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Discussion Forum : Scriptures and Doctrine : A question about repentance and grace

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Gal 3:1 O foolish Galatians, who bewitched you not to obey the truth, to whom before your eyes Jesus Christ was written among you crucified?
Gal 3:2 This only I would learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law, or by hearing of faith?
Gal 3:3 Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, do you now perfect yourself in the flesh?
Gal 3:4 Did you suffer so many things in vain, if indeed it is even in vain?
Gal 3:5 Then He supplying the Spirit to you and working powerful works in you, is it by works of the law, or by hearing of faith?
Gal 3:6 Even as Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness.

How is it that men teach that Righteousness can be walked in and attained by our own efforts? We are saved by the Spirit and we are sanctified by the Spirit, in each case it is a work of the Spirit. Saving faith and daily faith both come from the Spirit of God. In the presence of God, the genuine presence of God(This is the work of the Holy Spirit) we are changed. All of man's changes that are empowered by his own efforts lead not to righteousness but to utter failure or Frank

 2009/6/21 23:41


Greetings brother PaulWest,

Please correct me if I'm misunderstanding you. I am interested in extracting the essential component of meaningful repentance, from what you wrote.

When we ... finally surrender to all of our efforts of repentance and struggling against sin, God ...

Then we find to be true that -
We are already dead in Christ, because we were crucified in Him when God layed Him on the cross. Do you really believe this?


A new nature exists within us now that deplores sin, hates the very idea of sinning...and everyone who has been genuinely converted and is reading this knows exactly what I am saying.

This that 'deplores sin' springs from that moment of concession to God, to be crucified with Christ. From the first moment of surrender until now, genuine and ongoing [u]repentance[/u] is working in us.

God will at this very moment of profound weakness grant us the insight of what it means to be "in Christ" and how He alone is our Righteousness, our Strength, our Sanctifier. Then we will have the victory, because the victory is not intrinsic to ourselves, but the Living Christ in us, made perfect in our weakness.

That 'weakness', is the weakness of the desires of our flesh and of our natural (as yet unrenewed) mind?

Yes, 'victory is not intrinsic to ourselves'. Nevertheless, being dead, it is the only victory the crucified 'I' can enjoy. 'I' am [u]now[/u] included in Christ's victory. [u]His[/u] victory becomes [i][b]mine[/i][/b], doesn't it? 1 Cor 15:57

 2009/6/22 6:47

Joined: 2006/6/28
Posts: 3405
Dallas, Texas


Yes, 'victory is not intrinsic to ourselves'. Nevertheless, being dead, it is the only victory the crucified 'I' can enjoy. 'I' am now included in Christ's victory. His victory becomes mine, doesn't it? 1 Cor 15:57

Good morning Linn,

Yes, the victory is ours, insomuch that the victory is through "Christ the Victor" living His divine life in us. The way I see it - and the way I believe the Word of God teaches - is that we have as much claim to our own personal victory as we do miracles or repentance or anything else "given" to us by God through faith. And faith, we know, is the victory; the measure of faith required and proferred to us to do the will and desire of God has also been "given" to us (Phil. 2:13); and we know such workings are not instrinsic, but also come from God.
That 'weakness', is the weakness of the desires of our flesh and of our natural (as yet unrenewed) mind?

I would say the weakness is a genuine confession to God that I am unable to achieve victory over sin or please God by any of my own efforts (including, but not limited to repentance by willpower and resolve). I am unable to die, because I am already dead, and reckon myself so. I don't know of anything "weaker" than a corpse, do you? I believe we are already dead and hid with Christ in God, and God is merely waiting for us to reckon ourselves as such, to concede and yield to the Holy Spirit and stop "kicking against the goads" as it were. When we can truly see ourselves by faith as crucified with Christ and unable to to do anything (but stay dead), we will suddenly see God's divine power manifest in us and through us, and victory over temptation and peace that passes all understanding will be at once be ours. But we must also comprehend that these things are only possible in Christ, through Christ and with no effort of myself...because my old life and nature cannot please God.

Paul Frederick West

 2009/6/22 8:38Profile

 Re: A question about repentance and grace

Thanks for your answer, Paul.

I am unable to die, because I am already dead, and reckon myself so.

I agree, and was taught this from my earliest encounters with born again Christians. But, I believe many young Christians have never had this truth about the death of Christ properly explained to them. Possibly they are under pastors who themselves do not count doctrine, or the centrality of Paul's teaching in Romans, to be basic Christian knowledge, preferring to busy themselves with a seeker-sensitive agenda, and gathering a larger congregation.

