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THE REAL MEANING OF THE WORD REPENTANCE



Posted: 07/18/05

Leaving the Pigsty

There are certain words that aren't popular with today's popular preachers. One of them is the word "repentance." We are told that people don't understand its meaning. If that's the case, we should then educate them as to what it means, rather than dumb down the message. Even the secular news doesn't do that. When a criminal is unrepentant, the reporter will say "The man was unrepentant." He doesn't bother to explain the word. If you want to know what he's talking about, you have to come up to his standard of syntactic linguistic ambience. But we want people to have an understanding of what we are saying, so we should use spiritual words and then take a moment to explain their meaning.

There are some preachers who use the word "repentance," but then explain that it means "a change of mind." While it is biblically correct to say that the word used in the New Testament for "repent" is metanoeo (which means to change one's mind), it can be misleading to say that that is all that is required when it comes to salvation. This is why: The Bible says, "Seek the Lord while He may be found. Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts: Let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy; and to our God For He will abundantly pardon" (Isaiah 55:6-7). Isaiah saw fit to tell sinners to forsake their "way" and their "thoughts." That is what happens with biblical repentance. The change of mind is clearly evidenced in Proverbs 28:13: "He that covers his sins shall not prosper, but whoso confesses and forsakes them shall have mercy" (Italics added). To say that it is only a change of mind is to say that the prodigal son simply needs to change his mind about his state and his relationship to his father. The reality is that the genuineness of his change of mind is seen by his getting up and leaving the pigsty.

While it is correct to say that a sinner should change his mind about God, to fail to tell him that he should forsake the pigsty of his sins is like telling a child to change his mind about a stick of lit dynamite that he's holding. If I care about the child, I'm going to tell him that he should change his mind in relationship to the dynamite, and then cast it away from him. Our obligation to the world, is to (with the help of God) give them understanding as to the way to be saved. He cannot change his mind about God without casting sin and the world behind him. He cannot continue to serve sin.

In Acts 14:15-16 Paul didn't simply tell idolaters to change their mind about their sin. He told them to turn from it to God: "And saying, Sirs, why do you these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach to you that you should turn from these vanities to the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein: Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways" (Italics added).

Someone told me that I was in error when I told sinners that "repentance" meant to turn from sin. He said that that was called "Lordship salvation." I suspect that he thought that I was saying we are saved by repentance. Obviously we are not saved because we repent. We are saved by grace through faith (see Ephesians 2:8-9), but we access that grace through repentance towards God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. Then the fruit of true repentance is evidenced by obedience to God -- "Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him . . . " (Hebrews 5:8-9, italics added).

Distributed by www.worldviewweekend.com

By Ray Comfort

Email: email@livingwaters.com

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READER FEEDBACK


Re: The Real Meaning of the Word Repentance
Posted On: 11/01/06 11:41:07 AM Age 37, TX
Problems with Comfort's View 1. The Gospel of John. The greatest gospel tract ever written does not even include the word repent (metanoeo), but says believe 98 times. Can someone be saved if they read only the Gospel of John, which has evangelism as a primary purpose? 2. God repented (metanoeo). The Greek translation of the OT records this (Jonah 3:9-10, Jer. 18:8). Obviously, repent doesn't mean "turn from sin" in these passages. 3. Change your mind about what? As from the example above "a change of mind" may refer to many different things. It seems that Comfort has committed the "word-loading" fallacy, by rolling sin into the definition of repentance because often in the N.T. it is used in reference to certain sins (Rev. 2 &3). For example, drive does not mean "navigate a car" although we often drive cars, but also you can drive a nail, a herd of cattle, or one crazy. Repentance in salvation contexts is a change of mind toward God (Acts 20:21) and putting faith in Christ. 4. Repentance should result in a change of ways (Acts 26:20)but that doesn't always happen (Luke 17:3,4). This man repented seven times, but sinned 7 times in the same day. Therefore, turning from sin does not equal repentance. This is not just a western mind thing, but an eastern mind idea found in the Bible. 5. In the Isa. 55:6-7 the "forsaking the way and thoughts" relates to Isa. 55:2-3, trusting in their own righteousness instead of coming to God for the gift "without cost." 6. Where is metanoeo in Proverbs 28:13? Is that passage really about eternal salvation or fellowship with God (1 John 1:3,9) 7. In Acts 14 the turning was about turning from idols to the true God. This is repentance toward God, but it does not mean a forsaking of all evil ways. God will work on that for a lifetime in our sanctification. 8. To be Biblically consistent the Hebrews 5:8-9 "obey Him" must refer to the command of salvation, "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved."



