The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Is Repentance part of the Gospel?

“WHILE leaving a jail meeting, some years ago, a brother in Christ handed me a slip of paper. On looking at it later, I found that it contained a list of passages containing the word “repentance.” It was a gentile hint that I had omitted preaching repentance to the prisoners, as indeed, I had.”
A.E. Knoch

Christianity makes such a big deal of repentance, but why?

Was Abraham reckoned as righteous because of his repentance? Of course not!

God does not ask anything from man in the gospel for today. To insert repentance into the gospel is a sacrilege.

In Paul’s Opus Magnum he only refers to ‘repentance’ one time (Ro. 2.4) and this not in connection with the gospel.

Repentance is often linked with the coming Kingdom to Israel.

"Now in those days, coming along is John the baptist, heralding in the wilderness of Judea, saying: “Repent! for near is the kingdom of the heavens!” (Matt. 3.1-2)

The kingdom was offered in the early part of Christ’s ministry, and in the book of Acts.

The sinner does not need to repent, in order to be saved. This is a sure sign God will not have any difficulty saving all mankind. God is gracious.

I am sure the gospel Knoch preached to the prisoners must have been very shocking to even some of them. It seems inborn in all of us to imagine we must repent and please God, or ELSE!

Yes, repentance only means a change of mind, but without the fruits of repentance it is a sham. (Luke 3.8)

[size=150]So what is your opinion? Is repentance part of the gospel?[/size]

You make a good point, Puddy. There are a lot of stories in which Jesus tells the subject, “Your sins are forgiven” (more or less) with no indication of repentance offered or asked for. BUT (yes, of course – there’s always a but) remember that Jesus did say to the woman caught in adultery, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more” and to the paralytic at the Pool of Bethesda, “See, you are healed; sin no more lest a worse thing befall you.” So it’s not like Jesus didn’t care how people lived.

But yes, you’re right; repentance doesn’t appear to be necessary in order to receive forgiveness. Good catch!

Repentance, in case anyone might not know, is basically changing your mind. So if you thought watching porn on your computer was okay, but now you’ve acknowledged your need to follow Jesus, you might want to repent (change your mind) about that behavior. It is unloving to women and children, unloving to yourself, unloving to your spouse (or future spouse), and disrespectful to God, who created sex to be used in specific and circumscribed circumstances as an act of love and devotion – not for the purpose of arousal at the expense of objectifying women and children.

So . . . repentance is NOT the gospel; what IS the gospel?

I submit that the gospel is that Jesus has come to save us from the law of sin and death – and He has succeeded in that mission. He did it by representing the entire race of Adam in dying to the flesh, putting to death the writing of the decree that was against us, putting to death OUR flesh, and in so doing, nullifying our bondage to the law of sin and death.

You might think, as I did up to, well, several days ago, that the “law of sin and death” is the law of Moses. This is not the case. A careful reading of Romans will reveal (Chapter 7, I think) that the “law of sin and death” is something Paul discovered in himself: “In me, who want to do what is right, I find the wrong always lies near at hand.” (I’m paraphrasing since I can’t quote it off the top of my head.) So though we WANT to do the right thing, we always end up doing the wrong thing. And sin leads to death. We can’t stop sinning even though we agree with the Law, that it is good. Even though we take pleasure in the Law of God, we still find that we aren’t capable of keeping it. This is because that, as creatures of flesh and blood, we are in bondage to sin.

Through Jesus’ death as the representative of the entire human race of Adam, we are put to death. We have died to the law of sin and death and are no longer in bondage to it or under its authority. It has no more power over us and we are now free to sin or not to sin. We can now choose. HOWEVER, our choice is not neutral. Sin leads to death but righteousness (which pretty much boils down to right relationships) leads to life. So if we continue to sin, we’re destined to die, but if we, by the Spirit, put to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live. All these who are being led by the Spirit of God; these AND NONE BUT THESE are the sons of God.

