Thursday, December 31, 2009

Reading the Classics with Challies - Redemption Accomplished and Applied

Faith and Repentance

Wayne Grudem defines conversion as a willing response to the gospel call, in which we sincerely repent of sins and place our trust in Christ for salvation. By that definition one can see that true conversion includes both repentance and faith; one repents of sin and trusts in Christ.

In chapter four of Redemption Accomplished and Applied (Murray, John. Redemption Accomplished and Applied. Boston: Wm. B. Eerdmans Company, 1984), author John Murray discusses faith an repentance as the next step in the 'order of salvation'. Faith and repentance, sandwiched between regeneration and justification, is a product of that very life-changing, life-altering, and life-giving process called regeneration. Being born again naturally, and yet inevitably, leads to conversion. "Regeneration is inseparable from its effects and one of the effects is faith. Without regeneration it is morally and spiritually impossible for a person to believe in Christ, but when a person is regenerated it is morally and spiritually impossible for that person not to believe...Regeneration is the renewing of the heart and mind, and the renewed heart and mind must act according to their nature." (106)

Murray discusses faith first. He begins writing, "Regeneration is the act of God and God alone. But faith is not the act of God; it is not God who believes in Christ for salvation, it is the sinner. It is by God's grace that a person is able to believe but faith is an activity on the part of the person and him alone. In faith we receive and rest upon Christ alone for salvation." (106) According to Murray, faith is defined as "a whole-souled movement of self-commitment to Christ for salvation from sin and its consequences." (107) This 'whole-souled self-commitment' has warrant due to the universal offer of the Gospel and the all-sufficiency and suitability of the Saviour (107-110). The nature of faith is such that it includes knowledge, conviction, and trust

Murray moves on to repentance and begins by appealing to the unity of conversion in that, despite dealing with the concepts separately, faith and repentance are inseparable. "The question has been discussed; which is prior, faith or repentance? It is an unnecessary question and the insistence that one is prior to the other futile. There is no priority. The faith that is unto salvation is a penitent faith and the repentance that is unto life is a believing repentance." (113) He continues, "It is impossible to disentangle faith and repentance. Saving faith is permeated with repentance and repentance is permeated with faith." (113) Murray goes on, as he did with faith, to define repentance: "Repentance consists essentially in change of heart and mind and will." (114) Furthermore. Murray adds that the change of heart and mind and will principally respects four things: "it is a change of mind respecting God, respecting ourselves, respecting sin, and respecting righteousness." (114)

Grudem's definition of repentance: a heartfelt sorrow for sin, a renouncing of it, and a sincere commitment to forsake it and walk in obedience to Christ. He adds that repentance includes intellectual understanding that sin is wrong, an emotional approval of the teachings of Scripture regarding sin (including a heartfelt sorrow for sin and fear that one has offended a holy God), and personal decision to turn from sin and seek forgiveness from God. The joined concepts of faith and repentance, which constitute conversion, are powerful reminders of God's efficacious grace in our lives and understanding them is clearly integral to begin to fully appreciate the ordo salutis.

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