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March 24, 2000

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Conversations on: "Repentance"
from an e-mail subscriber:

[Editor: This subscriber used to be of "[the denomination]" and I believe still has periodic communications with some of them. Names and places are blanked to protect the innocent (or guilty); and to not give credit where notoriety is not deserved, and to also let us focus on the issue/s, not the labels of those holding those views. It's been edited in a couple of places for length.]

COMMENTS:
As you will remember over a year ago you started writing on the lack of repentence in preaching. Also, you may remember I forwarded it to a lot of preachers I know. Most, even the ones that don't like me, wrote back and thanked me for the article. (They were scared to death to ignore it).

The thing I have noticed over the past year, there have a bunch of [the denominational] Groups having week long conferences on repentence. (Like they discovered something new!). The ones that were the worst on not preaching on repentence seem to be the ones putting these conferences together. Like they needed to straighten everyone else out.

[name] just did a series on the lack of repentence preaching. [another name] had a conference where he.. supposedly had over 5,000 people get saved one Sunday.

  1. If [this other name] actually preached on repentence at a Pastor's conference like [he] claims to have, he should now be the most hated Preacher in America by all his followers since he hasn't apologized for leading his followers astray.

  2. After all these conferences in the past year on repentence, shouldn't we notice a revival in this country?

  3. Or shouldn't we notice a mass exodus from [the denominational] churches because people are getting there toes stepped on by brave preachers that are now preaching on repentence?
Anyway, whatever has happened in the past year on this repentence issue, you seem to be the first to notice the lack of repentence in preaching. Also, you were about the only one that was able to clearly explain it without a week-long conference. And were about the only one that made people mad when you brought it up. And interesting also the only one that left [the denomination].

ANSWERS:
It's interesting how you say that these things originating from VW are stirring up these conferences. But the lack of any "revival" makes me realize that this, too, is like another phenomenon I've noticed in the past, when I used to be "in" the churches. With my music background, the Lord also gave me a "gift" for leading worship... particularly while sitting at a piano/keyboard...accompanying and leading off with songs. Since I -am- a Believer, the Holy Spirit would lead out through me, and they would be times of true Holy Spirit worship of God. (Not the charismania-style swooning mantracizings) This one particular pastor, I remember specifically, -saw- what was happening when I did this, and he -liked- it. And so, he would seek to -imitate- what I did. He would imitate the "form" and "methodology", but it was not the same.

At the time, I observed this, and 'wondered' about it. Now, thinking back on it, I have come to realize that he was not a True Believer. An unbeliever cannot mimic the "form" and expect that the Holy Spirit will bless. The Spirit does not reside in such a person.

In the same way, these churches you speak of can become fearful of not including "repentance" in their messages. But if they, themselves, are not saved...as we say from time to time, "wolves do not beget lambs", do they! (Mt7:16)

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Where this all started...

In January,99 the militance on this whole "Repentance" theme began in earnest. VW has proclaimed repentance all along. But in visiting a website that promotes "Independent Baptist", I spied his "Gospel" presentation. Just like the "Gospel of Jesus Christ: an Evangelical Celebration", it was pretty much all 'right on' ...except for one thing. Repentance. Where GJC simply ignores the subject, this website actually specified that Salvation did "not" include Repentance. Just as many ex-Catholics wax militant against the error from which they escaped, so did I regarding IB's. For you newer subscribers, you can find the series at the website. Begin with "Only Believe?" (Jan,99 'commentaries') and follow the links at the bottom of each succeeding file.

When this series began, I had written to the webmaster, and he had not responded. A little over a month ago, now, the webmaster contacted me about something else, totally unrelated, and when I replied, I also brought up my communication of a year previous. The few brief exchanges were interesting (revealing). Excerpts are included below:

ME:
You never did reply to my query about a year ago about the fact that you used to (do you still?) proclaim that salvation does -NOT- involve repentance. Acts 20:21 Lk24:47 Acts 17:30

HIM:
I believe salavtion "incorporates" an element of repentence but the Bible CLEARLY teaches new testament salvation does NOT depend on a WORK of repentence.

A very good definition of New Testament "repentence" (which of course is AFTER the death, burial and ressurection of the Lord Jesus Christ - see Heb 9)

The Bible doesn't teach a person has to repent of all their sins (which is humanly impossible) in order to be saved. [Ed: quotes Acts16:30-31]

ME:
Not to get into a lengthy discussion with you, but...

