Q. I am really trying to get a handle on once saved always saved. What part does repentance play in salvation? Is repentance more than just turning from sin? Is is turning from living for ones self to living for God? If my salvation is dependent on that, I am not fairing very well!
We all know people who make a commitment to the Lord but by all appearances do not seem to feel to pressured to make changes in their lives. On the other hand, there are others that still struggle with sin even though their hearts desire is to repent and walk in God’s word. I realize that only God knows the truth of a person’s heart, and only He is the judge. However, would lack of repentance “disqualify” someone from God’s gift of salvation?
I guess what I am also asking is, does God’s free gift of salvation apply to all who accept it even without repentance?
I read your writing every day and your work has been very helpful to me!
A. In some parts of the Church the word repent has been misunderstood. It literally means to change your mind. When John the Baptist called the Jews to repent and be saved, he wasn’t telling them to clean up their lives so they would merit salvation, but to change their minds about their need for a savior.
So it is with us. When we repent, it means that we’ve changed our minds about our need for a Savior, to save us from the penalty of our sins. Cleaning up our lives is the work of the Holy Spirit and starts after we’re saved. It’s a life long process and is never complete until we’re raptured or resurrected.
And remember the Holy Spirit is called our Counselor, not our Controller. Even though we’re admonished through out the New Testament to live a life pleasing to God, we all refuse His guidance from time to time, some more than others. That’s why Jesus warned us not to judge the behavior of others unless we want our own behavior judged. (Matt. 7:1-2).
Ephesians 1:13-14 says that our salvation was guaranteed when we heard the Gospel of our salvation and believed it. Our willingness to follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance afterward will effect the rewards we receive for obedience, but not our salvation. (1 Cor. 3:10-15)