There is a debate going on today among Independent Fundamentalist Baptists, regarding the nature of conversion. Followers of Jack Hyles for example believe that when accepting Christ (becoming born again), one must repent. But they define “repentance” not as repenting of sin, but as turning from unbelief to belief.
Sorry, folks, repentance from sin is essential. I came across the following Baptist blog detailing the need to repent from sin. Click here for the original source of this article. I am emphasizing certain points by bolding, and inserting comments in [brackets]. I am also adding some links and some images.
Here is a message on repentance in the life of a believer from a member of our church:
[and a sermon as follows]
The Baptist, Bible position on Repentance
by Pastor Matt McPhillips (Pastor from Port Huron, MI.)
I am going to attempt to write about the doctrine of repentance. About two years ago I became so troubled about my lack of study about the Gospel and my acceptance of four points and a prayer that I dove into studying it head first. Not knowing completely what my conclusion would be, I saturated myself with books, articles, and sermons by men of the 1900’s, 1800’s, 1700’s, and 1600’s only to find an amazing thing. The issue of what is repentance in reference to salvation is a modern issue. I looked at the numerous confessions of faith only to realize they all defined it as a sorrow for and turning from sin. This would include the London Confession (1644), Armenian [Arminian] Confession (1834)[I assume this is the same as the Confession of the Free-Will Baptists (1834)], Philadelphia Association (1734), French Confession (1879), Swiss Confession (1848), New Hampshire [Baptist] Confession (1833) and many others. As much as it pained me, I even began to look at non-Baptist confessions only to find the same. So, maybe it was that I would find men from the past that would define it as a change of mind from unbelief to belief or one’s dependence to another and I was amazed at what I found. Notice that all of these men agreed as to the true nature of repentance [repenting of sin].
Oliver B. Green – “True repentance is sorrow for sin committed against a holy God and not only sorrow for sin, but TURNING FROM SIN, FORSAKING SIN AND TURNING TO GOD. Sin nailed the Savior to the cross and certainly that fact alone is sufficient reason why ALL WHO HAVE GENUINELY REPENTED HATE SIN AND FORSAKE SINFUL WAYS” (Oliver B. Greene, Commentary of Acts of the Apostles, Acts 2:37-38, 1969).
Lester Roloff – “Repentance is a godly sorrow for sin. Repentance is a forsaking of sin. Real repentance is putting your trust in Jesus Christ so you will not live like that anymore. Repentance is permanent. It is a lifelong and an eternity-long experience. You will never love the devil again once you repent. You will never flirt with the devil as the habit of your life again once you get saved. You will never be happy living in sin; it will never satisfy; and the husks of the world will never fill your longing and hungering in your soul. Repentance is something a lot bigger than a lot of people think. It is absolutely essential if you go to heaven” (Lester Roloff, Repent or Perish, 1950s).
Charles Spurgeon – “Just now some professedly Christian teachers are misleading many by saying that ‘repentance is only a change of mind.’ [Interestingly, this teaching was present back in the Spurgeon's day - it did not originate with Independent Fudamentalist Baptist Jack Hyles.] It is true that the original word does convey the idea of a change of mind; but the whole teaching of Scripture concerning the repentance which is not to be repented of is that it is a much more radical and complete change than is implied by our common phrase about changing one’s mind. The repentance that does not include sincere sorrow for sin is not the saving grace that is wrought by the Holy Spirit. God-given repentance makes men grieve in their inmost souls over the sin they have committed, and works in them a gracious hatred of evil in every shape and form. We cannot find a better definition of repentance than the one many of us learned at our mother’s knee: ‘Repentance is to leave the sin we loved before, and show that we in earnest grieve by doing so no more’” (Charles Haddon Spurgeon, “The Royal Saviour,” Metropolitan Tabernacle, London, England, Feb. 1, 1872).
George Whitefield – “Repentance is the carnal and corrupt disposition of men being changed into a renewed and sanctified disposition. … It is the nature of such repentance to make a change, and the greatest change that can be made here in the soul. Thus you see what repentance implies in its own nature; it denotes an abhorrence of all evil” (George Whitefield, “Repentance,” c. 1750).
D.L.Moody – “If you ask people what it is they will tell you, it is feeling sorry. If you ask a man if he repents, he will tell you oh yes; I generally feel sorry for my sins. That is no repentance. It is something more than a feeling sorry. Repentance is turning right about and forsaking sin. I wanted to speak on Sunday about that verse in Isaiah, which says, “Let the guilty forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts.” That is what it is. If a man don’t turn from his sin he won’t be accepted of God, and if righteousness don’t produce a turning about – a turning from bad to good – it isn’t true righteousness.”
William Tyndale – “Concerning this word repentance … the very sense and signification both of the Hebrew and also of the Greek word is, ‘to be converted and to turn to God with all the heart, to know his will, and to live according to his laws; and to be cured of our corrupt nature with the oil of his Spirit, and wine of obedience to his doctrine.” (William Tyndale, “To the Reader,” Tyndale New Testament, 1534).
Jonathan Edwards – “So saving repentance and faith are implied in each other. They are both one and the same conversion of the soul from sin to God, through Christ; the act of the soul turning from sin to God through Christ, as it respects the thing from which the turning is, viz. sin, is called repentance; and as it respects the thing to which, and the mediation by which it turns, it is called faith” (Jonathan Edwards, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”, 1741).
