Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life. (John 4:13-14)

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Free Grace Theology and Repentance -- A Reply To Matthew Waymeyer Part 2

Matthew writes:
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Because they deny that repentance is a condition for salvation, FG teachers believe that calling unbelievers to repent of their sin in response to the gospel can be dangerous because of how it muddies the waters of the true gospel.
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Wouldn’t that be logical? I mean, if, as proponents of Free Grace Theology, we believe that repentance is not a condition for salvation, why would we include it as such, calling for unbelievers to repent of their sin in response to the gospel?

Muddying the waters is a terrible understatement. Let me explain what I mean…

I agree with most Reformed people’s definition of repentance. It starts with a change of mind and remorse for the sin, proceeds with a volitional act whereby one turns away from his sin, and ends in a complete change of direction with commensurate works intow.

Yet I disagree with the Reformed Lordship proponent that repentance is a condition for eternal life.

If an unbeliever is told that repentance is a condition for eternal life, as a result he then must necessarily base a portion of his confidence in his own act of repenting, inasmuch as he has been told that his very eternal destiny is partially conditioned on this act of repentance!

The reliance of the one believing the synergistic message of the Traditionalist which conditions eternal life on both faith in Christ and the volitional acts of repentance are clearly split, one eye on Christ while the other is on self.

This is not merely muddying the waters! This is failing to clearly enunciate the essential nature of God’s gift – absolutely free! Repentance is a volitional work done by the one repenting. Therefore if repentance is necessary for eternal life, then the same is conditioned on works!

John MacArthur defines repentance as:

“a complete change of heart, attitude, interest, and direction. It is a conversion in every sense of the word.” (The Gospel According to Jesus, Revised and Expanded, pg 38)

It is conversion in every sense of the word, says MacArthur. As one of the definitions on dictionary.com, and under the religious category, conversion means a complete change of life and thus behavior.

It is manifestly apparent that:

1) if repentance is conversion in every sense of the word
and
2) if conversion = change of life and behavior
and
3) if repentance is a necessary condition for eternal life

then:

4) a change of life and behavior is necessary for eternal life

thus

5) A person’s works are an indispensible requirement for final salvation, and we have a clear-cut case of works-salvation.

MacArthur continues with his definition of repentance as:

“a complete turnaround, a full change of direction” (ibid., 118)

Do you see where this gets us? If we are to preach repentance to the unsaved as a response to the gospel and a condition of the gospel promise, we are, in effect, telling them that “a complete turnaround” and “a full change of direction” is required as a condition for their eternal well being!

Salvation no longer depends fully upon Christ but now has as an added condition the positive response to a call to repent as a condition for eternal life.

MacArthur agreeably quotes D. Lloyd-James who says that in repentance:

“you renounce the world, whatever the cost… you deny yourself, and take up the cross and follow Christ… That is repentance.” (ibid., 181)

If repentance, according to MacArthur, is taking up a cross and following Christ, and again, repentance is necessary for salvation, then how can the Traditionalist answer to the inevitable accusation of works-salvation? Answer: he can’t logically do so. He must rely upon sophistry, and contradiction masquarading as “tension”.

For the Traditionalist, repentance involves a renunciation of the world which he may have to pay dearly for: notice “whatever the cost”! Repentance has an inherent price to be paid! In light of this, how can the Traditionalist resolve the conflict between his insistence that the unsaved respond to the gospel with repentance as a condition for salvation and the Scriptures which simply offer eternal life as a free gift?

Rev 22:17
And the Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.

The terms of the gospel are clear. Eternal life is the appropriation of the sinner who believes on Jesus alone as his Guarantor of eternal life and resurrection. Justification is the declaration upon all who have faith alone in Christ alone apart from works:

Rom 4:4-5
Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness

Rom 11:6
And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work.

Requiring repentance as a contractual proviso, which we have seen the Traditionalist equate with a change of life, a costly price, and the hard works of picking up one’s cross and following Jesus, does irreparable damage to the sharp distinction and antithesis that Paul asserts between faith and works.

The antinomy that Paul places on faith and works in the arena of soteriology is blurred beyond function in the writings of Traditionalists. For example, the Traditionalist’s doctrine states that:

1) Repentance encompasses personal, volitional works (as has been shown)
2) Saving faith is equated with obedience (ibid., 38-39)
3) The Christian must persevere in faith and good works or hell is certain (the doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints)

I have understated – “blurred” is not appropriate term; “destroyed” is a better choice. The Traditionalist, in order to save his doctrine of a faith/works conditional synergy in his soteriology, has voided Paul’s insistence of the complete separation of faith and works in the realm of eternal salvation.