Note it says “sons” not children. In this case, a son has more to do with position than with sex. It refers to a child trained up and suitable to represent the family to the public – a fully vested son of the House of Yahweh. The word is “huios”. The word used generally for offspring is “teknon.” While we are children we are teknon; when we are ready to assume the responsibility of sons, we are then “huios.” As we are conformed to the image of Christ, we grow into that position, and when the Father deems us ready, we will be revealed/unveiled. “The creation eagerly waits with anticipation for the revelation of the sons of God, for the creation was subjected to vanity not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope that the creation itself might also be delivered from the bondage of corruption and into the glorious liberty of the sons of God.” So the creation itself is waiting with baited breath for the sons of God to be revealed – for this means the liberation of the creation!

Um, I think I got a little carried away there . . . :blush: Anyway, this is the gospel – not the news that we need to repent, but rather the news that we are FREE to repent and stop involuntarily heading down the road of sin, leading to death. Repentance is a necessary part because we DO need to turn from our sins. Everyone will need to do this imo – I don’t believe that God forces that on anyone (although there are more Calvinistic universalists out there, and maybe you’re one of them). I believe that we grow (or are grown) into freedom of will, and that when we are sufficiently free and sufficiently informed, we will freely choose Him. Choosing Him does entail repentance because it entails following Him. And if you’re going to follow Him, you’re going to have to turn away from the path that leads to death (and that path is sin) because He is not going in that direction. He has his GPS (if He needed one) set on LIFE, and that means righteousness.

Great topic, Puddy! You have a knack for choosing them!

Indeed, and notably repentance was not for the ‘sinner’ that we are so commonly told are sinners, but the religious whose teachings shut the door to the Kingdom to every man.

Sinners rejoice, you are saved! You who are downtrodden and feel no hope, you have hope! Religious men who condemn those who sin against you to hell?! Repent for Jesus came to save the sinner, not the righteous!

John the baptizer’s message was the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ:

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the son of God, as it is written in Isaiah the prophet, “Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way;3 the voice of one crying in the wilderness: prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” — John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forsaking of sins. (Mark 1:1-4)

Clearly John’s message was, "“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 3:2)
John was NOT announcing the Kingdom rule of Christ during the millenium. That rule was not “at hand” in the days of John the baptizer. He was announcing the Kingdom which was shortly to come.

Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed,21 nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.” (Luke 17:20,21 RSV)

Right in the midst of the Pharisees was the Kingdom of God! The King was there — Jesus. And the King’s subjects were there — His disciples.

So we may conclude that John the Baptizer, who first proclaimed the gospel of Jesus, preached “Repent and be baptized.”
Jesus preached that same message of repentance. He, like John, also required baptism.

It’s all about discipleship.

The Gospel According to Jesus

*Matt 4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

John 4:1-3 Now when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John (although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples), he left Judea and departed again to Galilee.

Jesus proclaimed the same requirements! Repent and be baptized.

The Gospel According to Peter

After Peter had addressed the men of Judea, showing that God had raised Jesus from the death, and that they had crucified Him, the following exchange took place:

*Acts 2:36-39
“… Let all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified."
Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?”
And Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the sending away of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children and to all that are far off, every one whom the Lord our God calls to him.” *

What were Peter’s requirements to appropriate the benefits of the Gospel? Repent and be baptized! The only difference was that now that Jesus had been raised, the gift of His Spirit was given.

Now some claim that John the baptizer and Jesus preached the gospel of the kingdom, but that the apostle Paul opened the new order of the Church by preaching the gospel of grace. C.I. Scofield, in his notes on Matthew 5:5 went so far as to affirm

Scofield Reference Bible, 1917 edition.

In other words, it is neither the duty nor even the privilege of the Christian to obey the laws of Christ expressed in those chapters.

Scofield taught that Christ’s teachings in the “Sermon on the Mount” were the laws of the kingdom offered to the Jews, but that since the Jews rejected the kingdom it was to be postponed. Such teachers declare that now that we are under grace, we should listen to Paul, for the words of Christ no longer apply to us who live in the age of grace.

But as Paul made abundantly clear, there is only one gospel. That one gospel is the gospel of the Kingdom and Paul himself preached it!

The Gospel According to Paul

Acts 28:30,31 And he lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ quite openly and unhindered.

