Do you think that ideas about repentance have changed? Do you think that men are teaching repentance to mean the same thing that men through the ages have? Here are the opinions of two of the leading "fundamental" Baptist preachers of recent years:
"There are those who say we have to repent of our sins in order to be saved. No, we have to repent only of the thing that makes us unsaved, and that is unbelief. If a person needs to turn from his sins in order to be saved, what sins does he turn from? Does he turn from pride? Does he turn from selfishness? Does he turn from covetousness? The truth is, nobody can turn from all of his sins until he is raptured and he receives a body like the body of the Saviour.... A person, when he is first saved, does not know all the things that he is doing that are wrong, and if a person has to repent of all his sins, where is growth in grace? Where is being a babe in Christ? Where is being a babe in Christ? Where does the carnal Christian fit in here?" — Jack Hyles (Misunderstood Repentance)
"...repentance is not turning from sin." and "...to ask a sinner to repent is to place on him more than he can bear." — Curtis Hutson
Besides these words Curtis Hutson diligently edited out almost all references to repentance in the new addition of Soul Stirring Songs and Hymns produced by the Sword of the Lord. For example, "An Old Account Settled" says in the original: "O, sinner seek the Lord, repent of all your sin, for thus He hath commanded, if you would enter in." But in the new "revised" edition it says, "O sinner trust the Lord, Be cleansed of all your sin, For thus He hath provided, For you to enter in." Quite a difference, wouldn’t you say?
Now I would ask you to compare what they have said to what some of the most respected preachers down through the ages have had to say on the subject.
The disciples were sent out by Jesus himself and this is what the Bible says they did: "And they went out, and preached that men should repent." (Mark 6:12)
Jesus first words of his first sermon: "From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Mat 4:17)
Jesus last words as He ascended back to heaven: "And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his (Christ’s) name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem." (Luke 24:47)
"Grown up among us is a school of men who say that they rightly preach the gospel to sinners when they merely deliver statements of what the gospel is, and of the result of dying unsaved, but they grow furious and talk of unsoundness if any venture to say to the sinner, "Believe," or "Repent." To this school Peter did not belong — into their secret he had never come, and with their assembly, were he alive now, he would not be joined. For, having first told his hearers of Christ, of his life and death and resurrection, he then proceeds to plunge the sword, as it were, up to the very hilt in their consciences by saying, "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out."
"Perhaps there is no better definition of repentance than that which is given in our little children’s hymnbook —
"I would sooner lose this hand, and both, than I would give up preaching that it is the duty of men to repent and to believe, and the duty of Christian ministers to say to them, "Repent and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out."
"So is it with the sin of God’s people when removed by Jesus’ blood, it is all gone and gone for ever. But rest assured it cannot be removed except there be repentance and conversion as the result of faith in Jesus, ... it would not be moral; it would be pulling up the very sluices of immorality to tell men that they could be pardoned while they went on in their sins and loved them. What, a thief pardoned and continue to thieve! A harlot forgiven and remain unchaste! The drunkard forgiven and yet delight in his tankards! Truly, then, the gospel would be the servant of unrighteousness, and against us who preach it morality should make a law. But it is not so, impenitent sinners shall be damned, let them boast what they will about grace. My hearer, thou must hate thy sin, or God will hate thee. Thou must turn or burn. Thou canst not have thy sins and go to heaven. ... The door is shut and fast bolted to every man who will keep his sin, but it is wide open even to the biggest sinner out of hell, if he will not leave his sin and lay hold of Jesus and put his trust in him."
"... the only way under heaven to this religion is to "repent and believe the gospel;" or, (as the Apostle words it,) "repentance towards God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ."
"And as to the first acceptance or pardon, does not all experience as well as Scripture prove, that no man ever yet truly believed the gospel who did not first repent? Repentance therefore we cannot deny to be necessarily previous to faith."
"Thus it is essential to Christianity that we repent of our sins, that we be convinced of our own sinfulness, and that we are sensible we have justly exposed ourselves to God’s wrath, and that our hearts do renounce all sin, and that we do with our whole hearts embrace Christ as our only Savior; and that we love him above all, and are willing for his sake to forsake all, and that we do give up ourselves to be entirely and forever his, etc. Such things as these do as much belong to the essence of Christianity, as the belief of any of the doctrines of the gospel."
"Some bless themselves that they have a stock of knowledge, but what is knowledge good for without repentance? It is better to mortify one sin than to understand all mysteries. Impure speculatists do but resemble Satan transformed into an angel of light. Learning and a bad heart is like a fair face with a cancer in the breast. Knowledge without repentance will be but a torch to light men to hell."
"Repentance is necessary: 'except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish' (Luke 13.5). There is no rowing to paradise except upon the stream of repenting tears. Repentance is required as a qualification. It is not so much to endear us to Christ as to endear Christ to us. Till sin be bitter, Christ will not be sweet."
"He commandeth all men every where to repent' (Acts 17.30). Repentance is not arbitrary. It is not left to our choice whether or not we will repent, but it is an indispensable command. God has enacted a law in the High Court of heaven that no sinner shall be saved except the repenting sinner, and he will not break his own law Though all the angels should stand before God and beg the life of an unrepenting person, God would not grant it."
"If God should save men without repentance, making no discrimination, then by this rule he must save all, not only men, but devils."
True repentance is absolutely the only hope for our church, our country, and our world. No one is going to call men to repentance unless the men standing behind the pulpits do, and they are arguing whether repentance really means to turn from sin or not. It is truly an evil day in which we live. We don’t need for men to change their minds, they MUST change their actions. A gospel that doesn’t call men to forsake their sins is a powerless gospel whose only influence is to encourage men to go deeper in sin. Don’t even entertain the idea that there could be a revival anywhere, in any church, unless it begins with the call to repentance, and a repentance that includes the forsaking of sin. To do so is nothing but foolishness. It is the first word of the gospel and the first condition of God’s help and blessings to a wayward people. People must stop their lying, their adultery, their covetousness, their dishonesty with God and others, and give control of their heart and life to God to have any hope to see God’s power and blessing. Any person, especially a man who stands behind a pulpit, who gives people the idea that they can continue in their sin and waywardness and still have God’s blessing and the promise of heaven is nothing more than a low-down liar, according to the Bible, and should be exposed for what he is.