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Preaching Repentance and Forgiveness of Sins (5): Forgiveness and Justification Distinguished

One of the problems with an emphasis upon eternal justification is that justification by faith becomes simply a realization that we were always justified, not an actual point in time when our legal status changed and we were declared righteous. This leads to the extreme view that we were always saved, never lost, which would be news to a man like Zacchaeus: ‚ÄúThis day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham: for the Son of man is come to seek and save that which was lost‚ÄĚ (Luke 19:9-10).

Preaching Repentance and Forgiveness of Sins (4): Forgiveness of Sins

In the minds of some, forgiveness of sins is the same thing as justification by faith alone and, since we are justified by faith alone without works (and the same people often define repentance as a work), to connect the forgiveness of sins in any way with repentance jeopardizes the truth of justification by faith alone. Therefore, with due deference to the fundamental truth of justification by faith alone we proceed carefully.

Preaching Repentance and Forgiveness of Sins (3): Classifying Repentance (b)

Repentance is not faith and faith is not repentance. Faith is knowledge, confidence, trust, and assurance. Repentance is a change of mind. Nevertheless, faith and repentance are inseparably connected. Since we believe in Christ for salvation from sin, we necessarily repent of our sins at the same time. We cannot look to Christ in faith for salvation from sin while we hold to our sins. If we have true faith, we change our mind concerning our sins. Thus repentance and faith are two sides of the same coin: by faith we look to Christ and by repentance we look away from sin. Thus Paul summarizes his preaching in Ephesus in Acts 20:21: ‚ÄúTestifying both to the Jews and the Greeks repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.‚ÄĚ

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