Expositional commentary on Scripture using an inductive exegetical methodology intent upon confronting the lives of Christians with the dogmatic Truths of God's inspired Words opposing Calvinism and Arminianism, Biblical commentary, doctrine of grace enablement, understanding holiness and wisdom and selfishness, in-depth Bible studies, adult Bible Study books and Sunday School materials Dr. Lance T. Ketchum Line Upon Line: I.False Repentance

Monday, March 11, 2019

I.False Repentance

Why We are Failing the Great Commission
I. False Repentance

 “Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21).

          In this text, we see “repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.”  The Greek word metánoia (met-an’-oy-ah) is translated repentance in the KJV.  “Repentance toward God” MUST precede “faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.”  The most common meaning of metánoia (met-an’-oy-ah) is reversal, or turning, that begins with a change of mind/attitude.  Many are trying to reduce the meaning of the word repentance to be merely a change of mind requiring no future evident corresponding change in actions or direction.  To allow for this latter definition of repentance is to generate a false kind of repentance.  Because of this false repentance, which requires no corresponding turning away.  Therefore, there are many false professions of faith and false salvation decisions. 

          “Repentance toward God” is the outcome of understanding what condemns every person.  Repentance is a solemn decision born out of the understanding of the severity of eternal condemnation – ETERNAL SEPARATION FROM GOD (“death”).  Repentance is remorse that seeks to escape the pending danger of condemnation by turning from the danger to seek the solution; “faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.”  There needs to be considerable depth to a person’s understanding of what eternally condemns his soul to eternal separation from God before genuine repentance can be created.  Failure to explain the doctrine of condemnation to people, i.e., what condemns them, is central to why repentance is not generated, or why false repentance is generated.  

The explanation of condemnation MUST include the explanation of sin and the Fall of humanity, God’s curse of the whole first creation, as well as the false religious solutions invented by humanity to correct God’s condemnation.

1. There must be a thorough explanation that all people are condemned to eternal separation from God.  It must be explained that we are all sinners (“dead in trespasses and sin,” Ephesians 2:1), and all are contaminated with a sin nature (Romans 3:23 and 5:12).  Genuine repentance is birth out of understanding the hopelessness of this situation apart from God’s solution in the incarnation, death, burial, resurrection, and glorification of Jesus Christ. 
2. Secondly, there must be a thorough explanation that mere belief in God, attempts at Moralism, and/or participation in some religious ritual (sacrifice or sacrament) CANNOT correct God’s condemnation of sinners.  This thorough explanation will generate repentance of these nonsensical religious solutions to a hopeless situation.  Genuine repentance always includes a turning from religion as a solution to condemnation.  

          Therefore, there is a two-fold requirement of genuine repentance necessary to genuine faith and salvation.  There must be repentance of sin AND repentance of “dead works” (Hebrews 6:1) Repentance of sin is not a promise to God to stop sinning.  Such a promise would be futile and empty because there would be no possibility of being able to keep such a promise.  

Repentance of sin is primarily an understanding of what sin is, of God’s hatred of sin, and the consequences of sin both in the curse (condemnation) and spiritual death to any hope of righteousness apart from regeneration.  Repentance of sin is a change of thinking and attitude about sin that corresponds with God’s thinking and attitude about sin.  Therefore, repentance of sin begins to take steps to avoid sin and live according to God’s will.  These steps to avoid sin and live according to God’s will are outcomes of genuine repentance.  If these steps to avoid sin and live according to God’s will are never outcomes, there should be serious concern about the reality of genuine repentance. 

          One of the greatest sins against the holiness of God is the idea that somehow a person who, by the very nature of his being a sinner, can be morally good.  How can a sinner by nature (thoughts, emotions, and actions) somehow be moral enough to deserve pardon from God?  This is the foolish sin of Moralism.  Moralism is the sin where one person compares himself to someone who lives immorally (Romans 1:24-32) and then thinks that God must favor the more moral person.  God addresses this foolish and false hypothetical in Romans 2:1-4. 

1 Therefore thou art inexcusable {no defense}, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest {in that all humanity is conceived as sinners, the moment you judge another human being to deserve condemnation, you judge yourself to deserve condemnation}: for wherein thou judgest {condemn, decree punishment} another, thou condemnest {condemn or sentence} thyself; for thou that judgest doest {practice} the same things. 2 But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit {practice; the point is to the knowledge by the human conscience, which KNOWS one’s self to be a sinner by the very nature of the lusts that flow from one’s mind and emotions} such things. 3 And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest {practice} the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? 4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance {a complete change of attitude and thinking regarding one’s own morality}” (Romans 2:1-4)?

          The second greatest sin against a holy God is that somehow practicing some religious ritual, offering an animal sacrifice, praying, doing penance, or keeping holy feast days can rectify or atone for the sins that condemn humanity.  Religion, as a solution to condemnation, keeps more people lost in their sins than any other deception.  Jesus rebuked the Pharisees who believed this nonsense; “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves” (Matthew 23:15).  Paul addresses this fallacy in Romans 3:19-20. 

19 Now we know {perfect tense; i.e., with finality and complete assurance} that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law {those looking to the Law as a solution to sin and for their own redemption}: that every mouth may be stopped {blocked or shut up; the implication is standing before the Judge with no defense or ability to defend against the accusation of sin} , and all the world may become guilty before God {if a person knows the Law, that person knows he is a sinner and is therefore defenseless regarding his innocence}. 20 Therefore by the deeds of the law {keeping commandments, offering sacrifices, and observing the holy days} there shall no flesh be justified in his sight {the all-seeing, all-knowing God}: for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:19-20).

In August of 1994, Bill Bright and Billy Graham, through Campus Crusade for Christ, published a Bible track called The Four Spiritual Laws.  The problem with these Four Spiritual Laws is that just about any denomination could use them without any necessity to repent of their beliefs regarding grace plus moralism or sacramentalism.  This ambiguity was purposeful and intentionally focused upon some degree of commonality within Ecumenicism due to the Ecumenical nature of Graham’s city-wide crusades.  It has been estimated that over 2.5 billion of these tracks have been distributed worldwide in over 200 different languages.  


The tragedy of these Four Spiritual Laws is that this approach created thousands upon thousands of false professions of faith because of false repentance of sin and complete negligence regarding any mention of the necessity for repentance from “dead works” (religion).  As a result, because most local churches do not carefully examine the testimonies and understanding of terminology of people seeking church membership, local churches became filled with people of which the majority were never truly “born again.”  Almost every Bible believer would agree with every one of these Four Spiritual Laws.  This became the foundation of Ecumenical Positivism.  The problem is not in what the Four Spiritual Laws say.  The problem is in WHAT THEY DO NOT SAY!




1. God loves you and created you to know Him personally.

2. Man is sinful and separated from God, so we cannot know Him personally or experience His love.
3. Jesus Christ is God’s only provision for man’s sin.  Through Him alone we can know God personally and experience God’s love.
4. We must individually receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord; then we can know God personally and experience His love. [1]
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Numerous studies and series are available free of charge for local churches at: http://www.disciplemakerministries.org/ 
Dr. Lance Ketchum serves the Lord as a Church Planter, Evangelist/Revivalist. 
He has served the Lord for over 40 years.

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