Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Faith and Repentance

How are faith and repentance involved in salvation? Are we required to have one or the other or both to be saved? Now there are a large number of verses in Scripture that promise salvation based on faith or believing (two forms of the same word in the Greek): (Ephesians 2:8,9; Romans 4:4,5; 3:28; John 3:16; 1:12; Philippians 3:9; 1 John 5:11-13). But repentance is also clearly mentioned (Acts 2:38; 17:30; Mark 1:15). How do these fit together? If repentance is an extra, added thing which is required beyond faith, it conflicts with the places which promise salvation based on faith and makes God appear to be a used car salesman who is trying to sneak in something in the fine print. How then are we to look at this?

Now faith is trust and reliance on the promises of God (Romans 4:16-21; Hebrews 11:13-16; 2 Corinthians 5:4-8). Particularly those relating to Christ and His death and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-1; Romans 3:21,22; Acts 10:38-43). Included in this is the fact that we are sinners (Romans 3:23; Jeremiah 17:9; Isaiah 64:6) and that Jesus paid the price for our sins (1 Peter 2:24,25; Colossians 2:13,14; 2 Corinthians 5:21). It is in this context that repentance makes sense. It is recognizing that we are sinners and are guilty, and turning from sin to God for salvation. It is not making resolutions to change and reforming our lives. Salvation is not based on our works (Galatians 2:21; Titus 3:5,6; Romans 11:6), and without the work of God in our life we cannot do what God demands (John 15:5; Romans 8:8; 7:14). Now we are told that faith in Christ will lead to a life of obedience to God (James 2:14-26; 1:22 -24; Titus 2:11-14). But this is motivated by the love of God for what He has done for us (1 John 4:19; 2 Corinthians 5:14,15; Romans 12:1,2) and is brought about by God's work in us (2 Corinthians 3:18; Ephesians 2:10; Colossians 1:29).

It is important here to avoid extremes. Genuine faith does produce a change in the believer's life, and one needs to beware of presumption (Galatians 5:6; 2 Peter 2:7,8; 2 Corinthians 13:5), but the believer's life is not yet perfect; it is in the process of growth (Philippians 3:12-16; Galatians 5:17; Romans 7:15-25). And Scripture does offer a real assurance for those who have put their faith in Christ (1 John 5:11-13; 4:17-18; Romans 8:31-39). But we must avoid complacency and self-righteousness. And we must not let a misunderstanding of repentance sneak in a reliance on our works rather than Christ's work.   

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