[We are] not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. (Romans 1:16)

Monday, June 04, 2007

Question for Free-Gracers

by Rose

I was thinking about preaching repentance. I understand that Free-Gracers do not preach repentance in a gospel presentation, is that right? I also think I understand that they are not against preaching repentance.

Suppose there is a potential convert that you have been witnessing to for some time. This person is living in an obvious sin - like whoring around or homosexuality.

What is the place for preaching repentance to this person? Is there any call to repent for this person? How do you balance the gospel presentation and the call to repent?

Is that question clear as mud? I can explain further if you don't understand my question.

(For the purposes of this question, "repent" does not merely mean a change of mind here, but a change in action)

Non Free-Gracers can contribute too, as always.


  • I have my own answer to this question, but I want to see if it gels with the FG perspective.

    By Blogger Rose~, at Monday, June 04, 2007 6:14:00 AM  

  • Hi Rose,

    If I was presenting the gospel to an unsaved person I would tell them that if they want to escape God's wrath, then they must repent. Rene Lopez has argued that God's wrath is something that falls on those who sin and not simply on those who do not believe. Thus to escape wrath a person would need to repent. Zane Hodges has argued that repentance is for harmony with God thus whether unsaved or saved, in order to experience harmonious relations with God. Personally, I would see both aspects involved in repentance.

    By Blogger Andrew McNeill, at Monday, June 04, 2007 7:00:00 AM  

  • It would depend upon the flow of the conversation.

    I would not attach any change of conduct to the offer of eternal life.

    If they asked, "Do I need to stop doing XXX?", I would say:

    "No, you do not. You can continue doing XXX. But you must realise there will be consequences for doing so. For one thing that kind of behaviour leads to destruction and will destroy you in the end.
    But more importantly, if you accept God's offer of eternal life, you will belong to the Lord Jesus Christ. Although you will go to heaven and be with Him forever, at some point He will call you to account for what you are doing and then you will be very sorry."

    Every Blessing in Christ


    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Monday, June 04, 2007 7:39:00 AM  

  • Thank you for your answers, Andrew and Matthew. Welcome to the blog, Andrew! It is good to have another Brit hanging around. :~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at Monday, June 04, 2007 9:00:00 AM  

  • So there are other British people who know who Zane Hodges is. Wow.

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Monday, June 04, 2007 10:45:00 AM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger Andrew McNeill, at Monday, June 04, 2007 12:17:00 PM  

  • I probably should have made it clearer in my comment that I don't think repentance (=turning from sins) is a condition of eternal life so my view of wrath is temporal and not eternal. So I'm in full agreement with what Matthew has said.

    It's a great blog and nice to read a free grace blog for a change! And yes, there are a few people scattered across the UK who know about Zane Hodges! My friend, Trevor, also is a big fan of Zane. Incidentally, Earl Radmacher visited his church several weeks ago so FG teaching is infiltrating the UK slowly but surely!

    By Blogger Andrew McNeill, at Monday, June 04, 2007 12:18:00 PM  

  • dyspraxic fundamentalist,

    You're response doesn't make any sense. You say "that kind of behavior leads to destruction and will destroy you in the end." No it won't, they're saved. In the end they get eternal life, how is that tantamount to destruction? You also say that this individual will go to heaven and be with Jesus forever, but that one day Jesus will ask for an account from him and on that day he will be "very sorry." Very sorry for what? He's in heaven, he's made it; there's no sorrow in heaven, no pain, no tears. It would seem that Free Grace makes repentance a vestigial component of the Christian life, you know, that sort of thing only "Old School" Christians care about. No time off my eternal life sentence, so live it up!

    By Blogger jared, at Monday, June 04, 2007 1:08:00 PM  

  • Hi Matthew,

    If you would be so kind, would you please click on that ugly photo of me to the right and send me an email? I would like your help on a question concerning baptism. I would ask you here, but it has nothing to do with the topic. That is only if you have time, though, as from what I understand, you hav been busy grading papers.

    Hi Jared,

    I don't have an oar in this water, but I think the Free Grace answer to your post might be that our "status," for lack of a better word, in heaven might be eternally affected since the idea of reward plays a large part in their theology. That comes from a page I read in Charle's Stanley's book Eternal Security. But I could also be wrong, as I have been known to stick my foot in my mouth a time or five for a nice toejam burger. Anyway, like I said, I ain't got no oar in this water, no dog in this fight, no toy in this Happy Meal... (okay so sue me, I personally thought that was funny....)