Charles Finney – “A turning from sin to holiness, or more strictly, from a state of consecration to self to a state of consecration to God, is and must be the turning, the change of mind, or the repentance that is required of all sinners. Nothing less can constitute a virtuous repentance, and nothing more can be required” (Charles Finney, “Repentance and Impenitence,” 1878).
Harry Ironside – “Shallow preaching that does not grapple with the terrible fact of man’s sinfulness and guilt, calling on ‘all men everywhere to repent,’ results in shallow conversions; and so we have a myriad of glib-tongued professors today who give no evidence of regeneration whatever. Prating of salvation by grace, they manifest no grace in their lives. Loudly declaring they are justified by faith alone, they fail to remember that ‘faith without works is dead’; and that justification by works before men is not to be ignored as though it were in contradiction to justification by faith before God. … To repent is to change one’s attitude toward self, toward sin, toward God, toward Christ. … So to face these tremendous facts is to change one’s mind completely, so that the pleasure lover sees and confesses the folly of his empty life; the self-indulgent learns to hate the passions that express the corruption of his nature; the self-righteous sees himself a condemned sinner in the eyes of a holy God; the man who has been hiding from God seeks to find a hiding place in Him; the Christ-rejector realizes and owns his need of life and salvation” (Harry Ironside, Except Ye Repent, 1937).
I thought to myself this can’t be, how could we have men today defining repentance different that they did throughout history and then I found a message preached by D.L. Moody in which he was honest as to the reason he did not preach repentance and the basis for today’s lack of it. “You will find my text tonight in the seventeenth chapter of Acts, part of the thirtieth verse: “And now commandeth all men everywhere to repent.” I have heard a number of complaints about the preaching here in the Tabernacle, that repentance has not been touched upon. The fact is that I have never had very great success in preaching upon repentance. When I have preached it people haven’t repented. I’ve had far more success when I’ve preached Christ’s goodness. But tonight I will preach about repentance, so you will have no more cause of complaint. I believe in repentance just as much as I believe in the Word of God.”
Repentance does not work in our mega-this and mega-that mentality and if it works we do it and if not we don’t. When our goal is momentum, results, and growth, we will neglect or diminish truth that might hinder our numerical growth. After all Jesus did say, “Preach momentum; be instant in season and out of season”. Didn’t He? John the Baptist went everywhere preaching momentum, decisions, and growth, right? So I went to the creator of easy believe/quick prayer methodology, Charles Finney. Surely he would have diminished repentance in order to produce results. Listen to what he said were signs of genuine repentance and false repentance:
- There is in your mind a conscious change of views and feeling in regard to sin.
- The disposition to repeat sin is gone.
- It worketh a reformation of conduct.
- It changes our character and conduct.
- It is not founded on such a change of opinion.
- It is founded on selfishness.
- It leaves the feelings unchanged.
- It works death.
- It produces only a partial reformation of conduct.
- Its reformation is temporary.
- It is a forced reformation.
- It leads to self-righteousness.
- It leads to a false security.
- It hardens the heart.
- It sears the conscience.
Now this cannot be true, how did we get to this place in our churches? Well, it starts with the dumbing down of our biblical study to be approved of God and our elevation of academic, liberal arts, and growth equals power mentality. We have Baptists following non-Baptists in modern day evangelism and methods. We have the ecumenical, fundamentalist movement diminishing doctrine, and we have liberal arts schools training preachers instead of local churches training them. We have Christian newspaper editors establishing orthodoxy instead of Baptist preachers in Baptist pulpits. Sadly today, psychological manipulation experts teach soulwinning, while Protestant revivalists are touted as our heroes. So I realized I have been deceived, misled, and ignorant of my Baptist doctrine and sold a bill of goods in order to protect a system of thought not found in history or the Bible.
I will leave you with these questions:
- Can you show me the examples of people getting saved and not changing in the Bible?
- Can you show repentance that did not amend the life of the person in the Bible?
- Can you find our modern day definition of repentance more than 100 years ago?
- Why would we ignore Matthew, Mark, and Luke and only use John as our basis for the Gospel?
- When Jesus cast out the money changers, gave us Matthew 18, told us to turn them over to Satan (I Corinthians 5), commanded us to rebuke before all, to reprove and rebuke was he teaching us to protect momentum?
I do not have an axe to grind, but I am deeply troubled and burdened about our lack of revival and our man-made attempts to create it.
Note From Brother Ted Alexander: First let me say that I very much agree with this article. I am bothered by the modern day preachers tampering with the doctrine of repentance and pulling out the word repentance from their message and even tampering with the old hymns. The revisions do not line the messages or songs up with the Bible or the historic Baptist position on repentance. Brother McPhillips pointed out that the modern fundamentalist, limp-wristed, numbers- driven definition of repentance is not found before the early part of the Laodacean church age/fundamentalist movement. We wonder why ”Christian” people today live like the world and America is going to hell! Could it be because Jesus was right in Matt. 7? Has our generation been decieved [sic] into easy-prayer salvation that is not salvation at all? When our desire becomes God alone, and we seek true conversions more than numbers and the approval of the brethren, we will begin to preach for God’s glory instead of a packed pew? THINK!!!
FOR FURTHER READING
David Cloud’s articles (Google hits) criticizing the “easy believism” or “easy prayerism” heresy of Jack Hyles
Johnny the Baptist, Does Repent Really Mean Repent? – defends the need to repent of sin
The Repentance Blacklist – a long list of so-called heretics who say repentance of sin is necessary when accepting Christ. (Actually, this fellow has done us a favor by listing those who hold to the biblical position.)