Not for the Jews Only

There is a school of thought, theologically, that repentance was for the Jews only. The Charles Ryrie Study Bible, for instance, pushes this.

The “logic” behind this belief is that repentance is a work and thus adds to the gospel message. However the Word says “the goodness of God leads you to repentance…”

And as far as repentance being for the Jews only at a certain period of time only, I’d rather take Scripture at Its Word:

“I have had one message for Jews and Greeks alike—the necessity of repenting from sin and turning to God, and of having faith in our Lord Jesus.” Acts 20.21

Here is an observation from a man I greatly respect:

It is important for us to see the close connection between repentance and forgiveness, because while no amount of repentance can ever merit forgiveness in the sight of God, without repentance no soul will ever be saved.  Repentance is the telltale mark of the grace of God at work in our lives. Saving faith and true repentance are always found together. Saved souls are repentant souls.
Kent Hughes
Luke Commentary, p. 109.

>Repentance Paradox

>“It’s hard to repent.  And while it’s hard enough to repent before a perfect God, it’s even harder to repent before an imperfect human being.  To admit that you have injured or neglected another person, then to go the person and say, “I’m sorry.  I’m ashamed.  Will you forgive me?”—to do this is mortifying.  It kills us to do it.  You need to be a big person to give it a serious try. That’s the paradox of repentance, says, C.S. Lewis.  Only a bad person needs to repent.  Only a good person can do it.”http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=jacksjots-20&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0802849652&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr
Cornelius Plantinga

>Missing Ingredient of Most "evangelism"

>J. C. Ryle with a vital reminder as pertinent now as it was a century ago; as God’s Word is never out-dated…read this and then listen carefully to “evangelistic” messages and read carefully “evangelistic” tracts…

“John the Baptist spoke plainly about sin. He taught the absolute necessity of ‘repentance’, before any one can be saved. He preached that repentance must be proved by its ‘fruits’. He warned men not to rest on outward privileges, or outward union with the church.

“This is just the teaching that we all need. We are naturally dead, and blind, and asleep in spiritual things. We are ready to content ourselves with a mere formal religion, and to flatter ourselves, that if we go to church we shall be saved. We need to be told, that except we ‘repent and are converted’ we shall all perish.”

~ J.C. Ryle

Because of this missing ingredient, we see lots of “decisions” but few “disciples,” lots of people laughing to the “counseling room”, but little lasting fruit. Praying “the prayer” (which is not found in Scripture) and recording a “decision” does not a convert make.
People must be recognize they are cosmic rebels and thus “lost” before they can genuinely be converted and “saved.” And, of course, the only One who can do that is the Holy Spirit, usually through the proclamation/sharing of the Word of God.

>Ongoing Repentance

>“He that desires to be a true Christian must be experimentally acquainted with repentance and remission of sins. These are the principle things in saving religion. To belong to a pure church, and to hear the gospel, and receive the sacraments are the great privileges: but are we converted? Are we justified? If not, we are dead before God.

“Happy is the Christian who keeps these two points continually before his eyes! The brightest saint is the man who has the most heart-searching sense of his own sinfulness, and the liveliest sense of his own complete acceptance in Christ.”
~ J.C. Ryle

>Honest-to-God prayer

>Scotty Smith pastors the Christ Community Church of Franklin, Tn. He posted the following prayer which resonates loudly and deeply with me; perhaps with thee:

Dear Lord Jesus,

While I still believe, with all my heart, you are the only Savior, I now see how more of my heart needs more of you and more of the gospel.

There is nobody on the face of the earth that needs the gospel today, and its transforming resources, more than me, and I am SO glad to be able to acknowledge this reality. I need you today, Jesus, as much as I did in March of 1968 when you washed away all my sins and covered me with the robe of your righteousness.

You have saved me in the past, when I was justified by grace alone through faith alone; you are saving me in the present, as the Holy Spirit applies more and more of your finished work to my whole being; and you will save me in the future, when you return to finish making all things new, including ME!

Lord Jesus, though I’m never tempted to look to any other name for my justification, I am very tempted to look to other names and means for my transformation—worse of all, is when I look to me to be my own savior. But only you, Jesus, are able to save completely those who come to God through you, for you are always living to pray for us and to advocate for us (Heb 7:25). You are my righteousness, holiness and redemption, and that’s why I only boast in you today! (1 Cor. 1:30-31)

So I come to you today, Jesus, right now! Save me more fully from my fear of man, my need to be in control, my ticky-tacky pettiness. Save me from trying to be anybody’s savior. I want to get irritated far less often and to be spontaneous much more often. I want to “light up” more quickly when I hear your name, Jesus, and not be downcast, when I don’t hear my name.

That’s more than enough confession for one day… Indeed, Jesus, I must be saved, I am being saved, through your name alone. Hallelujah!

>Packer on Increasing Repentance

>“We need to realize that while God’s acceptance of each Christian believer is perfect from the start, our repentance always needs to be extended further as long as we are in this world. Repentance means turning from as much as you know of your sin to give as much as you know of yourself to as much as you know of your God, and as our knowledge grows at these three points so our practice of repentance has to be enlarged.”

– J.I. Packer