Archive for the ‘Biblical Terms’ category

Another Resource on Repentance

September 14, 2012

It has been a crazy week so my final post on Psalm 10 is going to have to wait. However I did find a word study on the biblical term “repentance” which is well worth reading if you are interested. The study is “Repentance: The Most Misunderstood Word in the Bible” by G. Michael Cocoris who runs the Insights From The Word website.

I agree with Pastor Cocoris that repentance is very misunderstood and those misunderstandings have big consequences. An incorrect understanding of repentance leads to an incorrect Gospel presentation which is the definition of heresy.

One of the pastors whose teaching I regularly listen to is Robert Dean. One of Pastor Dean’s favorite stories is one where he is speaking at a Pastors’ Conference and he asks his audience “what do you have to do to be saved?” Without fail one of the answers he gets is “repent!” Then Pastor Dean goes on to tell them that the Gospel of John says that the reason it was written is so that those who read it may be saved and nowhere in John’s Gospel does the word repent appear! I guess that is one of those “gotcha” moments that people love to hear about but it isn’t the whole story either. I wonder what would happen if one of the pastors responded to him like this section from Pastor Cocoris’ book?

The Bible is emphatic that salvation is by faith. Moses wrote that Abraham “believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness” (Gen. 15:6). Jesus said, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (Jn. 3:16). Paul proclaimed, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). In these and many other passages faith is the one and only requirement for salvation.

Not only does the Bible repeatedly mention faith as the single requirement, in critical places, it does not mention repentance. The Gospel of John is the only book in the Bible that has as it purpose to bring people to Christ. At the end of his Gospel, John wrote, “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book, but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (Jn. 20:31). Yet the gospel of John does not mention the words “repent” or “repentance” one single time.

The most detailed book in the Bible on salvation is the book of Romans. The chapter in Romans on what one must do to be saved in Romans four, but Romans four does not contain the words “repent” or “repentance.” In fact, the word “repentance” only occurs once in the book of Romans (Rom. 2:14) [Romans 2:4?] and there it is a virtual synonym for faith.

The only book in the Bible written to defend the Gospel is Galatians. Neither the word “repent” nor the word “repentance” makes an appearance in that book at all.

On the other hand, some passages say that repentance is required (Lk. 24:47, Acts 2:38, 3:19, 5:31, 17:30, 26:20, 2 Pet. 3:9, Rev. 9:20-21, 16:9, 11) and in these verses there is no mention of faith.

To complicate matters, faith and repentance appear together in three places (Mk. 1:16, Acts 20:21, Heb. 6:1).

The absence of repentance in critical passages on salvation and yet the insistence on repentance in others is a problem. What is the relationship between faith and repentance? [My emphasis] There are several possible solutions…

Repentance: The Most Misunderstood Word in the Bible
by G. Michael Cocoris
pp 3-4


More on Christian Love

June 8, 2012

One of the reasons I started this blog two-and-a-half years ago was so I could collect all of the cool things I have found on the internet in one central and easily searched place. I have been reminded of that again this week when I found a new article on the topic of “agape” love (I use “agape” love and “Christian” love interchangeably) which is a topic that I am very interested in. So, in keeping with the spirit of this blog, I decided to share it with all of you.

I have written at least two posts on the topic of Christian love (please see my posts “Christian Love” and “Love, Hate, and the Law of Volitional Responsibility”) in which I tried to flesh out what characteristics Christian love has. This is no easy feat! This new article, at least it’s new to me, “The Word ‘Love’ in John 13:34-35” by Carl R. Denti makes some statements about Christian love, what it is, what it isn’t, and how it relates to God the Holy Spirit that I hadn’t thought about before.

There are two ideas that Pastor Denti forwards in this article that I want to point out. First, agape love is a choice. If it isn’t a choice on our part then why are we commanded to do it? Second, agape love is a supernatural love that can only come into being via the ministry of the Holy Spirit. For those who believe in a kind of fatalistic monergism this idea of our free will cooperating with the Holy Spirit will seem a bit uncomfortable and possibly even blasphemous. Everyone else will recognize it as a fantastic opportunity given us by God the Holy Spirit so we can have a dynamic spiritual life.

Here are a couple of quotes from Pastor Denti’s paper: (more…)

Love, Hate, and the Law of Volitional Responsibility

September 9, 2011

In last week’s post (see Christian Vs Christian: John 13:34-35) I placed a heavy emphasis on meaning of the Koine Greek word agapaō which is one of four Koine Greek words translated as “love” in English. Going forward I will continue to emphasize the idea that agapaō is something commanded of every believer toward other believers (and, at times, toward unbelievers). The understanding of this word is central to any Christian’s understanding of how to treat others.