So Paul also preached the Kingdom of God! But did Paul declare the necessity of repentance, as did John the Baptizer, Jesus, and Peter? Or did he teach that all that is necessary is to believe in the atoning work of Christ? In recounting to King Agrippa, his experience with Jesus on the road to Damascus, he concluded by saying,

Acts 26:19,20 "Wherefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but declared first to those at Damascus, then at Jerusalem and throughout all the country of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God and perform deeds worthy of their repentance.

Does Paul’s gospel not resemble that proclaimed by John the baptizer? Yes, Paul preached repentance, and doing deeds worthy of repentance. But did Paul proclaim the necessity of baptism? We read:

Acts 18: 8 …many of the Corinthians hearing Paul believed and were baptized.

It was after they heard Paul that they were baptized. The necessity of baptism must have been implicit or explicit in Paul’s message. Otherwise, why would they get baptized? So Paul’s gospel not only “resembled” that of John the Baptizer; it was identical! But is baptism really necessary in order to get right with God? Let’s look at the life of Paul himself. When were his sins washed away? Was it on the road to Damascus when Jesus spoke to him, and he submitted? That experience certainly turned him around. He was blinded, and was then ready to do what the Lord Jesus told him to do. But later, it was Ananias who counseled him to be baptized. From Paul’s own account of the matter, Ananias said:

Acts 22:16 And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on his name.’

So it was not when Jesus appeared to him on the road to Damascus, but at his baptism that Paul had his sins washed away.

Jesus taught:
John 3:5 Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I tell you, unless one is generated of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

Although there is much controversy about the meaning of “generated of water”, many understand it to be baptism. This view is consistent with Justin Martyr’s explanation of the ways of Christians to Augustus Caesar and to his son. Justin was born in 110 A.D. In chapter 61 of Justin’s “First Apology”, we find his explanation of Christian baptism:

Hey! What About John 3:16 and Acts 16:29-31…?

Acts 16:29-31 And he (the Philippian jailer) called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas, and brought them out and said, “Men, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

Do these passages contradict the requirements Jesus and Peter gave for becoming right with God? Do they require something less to be saved? So often today, we hear that all you have to do to get right with God is “accept Christ as your personal saviour”. That’s a phrase we don’t find in any New Testament or early Christian writing. Or all you have to do is pray “God be merciful to me a sinner”, or “I realize I’m a sinner, Jesus, and that you died to save me. I hereby accept your finished work to make me fit for heaven.” Or some other prayer.

I recall a woman from my local area (we’ll call her “G”) who affirmed that she would not become a Christian, because she just didn’t want to have to come to the front of a church and weep and cry. Some time later, G told me that she found out from her Christian friend that a person doesn’t have to come forward, weeping and crying. “All you have to do,” G explained, “is say a little prayer, and you’ll be a Christian.” That’s the way G understood the “gospel” which was presented to her. One wonders how many people have “said the little prayer” and remained unchanged, but are under the delusion that they are now “saved”, so that they can go on living their lives as usual, but with the expectation that they’ll go to heaven when they die, or when they are raised again to life.

So, it is said that all we have to do is believe in Jesus. However, the whole crux of the matter lies in that little word Πιστευω (pisteuō) which has been translated “believe”. Indeed, the word does mean “believe” in many contexts. But another meaning is given in John’s account of Jesus’ life:

John 2:23-25 Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many people saw the miraculous signs he was doing and believed in his name. But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men. He did not need man’s testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man.

Is not “entrust” also the way the word is used in John 3:16 and Acts 16:29-31? If we entrust ourselves to Jesus, this includes repentance and baptism. “For God so loved the world … that whoever should entrust himself to Him would have lasting life.”

Identification With Man

Luke 13:5 I tell you … unless you repent you will all likewise perish."
John 3:5 Jesus responded, "Truly, truly, I tell you, unless one is generated of water and Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

Then how is the death of Christ connected with salvation? For years I had no idea. Yet I believed the words of Paul that the Saviour’s death makes possible His enabling grace to help us live a life of righteousness before Him. More recently, I began to understand how Jesus’ death relates to our salvation from sin. Jesus began to identify with man when He was born as a human being. He was truly a human baby who cried and wet himself like any other baby. He lived the life of an ordinary man here on earth, becoming hungry and thirsty like other men, and being tempted to wrongdoing like other men, though through His relationship with His Father, He always chose the right over the wrong. And finally He died as a human being. The identification was complete. After He was raised, He and His Father came to dwell within His people. Christ in us — infiltrated through our entire being, and we in Christ — infiltrated through His entire being. Christ has put on humanity, and we have put on Christ.