    By Blogger Gojira, at Monday, June 04, 2007 1:48:00 PM  

  • Repentance is something that we get to do:

    "Remember, this repentance, this willing submission to humiliation and a kind of death, is not something God demands of you before He will take you back which He could let you off if he chose: it is simply a description of what going back to Him is like. If you ask God to take you back without it, you are really asking Him to let you go back without going back. It cannot happen." ~ C.S. Lewis (Mere Christianity)

    By Blogger Tim, at Monday, June 04, 2007 3:05:00 PM  

  • Perhaps I had better elucidate the quote i just posted. I take it to mean that when we accept God's offer of salvation by faith in Christ, we are accepting an offer which includes righteousness: both imputed and actual. In my experience, the Holy Spirit does not allow a Christian to enjoy sin in the same way an unsaved individual can. The Holy Spirit is holy. He hates sin, and so do we who know Him more intimately than it is possible for us to know any other human being. (1 Cor 2:11)

    This love of righteousness and hatred of iniquity is something that comes on increasingly as we come to know Christ, and are transformed from glory to glory (2 Cor 3:18).

    My response to someone who asks, "Will I need to stop doing X sin?" would be "No, but you'll want to." In fact, an unsaved person has no power to stop sinning in his current state, and so has no reference point for contemplating what it means to stop sinning.

    One may as well ask a drowning man who is being offered the transformation into a fish to stop breathing as to ask someone being offered righteousness to stop sinning. The drowning man needs to stop breathing in order to survive in his new environment: the fact that fish don't breathe is a vital selling-point to the drowning man, and might help him to see why the change is necessary. Of course, if he's unaware of the particulars about breathing, and simply knows that fish can live in water, then his acceptance of the offer is just as valid, but why would you hide or attempt to gloss over this fact?

    He won't be able to stop the process, but that process is an important (and valuable) part of the offer, and should not be discounted.

    Salvation is salvation from sins. If you're not a sinner, or don't mind being a sinner, why would you bother? Christianity is quite a disruptive thing to impose on one's life for no good reason.

    By Blogger Tim, at Monday, June 04, 2007 3:30:00 PM  

  • Hey Rose, I think we end up mixing our conversations up when we allow the definition of Repentance to include a change in behavior.

    When we do this, we allow the Lordship Salvation camp to redefine Scripture. I have so often made this mistake. And have just recently been able to come to a realization of what Repentance actually is. - Selfjudgment, confession of our sin (homos logos) agreeing with God's assessment of ourselves.

    I suspect I know your heart in asking the way you did. But it allows us to be using the same word and meaning different things which leads to terrible confusion.

    Should we preach a change of lifestyle to the practicing Homosexual prior to salvation? I believe it would be to preach about the color blue to a blind man. Why even go there? You can't possibly help the person stop sinning. Even if he did manage to somehow stop it would put him in now better position before God. It might even hurt him, giving him opportunity to say to God - look how good I am now!

    Preach repentance - self judgment. When the person is aware of their sinful nature.. their desperate position before the Lord then they can single mindedly own that free gift of Salvation. Only then will the person have the hope of having the power to change.

    Evangelists are first-aiders. We stop the arterial bleeding, breath life into them, and get their heart beating again. All this by the power of the Spirit, but beyond that it is the Lord who makes them healthy in the long run.


    By Blogger Kevl, at Monday, June 04, 2007 3:38:00 PM  

  • "Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ."

    I like that verse!

    Clearly we must repent toward God. But what is that? The short answer is its a change of mind concerning our rejection of God's offer of salvation in Jesus Christ. Moreover, and this is what consummates genuine repentance, we must exercise faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus repentance toward God and faith toward our Christ is one seamless act of conversion.

    The bottom line is our sin is an offense toward God, and Jesus Christ is God's remedy for that offense. Thus, again, we have repentance toward God (for our sin is an offense to Him) and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ (for He is the divine provision for our offense).

    I would tell any sinner under conviction he must turn (repent) from his unbelief and receive (believe on) Jesus Christ. But whether it's put in exactly these terms is irrelevant. Sometimes Scripture emphasizes the repentance aspect of conversion (Lk. 24:44), sometimes the faith aspect (Acts 16:31), and sometimes even both aspects (Mk. 1:15; Acts 20:21).

    The truth is anyone who has truly believed has truly repented and anyone who has truly repented has truly believed. As far as unbelievers are concerned, I've sometimes thought that belief is the consummation of true repentance. But that is just a thought.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Monday, June 04, 2007 9:22:00 PM  

  • Jared, I am talking about physical destruction.

