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)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Repentance and the Illustration of the "Stadium Event"

The illustration of the "Stadium Event": From the stadium owner's standpoint, the only necessary requirement for entrance into the stadium event is a ticket, nothing more, nothing less. From the fan's perspective, many other requirements may be involved, but usually none exactly the same as another fan. For examples: he will have to appropriate money in order to buy the ticket, or aquire the ticket in any other number of ways. The fan will have to get himself to the vicinity of the stadium's gate entrance through gaining access to a form of transportation and using it. You get the idea. Objectively, all that is needed is a ticket. But subjectively, from the perspective of the fan, other necessities will have to be fulfilled.

In the spiritual realm, to which I would now like to correspond this illustration to, the only condition for everlasting life is to believe in Jesus for it. Eternal life comes simply by faith alone in Christ alone. God requires nothing more! But from the perspective of the lost, Jesus could say to them, "Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able" (Luke 13:24). One may have to work through many issues to get to the subjective mindset that will be open to the claims of the Lord Jesus Christ. A helpful scale was formulated by a Missiologist (one who studies missions), named the Engel's Scale. At the far spectrum referenced by a (-10) is Atheist, (0) is regeneration and (+10) is completely sold out for Jesus, with many distinct level in between all this. Work may be needed at each step of the way to get the mind prepared to consider openly the message of eternal life. Yet at any point before (0) that a person believes in Jesus for eternal life he has it and is at (0) on the scale. Eternal life is an absolutely free gift received (like the empty hand of a beggar) simply through faith in Jesus.

Please do your own study of the word "repent" and its cognate "repentance" in the New Testament. There are 3 Greek words used: metamelomai (5 uses), metanoeo (34 uses), and metanoia (24 uses). Repentance is used in these 2 complimentary ways 1) as a requirement for people already related to God covenantally (Israel or the Church) to maintain or re-aquire harmonious relations with God -- it is a relationship issue!! and 2) to prevent or stop God's temporal wrath and judgement on sins, with a view toward harmony with God (in the unsaved) or the aquiring/maintaining of harmony with God (in the area of covenant relations with God).

Repentance is never used in a text as a requirement for eternal life, eternal salvation, or justification. Never! We are never met with any text that conditions the appropriation of eternal salvation on an act of repentance, there just isn't one, not even in Luke or Acts.

The Gospel of John, which has as its explicit statement of purpose evangelism (see John 20:31), does not contain "repent" in any form within it. Imagine writing a book on "Significant Treatments for Heart Disease" and failing to mention open heart surgery! If repentance is necessary for eternal life, the silence of the 4th gospel is defeaning. One may only conclude the following in light of John's purposeful ommision of repentance within his book: 1) He did not consider repentance as a condition for eternal life, 2) He failed in fulfilling the purpose of his treatise by ommitting repentance. There is no other option!

The book of Romans, in its section on justification, chapters 3-5, is deafly silent, not even giving a hint of repentance as a condition for justification, but ONLY FAITH. The book of Galatians, speaking about Paul's gospel, does not include a single reference to repentance.

In the light of the facts that the Gospel of John, and Galatians thoroughly omit any reference to repentance, and Romans discludes it in any discussion of justification, in conjunction with the fact that no text conditions eternal life, eternal salvation, or justification on repentance, there is simply no exegetical proof that God requires repentance for eternal life! If God does not require repentance for everlasting life, why do we?

Let the Gospel of John argument first sink in deep. How can you account for the total absence of repentance within the confines of his book which was written so that people could have everlasting life? Then let Romans and Galatians speak to you. Then TRY to find even ONE clear text that conditions eternal salvation on repentance... There is no verse that states something like this, "Most assuredly I say to you, whoever repents has eternal life" (c.f. John 6:47).

Please prove me wrong. Show me with the well-reasoned, exegetical argument of a text, that God requires repentance for eternal salvation. And please don't just reference or quote a text! Prove from the text itself that eternal salvation is CONDITIONED on repentance, or something more than faith in Christ!

