September 19, 2007

What Is Biblical Repentance?

Dear Guests:

The following is from the revised and expanded edition of In Defense of the Gospel, pp. 145-146. The revised edition of my book will be released by the publisher in Spring 2010.

Repentance is a change of mind where one recognizes he is a hopeless, Hell-bound sinner before a just and holy God. When he agrees with the convincing and convicting work of the Holy Spirit that he is a sinner (John 16:7-9) and transfers his dependence to the Lord Jesus Christ for his salvation—he has biblically repented. Biblical repentance is a change of mind that should produce the fruit of a change in direction from self and sin toward God. The fruit that should follow is distinct from repentance itself. In Acts 26:20, Paul summarizes his ministry to King Agrippa by indicating he calls people to a change of mind where they turn to God, and once they’ve turned to God, been saved, they should do the “good works” (Eph. 2:10) that are fitting of that change of mind and dependence on the Lord. This is distinct from Judaism which was teaching people should do works to get saved, but Paul also emphasized people should “have…fruit unto holiness” (Rom. 6:22) once they have been saved.
The chapter on repentance, from which this portion is lifted, is 27 pages in length.

Please feel free to post any questions or comments.

Yours faithfully,



  1. Let’s not lose sight of the Zane Hodges position on repentance.

    In Harmony With God, Hodges wrote,

    Many very fine grace people have held that the view the apostle John, at least in his Gospel, regarded repentance as a “change of mind” that turned one from unbelief to faith in Christ. However, it is impossible to find such a doctrine of repentance anywhere in John’s writings.”

    Thank God there is only one answer to the question, ‘What must I do to be saved?’ That, of course, is the answer not only of Paul and all the apostles, but of Jesus Himself. The answer is: ‘believe!’

    Repentance is not part of that answer. It never has been and never will be. But we should keep firmly in mind the lovely truth that repentance is always the first step when we need to come home again

    Any inclusion of repentance for the reception of eternal life would be rejected by Hodges as non-essential.

    Hodges has not only eliminated repentance from the process of conversion, but also strips “change of mind” from its definition.


  2. Please visit: How Does the Lordship Advocate Define Repentance?

    There you will see how I dealt with Nathan Busenitz (John MacArthur's personal assistant) and the Lordship Salvation view of repentance.


  3. This morning I poted the follwing to Bob Wilkin at his GES blog site. If it passes the moderator's gatekeeping, and is posted, I will report back on Bob's answer if any. He has answered questions in the thread on this subject.


    For clarification sake:

    1) You at one time believed and wrote that repentance is involved in salvation, i.e., the conversion experience.

    Have you changed your position in favor of Hodges' long held belief that repentance is NOT a condition of salvation?

    2) Most men in the FG community think of repentance in terms of it being a “change of mind.”

    Do you count yourself among those who hold that position on repentance?


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  5. Jon:

    If you want to do a negative review of my book you will need to do so elsewhere.



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