As a conclusion to this section, the Free Grace advocate, as a general rule, will not include a call to repentance in parallel with his gospel presentation. It has the potential to not only “muddy” the waters of the true gospel, its inclusion as a condition for eternal life fatally compromises the free reception of the absolutely without-cost gift of salvation.

Repentance has an altogether different function and role. Yes, it is a doctrine for all men, saved and unsaved. Yet, it is not a condition for eternal life and the inclusion of such compromises the integrity of Jesus Christ’s promise and the gift of God (not to mention the ascertainment of assurance of salvation, which issue may have to wait for another time).

19 Comments:

Blogger Bobby Grow said...

Antonio,

what if someone doesn't define "repentance" the way, your "traditionalist" does; i.e.=to works? Would you still deny that repentance should be part and parcel with the gospel message. What if repentance is seen as a "work of God", and not as the "volitional" outworking of man--would this change things for you?

August 13, 2006 11:37 PM  
Blogger bluecollar said...

Antonio,

Calvinists do not see repentance as a work. We see it as a natural out flow of regeneration. Regeneration provides one with new desires, desires wherein we now love the things of God, and want to turn from living lives that displease Him. We then want to have faith in Christ, and trust Him for salvation.

I was presented with a Lordship gospel presentation. All I could remember doing one day was want to come to Christ and to be His disciple. I wanted to live for Him. So, I called upon Him for salvation, trusting only in Him, and believing that He was my only hope of salvation. He alone was my righteousness.

August 14, 2006 3:40 AM


bluecollar said...
Before my paradigm change I was a man hater and loved being able to inflict pain and injury to other men. I loved lusting after women and cursing and revenge - I loved these things more than God. Hence, my thinking had to be changed, just like the rich young ruler. Those things dominated my life. The claims of Christ for love and forgiveness were very distastefull to me- the things for panzies.

I was confronted with the claims of Christ right up front. I knew that upon calling on Jesus for salvation I should also surrender to Him as Lord. I knew that as I walked away from my first encounter with my Savior, that I would now have to turn the other cheek and forgive and pray for people, as opposed to before this encounter.

August 14, 2006 3:54 AM

August 14, 2006 5:02 AM  
Blogger bluecollar said...

Jesus Christ is my only hope of salvation. Only His Blood can wash away my sins. His righteousness has been imputed to me. I want to be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, but only the righteousness that is in Christ.

August 14, 2006 5:18 AM  
Blogger bluecollar said...

I do not look at my repentance, not at all. I only look to Christ. It has been that way since the very first second that I trusted Him, and Him alone.

August 14, 2006 5:22 AM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Bobby, a few things:

1) Have you come up with a verse that commands repentance with a resultant of eternal life, eternal salvation or justification?

If you haven't why ask the question about "repentance" being part and parcel with the gospel message.

You haven't even made a case that it is.

2) How would you define repentance if it isn't a volitional act of the unbeliever?

Are you going to say that it is automatic and involuntary? Maybe the Holy Spirit is actually possessing and manipulating your whole person and doing the work through you.

this would lead me to 2 more considerations:

1) If it is automatic and involuntary, why would "the call to repentance" in a gospel presentation be expressed as an entreaty to the will? It would be a command:

"Repent of your sins!"

How else would it be expressed in the gospel message?

Would it be:

"Eternal life comes by believing in Christ for it. In the meantime, until you are able to believe, you must wait for the Holy Spirit to convict you of your sin, produce sorrow for your sin, work the work of repentance in life, and then you will be properly prepared to actually place your faith in Jesus Christ. Apart from the feeling of remorse, a change of direction, a subjective amount of sorrow for sin, and a subjective amount of conviction for sin, you cannot accept the free gift that Jesus is desiring to give you: eternal security."

No, this just won't jive.

The gospel message has the command to believe in Christ. It is an entreaty to look to Christ for salvation.

Repentance is an entreaty to the will!

2) If repentance is "is seen as a 'work of God'" why would you need to include it in your message anyway? Why would you need to command and entreat the will of the unbeliever if it is irresistable, automatic, and involuntary?

3) If the will is entreated to produce an action that is said to be a condition for eternal life, how can one NOT place confidence in the repentance that is (says you, a 'work of God') worked in him? As far as he knows, he repented, Not the Holy Spirit for him! He has been told that he must repent for eternal life!