This is a very important topic. Please do the footwork yourself, and don't rely on your commentaries and theology books. Do the textual work yourself. If your life depended on you proving to a court and jury that repentance was necessary for eternal life from God's perspective in the New Testament, how would you go about making your solid case and argument? Would you simply quote a scripture out of context and state, "Aha! See!?" Or would you even attempt to show in the historical, literary context that a scripture text certainly conditions eternal life on repentance? I would hope, that if your life is on the line, you would do more than give a few verses that may appear to state what you are saying. I would hope that you would make a well-reasoned argument using the time-tested principles of biblical interpretation of the pertinent texts.

I am open to your comments and questions. If you bring up a text, make sure you take the above suggestion to heart. People's lives are on the line! Eternal life through faith alone is not the same thing as eternal life through faith and repentance! One or both are wrong! Both cannot be right at the same time! We will all stand before the judgement seat of Christ oneday to give an account for our teachings. And beware! Teachers will incur a stricter judgement (James 3:1)!

8 Comments:

OpenID wisdomknowledge said...

Hi Antonio,

I see that you are posting again. I hope that your break from blogging has been a good one.

There is an important definitional issue about this that didn't come through clearly in your article. If you don't mind I would like to point it out so your readers will understand where some of the disagreements over repentance come in.

Believe it or not I personally use a series of articles written by Bob Wilkin in 1989-1990 in the Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society for my definitions from which I am going to quote (I will provide links below). I believe that Bob Wilkin has changed his mind on several points since then but I hope you won't be offended if I still hold to his former views on the topic.

According to Wilkin there are three different ways that repentance is defined:

[Begin Quote]

(1) Turn from or be willing to turn from one's sins--a concept which is included in saving faith, or
(2) Change one's mind about Jesus Christ--a concept which is essentially synonymous with saving faith, or
(3) Repentance (turning from one's sins) is not a condition of eternal salvation at all.

[End Quote]

Bob Wilkin (and the both of us) reject the first definition as being unbiblical. Bob Wilkin used to, and I do, believe that the second definition is correct. Bob Wilkin now believes (and so do you) that the third definition is correct. My point being that when we use the word repentance we don't mean the same thing and that is important.

Here are the links to that series of articles I mentioned at the bible.org website:

- New Testament Repentance: Lexical Considerations
- New Testament Repentance: Repentance in the Gospels and Acts
- New Testament Repentance: Repentance in the Epistles and Revelation

I think that Bob Wilkin's articles meet all of the criteria that you lay out.

in parting I would like to provide a short quote from the second article linked above:

[Begin Quote]

There are only two views of salvific repentance which are consistent with the Gospel: the view that repentance is essentially synonymous with saving faith and the view that repentance is not a condition of eternal salvation at all.

It has been shown that in some passages one can understand repentance as a condition of eternal salvation and in others not. These views are not exclusive.

It is my view that the Gospels and Acts primarily use the terms metanoia and metanoeo essentially as synonyms for faith in Christ. The call to change one's mind about Christ, after the new evidence of the resurrection is brought forth (e.g., Acts 2:38), is parallel to calling one to place his or her faith in the Risen Christ in light of the proof of the resurrection (Acts 10:40-43).

[End Quote]

Thank you.

Glenn

June 27, 2011 7:37 AM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Glenn, it has been a while, eh?... since I posted and since I have heard from you. It is always my pleasure to hear from you, brother.

I appreciate your post, and believe that such an understanding about repentance is squarely in the Free Grace camp.

My question to you is:

Have you ever considered the "Harmony with God" view, from the 12th chapter of Absolutely Free! and the book "Harmony with God" by Zane Hodges against a word study of the Greek words for repent and repentance?

If you have, I am wondering what the hang up is with the Harmony with God view in your mind. This view is a slam dunk!

Please let me know, and give me the opportunity to persuade you of this view. It took Bob Wilkin like 8 years to change his mind on his view of repentance, but he finally did.

What is is that bothers you about this view? Certainly the view fits many scriptures that speak of repentance. If I were to guess, the passages that you are hung up on would mostly all be Lukan.

Let me know, as I would really like to discuss this issue with someone of your calibre and integrity. I have always considered you a man of great integrity.

