Some who profess to love the Lord Jesus deny the very meaning of His name. He came to save His people from their sins, yet some profess to enjoy salvation without ever dealing with the matter of their sin. Sadly, it seems they want to be saved from sin whilst enjoying the freedom to sin. It is a false gospel that offers men forgiveness without repentance and holiness. The selfish will gladly receive salvation from the eternal penalty of sin without confronting the presence and power of sin in their lives. We have been thinking about conversion in recent issues and such a study must emphasise that saving faith is always coupled with repentance from sin.
The Gospel command combines faith and repentance. Christ preached: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.” (Mark 1:15) The Apostles testified “both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Acts 20:21) At times salvation is said to come by repentance: “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out…” (Acts 3:19) At other times faith comes to the fore: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” (Acts 16:31).
Hence, saving faith is repentant and true repentance is believing. Thus in your conversion experience can repentance be seen? What does repentant faith look like? There is no better definition than that of the Shorter Catechism: “Repentance unto life is a saving grace, whereby a sinner, out of a true sense of his sin, and apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ, doth, with grief and hatred of his sin, turn from it unto God, with full purpose of, and endeavour after, new obedience.” In this definition we see what David experienced and then described in Psalm 51. Repentance involves:
Contrition. There is hatred for sin and humility before God. “For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.” (Psalm 51:3)
Confession. There is the admission that sin is our doing and our fault. From such comes the confession to God. “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight…” (Psalm 51:4)
Conversion. There is a change of mind in the repentant believer. There is the about-turn away from a life of sin to a live of determined obedience to the word of God. “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10)
To run to Christ as a Saviour from sin necessarily involves a loathing of the sin that plaques our lives. We want deliverance from sin in its every stain and effect. So the faith that takes Christ as Saviour is a faith that runs away from sin. Flee from sin to the Saviour!
Dr Stephen Pollock.