Is Repentance A Big Deal?

A recent article in Premiere Christianity piqued my interest in regards to repentance and salvation. Jayne Ozanne, who was a long standing member of the Church of England's General Synod and is chair of the Ban Conversion Therapy Coalition, makes the argument that repentance is not necessary for salvation. She states, “It seems we have two versions of Christianity being taught within our churches today. One believes in the unconditional love of God. The other seeks to add in various caveats and exception clauses, making our salvation a transactional exchange, dependent on various actions we take rather than solely what Christ has done for us.” So far so good. I agree that we must not add to the Gospel. It is all of God and not of us. And He has done so out of a love for us (John 3:16).
Jayne Ozanne
Jayne goes on to explain what she means by “caveats and exception clauses”. She says that sins like sex outside of marriage is a credal or salvational issue. Her argument is that repentance from sins is not conditional for our salvation. She uses as an example the thief on the cross: “We know hardly anything about this man – his criminal lifestyle, his home life or even his love life. We do however know he admitted to having done something for which he deserved to die. Did he repent of it? No. But he recognised who Jesus was and asked to be with him – a request that Jesus immediately granted.” I would not agree with this claim. Did we see that he repented? No. Does that mean he did not repent? No! Repentance is not an external action. It is a change of heart that leads to a change in action. Just because there was no time to see him live a life of repentance doesn't mean he didn't have a change of heart.
She further explains her argument: “But what, then, about repentance? Surely this is central to our salvation? Well, I want to share some good news. No, it’s not. God’s unconditional love is that radical. It’s that illogical. It’s that unfair – especially if you’re a vineyard worker who has been laboring all day in the vineyard. Of course, repentance is important. It is something we do when we are so overwhelmed by love that we want to change, in order to become more like the source of that love. It is not, however, the condition on which our salvation hinges.We see that in Jesus’ act of abundant grace while he was dying on the cross. We know it from his proclamation in John 3:15: “that whoever believes in him may have eternal life”. No caveats. It is simply what God does for us.”
This is where discernment and careful understanding of scripture comes in. Jayne is speaking in half truths. And because of this, she is a false teacher and can easily lead Christians astray. Or worse, she could make someone think they are a Christian when they are not. Is she correct that salvation is all of God and not of us? Yes. That God’s love is unconditional and radical? Yes. Do you need to show repentance before becoming saved? No. Is it a condition before being accepted by Christ? No. So all of this that she is saying is true. BUT that doesn’t mean you can be saved without repentance! This is where she is only telling part of the story correctly.  Yes, you do not need to show repentance to prove to God you are worthy of salvation. But if you are truly saved you will repent in your heart and show that in your actions. This is why faith without works is dead (James 2:14-26). Because if you are truly saved, God will transform your life, you will repent and live for Him. Works does not get you into heaven, it proves you are saved. This is the same with repentance. It is not a requirement, but it is a natural consequence that WILL happen if you are truly saved. Jayne is arguing that faith without works is alive! Which is completely unbiblical.
This is why Jesus said, “You will know them by their fruits…” (Matthew 7:16) Or what about what Paul said about transforming our life and changing if we are saved: “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” (Galatians 5:19–24) Notice Paul said that those who live a life of sin will not “inherit the kingdom of God”. How does this fit with Jayne’s theology? If repentance is not to be a part of salvation, as she argues, then is Paul wrong? Of course not!
The other part of this that she misses is that repentance is something that is also given to us by God! His gift of salvation is not just watered down to getting us into heaven. He blesses us on many levels including giving us repentance: “if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth…”(2 Timothy 2:25), “God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life.” (Acts 11:18) Jayne would have you think that God’s grace gets you out of hell and then the rest is on you. What kind of salvation is that? You are saved from hell but God doesn't give you what is needed to transform? To change? You are not “saved” from your flesh and sin? What kind of God would do that? That isn’t salvation, that is a suspended sentence of death! This is why Paul scolded the Galatians for doing this very thing: “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:3)
Repentance is important. It is vital even. While it is not a requirement for salvation, that doesn’t mean it's not a part of our salvation. This is why Jesus preached: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17) And Peter preached: “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38) So confess, believe, repent and continue a life of repentance while the Lord sanctifies your soul.


Dan Berarducci - January 27th, 2024 at 8:31pm

IF we believe that 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 is the Gospel for our age... these are essentials of our soteriology. Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;

2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.

3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

It speaks not of repentance, but must be reconciled with Acts 20:21 - Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. But it does say "for our SINS". This is the crux of the matter. If one hears that phrase - "for our sins" - then one is forced to acknowledge his cause and condition. If one wishes to have Christ then that desire may be counted as "the change of mind".

IF we agree that the word "repentance" means, in its primary meaning, "a change of mind", then there's no discrepancy.

Hoping for further discourse. Humbly yours in Christ./

Dan Berarducci

Marie Willett - February 25th, 2024 at 6:42am

Pastor Clint,

Your blog posts are filled with wisdom. They are relevant, thought provoking and refreshing because you're not afraid to preach the truth of the gospel. May God provide you with a larger platform so more people in the world can see through the half-truths of false Christians and be saved by your messages. Coram Deo.





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