4) The bottom line is the person repents! The unbeliever is expected to repent, and even though some caveat is loosely and subjectively added to the equation, that it is the Holy Spirit producing the repentance, the fact of the matter, even if this is given, THE PERSON IS REPENTING, and NOT THE HOLY SPIRIT.

And since repentance is the volitional activity of the person repenting, whereby he changes his mind, experiences remorse, forsakes sin, changes direction, and brings forth commensurate works intow, it is a work being done by the unsaved as a condition for salvation!

Paul doesn't say "To him who does not work meritoriously"

or

To him who works as enabled by God and believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his divinely enabled work in addition to his faith is accounted as righteousness!

The bottom line is that even if it is a work of God, the man or woman IS REPENTING, it is not God repenting!

August 14, 2006 3:25 PM  
Blogger Malchymist said...

Antonio

You said
"The antimony that Paul places on faith and works in the arena of soteriology is blurred beyond function in the writings of Traditionalists."

I do not know what this means, unless it is a typo for the "antipathy" in the preceding paragraph.

An honest question, for my own understanding.

Mal

August 14, 2006 4:26 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Hey Malchymist,

thanks for your response and your view of my blog.

Thank you also for finding that error.

I meant to write: antinomy

which means:

Contradiction or opposition, especially between two laws or rules

Let me know if you have any other questions.

Antonio

August 14, 2006 5:10 PM  
Blogger Bhedr said...

Hi Antonio bud,

Do you still see (what was the word?) ponctilliar? faith as the proper faith to have to be saved. You place an adjective on it don't you? Is that an adjective?

Oh bother:-)

Hey anyway is your view of ponctilliar faith as you often have defined as a beggar receiving bread into his hand the proper faith to have. Is this not an attitude of repentance? Begging in faith asking somthing from God with an attitude of helplessness. Is this not a change of heart from pride of rejection of God. Is pride sin? Can we honestly ever fully turn from pride or truly ever repent?

In the Holy Spirit's work of regeneration a new creation is given to us and that work which we could not do is fully and wholly completed by God when we have a change of heart and approach God as you have so well articulated in the past as a beggar receiving bread into his hands, not as a rich man demanding his rights.

I think we agreee more so as brethren in so many areas; but i am still very thankful that your voice does indeed keep the fringe of our carnal nature to always add to the grace of God.

I have been reading Bobbys coments across the blogiverse and notice that he has some good things to say. I trust you will hear him out. I understand your concerns though.

I still think a beggar asking for bread is an attitude of repentant faith which you define as ponctilliar faith?

In reality it is as Bobby said though. It is the Holy Spirit working out as we respond to Him in our imperfect sinfulness and motive.

August 14, 2006 7:47 PM  
Blogger Jon Lee said...

Well said Antonio! People often make the mistake of upholding their conversion experience as if it were universal to all who are truly saved. In respect to belief in Christ, this is true. In respect to anything else (feelings, desires, works etc.) there are as many conversion "experiences" as there are converts. The bible is clear - "MOST ASSUREDLY, I say to you, he who believes in me HAS everlasting life." John 6:47 Either it is as simple as belief in Christ or you make our beloved savior out to be a liar!

August 14, 2006 7:50 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Brian, great questions. I want to answer them, but I am running on less than 5 hours sleep. I rarely get more than 6, and it catches up to you!

By the way, great new picture in your avatar. Very touching! I love it!

Jon Lee,

Your participation blesses me. I am glad that there is a brother like yourself so closely aligned with the biblical doctrines that have persuaded me as to their veracity.

God bless you!

Antonio

August 14, 2006 8:38 PM  
Blogger bluecollar said...

Hi Antonio,

In your previous post you mentioned those who needed a paradigm change. The paradigm changes you looked at were especially within the generation of Jews who crucified the Lord. Would not Paul fit, not only into that generation, but also into their deeds, that of hating Christians, and trying to rid the earth of the knowledge of Christ?

He had such a paradigm change. He repented. He went from Christ hater, and Christian killer, on to be the greatest evangelist ever. Yet, years later, and looking back over it all, we see him say..."and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness...but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith..."

Paul was a repentant sinner, and yet no trace or pride was found in him. He never looked at his act of repenting, but always at Christ. I would say that he is the model that we Calvinists look at. We, like Paul, needed repentance; yet our eyes are on the Savior, and being found in Him. we don't see our repentance as something to focus on. Isn't it written,"...having raised up His Servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities" - Acts 3:26.