Galatians 3:27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

God prepared a building made without hands, which is His Church. In the Father’s house (again the Church) are many dwelling places (John 14). The Body of Christ of which He is the Head is a single organism — we in Him and He in us. This magnificent unity has been made possible through Christ’s identification with us, the great finished work that Christ accomplished on Calvary’s tree.

*Father, enable each one by your grace, who considers your great salvation to understand its wonder, its depth, and its expression of your magnificent LOVE! Show us that the easy way that is being proclaimed today is deceiving people and leading them into death. It is falsely portraying your character.

John was announcing the Kingdom rule of Christ. The phrase ‘Kingdom of the heavens’ would have been clearly understood

"And the kingdom and the authority and the majesty of the kingdom under all the heavens is granted to the people…"Dan 7.27

“And in the days of these kings the God of the heavens shall set up a kingdom… and the kingdom shall not be left to another people. It shall crush and terminate all these kingdoms” Dan. 2.44

In Acts 1.6-8 we read "Those, indeed, then, who are coming together, asked Him, saying, “Lord, art Thou at this time restoring the kingdom to Israel?” Yet He said to them “Not yours is it to know times or eras which the Father placed in His own jurisdiction. But you shall be obtaining power at the coming of the holy spirit on you, and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in entire Judea and Samaria, and as far as the limits of the earth.”

This deals with the time of the setting up of the kingdom, not it’s character. The disciples were not corrected for their question. The Apostle Paul closes the door to the kingdom in acts 28 (that is why the book ends the way it does) He quotes one final time from Isaiah 6, and then says “Let it be known to you, then, that to the nations was dispatched this salvation of God, and they will hear”

Jehovah was rejected by Israel (Is. 6. 9-10), here the spirit was rejected, and turning to the gospels we see Christ was rejected by his people (Matt. 13. 14-15) They all quote from Is. 6. This is the bad news passage for Israel.

This is why Christ began to teach in parables

"And, approaching, the disciples say to Him, “Wherefore art Thou speaking in parables to them?” Now, answering, He said to them that “To you has it been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of the heavens, yet to those it has not been given… Therefore in parables am I speaking to them, seeing that, observing, they are not observing, and hearing, they are not hearing, neither are they understanding. And filled up in them is the prophecy of Isaiah, that is saying,…” Matt. 13. 10-14

This passage found in Is. 6, clearly relates to Israel. Christ in fact plainly said “I was not commissioned except for the lost sheep of the house of Israel” Matt. 15.24

Earlier in Matthew we read a telling passage "These twelve Jesus commissions, charging them, saying, “Into a road of the nations you may not pass forth, and into a city of the Samaritans you may not be entering. Yet be going rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Now going, herald, saying that 'Near is the kingdom of the heavens!” (10.5-7)

In the Sermon on the Mount, we see Christ is addressing Israel, and refers to the nations separately. “You, then, should not be worrying, saying, ‘What may we be eating?’ or ‘What may we be drinking?’ or ‘With what may we be clothed?’ For for all these the nations are seeking.” Matt. 6. 31-32

Notice also the meek (5.5) “shall be enjoying the allotment of the land”
“Not everyone saying to Me 'Lord! Lord! will be entering into the kingdom of the heavens…” (7.21)
“Whosoever, then, should be annulling one of the least of these precepts, and should be teaching men thus, the least in the kingdom of the heavens shall he be called.” (5.19)

So we see the ‘kingdom of the heavens’ is an actual kingdom (land). Just because the message was rejected in both the gospels and Acts period, does not mean it was not a legitimate offer of the kingdom.

