By Leroy Forlines
Repentance is the change of heart, mind, and will towards sin and Jesus Christ. In this change sin is seen to be worthy of condemnation, and Jesus Christ and His atoning work is seen as the remedy for sin. In repentance one turns to Jesus Christ. In turning to Jesus Christ one takes a different attitude toward sin. He desires by God’s grace to overcome it.
There are two basic elements involved in saving faith. One is mental assent. The other is trust or dependence. In mental assent one believes in the redemptive truth that God has revealed. In the Old Testament this involved believing whatever redemptive truth God had revealed at the particular point in history that the person lived. For example, God had revealed more by the time of David than He had at the time of Adam and Eve. Each one, in exercising saving faith, believed what God had revealed at his own time. In the New Testament God has given us the revelation of Jesus Christ. Saving faith accepts as true what the New Testament says about Jesus Christ.
In the trust element of saving faith, one not only believes what God says about redemption, but he also acts upon it. This would be true in both Old and New Testaments. For us, we give ourselves to Jesus Christ and depend upon Him to save us.
Repentance and faith are closely related. Repentance stresses the idea of change, rvhile faith stresss the direction of this change.
Faith and not works is the condition of salvation (Rom. 3:28; Sal. 2:16; and Eph. 2:8,9). However, the faith that brings salvation always results in works (James 2:14-26). When a person wants to be saved, he not only wants to be forgiven of his sins, he also wants to have his experience with sin changed. It is a person who has this attitude that is saved by faith. It is absurd to believe that a person could trust in Jesus Christ to forgive him of his sin, and change his experience with sin, and then take a “don’t care” attitude toward sin in his life.
The guilt of sin caused God to place man under condemnation. In justification man’s guilt problem is solved. Man owed to God eternal death for his sin. When he came to God through faith in Jesus Christ, he received the death of Christ. The death of Jesus paid the penalty for man’s sins; thus freeing the believer from this penalty. God demands absolute righteousness of man. This we cannot do. God gives the believer the righteousness of Christ, and thus meets this need. Because of the death and righteousness of Jesus Christ, God declares the believer justified or in right-standing with God.
Depravity is sin as a power that causes people to sin. Depravity brought moral ruin, disobedience, and misery into man’s experience. Sanctification is that aspect of salvation that is designed to correct the problem brought about by depravity. Sanctification is designed to change our experience with sin and make us into the likeness of Christ.
Growth is involved in sanctification, but all Christians possess that degree of sanctification that makes them characteristically righteous. Sin is the exception instead of the rule in their lives. Sanctification begins with regeneration and the entrance of the Holy Spirit into the believer at the time of conversion. The Holy Spirit, the Word of God, prayer, church attendance, and Christian admonition are all involved in the work of sanctification.