Dec 9, 2010

Does Repentance Precede Faith?

Andy WoodsBy Dr. Andy Woods
Sugar Land Bible Church

Q. Thanks for your great article on salvation. Would you agree that although only 'belief' (being a Greek word that entails more than mere mental assent) is required to be saved, repentance (μετανοέω [metanoeō]), is the precondition that 'turns a person around from going their own rebellious way, to GOD' so that they then may believe and be saved? That repentance precedes the believing that produces saving faith?

A. I do believe that believing is more than mere mental assent (Jas 2:19) but rather incorporates the whole notion of confidence or trust. I do not think repentance is a precondition of faith but rather a synonym of it. Biblical repentance is a change of mind about Christ which transpires simultaneously with faith. This is the Chaferian understanding of repentance.

[A] serious Arminian error respecting this doctrine occurs when repentance is added to faith or believing as a condition of salvation. It is true that repentance can very well be required as a condition of salvation, but then only because the change of mind which ... has been involved when turning from every other confidence to the one needful trust in Christ. Such turning about, of course, cannot be achieved without a change of mind. This vital newness of mind is a part of believing, after all, and therefore it may be and is used as a synonym for believing at times (cf. Acts 17:30; 20:21; 26:20; Rom. 2:4; 2Tim. 2:25; 2 Pet. 3:9). Repentance nevertheless cannot be added to believing as a condition of salvation, because upwards of 150 passages of Scripture condition salvation upon believing only (cf. John 3:16; Acts 16:31). Similarly, the Gospel by John, which was written that men might believe and believing have life through Christ’s name (John 20:31), does not once use the word repentance. In like manner, the Epistle to the Romans, written to formulate the complete statement of salvation by grace alone, does not use the term repentance in relation to salvation. - Lewis Sperry Chafer, vol. 7, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1993), 265-66.

Related Links
The Condition of Salvation - Ariel Ministries (Arnold Fruchtenbaum)
Chafer Systematic Theology in 8 Volumes - Lewis Sperry Chafer
What is repentance and is it necessary for salvation? -
Topics By Andy Woods -
How Complicated is Salvation? - BPB (Andy Woods)