Re: The Real Meaning of the Word Repentance
Posted On: 11/01/06 11:41:02 AM Age 37, TX
Problems with Comfort's View 1. The Gospel of John. The greatest gospel tract ever written does not even include the word repent (metanoeo), but says believe 98 times. Can someone be saved if they read only the Gospel of John, which has evangelism as a primary purpose? 2. God repented (metanoeo). The Greek translation of the OT records this (Jonah 3:9-10, Jer. 18:8). Obviously, repent doesn't mean "turn from sin" in these passages. 3. Change your mind about what? As from the example above "a change of mind" may refer to many different things. It seems that Comfort has committed the "word-loading" fallacy, by rolling sin into the definition of repentance because often in the N.T. it is used in reference to certain sins (Rev. 2 &3). For example, drive does not mean "navigate a car" although we often drive cars, but also you can drive a nail, a herd of cattle, or one crazy. Repentance in salvation contexts is a change of mind toward God (Acts 20:21) and putting faith in Christ. 4. Repentance should result in a change of ways (Acts 26:20)but that doesn't always happen (Luke 17:3,4). This man repented seven times, but sinned 7 times in the same day. Therefore, turning from sin does not equal repentance. This is not just a western mind thing, but an eastern mind idea found in the Bible. 5. In the Isa. 55:6-7 the "forsaking the way and thoughts" relates to Isa. 55:2-3, trusting in their own righteousness instead of coming to God for the gift "without cost." 6. Where is metanoeo in Proverbs 28:13? Is that passage really about eternal salvation or fellowship with God (1 John 1:3,9) 7. In Acts 14 the turning was about turning from idols to the true God. This is repentance toward God, but it does not mean a forsaking of all evil ways. God will work on that for a lifetime in our sanctification. 8. To be Biblically consistent the Hebrews 5:8-9 "obey Him" must refer to the command of salvation, "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved."

Re: The Real Meaning of the Word Repentance
Posted On: 08/16/06 02:20:51 PM Age 40, GA
Im no Greek scholar, as it would seem many of those replying to Rays article are, however, it would seem logical to me that if God desires that all men come to repentance (2Peter 3:9) that it would be His responsibility to let us know what He wants us to change our minds about. Since God has sent the Holy Spirit here to do a particular job, it would seem to me as well that maybe this is what were to be changing our minds about. John 16:8 seems to say that the Holy Spirits job is to convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment. If the Holy Spirit is supposed to do this job, what good are His efforts in performing that job if there is not to be a desired result in those He convicts of those areas? Repentance, (changing the mind) seems to be about a great many things in this life within the topics related to both believers and unbelievers relationship with God (or lack thereof). Again, Im asking more than making emphatic statements. Those who really know are encouraged to exhort or rebuke me in love so that I too may repent and have a closer walk with the Lord by getting to know Him more. Neil - GA



Re: Re: The Real Meaning of the Word Repentance
Posted On: 09/08/05 01:25:52 AM Age 38, IL
Brothers, It is true that the word believe is used numerous times in John and the other Gosples. KJV 52 times. But what does the word believe mean that is what is important. Greek Peitho= obey, persuade, trust, yield Greek Pisteuo (Pist- Yoo-o)to commit ,put in trust with. See we can believe in lots of things I believe I have a car and I do. I believe it will start today but do I trust that it will NO! What I'm trying to say is, to the secular world's believe usually means something they see or hear or can touch. But the Holy Scripture believe is to trust, obey and yield and commit to. Now lets look at what our Lord said (Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand Matt4:17)The first word from our Lords mouth when starting to preach is Repent! I think repent and believe go together. You must repent (Turn Away) and believe (Trust). But a person must know what they are repenting from, they may say sin, but do they understand what sin is and why they ned to repent. Sin is trangression of the law 1John3:4, and they are repenting to flee from the wrath of God (Romans5:9) because of the transgression. I say this to say that just believing as the secular world see's it is not enough. (James2:19) I just needed to add some thoughts to this comment of what was on my heart. All Glory To God

Re: Re: The Real Meaning of the Word Repentance
Posted On: 08/03/05 11:26:44 AM Age 41, FL
"a heart that is unrepentant toward sin will never seek or receive that very grace." You actually have that backwards. It's BECAUSE OF Grace that a heart is repentant toward sin. if "a heart is unrepentant toward sin", it's because it has not received grace. my heart is repentant toward sin because God gave me the grace to believe my sin is sinful.