Herein is your error... that repentance is a "work". When Job said, "I abhor myself and repent..." he was not "working". He was at a "place" of self-worth-LESS-ness...of utter filthiness. (Is64:6) If we are -totally- filthy before God and "undone" (Is6:5) there is -nothing- good. This repentance is not regarding all our -deeds-, which as you point out, we could not possibly remember them all...but regarding our 'nature' in sin. Our nature before our "new birth". It is about "what I -am-" not "what I -did-". (We -sin- because we are "sinners"...not, we are sinners because we sin. We sin, because that is our 'nature' to do so.)

This "repentance is -works-" is what Billy Graham preaches. But we are not saved "by works". (Eph2:9, tit3:5) We are saved "by faith"...once we have repented of our sin -nature-. ...like the verses I sent you the references to in the previous note. It is what Jesus commanded to be preached. Lk24:47 Unless we are going to say that Jesus didn't know what He was talking about when He gave that command...

HIM:
Question:
What if a person trusts and believes in the blood of Jesus Christ as their Savior, etc. - and they do NOT reptent as you describe:

Do they go to heaven or hell?

ME:
"...even the demons believe and shudder.." (Jas2:19b) And they believe that Jesus is the Savior...the way to salvation. (Mk1:24, Acts16:17) But Jesus cast the demons out of people who made these 'confessions', and Paul did so, too, from the girl that followed after them.

When you quoted in your other note from Acts16:31, the jailer, by his attitude as he came before Paul and Silas already had repented, by implication. He was at that "place" of humility. (Jas4:9-10) So, what he needed at that point was the "faith" part. (Acts20:21) The fact that he comes "trembling" and asks, "what must I do to be saved?" indicates that he's already -there-, at 'repentance'.

Why do you argue -against- it? God "..COMMANDS all men everywhere to REPENT.." (Acts17:30)

For your edification and possible interest, I would suggest a reading of the series of articles that was spawned originally by my visit to your website, and my e-mail to you at that time, a little over a year ago. If you click "Commentaries", go down to Jan, 99 "Only Believe...?" and follow the two subsequent Q/A links "Last domino..." and "Reformers and Sola Fide"

HIM:
>>What if a person trusts and believes in the blood of Jesus Christ as their Savior, etc. - and they do NOT reptent as you describe: Do they go to heaven or hell?

Again you will NOT answer the question. You know why -- you do NOT know what you believe! Ask ME I"LL ANSWER IT! This will make an interesting web site page! Thanks for the ammo!

ME:
I -DID- answer it! Trouble is, my answer didn't fit your "formula". The formula that says, "repeat after me with these ritual words...and now you are saved". My answer requires you to -think- and -understand- the answer.

So...to 'explain' my -answer-... Do demons believe? Do they go to heaven or hell? (It is assumed you know the answer to this...) Merely 'believing' does not save. The girl at Philipi called out, "These men are preaching the gospel of salvation to us.." did that acknowledgement of the Truth save her? (again...assumed you know this answer, too) She was demon-possessed.

If you read the links I suggested (did you -read- them?), you would see a repeated concept throughout those three articles/Q-A's...

"...if you blah, blah, blah....but don't repent...YOU ARE NOT SAVED..."

I don't know how much clearer the answer could be. Again, my question to you... why do you rebel against God's clear word to "repent"?? (I won't repeat the references here, I already gave them...if you didn't receive them before, you won't now, either...) Or, do you pretend they don't exist? Jesus didn't really mean what He said when He commanded that the salvation message is "repentance and remission of sins" (Lk24:47) God's command for "all men everywhere to repent" ...that, too, God didn't really mean that!!?? If you don't proclaim repentance, how do you reconcile those passages? God's Word does not disagree with itself!

[Editor:]
At this point he made no further replies. Nor have I seen that "page" at his website that I had given him the "ammo" for.

