Q. I know how strongly you believe in OSAS. But what about “believers” who have never been taught about the need for repentance? Isn’t it true that no repentance is evidence of no conviction, which means no conversion? These people may think they’re saved for ever, but are they?
A. If you look up the meaning of the Greek word translated repent you’ll find the common understanding of repentance is not consistent with the Greek word from which it comes. The word is “metanoeo” and literally means to change one’s mind about something. It is not connected to changing behavior.
Every born again believer has changed his or her mind about several things pertaining to salvation;
1. that he or she is a sinner in need of a savior and is hopelessly lost without one (Romans 3:23),
2. that Jesus died for his or her sins and has agreed to be that savior (John 3:16),
3. that God will immediately and unconditionally grant salvation to everyone who asks in faith (Matt. 7:7-8).
These are things unbelievers don’t accept. Therefore, according to a correct understanding of the word, every born again believer has repented.
This is the reason that repentance was more strongly emphasized among the Jews (Acts 2:38) than among the Gentiles (Romans 10:9). Jews had been (incorrectly) taught that their salvation was solely dependent upon their obedience to the Law and needed to change their minds about their need for a savior. Most Gentiles had not been taught anything about salvation and didn’t need to change their minds.
It is true that most believers will find their behavior changing after being saved. But that’s a response to the Holy Spirit’s prompting and is evidence of their gratitude for the free gift they’ve received. It’s the effect of their salvation, not a condition for receiving it.