I have always seen agapaō translated as either “unconditional love” or “impersonal love.” The problem is that some Christians believe that this is an incorrect translation of agapaō and that “unconditional love” is a terribly wrong headed notion. Rather than just assert that some, or maybe even many, Christians believe that unconditional love is nonsense I decided to look for an example. It wasn’t very difficult to find examples and I found a very good one at The Family Christian Study Centre in their post titled “Confronting a Common Heresy.” In that post the authors quote R.J. Rushdoony on the topic of unconditional love: (more…)

Five Categories of Fool

August 12, 2011

For today’s post I am going to take an extended quote from Robert McLaughlin’s commentary on the Book of Ecclesiastes (order it for free here). The quote deals with five different Hebrew words for “fool” found in the Old Testament. When I first read this I thought it was wonderful. How many times have I read Old Testament passages and failed to understand what was really being said because I have only one definition for words?

I suppose that if I have to put an intellectual spin on this I can say that “it is a biblical truth that we can be foolish in many ways.” While the quote discusses five different kinds of fool they are all really rooted in arrogance. So, what else is new?

Here is Pastor McLaughlin: (more…)

Two Little Words Can Make a Big Difference

July 1, 2011

Earlier this week I posted a couple comments at Antonio da Rosa’s Free Grace Theology blog on the topic of repentance (see ‘Repentance and the Illustration of the “Stadium Event”’ for details). My goal was to make sure that anyone who read Antonio’s article was aware that there is a lot of disagreement over what it means to repent; his article only makes sense if you define repentance as a “turning away from sins.” Antonio is a student of the teaching of Zane Hodges who was a strong advocate of “Free Grace” theology (which is great!) but also held to a “turning away from sin” definition of repentance.

The title of this post refers to two competing definitions of the word “repent” as used in the New Testament (there are probably more than two such definitions floating around but I am not concerned with those). The first definition, and the one I believe is correct, is that repent means to have a “change of mind” or to “turn away” from something where that “something ” is determined by the context. The other definition of “repent” is that it always means to “turn away from sin” no matter what the context is. Those two little words, “from sin”, can make a surprisingly big difference in a person’s theology.

My attempt at commenting wasn’t very successful by the way. My first comment was too long so I couldn’t post it. I then tried to break the comment into two parts and post them separately. Unfortunately, the first comment has never been posted (I tried submitting it twice) so only the second half of my comment was actually published. This post is an attempt to correct all of that. I am going to expand my on my comments here and then post a link to this back at Antonio’s place. Ain’t blogging fun! (more…)

Christian Love

April 8, 2011

One of the things that I notice when I sift through the Christian blogosphere is how often the topic of love comes up. No matter what denomination or creed a Christian belongs to they will talk about God’s love. They don’t necessarily agree about who God loves but they will all agree that love is something that God possesses. They also agree that Christians should act in love because God wants us to.

For some reason I think about things like what is love? Is our love the same as God’s? Does God love me the same as that stinker down the street? It seems to me that the Apostles would have answered those questions differently than I would. The problem is that to understand what the Bible teaches about love we have to understand what the authors meant by it (it turns out that there is not just one word used for love in the scriptures).

I think that modern concepts of love have been influenced by psychology (Freud radically changed how we think about love). I did a web search to see what I could find out about love as defined by popular culture. The quote I am about to provide is a bit far out on the fringe as far as I’m concerned but I don’t think it is rare either: (more…)

Repentance Part 4

November 5, 2010

This is my fourth, and probably last, post on the words translated repent in the New Testament (read Part 1 here, Part 2 here, and Part 3 here). In this post I have listed out all twenty-four New Testament occurrences of the Koine Greek word metanoia which is the third word translated into English as repent (the other two being metamelomai and metanoeo).

I feel that I have gotten to the point with this study that I am at an impasse. Metamelomai and metanoeō are both verbs while metanoia is a noun and I was hoping that maybe the change from verb to noun would throw a new light on the matter (why this would be I don’t know) but it hasn’t. It is true that in many of the passages I list at the end of this post urge a change in the audience’s behavior. However that doesn’t mean to me that repentance means a “turning from sin” rather than “changing one’s mind.” In fact the passages containing the three words for repentance don’t seem to be heavy theological treatises and it is unclear how these words became so heavily laden with meaning to some theologians.

I went back and looked over the “Repentance: fake and real” article by Dan Phillips one more time just to make sure I was understanding his thrust correctly. I think this quote is representative:

Perhaps it would be better to explain metanoein as to transform one’s mind. It envisions a root-to-branches paradigm-shift which always and necessarily issues in a change of behavior (Acts 26:20). (more…)

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