    I know we are all looking forward to going to heaven, but I am sure none of us want to catch a diseise, destroy our health, suffer a marital breakdown, become severely injured and ultimately die a premature death.

    Not only are such outcomes unfortunate, but they also would result in our losing opportunities to serve God and thus gain heavenly rewards.

    Every Blessing in Christ


    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Tuesday, June 05, 2007 12:22:00 AM  

  • dyspraxic fundamentalist,

    What's to prevent someone from simply replying, "Hey, we're pilgrims on this side of heaven, let's live it up because we won't be here forever. If we end up killing ourselves, all the better for us!"? Why should the "threat" of physical destruction mean anything when you have heaven to look forward to? Paul says flesh and blood cannot enter the kingdom anyway, so why bother making your best effort to preserve it? Why extend life on the imperfect side of things? For a few extra gold cups in heaven, maybe a bigger cushier seat closer to Jesus, authority over a few of the "lesser" citizens who didn't strive as hard as you perhaps?

    I've now inadvertently stirred up genuine curiosity; will such an individual enjoy heaven less than those who lived better (i.e. more godly) lives?

    By Blogger jared, at Tuesday, June 05, 2007 6:04:00 AM  

  • I would say under your definition of repentance being a "change in action" that no, repentance should be preached as a condition to believing in Jesus for everlasting life.

    I consider myself(although I hate labels) free grace, and I contend that there is a repentance unto everlasting life. It is turning from unbelief in the Christ alone to belief in Christ alone.

    This is what Peter told the "devout Jews" he preached to on the day of Pentecost. His whole message that day was proving that Jesus is the Christ. It wasn't a message to repent from sins.

    After he preached they asked what shall we do....he answered and said repent. Now what do "devout Jews" need to repent of in Peter's mind? I think it was unbelief that Jesus is the Christ. They certainly were attempting to live a devout life so repentance from sins according to the Law was not the issue, but believing in Jesus was.

    "How do you balance the gospel presentation and the call to repent?"

    I think any attempt to balance the gospel with the call to repent of anything besides unbelief is dangerously clouding the gospel of grace.

    We most certainly say that Jesus guarantees eternal life for those who believe He is the Christ. No strings attached.

    By Blogger Kris, at Tuesday, June 05, 2007 9:19:00 AM  

  • I put a comma in my first paragraph that shouldn't have been there. "no, repentance" should read no repentance is required according to your definition of it being a change in action.

    By Blogger Kris, at Tuesday, June 05, 2007 9:26:00 AM  

  • Jared, such a person would be disappointed in heaven because she will miss out on the rewards she potentially could have earned and will not share in Christ's government of the universe as faithful believers will.

    She would also experience the shame of coming before her Lord and Saviour knowing that she had denied Him by her conduct.

    Every Blessing in Christ


    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Tuesday, June 05, 2007 9:30:00 AM  

  • dyspraxic fundamentalist,

    So there will be shame and disappointment in heaven?

    By Blogger jared, at Tuesday, June 05, 2007 10:05:00 AM  

  • Yes Jared. 1 John 2:28.

    By Anonymous danny, at Tuesday, June 05, 2007 1:06:00 PM  

  • danny,

    You realize, I hope, that that verse says "unashmed." Using this hermeneutic we can makes some pretty interesting claims about heaven:

    1. My reward can be equal to anyone's reward, all I have to do as ask the Father for more(Matthew 7:11).

    2. If I am the least in the kingdom of heaven, I will still be greater than even John the Baptist (Matthew 11:11). I'd be pretty okay with that since I imagine John's reward is heaping.

    3. If I bind my Xbox on earth then I'll get to play it in heaven (Matthew 18:18).

    4. Pharisees can keep you out of heaven (Matthew 23:13)!

    Hmm, perhaps these things are only temporally true, as in once the final judgment has occurred then there is no shame/disappointment? I think there's a good case for the necessity of systematic theology to be made here...

    By Blogger jared, at Tuesday, June 05, 2007 2:05:00 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger Marty Cauley, at Tuesday, June 05, 2007 5:59:00 PM  

  • fundamentalist: “But you must realize there will be consequences for doing so. For one thing that kind of behavior leads to destruction and will destroy you in the end.”

    Jared: “You're response doesn't make any sense. You say ‘that kind of behavior leads to destruction and will destroy you in the end.’ No it won't, they're saved. In the end they get eternal life, how is that tantamount to destruction?”