Thus, when a believer discovers that the death of Christ was no only substitutionary with regard to his [i]sins[/i], he is not as ready to plunge into the death of Christ with Him, as he was to receive forgiveness, and a questionable promise of eternal life. Even for all the great teaching I came up under, I didn't understand what was been preached. It was not until I recognised the gulf between my believing and my experience of salvation, that I gladly abandoned myself to being grafted into His death.

I believe we are already dead and hid with Christ in God, [b]and God is merely waiting for us to reckon ourselves as such[/b], to concede and yield to the Holy Spirit...

Yes. I think this is what Paul is talking about in [color=003399]Eph 3:7 ... according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.[/color] We reckon ourselves dead by God's grace and humility, or pride would fight us all the way.

And in Phil 3:3, 7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. 8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things [but] loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them [but] dung, that I may win Christ, 9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: 10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, [b]being made conformable unto his death[/b]...

 2009/6/22 9:30


I still don't see the answer to my question. How can we be saved by grace and yet must repent? I don't deny that the Bible says, "Repent!" Yet, this is a seeming contadiction to me. If it's by grace, how come the Bible also says we must repent? I'm assuming that if salvation is "the gift of God" as the Bible says, then why must we repent to get a gift? That sounds more like a wage to me.

People are looking up the greek and hebrew words to define what grace or repentance is but how come God doesn't say in the English Bible that we ought to do this? Is there a defintion of what repentence or grace is in the Bible? If not, why not? Aren't these things the most important things ever? Doesn't our souls depend upon these things? Why would God not make it more clearer than He has by defining (without using greek or hebrew) what grace and repentance is?

 2009/6/22 18:38


"I don't deny that the Bible says, "Repent!" Yet, this is a seeming contadiction to me. If it's by grace, how come the Bible also says we must repent?" paulmcg1

Hi. In my opinion repentance is a form of grace. In order to be forgiven we must ask to be forgiven. Grace is not for the unrepentant. It is for those who have been convicted and enlightened to their sin first and foremost, THEN via conviction we ask to be forgiven of our offense by the atonement of Christ. Grace is God's forgiveness of our sins but grace is also the call for us to repent and accept what Christ did for us. You cannot accept Christ if you are not willing to repent, otherwise you will not know why He died in the first place. The law and Christ Himself told us what sin was. So we can either reject sin and accept His atonement or we can continue on. To me Christ and repentance go hand in hand for we cannot know Christ and accept atonement unless we believe what He said was sin and is sin, reject it, and accept His payment by the grace of His Father who gave Him over.... not to mention The Son's own willingness to give Himself over. Grace came by the Father calling on His Son to come into this world, teach us, and die as a sacrificial atonement.. and grace came by Christ's willingness to come here and do just that. This was free, we did nothing to prompt this sovereign action by God and His Son. It was their plan, graciously given.

Take for example, those who have children want their children to understand the difference between right and wrong. How do they know this unless they are wooed by their parents and taught this difference? A parent can forgive their teenager for doing something wrong but this, in and of itself, does the parent nor the teenager any good if they continue in rebellion as if they have been taught nothing. God's grace in fact gave us the law. Without it we would not know our offense. Why give the law for conviction if grace will not forgive on the other end?? Grace is the forgiveness and mercy of God to the repentant heart when it is enlightened to the offense to God. The gift of salvation was Christ himself, we didn't ask for Christ to be the atonement gift.... HE WAS INDEED GIVEN FREELY. Salvation is not a gift in and of itself, if it were God would not have needed to crush His Son for our benefit. My view is that Christ is the gift, salvation is the the reward of that gift. God gave us His Son via grace to atone for our sins BUT how do we know what is atoned for if we don't see the offense and want to turn from it?? Why would Christ feel it necessary to tell us what sin was if He didn't want us to know of this and turn from it? Christ wants us to reject sin and ask for His atonement in faith. In my view we can't reject sin without repenting of the offense... and we can't accept His sacrifice without knowing the grace of the Father who gave His Son over to be the penalty, a penalty no one ever asked to be done for us.

Who knew that the Father's Son was necessary for atonement? No one ever asked for it, no one ever thought of it!! It was God's sovereign plan to give us this gift, it was His idea... no man can claim this grace.... No man can say 'Okay God I have an idea, how about you give over your Son to die for us and then maybe we'll comply... maybe we'll see sin for what it is and turn from it'. It was His grace that gave us the gift of Christ and we cannot see this gift unless we know what it was for and why it was done for us.