Let me know!

your fg brother,

Antonio

June 27, 2011 2:01 PM  
OpenID wisdomknowledge said...

Continued...

In a nutshell my reason for not following Zane Hodges teaching on repentance is not so much because of what it means in relation to justification (salvation) but the implications it has for experiential sanctification/the believers’ spiritual life. To give some context, as you know those who hold that repentance means a turning from sin and is required for salvation will interpret every passage with the word repent as if it is a salvation passage. I have never interacted with anyone who held this view that didn’t also believe in perseverance of the saints. The holders of that theology reject the idea that believers can ever be out of fellowship with God (be carnal) and that no believer ever needs to confess personal sin to God the Father. If Zane Hodges also believes that repentance is defined as a turning from sin and is therefore never used in a salvation passage, wouldn’t this also affect his views of the spiritual life? I believe that the answer has to be yes.

So I wouldn’t come across as a total blithering idiot I tracked down Zane Hodges teaching on the “Harmony with God” view of repentance. He published a detailed development of his view in the Chafer Theological Journal in 2003. I quickly looked through the articles (linked below) and he does indeed have some very different ideas on the believer’s relationship with the Holy Spirit than what I believe (and probably a lot of other things as well). I have been taught a fairly well developed doctrine on how the believer interacts with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as he matures. Hodges’ views on repentance would probably throw out large chunks of that. I am not saying that he is completely wrong but I am saying that I am unconvinced and I would probably have to read a book length treatment on the topic to really understand the differences.

Here are the Hodges article links:

Harmony with God (Part 1 of 3), by Zane C. Hodges
Harmony with God (Part 2 of 3), by Zane C. Hodges
Harmony with God (Part 3 of 3), by Zane C. Hodges

Thank you.

Glenn

June 28, 2011 8:10 AM  
OpenID wisdomknowledge said...

Antonio,

My original comment was too long so I had to break it up into two parts. Unfortunately they got published out of order. I hope they still make sense.

Glenn

June 28, 2011 8:13 AM  
Blogger Ken White said...

Hey Antonio,

Glad to see your aticle and I agree 100%. For years I held to and taught the view that repentance means a change of mind, but later I realized that it didn't fit the usage of the words in the NT, as you pointed out. I also realized that even when I defined repentance as "basically synonymous" with faith, I was subtly teaching two requirements for eternal life rather than one. The first requirement, in my mind, was to adequately change one's mind about God, about sin, about self, and about Christ. The second was to believe in Jesus (though at that point I would have said "believe in what He did for you" rather than "believe in Him for eternal life.") Anyway, I realized that a prerequisite to faith and faith itself cannot be the same thing. And yes, the silence of the book of John on repentance was a major factor in changing my mind as well.

I think the stadium example is good as far as "prerequisites" to faith go. One only has to believe in Jesus for eternal life to get it, but some people are going to have to change their minds about a lot of things in order to get there. Some might not really have to change their minds at all. They might just need to hear the truth and believe it. But either way, I think that you are right that the kind of changing of the mind which a person might have to do in order to believe in Jesus is not what the Bible means when it says "repent."

Blessings,

Ken

June 28, 2011 4:58 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Ken,

I appreciate the kind words. I have been studying and thinking alot about repentance lately, especially its usage in Acts, and also formulating some thoughts concerning Israel, forgiveness of sins, and harmony with God, that seem to put all the peices of the puzzle together. I need to write on these things! Soon!

Would like your thoughts on my newest post.

Thanks for coming by. Enjoyed your article in the GES newsletter.

Antonio

June 30, 2011 5:11 PM  
Blogger Matthew Celestis said...

Great post, Antonio.

July 01, 2011 1:53 AM  
OpenID wisdomknowledge said...

Antonio,

My earlier attempt at commenting got messed up. I basically expanded my failed comment and turned it into a post at my blog. If you like you, and your readers, can read it over and give me your thoughts. The post is: Two Little Words Can Make a Big Difference.

I know you won't agree with what I wrote but I wanted to try and pull together some of my thoughts on the topic. I do not expect it to convince you of anything.

Everything depends on how "repentance" is defined.

Glenn

July 01, 2011 12:02 PM  

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