will ACT like that sin is bad and you will, for a time at least, seek to avoid it at all costs. One who says he repents and then the next minute is engaging in the same sinful behavior has not truly repented and does not truly believe his sin is wickedness and vile in God's eyes.

Just as what is in our hearts comes out of our mouths, so to, what we believe, we act on.

Phillip
 

raderag

Puritan Board Sophomore
Here is what Westminster says, and then something I wrote to a friend a time ago.

CHAPTER XV.
Of Repentance Unto Life.
I. Repentance unto life is an evangelical grace, the doctrine whereof is to be preached by every minister of the gospel, as well as that of faith in Christ.

II. By it a sinner, out of the sight and sense, not only of the danger, but also of the filthiness and odiousness of his sins, as contrary to the holy nature and righteous law of God, and upon the apprehension of his mercy in Christ to such as are penitent, so grieves for, and hates his sins, as to turn from them all unto God, purposing and endeavoring to walk with him in all the ways of his commandments.

III. Although repentance be not to be rested in as any satisfaction for sin, or any cause of the pardon thereof, which is the act of God's free grace in Christ; yet is it of such necessity to all sinners, that none may expect pardon without it.

IV. As there is no sin so small but it deserves damnation; so there is no sin so great that it can bring damnation upon those who truly repent.

V. Men ought not to content themselves with a general repentance, but it is every man's duty to endeavor to repent of his particular sins, particularly.

VI. As every man is bound to make private confession of his sins to God, praying for the pardon thereof, upon which, and the forsaking of them, he shall find mercy: so he that scandelizeth his brother, or the Church of Christ, ought to be willing, by a private or public confession and sorrow for his sin, to declare his repentance to those that are offended; who are thereupon to be reconciled to him, and in love to receive him.

_______________________________________________

The two definitions of Repentance commonly used, change of mid, and
Turn from sin, are neither mutually exclusive nor complete. Neither is a complete description of repentance as one could stop doing a sin without changing ones mind and vice versa. Therefore, true repentance is a change of will about ones sin. A penitent sinner is in a state of loving God rather that hate with God. This state can only be achieved by grace (God loves us first).

Our first repentance, commonly called conversion, must consist of us
being utterly broken about our sin, realizing that we are evil and unable to please God apart from His will. At this time, we must turn to His Son through His sacrifice believing that it alone merits our salvation. True repentance will always produce good works met for repentance. This means the mortification of the sin nature (flesh) as well as the actual commission of good deeds will always follow salvation. We can only rest in our salvation as we are being conformed in his will. Anything contrary to His will must be repented of in order that we may have the Joy of Salvation.

Therefore, repentance must be preached as a response to the Gospel
rather than a means to it. We must realize that believing the Gospel entails us knowing our sinfulness. Furthermore, we should not give false assurance to anyone based on a profession of faith. Rather, they should make their "calling and election sure" and "work out their own salvation". In discipleship, we must never use it to stack "good works" upon the unconverted for they will be "as filthy rags". Therefore, the Holiness of God, through law must continually be preached so that the unconverted will know their true condition that they may come to repentance. A sinner must realize that good works apart from the love of God are sinful.
 

Laughing_Gravy

Inactive User
Remember Christ said that a person must take up his or her cross to follow Him. So repentance is a vital part of discipleship. Cross-bearing even when it hurts (getting rid of darling sins for example)

But a gospel passage that has always puzzled me is that of the rich man who wanted to follow the Lord (ie become a Christian) and was told to go sell all that he had first, and then to come and follow the Lord.

If the man went away and did this, at what point was he saved. When he'd given away the last item he was holding onto? The reason I ask is that if that is the case it throws into question the Gospel's insistence on faith in Christ alone. In other words, when does repentance become a work???!
 

BobVigneault

Bawberator
That's a great question Laughing-Gravy. There was no possibility that wealthy young man was going to go sell what he had. That is exactly why Jesus required it. The man thought that a person could be saved by his own works, that was his first error; his second error was that he thought he was succeeding in keeping the commands.

Jesus simply demonstrated to the man that he was not keeping the law and further that he was incapable of keeping the law. Love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and love you neighbor as youself. The man was proven to be incapable of either of these by Christ's request.

It was not a call to salvation by works but a demonstration that all have sinned and fall short of God's glory.
 

cih1355

Puritan Board Junior
[quote:151af9b52e][i:151af9b52e]Originally posted by Laughing_Gravy[/i:151af9b52e]
Remember Christ said that a person must take up his or her cross to follow Him. So repentance is a vital part of discipleship. Cross-bearing even when it hurts (getting rid of darling sins for example)

But a gospel passage that has always puzzled me is that of the rich man who wanted to follow the Lord (ie become a Christian) and was told to go sell all that he had first, and then to come and follow the Lord.

If the man went away and did this, at what point was he saved. When he'd given away the last item he was holding onto? The reason I ask is that if that is the case it throws into question the Gospel's insistence on faith in Christ alone. In other words, when does repentance become a work???! [/quote:151af9b52e]

If someone has the attitude that he must clean up his act first before receiving salvation or if he is placing his faith in his own repentance, then repentance becomes a work.
 
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