 2009/6/22 19:49

 Re: A question about repentance and grace

[color=003399]Romans 2 NKJV

Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, [i][b]not knowing that [u]the goodness of God leads you to repentance[/u]?[/i][/b]

But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who "will render to each one according to his deeds": eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; [u]but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness[/u] -- indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; ... vv 4 - 9a

Matthew 3:7
But when [John the Baptist] saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to [u]flee from the wrath to come[/u]?

Acts 17 KJV
And the times of this ignorance God winked at; [u]but now commandeth all men every where to repent[/u]: because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by [that] man whom he hath ordained; [whereof] he hath given assurance unto all [men], in that he hath raised him from the dead.

1 Thess 1:2 - 10
We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father; knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.

For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake. And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, [u]having received the word[/u] in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost: so that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia.

For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing. For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how [u]ye turned to God from idols[/u] to serve the living and true God; and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, [even] [b]Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come[/b].

Acts 2
22 Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: [b]Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God[/b], ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it...

36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. Now when they heard [this], they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men [and] brethren, what shall we do?

Then Peter said unto them, [u]Repent[/b], and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, [even] as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.

Then [u]they that gladly received his word[/u] were baptized: and the same day there were added [unto them] about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. [/color]

In a nutshell, if there is sin in your life past or present, from which you have [i][b]not turned[/i][/b], then true repentance will enable you to feel both clean from your past, and empowered to cease that/those sin(s)from that moment on.

Then, you'll know you have repented, because you'll have the fruit of repentance in your life.

That's quite difficult to define, but don't forget restitution if it's relevant to your relationship with other people (which would mean it is relevant to God, since it's His idea in the first place), or, major changes in the way your life looks to observers, as a testimony to them that God has changed [u]your heart[/u].

[u]Eternal[/u] life is a free gift, but, we have been freed from sin (through repentance and faith and whatever healing/salvation is necessary) to walk in newness of life - righteousness, truth, and good works - while we're still on this earth. This is where eternal life begins.

[color=003399]Luke 24
45 Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, and said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: [u]and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name[/u] among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.[/color]

Remember... when Paul was writing to Israel indirectly through his letter to the Romans, he was writing to a nation who had had [i][b]only repentance[/i][/b] preached to them by both John the Baptist and Jesus. This was a new message for Jews. They had never before been asked to [i]care[/i] about their sins enough to stop sinning, and still it was impossible, unless Jesus had spoken to them, healed them or delivered them. All that the law had done was bring sin to their attention.

Those in Israel who were watching for their Messiah were ready in their hearts. If He said 'repent' - they repented!

Thus, when Paul writes in Romans 10, he doesn't even mention repentance, but notice, Peter put it [u]first[/u] to the Jews present, who had come from other countries, on the day of Pentecost. But, the resurrection of Jesus Christ had eclipsed every other sign from God, beyond all imagination. A MAN had risen from death without any other intermediary, and been seen by over 500 people at once. As Jesus had said to James 'Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed [are] they that have not seen, and [yet] have believed.

John continues 20:30 And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: but these are written, [u]that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name[/u]. (1 Peter 1:8)

Resurrection was a key Jewish belief, but everyone had thought it wouldn't happen until after they had all died physically, like what Martha said to Jesus in John 11.

But, [u]we[/u] [i]must[/i] accept the sentence of death upon [u]sin[/u] our lives. Repentance is the natural outflowing of our individual realisation that we are worthy only of eternal death because of sin, but Christ has saved us from [i]that[/i] death.

In response to repentance and faith, He can give the Holy Spirit to enable us to live free from sin - as others have explained earlier in the thread.

Repentance and faith are both gifts from God, and if we don't feel any of either of them, just as James said 'if any man lack wisdom, let him ask' we too, can ask our gracious God for repentance and faith, or, faith and repentance. He will understand the seeking of an honest heart, and He will reward it appropriately. Heb 11:6.

I hope this post doesn't seem like more woffle. I suspect if it does, that you may need to take some serious time out of your normal routine - even just one day - to focus on God and lie face down in His presence until you hear what you need to hear from Him.

Regarding a definition of repentance, a word search on it in the Old Testament brings up 45 entries in the KJV, which may give you some direction.