I see the essence of Christianity in Colossians 1:13-"He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love". Repentance is a work of God, Done through the word and through the ministry of the Spirit. The command goes through the human channel, the evangelist, but its origins are God. He commands, and , through the word preached, and the Holy Spirit's agency, the sinner responds. The repentant sinner can't possibly claim credit or have something to focus on other than Christ.

August 15, 2006 4:42 AM  
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Good post as usual, Antonio.

August 15, 2006 8:54 AM  
Blogger Bobby Grow said...

Thank you Antonio for your response. I would not define repentance as a "volitional" act, ultimately. In other words I see the mind functioning "instrumentally" to the heart or affections or motives. Once the heart is changed II Cor 3; Ez 36; etc., the mind will receive a new value, i.e. love for God, process it, and the will will act out this new value on a continuum of action. In other words, until a person's values are changed (i.e. love of self), there won't be any mind change or will (volition) change. I.e. there won't be any repentance until that person is overwhelmed with the beauty of the Savior. Once the Holy Spirit breaks in, and begins the wooing process, that elect person will recognize the ugliness of their depraved state (repent), and freely choose (believe/trust) Christ in reciprocating love.

Acts 2:37-38 says:

When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, 'Brothers, what shall we do?' 38. Peter replied, 'Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.' And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

This illustrates my point. The "wooing" is the "cutting of the heart", the free response is when the people "repent", because of the cutting of their heart (II Cor 3). Their values have been changed, through the proclamation and instrumentality of God's Word spoken through Peter. This does not appear to be a volitional act, primarily; furthermore repentance is a part of reception and appropriation of the gospel in this context.

IN Christ

August 15, 2006 12:29 PM  
Blogger Malchymist said...

Antonio
on Matthew Waymeyer's blog comments on the original post-

jazzycat said...
"When a theological view such as the free grace view does not acknowledge the power of regeneration and also gives man the credit for achieving his own regeneration(faith before regeneration), then it is not surprising that they have a wrong view of the entire salvation process.
The reformed view of regeneration preceding faith (John 3:3 & Eph. 2:4-5) shows God's grace and the power of God in giving the gift of faith and repentance." [emphasis added]

I am posting here rather than there as my question to you is:
"Since I don't see your response to be contradicting this contention- Is this indeed the view of FG?"

August 15, 2006 1:00 PM  
Blogger Bhedr said...

Antonio,

Get some sleep brother. Can't run on borrowed steam from yesterday!

Refresh yourself.

You do have good thoughts in your post. Some of the points that you so see were actually addressed vehemently by Charles Haddon Spurgeon himself a known Calvinist.

He did of course always stress the powerful working and sovereignty of God in the work of the Holy Spirit in the act of conversion.

Nevertheless as your friend Lee so rightly states and as Spurgeon so unwaveringly always stressed. We must rest there on the promise of God, because at the end of the day the Gospel is truly "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ."

I guess where we differ is that you feel some don't repent as others do and while I will agree that everyones experience may differ I still hold that a change of mind does indeed occur when man sees his need of the Saviour and the outworking will differ from one person to the other...but I do not believe it is possible to believe without the inward conviction and revalation of the Holy Spirit.

It is a transfer of the souls trust to the saviour. Jesus as his sin-bearer. The minute that trust is made...he is saved for eternity.

August 15, 2006 2:20 PM  
Blogger Bhedr said...

BTW,

I am touched that you were touched. Thanks for the compliment!

I have always loved your pic. In fact in times of depest despair..this wonderfull truth has given me hope and encouraged me not to trust in my emotions. I can be an emotional piece of dribble at times. My soul is often refreshed by the wonderfull truth that so graces the front cover of Zane Hodges book.

May the Lord bless you my brother and continue to reach others with the glorious gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

August 15, 2006 2:26 PM  
Blogger Rose~ said...

Hi Antonio,
I finally read this post. What an easy read! You make your point well and honestly, I can't find anywhere to disagree with your point of view here - we are on the same page. I do find the other perspective quite contrdictory, but Matt Weymeyer is a very nice guy - too bad he won't comment on these posts.

Bhedr,
I was touched that you were touched that Antonio was touched. :~)
I was indeed touched by what you said about Antonio's avatar - that was so refreshing to read because anytime I have heard anyone mention his avatar, it seems the sight of that book makes their blood boil. God bless you brother.