This website is a fine AV1611-type website, only endorsing other ministries that are "KJV-only". Links to any other (non-KJV) sites are with disclaimers. For all the firmness into KJV-only-ism, and "separation" from things that don't agree, he has quickly jumped on the band-wagon to rejoice and proclaim Jane Fonda to be a True Christian. Shortly after we addressed the issue about whether or not she might possibly truly be a Believer, I happened to see her being interview on one of the mid-week prime time network news shows. There was nothing in what she said that "bore witness" with my spirit that she was a "child of God". (Rom8:16) The whole thing went by too quickly, so I have now forgotten the details to share with you-all here, but there were a couple of things she said in that interview that actually confirmed to my heart that she is -not- a Believer.

You see, folks, the label does not save. Over the years when pretty much everybody was relaxing Biblical doctrines, the various Independent, Conservative & Bible Baptist groups refused to water down their message and be friends with ecumenism. On the surface such fundamentalism seems like a good thing. But if you have -all- the correct doctrines, but leave out "Repentance" (either direct or implied), there is no salvation. Remember, you can have the latest fastest Pentium computer...but if the "reset" jumpers are shorted, it doesn't matter what else you do, it won't run. You can have the fastest most powerful race car or monster truck, with fancy paint, chrome and pin-stripes...but if they are missing the ignition wire, all those other expensive, custom-machined parts will do no good. It will not run!

You can adhere to KJ-only-ism. Yes, the KJV has been used of God down through the centuries. But if you are fighting KJV-only battles, but not actually -reading- that KJV you fight over, and taking God's Word (even as you read it from your KJV) into your heart, you will not be saved. FAITH comes from hearing, and hearing by the...what? WORD OF GOD. (Rom10:17)

Amen!

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Hunt right, VW wrong...? 1Cor15:1-4

COMMENT:
Mr Hunt is correct and you are wrong

The Scriptures tell us to "REPENT and BELIEVE THE GOSPEL". The truth is that repentance is not part of the gospel which Paul defines in [1 Cor 15:1-4; Gal 1:6-12] as Hunt affirms. Christ said to "Repent and [THEN] believe the gospel. " Repentance is not part of the gospel as CHRIST said "Repent and believe the gospel" We cleary see repentance is seperate from the gospel message itself.

ANSWER:
Before I get going here, please note, first, that your cited Gal1:6-12 passage does not 'define' -what- the Gospel is. It merely 'refers to' it...you state that Paul "defines" it in that passage. He does not.

However, in your own words you are recognizing Scripture saying what VW has been proclaiming all along. You see that Scriptures teach "repentance". This is what Paul proclaims in Acts20:21 "repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ".

  1. repentance toward God - REPENT
  2. faith - BELIEVE
  3. toward Jesus Christ - THE GOSPEL
But Mr. Hunt proclaims that it's better NOT TO -proclaim- "repentance". He claims that Scripture does not tell us to proclaim it. He agrees that it is there, in Scripture, but that we should not preach it...that it's too "confusing" a topic...thus, he doesn't. That it's "best left...out"

How does a person believe the Gospel of Salvation through Jesus (Acts4:12), if they don't first see the condition of their heart, their need of salvation, due to being "stabbed in the heart" (Act2:37) in conviction of their sin, and see their own hopeless state in utter worthlessness and "powerlessness" to save themselves? (Rom5:6) If the drowning person doesn't -realize- (repent) that he's drowning, he's not going to grab (receive Jn1:12) the life preserver being thrown to him.

It is a -confusion- of terms to proclaim that a person is "saved" if he didn't repent. If he's already "OK" (which is what a lack of repentance implies), -what- is he being "saved" -from-? He might understand how wonderful Jesus is, and life in heaven. But if he doesn't realize that he's not going there, but rather is on the "broad way" to "destruction" (Mt7:13), he sees no 'need' for help. He's sitting in the 'calm' waters above the spill-way, not realizing he's just about to "go over" the falls. Repentance is "seeing" that his boat is just about to go over, and that he can't paddle/row fast enough to get out of there; so Salvation is grabbing the rope that is being thrown to him from the shore.

Refusing to preach Repentance is like a person on the shore seeing how precariously close he is to going over, but refusing to -shout- to them to "grab the rope...LOOK OUT FOR THE FALLS!!!"