There is also this message in which Ron Bailey traces what we can understand by 'repentance' based on what we find in scripture only.


 2009/6/23 15:19

Joined: 2007/8/15
Posts: 190
Cache Valley, Utah


"We can overcome sin by Christ and this righteousness."

I would say that we have already overcome sin by Christs righteousness. Overcoming the power and penalty of sin, doesn't seem to have anything to do with not sinning anymore. It is in believing the Gospel that we have overcome.

Alan Taylor

 2009/6/23 15:39Profile

 Re: A question about repentance and grace

Overcoming the power and penalty of sin, doesn't seem to have anything to do with not sinning anymore.

It doesn't? :-?

Could you explain in a few more words more of what you mean?

Thank you.

 2009/6/23 17:35

 Re: A question about repentance and grace

“How is it that we must repent and yet we're saved by grace through faith and not of ourselves? It seems to me that if we're required to repent, then it isn't much of grace.”

According to the Scriptures, turning from sin is compatible with grace and mercy. God graciously and mercifully pardons those who forsake their sin:

“He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and [b]forsaketh[/b] them shall have [b]mercy[/b].” Proverbs 28:13

“Let the wicked [b]forsake[/b] his way and the unrightous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have [b]mercy[/b] upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly [b]pardon[/b].” Isaiah 55:7

Grace is unmerited favor. Mercy is when you are not treated the way you deserve. Even those who turn from their sins still deserve hell. They do not deserve heaven or deserve forgiveness. Therefore it is not a “wage”. Since those who repent still deserve hell, their forgiveness is still of grace and mercy.

“All Christians (those whose identities are in Christ) are dead to the law through the death of Christ. Therefore they are not subject to the law. To the law, the Christian is dead. They CANNOT break the law, and so therefore they CANNOT sin! At all! There is no way a true Christian can sin because sin is transgression of the law”

Am I reading this wrong, or are you saying that if a Christian lies, steals, commits adultery, or commits murder, that it is not a sin for them? If a Christian does not love God or does not love their neighbor, aren't they sinning? Are you saying that Christians are not obligated to obey God? Only unbelievers are obligated to love God and love their neighbor, but Christians are not obligated to do so?

What about these passages given to Christians?

“Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.” Romans 13:8

“We [b]ought[/b] to obey God…” Acts 5:29

“He that saith he abideth in him [b]ought[/b] himself also so to walk, even as he walked.” 1 John 2:6

“Beloved, if God so loved us, we [b]ought[/b] also to love one another.” 1 John 4:11

If Christians are not under obligation to obey the law of God, how is it possible for Christians to keep the commandments? Just as you argued, you cannot break the law if you are not under the law, likewise you cannot keep the commandments if you are not under the commandments.

And hereby we do know that we know him, if [b]we keep his commandments[/b].” 1 John 2:3

“And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because [b]we keep his commandments[/b], and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.” 1 John 3:22

“Nor is repentance a synonym for keeping the law, as so many unwittingly affirm. Repentance is, as UncleBert said, the turning to Jesus Christ for salvation and safety. It is conversion. It is when a sinner turns from trying to work his own way to righteousness and SUBMITS to the RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD IN CHRIST JESUS.”

Does that mean that repentance is not turning from sin? Doesn’t the Bible talk about repenting of sin, not merely repenting of self-righteousness?

Were the people in the Old Testament saved a different way than us?

“He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” Proverbs 28:13

“Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrightous man his thoughts: and let him return utno the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” Isaiah 55:7

According to the Scriptures, forsaking your sin is not incompatible with God’s mercy, but is actually a condition of God’s mercy. God offers mercy and pardon to those who forsake their sin. This is salvation by grace and mercy, through repentance and faith.

We are justified by God's grace and mercy. Grace is giving what someone does not deserve, mercy is withholding what a person does deserve. When we forsake our sin and believe in Jesus, God withholds what we deserve (punishment), that is mercy, and God gives us what we do not deserve (forgiveness) that is grace.

I have heard of dispensationalism, but didn’t Paul argue that Abraham was saved by faith? That means that those in the Old Testament were not under some "covenant of works". Doesn’t that mean that the way of salvation in the Old Testament is the same as the New? If the people in the Old Testament needed to forsake their sin to find mercy, then those under the New Testament need to forsake their sin to find mercy, or else there are different ways of getting saved. A person must either believe in repenting of sins in order to get saved, or they must believe in dispensationalism.

 2009/6/23 18:05

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