As it became increasingly clear in Acts that Israel was going to refuse the offer again, we see Paul’s message to the gentiles increasing, and the distinction between the two groups growing. Paul’s ministry goes from glory to glory. After Israel is finally set aside, we receive the fullest revelations, (while Paul is in Prison). “in spirit the nations are to be joint enjoyers of an allotment, and a joint body, and joint partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus, through the evangel of which I became the dispenser…” Eph. 3. 6

It was not until Israel was set aside that this truth could be revealed. Nations are not on equality with Israel. Remember when Christ explained to a non Jewish women that he ‘was not commissioned except for the lost sheep of the house of Israel’? He went further and said “It is not ideal to be taking the children’s bread and to be casting it to puppies” She responded wisely saying “Yes, Lord! For the puppies also are eating of the scraps that are falling from their masters table”

Paidon, you along with most believers don’t see this distinction. A modern day believer would have assumed equality and the right to sit at that table. It seems because you sit at the table, you think you have the right to force repentance, baptism and works into Paul’s message of grace.

In Paul’s Opus Magnum, from (3.21-5) we do not read of any works being needed to be saved. ANY!

Does Paul start out saying “Yet now, apart from the law, a righteousness of God is manifest… yet a righteousness of God through Jesus Christ’s faith, for all, and on all who are believing, repenting, and being baptized?”

It is “by faith apart from works of law”
We are “Being justified gratuitously”
“Now Abraham believes God, and it is reckoned to him for righteousness”
It is “to him who is not working, yet is believing on Him Who is justifying the irreverant”
Notice it says irreverant! Not the repentant.

Thank you Paidon, Cindy, Auniversalist for your responses.

Good post, Puddy.

I have a clarification question for you. Do you then believe that no works are needed or expected ever? Or are you only saying that we are saved whether or not we receive that as truth at present?

Because if we continue to head down the road of sin, well the end of that road is death. Repentance does not gain us salvation; Jesus did that for us. But repentance does enable us to partake of salvation.

The prison door stands open; we must choose to leave the prison in order to benefit from this freedom. I absolutely believe that EVERYONE, once they see the situation clearly, WILL choose to leave the prison – BUT you MUST leave the prison if you are to come out into the clear air and sunshine.

Hey Cindy

I believe grace is more potent than law. That once it begins to touch a person’s life, it does with a person, what it did to Paul. It may take time… Paul wants us to see ourselves as dead to sin, and not to be struggling against it.

A believer falls out of grace when they try to keep the law. They don’t fall out of grace by breaking it. It is almost like what ‘Yoda’ says: “Do or Do not. There is no try.”


Indeed. It is interesting when people teach sin-centric gospel always actually teaching the law, and ironically falling from grace as they teach it.

This was a big issue back in the day when I was a pastor and teaching what grace actually is and does, and it was a long road full of stumbling people. Once people caught on, their lives completely changed and not coincidentally a part from the law, they lived righteous lives! They no longer desired to do things that the Law would call sin, not because they were under the Law but because they were free from it! It perplexes the mind of someone rigidly stuck in religion and dogma to understand. Even among those who believe in Universal Reconciliation, they still think and speak under an order that had long been nailed to the cross not realizing why they are saved in the first place. Grace is not the power to sin, no grace is the power to be free from sin because we are no longer under the Law, but grace and by faith (faith not of own, but Christ) we are all saved.

Refreshing indeed!

The understanding of this is a fine balance, Puddy. I suspect you and I agree, but it’s just difficult to get the wording right. On the one hand we have this concept that we fall out of grace by trying to keep the law. And of course the way to life is NOT through the law, but rather through grace leading to righteousness. On the other hand, we also have Jesus telling His disciples, “Go into all the world and make disciples of all nations . . . teaching them to do all that I have commanded you . . .”

I think that we follow the law of love, written on our hearts by the Holy Spirit, through the grace and empowerment of God. Paul also says he is praying that the Colossians will be “filled with the knowledge of His will with all wisdom and spiritual understanding, that they might walk worthy of Him, fully pleasing to Him, and being fruitful in every good work, that He would strengthen them with all power according to His glorious might for all patience and endurance with joy . . .” But what do you DO with the knowledge of His will, if not obey Him and walk worthy of Him, being fruitful in good works?

Last year some people got lost around our place. They were going to go back into the woods on their horses to try and find their vehicle but I took them home with me and helped them get to their trailer. The tractor wouldn’t start, so I took them an hour and a half drive into the night to get another truck so they could come back and get their horses. All this after a full day of doctors’ appointments for my mom.