By your own admission, you see that Scripture proclaims Repentance. Jesus commanded that Repentance be "-proclaimed- in His name" (Lk24:47)

Paul did not mention it in 1Cor15:1-4, because in that place, (just like John's Gospel presents Christ as "Deity" and thus doesn't mention "repentance"), he is explaining the work "OF CHRIST" for salvation thru the -RESURRECTION-. Paul is explaining the "gospel" of "how" Christ saves. Remember also that one of the primary things the early apostles preached was the Resurrection (Acts4:2); as did Paul(Acts24:15) -That- is what Paul is teaching in 1Cor15. The -whole- chapter. Vs 1-4 merely introduce the topic of that whole passage, ch15. The work -CHRIST- DID for our salvation. The -basis- for the Eternal Security of the Believer's salvation which he proclaims in Rom8:31-39. It is -because- Christ rose from the dead that the Believer is no longer "lost". (1Cor15:17-18) Because He lives, we know that those who "hold fast" are "kept safe". (vs2) "..for I know -WHOM- (Christ) I have believed..-HE- is able to keep that which I have committed to Him against that Day." (2Tm1:12) If Jesus had -remained- dead, He could no more keep us in the future, could He. Dead men don't do anything. But because He is -ALIVE-, He is able to fulfill His promise of "everlasting life". (Jn3:16) Since we are "dead in sins" (Eph2:5), how can we be assured of Eternal "life" if Christ, Himself, was not the "firstfruit"? (1Cor15:23) -THAT- is what 1Cor15 is about!

In the 1-2-3 'list' above, where Paul in a nutshell is proclaiming -everything-, not having left anything out that was "needful" (Acts20:21), 1Cor15 is #3. In the boat/falls illustration, if you will, the preparation for "throwing the rope". Paul is not describing the nature of "faith" (#2). He does that in other places, like Romans, etc. He is not explaining "repentance" (#1). That is not his 'current' topic in that chapter. It is the "resurrection". First of all, Christ's. And then, the Believer's. When he is fully explaining #3, he is not negating or ignoring #1 & #2. They, simply, are not the 'current' topic. He is not addressing our depths in sin, he is discussing the nature of death and resurrection, the "flesh and blood" bodies of corruption vs. the new spiritual bodies. It is the closest the Scriptures come to explaining "technically" how death, resurrection and incorruption are related, and how one passes from death to life.

This whole argument, that "Paul doesn't mention repentance in 1Cor15:1-4" makes as much sense as retorting that the "transmission" section of an auto shop manual doesn't contain any information about the "electrical" systems; therefore we don't need to be concerned about the electrical. It's not -intended- to discuss "electrics"... it's the "transmission" section! At the risk of being accused of 'beating a dead horse', Paul is speaking of "Christ" and -Christ's- "work" in 1Cor15. Exactly -what- it is that Christ provides for our Salvation; not Repentance or Faith. And since we cannot save ourselves by works (Eph2:9), it is -God's- "gift", yes, it is the "gospel..in which we stand" because it describes what Christ did/does/will-do. When we repent and receive Christ, 1Cor15 describes in technical terms -what- it is that we are 'receiving' (vs1) from Christ. We long for "..adoption, the redemption of our body". (Rom8:23) 1Cor15 describes how that happens in resurrection and change from corruption into incorruption. That all happens (STARTS) (vs1-4) with the "Gospel" (good news) that Jesus ALREADY DID IT, and His resurrection was documented/verified/witnessed (vs5-8); paving the way as our "firstfruit", proving that our "hope" is not a blind hope. He did it. It is possible. Our faith in what He promised is not "foolish". (vs17) Because "..now Christ has risen from the dead.." (vs20)

  • When a person "receives" (Jn1:12) Christ, -what- is he receiving? John's Gospel presents and describes 'Jesus Christ - Deity'.

  • When a person is saved what is the -nature- of his "everlasting life" (Jn3:16)? -How- does one become transformed from corruption into incorruption? Paul explains that in 1Corinthians ch15. The 'Resurrection - Rapture'.
However, neither of these things becomes reality for a person until they humble themselves before God in repentance. The one who cried "God be merciful to me the sinner" was the one Jesus declared "went to his house...justified, rather than the other one" who was too proud to repent. (Lk18:13-14)

Yes, contrary to the detractors, Paul -did- continually proclaim repentance. (Acts20:21, 17:30) "..to those in Damascus, and Jerusalem, and to all the country of Judea, and to the nations, I made known the command to repent and to turn to God..." (Acts26:20) Anyone who refuses to acknowledge or obey that command (Lk24:47), disobeys Christ.

Amen!

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