    Marty: I wrote an article this weekend for a friend who asked a question pertaining to Rom 8:13. As it pertains to this blog, the Christian is being warned that if he does not repent of his sin, he will die.

    I have not yet dealt with the potential relationship this death might have with destruction in Gal 6:8. Might this destruction be some form of misthological death for the believer if he does not repent? That is, could it be a form of death having to do with eschatological rewards? I am skeptical that death and destruction are to be limited to temporal consequences.

    BTW, my article is at http://mysite.verizon.net/mdcauley/PDF/Static_Versus_Dynamic_Life.pdf
    But I need to consider dealing with destruction as a parallel.

    P.S. How do you edit you post without deleting?

    By Blogger Marty Cauley, at Tuesday, June 05, 2007 6:12:00 PM  

  • Repentance is a natural consequence of salvation. Personally, I have never met a Christian who has not experienced repentance. My brother in law prayed the sinners prayer at age six with the guidance of his uncle, and then at age 30 experienced repentence. He claims that prior to the second experience, he was not a Christian, despite the fact that he regularly attended his Baptist church 3 time a week and double tithed! What do you think? Did God's grace cover him before age 30?

    By Blogger ROD WILLETT, at Tuesday, June 05, 2007 8:18:00 PM  

  • 1 John 2:28: kai nun teknion meno en autos hina ean phaneroo echo parresia kai me (no) aischunomai (being put to shame)apo autos en ho parousia autos.

    The message - Abide in him so that you may have confidence and not be put to shame before Him. John is telling them to abide so they can have confidence before Him. John knows they may be ashamed, so he is telling them to abide so they will have confidence and not be ashamed. So being put to shame at the Judgment Seat is obviously a possibility, but John gives his solution to avoid it - abide.

    By Anonymous danny, at Tuesday, June 05, 2007 8:27:00 PM  

  • If it wasn't clear, aischunomai stands apart from the word "not". Aischunomai means to feel shame. So that you may not (me) be put to shame (aischunomai).

    By Anonymous danny, at Tuesday, June 05, 2007 8:38:00 PM  

  • Rose,

    interesting question.

    Repentance is a universal command given to all. It will avert or halt God's temporal wrath that comes upon us for our sin.

    When it comes to pure evangelism, the Apostle of love, John, wrote a treatise giving the divine perspective. There is not one wit of mention of repentance in the whole of the only book in the canon that has an express, written evangelistic purpose (Jn 20:30,31).

    Granted, this is a very specific and narrow purpose: that his readers might receive as a free gift eternal life.

    Let me pose some questions and give some answers:

    1) What must a person do to be eternally saved, IOW, irrevocably justified, receive eternal life, be eternally secure?

    Believe in Jesus for the purpose of receiving the irrevocable and present possesion of eternal life which He guarantees to all who simply take Him at His word for that gift.

    2) What must I do to halt God's temporal judgment He has meted out on me because of my persistent sin, potentially saving my life?

    I must think differently about my sin, change my mind concerning it, seeing it the way God sees it and then live in the light of that repentance by making the appropriate changes in behavior.

    3) What must I do to secure God's delivering power in my temporal difficulties?

    I must call upon the Name of the Lord in my circumstances, standing fast in my confession of Jesus Christ.

    4) How can I experience eschatological deliverance at the judgment seat of Christ?

    I must hold fast in my Christian confession, enduring until the end in faithfulness and works. My life must be characterized by love and mercy; intimacy with and dependance upon Jesus Christ. I must adhere to His commandments.

    To finally answer your question, Rose, I would keep the gospel simple, precise, and to the point, in that I would zero in on Jesus' offer of eternal life to the one I was talking to. I would tell him all the information in the gospel that shows the sufficiency, authority, and ability of Christ to guarantee the hearers eternal well-being by a simple act of faith in Him for it.

    When such a one believes in Christ, he will then be indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and then I would discuss with such a one the duties, privileges, blessings, and warnings of a child, steward, and servant of God which will include the information discussed above.

    Eternal life is just the beginning. God is concerned with more than the eternal salvation of sinners. He is also concerned that they come to know Him on an intimate level. Ministers of Christ must be concerned with making disciples who live in harmony with God. You can't do the latter without repentance and its fruits.


    Great to see you post here.


    Good stuff!


    By Blogger Antonio, at Tuesday, June 05, 2007 10:07:00 PM  

  • Marty,

    you would just need to copy your post into another comment field, make your corrections, and then delete the previous comment.

