Repentance means a genuine change of mind that affects the life in some way. Like other significant theological terms it must be defined specifically by asking a further question, namely, Change the mind about what? Unsaved people can truly repent but without being saved, as, for example, to change the mind about a bad habit and to break that habit as a result. Christians can repent of specific sins and stop doing them (Rev. 2:5; 2 Cor. 7:9—notice that in this verse sorrow leads to repentance, but it is not necessarily the same as repentance). And unsaved people can repent unto salvation. This saving repentance has to involve a change of mind about Jesus Christ so that whatever a person thought of Him before, he changes his mind and trusts Him to be his Savior. That is the only kind or content of repentance that saves (Acts 2:38; 17:30; 2 Pet. 3:9). However, saving repentance may be preceded by a repentance concerning sin (which activates an individual’s sense of need for forgiveness) or a repentance toward God (which alerts him to the fact that he has offended a holy God and therefore needs a way to appease Him). This aspect of repentance (like John 16:8–11) is still not saving unless it is accompanied by faith in Christ (Acts 20:21).
Monday, September 10, 2012
Charles Ryrie on Saving Repentance: