Chapter 6: Other questions about repentance

We have seen that repentance is required for salvation. We have also seen what repentance is, and what it is not. In this chapter we will examine other interesting questions about repentance. Specifically, we will examine the following questions:

  • Is repentance, as defined earlier, a work?
  • Is repentance a gift from God, or a work of man, or part of both?
  • Why is repentance a requirement for salvation?

Is repentance a work?

In the theological realm, a work can be loosely defined as something that you do to earn your salvation.

The wages of sin is spiritual death (Rom 6:23). Since God is just, the wages must be paid in full. Therefore, a sinner must pay for his sin by suffering spiritual death.

To be saved from personally experiencing the spiritual death that comes due to his sin, the sinner may pay something that is equivalent to his own spiritual death. For example, someone else (who does not owe God spiritual death) could suffer spiritual death on the sinner’s behalf. That is the only way for the sinner to be saved from suffering spiritual death himself and yet meet God’s just demand.

Consider this example. A certain car costs $10,000 (a picture of the wages of sin – which is spiritual death). You ruin the car (that is, you have sinned). Therefore you owe its owner $10,000 (that is, you must suffer spiritual death). The only way that you can repay him is to pay him $10,000 or its equivalent in another monetary unit that he is willing to accept. Just saying that you are sorry for totaling the car and that you do not want to total cars anymore (that is, just being repentant) does not pay for the car.

The only acceptable payment for sin is spiritual death. Repentance is simply a true desire to be saved from sin. It is not spiritual death. Therefore, repentance is not an acceptable payment for sin. Therefore, repentance cannot be a work.

Some people may insist that repentance (as defined by me) is a work. I defined repentance as ‘wanting to stop sinning.’ In other words, it is a decision to want to stop sinning. If making a decision to stop sinning is a work then making a decision to receive God’s offer of salvation is also a work. This is because both of these are decisions. Therefore, we see that if repentance is a work then so is any other method for being saved. Therefore, anyone who says that I am proposing salvation by works must necessarily admit that every other method for salvation (including any proposed by him) is also by works.

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