When John MacArthur teaches that repentance is mandatory for salvation, multitudes of people grow furious and quickly fire off the charge that if one must repent to be forgiven, than salvation is based on works, and so MacArthur’s teaching is heresy. These accusations aren’t reserved for MacArthur, either. I have been told on many occasions that when I preach repentance as a part of the Gospel that I am mandating the work of men into our Lords free message of grace. The word has become so unpopular, that very few modern-day pastors will dare to use it (never mind the prolific use the word got on the lips of Jesus, John the Baptist and the Apostles). I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer, so to speak, but think I have finally pinpointed the reason for all the debate around this simple little two-syllable word.
I have come to the conclusion that the word “repent” is almost always completely misunderstood. The definition of this word has been so blurred (if not completely butchered) by the legalistic, screamin’ style preaching of the past that the meaning has been lost. I will endeavor to carefully explain what the word means. The CARM online dictionary defines it this way:
Repent = To repent means to turn, to have a change of mind.
and the Westminster Theological dictionary has this to say:
The linguistic roots point to the theological meaning of “a change of mind”.
Folks, when Christ (or even a modern preacher) tells people to repent, he is telling them to change their mind. To recognize what sin really and truly is (that being wicked and self-centered rebellion against their creator who is patiently allowing them time to recognize the severity of their actions). True repentance is always followed by Read more…