I wasn’t forced by the Holy Spirit to help these people. I chose to help them. I was afraid if they rode those tired horses back into the woods none of them would ever come out again. I knew they’d never find their vehicle (which was a LOT further away than they thought). I could have killed them by not helping. It was a cold night in late autumn, a little later in the year than we are now. I didn’t mind doing all this; I was delighted to be allowed to help. But I DID CHOOSE and DECIDE to help. It didn’t just happen automatically.

Paul said:

It seems that even Paul has a place for choosing and deciding to do the right thing. Doing these acts doesn’t make us righteous, but the righteous will do (and not do) the things approved by the Spirit. And the person WILL decide whether to follow the Spirit; it doesn’t happen automatically. Otherwise, why is Paul giving all this advice? Didn’t he get the memo on grace? :laughing: Of course we all know that Paul WROTE the memo on grace. We cannot obey the law of God (which is, basically, love) without grace, and it is by grace that we follow God’s precepts. It is also by our choice that we take hold of this grace in which we stand and cooperate with the Holy Spirit’s leading in us to produce good works – which the Father DOES desire.

Love in Him, Cindy

Grace is not leading to righteousness Cindy, we are already declared righteous by faith and justified. Grace is not another system that ‘replaced’ the law. Grace is the ability to realize that you are already perfect in Christ Jesus. We are slaves of righteousness leading to holiness.

Having done a little (not a big) study of grace, I’m leaning toward seeing grace as divine favour and divine enablement/influence on the heart. I’m pretty sure that *“the ability to realize that you are already perfect in Christ Jesus” *isn’t what the word means. And if we are already perfect, then why is Paul working so hard (though he doesn’t work, but the Spirit works in him), teaching, admonishing every person, to present every person perfect in Christ Jesus? I do believe that this grace, wherein we stand, IS in fact leading us to righteousness (and thereby to perfection, if in fact true righteousness doesn’t turn out to be synonymous with perfection).

Righteousness is, so far as I can tell, right relationships (to put it very simply). Our relationship with our Father is repaired. We are reconciled to Him. He doesn’t hold anything against us and Christ’s death on our behalf proves that. We do have to realize that; and that realization is part of the ACTIVITY of grace (though not what grace IS). We also need to LEARN to behave in a righteous manner toward Him.

There are other relationships, subordinate to our relationship with our Abba, and these also must be righteous. If you say that they are ALREADY righteous, I would ask you to look at your dissatisfaction with some of the relationship choices of people you find yourself in disagreement with on this forum and ask yourself if you see those choices as being already in line with love – already experientially righteous. And whether they would see all of your choices as in line with love.

I think that righteousness, like holiness, is an already and not yet kind of thing. Yes, we are righteous. Yes we are becoming righteous. Yes we are holy. Yes we are becoming holy. We must PRESENT our members as instruments of righteousness unto holiness. Otherwise why does Paul tell us to present our members? Is that legalism? A new law? IMO, it isn’t. We present and His grace allows and enables us to do it.

Jesus told the lame, “Take up your bed and walk.” And that’s what they did. Could they have done it without His command? Absolutely not. Did the power of God bodily lift them against their will, or without their purposing to obey? We are given no indication of that whatsoever. The text leads me to believe that they cooperated not only by failing to resist but also by actively obeying. They could not have obeyed without divine favour and enablement, yet I suspect they were nevertheless given the task to engage their wills toward obeying the command.

While there are significant areas where we DO disagree, AU, I suspect that this isn’t really one of those areas. It’s just hard to express (for me at least) this concept. Paul took whole epistles – like Romans, for one – to explain it. I’m probably not going to accomplish what he did, and certainly not in only a few paragraphs.

To sum up, I believe that there is a give and take here between Father and us. Like lightning. The sky calls to the earth and the earth responds and this repeats until a channel is established. And then, POWER! Perhaps the earth has no strength to resist the call or to resist its own response – but it does respond – and if it does not respond, there is no channel and no exchange of power between heaven and earth.

repentance, ie metanoia, is about changing one’s mind. i’d say the gospel is all about changing our minds.

