Two weeks ago, I wrote an article on Lordship Salvation called “Working out your self-deification with arrogance and boasting”. One of the things I brought up was the phrase “repent and believe”, which comes from Mark 1:15 (“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”)
It’s important to remember that the Lordship camp will view this text as purely an act of the will, and diminish the work of the Holy Spirit (who magnifies Christ). They can then maintain the Semi-Pelagian and Arminian roots of their belief system (Our church calls this “extreme synergism”).
I can say this, the phrase is a vast improvement over saying, “ask Jesus into your heart”, or “pray the sinner’s prayer, or some other non-biblical concept which has crept into modern American evangelicalism. “Repent and believe” is the text of Scripture.
And, it is important to realize that the same concept occurs over and over again from the Old Testament to when Christ says it. Psalm 7:12; Isaiah 30:15; Jeremiah 3:12 – 14; 26:2 – 3; Ezekiel 14:6; 18:30 – 32; Hosea 5:15 – 6:2; and Jonah 3:4 – 5 were penned before Jesus came on the scene.
But the meaning is not centered in man’s activity; it is centered in the proclamation and revelation that Jesus, the King, had come. He was there in their presence. Look at Jesus’ interaction with Peter in Matthew 16,
15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.
In other words, it is impossible to believe That Jesus is the Christ without God’s work.
Here’s a snippet from the Lutheran confessions:
“Strictly speaking, repentance consists of two parts. One part is contrition, that is, terrors striking the conscience through the knowledge of sin. The other part is faith, which is born of the Gospel or the Absolution and believes that for Christ’s sake, sins are forgiven. It comforts the conscience and delivers it from terror. Then good works are bound to follow, which are the fruit of repentance.” –Augsburg Confession Article XII: Repentance. par. 1-6; Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions, p. 38.
Repentance is the gift of God through Christ Jesus. We don’t will it, we don’t ascent to it, we are unable in every way to fulfill this obligation. It is the work of God through His Word that produces repentance. It is, in short, a miracle.