What is the relationship between repentance and faith. Charles Stanley writes:
“When Peter preached the truth about Jesus Christ in Acts chapter two, he left thousands of listeners wondering what they should do next.
The apostle’s response in verse 38 is simple. He says, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.” As a result, 3,000 people were added to their numbers that day.
Is this the message of most churches today? Does it seem strange that Peter said “repent” instead of “believe”? Actually, Scripture often uses these concepts together. Repentance and faith are two sides of the same coin. Both are essential for salvation and each is dependent upon the other.
But, in terms of salvation, you can’t separate faith and repentance. To be saved, you must place faith in Christ for the forgiveness of sins. That decision requires a change of mind, or repentance, about your way of life. Both happen at the same time.
Yet, many people mistakenly believe they must repent before they can make a faith decision for Jesus. Repentance doesn’t mean we must completely change our ways and “clean ourselves up” so we can then receive Christ as Lord. There should actually be no delay or separation between repentance and faith.
If you’re holding off on a decision for Christ until you think you’re “ready” or “worthy,” then you’re waiting in vain. Jesus is ready to receive you right now. Only as a child of God will you find the power – His power – to truly become the person He created you to be.” Excerpted from “A Right View of Repentance.”
Stanley has shown that repentance and faith occur simultaneously – chronologically together. What, though, is the logical sequence of repentance and faith? I examine that question.
I heard this in a recent Arminian sermon:
“There are three stages in the life of someone who really wants to experience coming to Jesus. Repent, next step believe the gospel. That’s what Jesus says repent and believe the Gospel.”
Jesus is not talking about which comes first (logically or chronologically) but that those are the two things you need to do. The order of the words (syntax) which Jesus uses is “repent and (plus) believe” it does not follow that he means “repent, then believe.” Jesus can’t mean that for this reason:
The preacher’s “the first step” can only mean that he thinks “repent” logically must come before “believe.” But how can you repent unless you first believe? Believe what? That you are sinner who is under the wrath of God and need to repent. The biblical (logical) sequence is believe → repent. Believe and repent occur at the same time. When Jesus said repent and believe instead of the logical sequence believe and repent, he did not mean believe then repent, because as I explained above that wold be cockeyed. Think of mommy saying to Jimmy in the bathroom, “wash your face and brush your teeth.” When Jimmy comes out of the bathroom, Mommy is not going to ask “Did you do what I said in the order in which I said it.” Unless she’s Nanny McPhee.
If we add grace and regeneration (born again) to the logical order of how we become a Christian, the Calvinist’s logical order is (effectual) grace –> regeneration (born again) –> belief –> repentance. They all occur simultaneously. The Arminian order is (prevenient) grace –> repent –> believe –> born again. Some Arminians may disagree with the preacher and agree with the Calvinist that believe comes logically before repent. When it comes to regeneration, however, the reason why the Arminian places regeneration (being raised from spiritual death) at the end of the process is because it is he who decides (with his “free will”) whether he wants to accept God’s offer to be born again. But surely, a person who goes through the first three stages (accepts God’s grace → believes → repents) cannot be spiritually dead, because unless God first regenerates him (raises him from spiritual death, from hatred of or indifference to God), he won’t be able or want to believe and repent. “Oh you Calvinists with your logic!” Yes. What a logical logos we serve. “In the beginning was the logos.” (John 1:1). And in the end.
9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
Charles Spurgeon writes:
“Surely the cross is that wonder-working rod which can bring water out of a rock. If you
understand the full meaning of the divine sacriﬁce of Jesus, you must repent of ever
having been opposed to One who is so full of love. It is written, “They shall look upon him
whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son,
and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his ﬁrstborn.” Repentance
will not make you see Christ; but to see Christ will give you repentance. You may not make
a Christ out of your repentance, but you must look for repentance to Christ. The Holy
Ghost, by turning us to Christ, turns us from sin. Look away, then, from the effect to the
cause, from your own repenting to the Lord Jesus, who is exalted on high to give