Re: Re: The Real Meaning of the Word Repentance
Posted On: 08/03/05 11:20:05 AM Age 41, FL
EXACTLY!

Repentance
Posted On: 08/02/05 08:11:55 AM Age 46, FL
Yes, people need to see the need for a Saviour. Their only hope is Jesus Christ. Yes that will take a change of mind, i.e. they can't trust in their own good works, church attendance, or Moslem god or what have you to get saved. They need to change their mind from that and trust in Christ. No where does the Bible say that they need to turn from sin. It just tells them to repent, which means change your mind. Actually, the vast and I mean the vast majority of times it just tells them place their trust into Christ their only Hope.



Re: Re: repent? Hmmm
Posted On: 07/28/05 12:54:36 PM Age 43, NJ
You miss the point. Without a repentant (penitent) heart we will not understand the need for Jesus. It is foolishness to those that are perishing to expect them to understand that we are all DIEING unless we receive Jesus as Lord AND MESSIAH. Jesus paid the fine. We did the crime. Accept the fine Jesus paid for you or do the time. THAT is the "Good News." Easy enough?

Re: The Real Meaning of the Word Repentance
Posted On: 07/26/05 10:41:31 PM Age 47, IN
You know, folks the Gospel is really a very simple message which requires a very simple response. The message is that God has sent his only begotten Son to the cross to provide for us a once and for all sacrifice for our sins, our response to this message is to believe it for ourselves. What sometimes makes the gospel complicated to discuss is tearing away the dross which so often embelishes the simple message. Repentence is the greek word metanoew. In it's strictest lexical definition, it means to change your mind. When the word is use in the new testament, it means to respond in a favorable way to God's Revelation. What ever additional meaning we seek to ascribe to the word repentance needs to be according to the context in which the word occurs. The Word Repent does not mean to turn from sins, although that is quite often the expected result of repentance in the Scriptures, it means to change your mind by responding favorably to what God has revealed. It is a great mistake to lead a person to believe that before he can get saved he first of all needs to "repent of his sins". This is contrary to the efforts of the Holy Spirit in the life of the person hungering for righteousness. The point that the Holy Spirit is trying to get an unsaved person to is not the point of self-reformation, but self condemnation. Until a person has given up on personal righteousness and embraced instead righteousness as a gift a person is not ready to be saved. As the Apostle Paul Said of his kinsmen the Jews, Romans 10:1-3 Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness for everyone who believes. Is not incorporating into the saving response to the Gospel an act of turning from sin, actually instilling a partial hope in self righteousness in the unsaved? If you believe that part of the reason you are saved is because you have turned from sin to a degree that has won God's favor, then you are still at least partially hoping that your own righteousness will commend you to God.... And that is to Reject Christ as your saviour. The need of the anxious soul is not to turn from sin, but to turn from self-righteousness and embrace God's provision of Righteousness as provided for in the Cross of Christ. Repentance means to change your mind in favor of what God has revealed to you. To the Jews, the message was that your Messiah is here, hear him. to the Gentile the message is Get serious about God because he has favored you. Sometimes the word repentance is synonymous with saving faith. Remember in Acts chapter 11, Peter had just been lambaisted by the Jewish believers because He shared the Word of God with gentiles. Peter then recounts in order the circumstances which lead to his decision and thus demonstrates that the Gentiles had been saved as a result, Acts 11:18 tells us of the reaction of the Jewish believers. It says Acts 11:18 18 When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, "Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life." Notice that coming to faith in this passage is called repentance unto life. Now think about Cornelius.This man whom Peter preached to was said to have repented unto life. The Bible describes him in Acts 10:2 as 2 a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always. Now ask yourself this question, how much repenting did this guy need. He was devout, he feared God, gave alms generously and prayed always, and yet he was not saved. This man the Scripture says repented, but if you define repentance as "to turn from sin" this passage makes no sense, but if repentence is to change your mind in favor of what God has revealed then we can see that Cornelius did change his mind, about how a person is Saved. Acording to Acts 15, Cornelius believed the Gospel.



Re: The Real Meaning of the Word Repentance
Posted On: 07/21/05 01:13:14 PM Age 50, TX
I agree, to change ones mind about something should also change ones atitude, actions, and feelings about it. Otherwise if these are not changed than the mind is not fully changed. I believe a repented sin in awe, of GOD and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, is one that we are truly sorry for and turn completely away from.

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