    There is no feature for editing a comment like there is on the faithalone.org site.


    By Blogger Antonio, at Tuesday, June 05, 2007 10:09:00 PM  

  • Marty,

    what would be the parallels and what would you suppose this misthological 'destruction' would include?

    Such a picture for me, with the use of is it, appolumi?, of 'destruction' as something misthological and eschatalogical does not sit well with me, as applied to the unfaithful Christian at the Bema. You obviously have some identifications in your mind concerning how such a concept as in Gal 6 could work misthologically. Spell out for us what you are thinking.


    By Blogger Antonio, at Tuesday, June 05, 2007 10:21:00 PM  

  • Danny,

    Doesn't John say that if they don't remain then they never really belonged?

    By Blogger jared, at Wednesday, June 06, 2007 6:09:00 AM  

  • Thank you for all of your answers. I hear what some of you have said about repentance being a change of mind. That is what I ahd always thougt of it as. I am still not sure what to make of it altogether. BUT - for the purpose of this question, maybe I just should have avoided the confusion and not used the word "repentance" because what I wanted to discuss was forsaking sinful acts.

    By Blogger Rose~, at Wednesday, June 06, 2007 7:13:00 AM  

  • Antonio,
    See if you agree with my answer to the question. I posted it on a new post above this one. Is that FG? ;~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at Wednesday, June 06, 2007 7:14:00 AM  

  • Rose:

    A few days ago I posted an article on Repentance. Title is: How Does the Lordship Advocate Define Repentance?

    Thought your readers might want to give it a read.

    It's at my sight. June 1st posting.

    Kind regards,


    By Blogger Lou Martuneac, at Wednesday, June 06, 2007 4:29:00 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger Marty Cauley, at Wednesday, June 06, 2007 7:25:00 PM  

  • One may lose one’s soul-life (appolumi, Lk 9:25). Why regard this as merely temporal loss? Would we not regard it as an eternal loss in terms of rewards. But one may also keep one’s soul-life? Would this not be misthological life? But if the latter is misthological life, would not the former be misthological death?

    If abundant life is a temporal reward, then what would the absence of this life be? Would it not be temporal death? A common interpretation for Rom 8:13. But why limit abundant life to the temporal sphere, would it not carry over into eternity and be experienced more so there. But if so, what would the absence of such life be in eternity? Would it not be eternal (misthological) death?

    If soteriological death is the reward for the lost, why can’t misthological death be the reward for the carnal?

    If Wilkin is correct that Jn 8:51 is a misthological promise to the faithful believer, then what would be the implications for the unfaithful believer?

    Now, as to Gal 6:8, the juxtaposition of destruction with eternal life suggests to me that destruction does not end with the grave but is possibly reminiscent of the misthological loss of one’s soul-life.

    By Blogger Marty Cauley, at Wednesday, June 06, 2007 7:28:00 PM  

  • Hi Jared,

    When we look at 1 John 1:1-4, we see two groups. The first group is John and the apostolic fellowship (the "we", the "us") and the readers (the "you")

    1 John 1:3: We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ

    So John wants his readers (the "you") to have fellowship with John and the apostolic fellowship (the "we", the "us").

    The men in 1 John 2:19 were among the apostolic fellowship (the "us"), only to leave and show themselves as antichrists who deny Jesus. Perhaps they were unbelievers who snuck into the fellowship, like the unsaved men in Galatians 2:4 who snuck into the church to spy out the liberty of Christians. Perhaps they were like the Judaizers of Acts 15:24, who had also "went out from us." "Us" in Acts 15:24 obviously refers to the leaders of the Jerusalem church.

    So the men in 1 John 2:19 may very well be unbelievers who snuck into the apostolic fellowship. Bottom line, if they were really in harmony with the apostolic fellowship, then they would not have left. But because they finally revealed themselves to be antichrists, denying Jesus in the flesh, denying justification by faith alone, then they proved they were not of the apostolic fellowship. As we saw, "us" applies to the apostolic fellowship, not to Christians in general. The readers ("you") are distinguished from "us" (the apostolic fellowship) throughout.

    1 John 2:28, however, addresses the little children (the readers, the "you"). The people in 1 John 2:28 are without a doubt believers who are being encouraged to abide, to avoid suffering shame at His appearance.

    1 John 2:19 - antichrists who leave apostolic fellowship ("us").

    1 John 2:28 - little children (the believers, the "you") being encouraged to abide.

    By Anonymous danny, at Wednesday, June 06, 2007 11:36:00 PM  

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