Hello Cindy,

We are probably very close on this. Grace is a subject I am diversely and well studied concerning and it is a subject that like quantum physics just does not seem intuitive and works against our common sense in many cases. Whether you agree or not, may you indulge me for a moment.

I contend we are already perfect, the reason why Paul was working so hard, teaching, admonishing every person, was because they (we) didn’t know it.

Colossians 1:28
We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ.

If you didn’t know you were perfect, you most definitely would be striving for perfection, something which you are unable to do in the first place. If you are striving for perfection, then you are working, and if you are working then it is not by grace but by works you have done it.

Romans 11:6
But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.

We are declared righteous (in right standing with God) by faith and not of ourselves (not our faith!)

Galatians 3:11
Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, “ THE RIGHTEOUS MAN SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.”.

So how can we walk by faith that we are already righteous, if we had no reason to believe it. Grace is that reason, it is by His grace, His unmerited favour, that we know that we are righteous and by faith we walk by it.

We need to learn to behave in a righteous manner toward Him, not because we are not righteous and need to be, but because we are already righteous and so act accordingly.

Ephesians 2:10
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

Ah, that has nothing to do with not being righteous and even Jesus did not please people according to his actions and words and yet He was the most righteous of them all. That is why the righteous walk by faith and not by sight. You are looking for evidence to prove a person is not righteous because they do not behave righteously at all times? That is what it means to fall from grace, because you have returned to the law and now judge righteousness. Our righteousness is like dirty rags and therefore you will always find an impasse.

Romans 3:19-28
Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God; because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.

But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a [n]propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who [q]has faith in Jesus.

Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.

It is an already thing, but yet to be realized not by God, but we who are walking daily we are righteous, not working towards or striving to be righteous, we are righteous because of nothing we have done but because of what God has done. If we were not declared righteous, then we are not reconciled and if we are not reconciled then our hope of salvation is based solely on us and if it was based on us, we will surely fail.

Romans 6:17-19
But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in holiness.

We have already been declared righteous, Cindy. Your analogy works, but not in your support. If we are declared righteous, what are we? We are righteous! We have been already declared righteous and therefore we are, now get up and walk.


Yes, this give and take however is not concerning our standing with God and therefore is irrelevant to whether or not we are righteous. Whether you are lame and healed and choose to remain sitting, does not mean you were not healed, you just did not get to enjoy the blessings that come with someone who accepts they are healed and lives their life accordingly.

That is what grace is, and more and this is the root core of what true repentance means and not what traditional western Christianity teaches.

Paul didn’t consider himself already perfect.

…that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that if possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. (Philippians 3:10-12 RSV)

Okay, I’m going to let Paidion engage you on this one, AU, if he’s so inclined. I feel sure he’s better equipped than me to do it. I don’t think there’s half an inch of difference between us on this point and it’s hard for me to see what you’re disagreeing with. Fine points of words we may not even define the same way.

We are not personally perfect Paidon, maybe you should read all the discussion better, and perhaps check the context of his words in Philippians 3 which Paul is talking about the flesh and why we should not put confidence in it.

Philippians 3:8-10
What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.

I explained why we are perfect and what the caveat of such a claim comes from, Paul believed the same and was able to distinguish between the two natures at war.

Romans 7:21-25
So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.

Neither Paul or myself are perfect on our own and an honest man will tell you he is not perfect, but that is why the righteous live by faith.

Hebrews 10:14
For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.

So he HAS made perfect forever, we who are BEING made holy.

1 Corinthians 1:29-31
But it is from Him that you have your life in Christ Jesus, Whom God made our Wisdom from God, [revealed to us a knowledge of the divine plan of salvation previously hidden, manifesting itself as] our Righteousness [thus making us upright and putting us in right standing with God], and our Consecration [making us pure and holy], and our Redemption [providing our ransom from eternal penalty for sin]. So then, as it is written, Let him who boasts and proudly rejoices and glories, boast and proudly rejoice and glory in the Lord.

Colossians 1:28
Him we preach and proclaim, warning and admonishing everyone and instructing everyone in all wisdom (comprehensive insight into the ways and purposes of God), that we may present every person perfect in Christ (the Anointed One).

Philipians 4:8-9 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.