August 17, 2006 4:41 AM  
Blogger Bhedr said...

I hear ya Rose.

In fact we need to take a good look at that cover everyday. As Terry Rayburn always says...we have to remind ourselves everyday that we are saved by grace and I love his slogan as well. I wish he had an avatar because his sight says "Slaying the Dragon of Legalism, because grace didn't end with salvation."

Grace to be saved and grace to help us walk in a loving relationship with God.

Actually one day I might get around to buying the book of Zane Hodges. It is a most wonderful truth. We are precious blood bought children of God. The gift I was given as a six year old boy never ceased being a gift. I just need to be reminded of it everyday.

If it gets under our carnal skin and that is a good thing.

August 17, 2006 12:48 PM  
Blogger carrierwave said...

Hello, Antonio

This site is very thought provoking! I would like to add something though; it may have already been addressed as I have not read every post, but here goes.

The Bible word "repent" (METANOEO) has been misinterpreted by modern language. If you will look it up properly from the language it comes from 2 Greek words meaning literally to "change the mind or thinking", or have another thought than you presently have.

I believe straying from this correct definition and it's misapplication have been the result of the confusion about salvation.

I believe we ARE commanded to "repent" in regard to salvation; but the focus and object of our repentance is where we get things confused.

"Repent" has been shown in scripture to mean exclusively as a "change of one's mind" and a reversal of a decision. It is used as a term sometimes without any reference to salvation or eternal life.

This is where I believe this confusion stems, Especially when it is being taught that repentance means to "turn from your sins", or even "change your mind about committing sins" in reference to being saved. These phrases "turn from your sins" or "repent of your sins" is not found in scripture in this regard anywhere. Yet it is used even in so called grace believing Churches in reference to being saved.

It is not hard to see by this wrong definition and misapplication of the word that "works" have now entered the salvation plan. No matter how you slice this, a code of conduct is being introduced to the salvation formula and becomes "another gospel". The Holy Spirit cannot do his redemption work in the heart of a lost person if he approaches God believing his works are part of him being saved. (Gal.2:21)

To say "repent" means "change your mind about committing sins" instantly requires one to intend NOT to sin, thus establishing works as part of the redemptive plan. This not possible according to Paul’s clear teaching about Grace and works, as you have mention in previous posts. They are like “oil and water“ which cannot be mixed. (Romans 11:6) (Galatians 2:21) (Romans 3:19-28)

Since all of these scriptures denounce works or any kind of personal righteousness in the plan of salvation, one must conclude that repentance can only mean three things "confessing of sinfulness", "realization of lostness", "Believing on the Lord Jesus Christ and trusting His righteousness alone as the remedy and hope of eternal salvation. This is Bible "repentance" in regard to salvation:

1. We must change our minds and confess that we ARE sinners. (Romans 3:10, 3:23)

2. We must change our minds, confess and realize that we are lost and helpless to save ourselves from God’s judgment in the lake of fire. (Romans 3:19) (Romans 6:23) (Eph. 2:8,9) (Titus 3:5)

3. We must change our minds, that Jesus Christ alone is the Savior, and we can do nothing but rely only on His work on Calvary to save us from our sins and hell. (This would include rejecting all false hope we have been trusting in for salvation other than Jesus Christ alone. (Acts 16:30,31) (Romans 3:26,27) (Roman 10:9,10,13)

This strips us then of all of our "own righteousness", falling totally on God's mercy through Jesus Christ and His death, burial, and resurrection (the Gospel) as saving us.

Now only after we are saved, when the Holy Spirit has come to dwell in us can we change our lifestyle to conform us to "grow" into the image of Christ to do good works, NOT BEFORE.

This kind of false teaching about being saved says to lost sinners that they must "clean-up" and somehow merit grace before they can get saved, and somehow intend to change their ways (works) before they can get saved. This is going about to establish our "own righteousness" and not submitting unto "Christ's righteousness" alone for salvation. This is nothing short of a qualification by works as a prerequisite for salvation. (Roman Catholic doctrine)
If you are trusting anything else but Christ's righteousness alone for salvation, you are not saved, and cannot have full assurance you are saved. Therefore, “repentance” cannot mean “turn from your sins”. Any works added to faith alone makes works the savior, and not Jesus Christ. Salvation then is by the works of the law.

Harold

July 24, 2007 8:30 AM  

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