What Does True Repentance Look Like?

This fall we’ve been going through the various areas of Soteriology (the study of salvation) in our High School Sunday School.  This Sunday we covered conversion/repentance.  One of the main books that I use as a source, and one that I full heartedly recommend is “The Cross and Salvation” by Bruce Demarest.  He provides three areas of true repentance.  They are as follows:

1.  An Intellectual Element- The first thing required in true conversion is to intellectually understand what it means.  You must first, understand the fact that God is a holy God, who is righteous and true altogether.  And that His holiness creates a deep displeasure and disdain towards sin.  The second thing you must know is that man is incredibly sinful.  You must be aware of your sin and guilt.  This leaves us living as ‘children of wrath’ (Eph 2:1-3), condemned before God.  Man must understand that their sin condemns them to Hell, separated from God.  Thirdly, man must understand that God is read to forgive sin entirely.

The interesting thing here is that the first step is often skipped, and the evangelist tends to go straight to the emotional element.  But the  emotional element is often understood.  When I was teaching, I spoke of how this is exactly what people like Joel Osteen does.  He doesn’t talk about sin because it is negative and not encouraging.  His message is, instead, that “God wants you to be wealthy, spiritually and physically.  God wants the best for you and He loves you very much.  Jesus died so you could know peace and joy.”  Unfortunately, the knowledge of sin is often left out.

2. An Emotional Element- The second element can be misunderstood, and often twisted.  This is more than being emotionally moved, but actually abhoring sin (Psalm 119:104) and knowing that it is against God that man has sinned (Psalm 51:4).  This is a truth driven emotion, not a baseless crying.  This isn’t being moved by music, or even a passionate preacher.  It is being emotionally moved over one’s sin.  It is understanding how God is grieved by our sin.

3. A Volitional Element- The third element is probably the most controversial.  This is that one must have a determination to forsake sin and amend one’s life.  Repentance is a literal turning from one’s sin towards the holiness of God.  Proverbs 28:13 says that it isn’t about concealing sin, but about confessing and renouncing our sinful nature.  This is where the Lordship Salvation debate enters.  Here area  few quotes I found on it:

“We take Him for what He is- the anointed anointed Savior and Lord who is King of kings and Lord of lords!  He would not be who He is if He saved us and called us and chose us without the understanding that He can also guide and control our lives.”   A.W. Tozer

“There is only one Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, and … anyone who beleives in a Savior who is not the Lord is not believing the true Christ and is not regenerate.  We call for commitment to Christ, the true Christ.”  James Boice

“The gospel Jesus preached was a call to discipleship, a call to follow him in submission obedienc, not just a plea to make a decision or pray a prayer.”  John MacArthur

“The only trust that saves is that practical trust which obeys Jesus Christ.  Faith that does not obey is dead faith, -nominal faith.  It is the outside of faith, the bark of faith, but it is not the vital core of faith.”  C.H. Spurgeon

“For conversion to be authentic and transforming, pre-Christians must make the Lord Jesus Christ the object of their exclusive loyalty.  This means that to the best of their knowledge penitents will forsake all known vice and cling to the Savior as their only hope of salvation. Genuine conversion thus will involve sincere repentance, total commitment to Christ, and submission to the Lord’s sovereign rule.”  Bruce Demarest