Tag Archives: Faith Alone

“Unless you repent, you will…perish” Part 2

I want to begin by providing several citations from some of the most notable Christian confessions and historic church documents that discuss the concept of repentance. Although Historic creeds and confessions are not the ultimate standard of orthodoxy, they do provide helpful insight as to what the Scriptures teach on a particular doctrine, and they also teach us what the early church fathers, in whose shoulders we stand on today, believed in regards to key aspects of doctrine, theology and Christian living.

The Augsberg Confession (1530)

Article 22:

Now, repentance consists properly of these two parts: One is contrition, that is, terrors smiting the conscience through the knowledge of sin; the other is faith, which is born of the Gospel, or of absolution, and believes that for Christ’s sake, sins are forgiven, comforts the conscience, and delivers it from terrors. Then good works are bound to follow, which are the fruits of repentance.

The Westminster Confession faith (1646) & The Baptist Confession of Faith (1689)

Of Repentance unto life:

I. Repentance unto life is an evangelical grace, the doctrine whereof is to be preached by every minister of the Gospel, as well as that of faith in Christ.

II. By it, a sinner, out of the sight and sense not only of the danger, but also of the filthiness and odiousness of his sins, as contrary to the holy nature, and righteous law of God; and upon the apprehension of His mercy in Christ to such as are penitent, so grieves for, and hates his sins, as to turn from them all unto God, purposing and endeavouring to walk with Him in all the ways of His commandments.

III. Although repentance is not to be rested in, as any satisfaction for sin, or any cause of the pardon thereof, which is the act of God’s free grace in Christ, yet it is of such necessity to all sinners, that none may expect pardon without it.

IV. As there is no sin so small, but it deserves damnation; so there is no sin so great, that it can bring damnation upon those who truly repent.

V. Men ought not to content themselves with a general repentance, but it is every man’s duty to endeavor to repent of his particular sins, particularly.

VI. As every man is bound to make private confession of his sins to God, praying for the pardon thereof; upon which, and the forsaking of them, he shall find mercy;  so he that scandelizeth his brother, or the Church of Christ, ought to be willing, by a private or public confession and sorrow for his sin, to declare his repentance to those that are offended; who are thereupon to be reconciled to him, and in love to receive him.

The Westminster Shorter Catechism (1647)

Q. 85. What doth God require of us, that we may escape his wrath and curse, due to us for sin?
A. To escape the wrath and curse of God, due to us for sin, God requireth of us faith in Jesus Christ, repentance unto life, with the diligent use of all the outward means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption.

Q. 86. What is faith in Jesus Christ?
A. Faith in Jesus Christ is a saving grace, whereby we receive and rest upon him alone for salvation, as he is offered to us in the gospel.

Q. 87. What is repentance unto life?
A. Repentance unto life is a saving grace, whereby a sinner, out of a true sense of his sin, and apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ, doth, with grief and hatred of his sin, turn from it unto God, with full purpose of, and endeavor after, new obedience.


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“Unless you repent, you will…perish”

“Unless you repent, you will…perish.” (Luke 13:3) Wait, did Jesus forget that we are saved solely by our faith in Him? What is this notion of repentance? One of the essential doctrines of the Reformation was the concept of salvation by faith alone (sola fide). But why did Luther assert in his 95 Theses, “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, ‘Repent’, he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance”? This sounds more like faith plus repentance; hence, faith is no longer alone, but it is accompanied with repentance. So is salvation contingent on repentance rather than on faith alone?  What exactly is repentance and what does it mean? What role does repentance play in how a person obtains forgiveness of sins and eternal life? I will be writing several blogs throughout the next upcoming weeks addressing many of these questions and more, as it relates to the doctrine of repentance.

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Sola Christus

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Tomorrow we celebrate another year of the Reformation, unequivocally the most important day for protestant Christianity. Here at 121 we have paid homage by posting on the 5 solas of the reformation, this post will concentrate on the most important of the 5: Sola Christus. For Christ is Lord, Head of the body of Christ, Chief Cornerstone, focal point of the Holy Scriptures, and the object of our affection. Truly, we are saved by grace alone through faith alone, but only because of Christ alone. We were estranged and alienated from the Father deserving only His wrath, but because of the richness of His mercy, He sent His son to the cross in our stead. You alone Lord are worthy of honor and praise, for without you O King we are nothing.  

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Sola Fide

Sola fide or faith alone is a key point of difference between not only Protestants and Catholics but between biblical Christianity and almost all other religions and teachings. The teaching that we are declared righteous by God (justified) on the basis of our faith alone and not by works is a key doctrine of the Bible and a line that divides most cults from biblical Christianity. While most religions and cults teach men what works they must do to be saved, the Bible teaches that we are not saved by works, but by God’s grace through His gift of faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). Biblical Christianity is distinct from every other religion in that it is centered on what God has accomplished through Christ’s finished work, while all other religions are based on human achievement. If we abandon the doctrine of justification by faith, we abandon the only way of salvation. “Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness” (Romans 4:4-5). The Bible teaches that those that trust Jesus Christ for justification by faith alone are imputed with His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21), while those who try to establish their own righteousness or mix faith with works will receive the punishment due to all who fall short of God’s perfect standard. 

Sola fide—the doctrine of justification by faith alone apart from works—is simply recognizing what is taught over and over in Scripture—that at some point in time God declares ungodly sinners righteous by imputing Christ’s righteousness to them (Romans 4:5, 5:8, 5:19). This happens apart from any works and before the individual actually begins to become righteous. This is an important distinction between Catholic theology that teaches righteous works are meritorious towards salvation and Protestant theology that affirms the biblical teaching that righteous works are the result and evidence of a born-again person who has been justified by God and regenerated by the power of the Holy Spirit.

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The Nicodemus Syndrome

The Nicodemus Syndrome has been something quite prevalent in the Christian church througout its history. The Nicodemus Syndrome is a phrase I coined for those who have an intellectual belief in God but lack biblical saving faith as Nicodemus did; we all know that He was later saved, helping Joseph bring down the body of Christ off the cross and placing it in the tomb and therefore fulfilling Isaiah 53. The text coming from John chapter 3, we can see that Nicodemus came to Jesus proclaiming that He was a Rabbi, a teacher, come from God, and that no one can do the things He did unless God was with Him. All these things being true Jesus’ replied to him saying “Thou must be born again.” In greek Jesus’ words would have been anothen meaning “born again from above”. Nicodemus astonished said “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” and later in the discourse Jesus replies “are you a master of Israel and do not know these things?” You see Nicodemus, like many in Christianity had an intellectual belief in Jesus only; he heard Jesus’ teaching and saw the miracles He did, but lacked one vital piece of the puzzle. Saving faith.


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