Godly Sorrow, Repentance, and Salvation
A TWOFOLD TURN
Repentance and faith are in fact the constituent elements of conversion, when viewed from the standpoint of man's experience. For what is conversion but "turning," and what is "to be converted" but "to turn"? The Greek verb is often used in the New Testament in secular, non-theological contexts to describe someone's action in turning round from one direction to another or turning from one place to another. When used in more technical, theological passages the verb has the same meaning. "You turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God." "You were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of souls" (1 Thes. 1:9; 1 Pet. 2:25).
Conversion therefore involves a twofold turn, a turn from idols and from sin on the one hand, and a turn to the living God and to the Savior or Shepherd of souls on the other. The "turn away" the New Testament calls repentance; the "turn toward" the New Testament calls faith. So repentance plus faith equals conversion, and no man dare say he is converted who has not repented as well as believed.
-- John Stott, "Must Christ Be Lord and Savior?" ETERNITY, September 1959.
MEMORY AND REPENTANCE
Memory is a precious and blessed gift. Nothing can stab the conscience so wide awake as memories of the past. The shortest road to repentance is remembrance. Let someone once recall what they used to be and reflect on what by God's grace they could be, and they will be led to repent, turning from their sin to their Savior.
-- John Stott, WHAT CHRIST THINKS OF THE CHURCH. Wheaton: Harold Shaw, revised and illustrated, 1990, p. 86. First published 1959.
REMISSION AND REPENTANCE
The gospel offer is not unconditional. It does not benefit its hearers willy nilly, "whether they hear or refuse to hear." It is clear that sinners cannot be forgiven if they persist in clinging to their sins. If they desire God to turn from their sins in remission, they must themselves turn from them in repentance. We are charged, therefore, to proclaim the condition as wells as the promise of forgiveness. Remission is the gospel offer; repentance is the gospel demand.
-- John Stott, "The Great Commission," in ONE RACE, ONE GOSPEL, ONE TASK. Edited by C. F. Henry and W. S. Mooneyham. Minneapolis: World Wide Publications, 1967, p. 53.
GODLY SORROW, REPENTANCE,
AND SALVATION: 2 CORINTHIANS 7:10 (in three translations)
Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. (NIV)
Distress that drives us to God does that. It turns us around. It gets us back in the way of salvation. We never regret that kind of pain. But those who let distress drive them away from God are full of regrets, end up on a deathbed of regrets. (THE MESSAGE)
For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death. (NEW LIVING TRANSLATION)
JOHN STOTT AUDIO SERMON
Have you ever heard John Stott preach? Perhaps you would enjoy listening to a message on worship from Romans 11:33-36. If so, please go to
and click on "John Stott--Worship." Or go directly to the audio file at www.sbts.edu/mp3/icw/Stott1.mp3 . This recording is available through the generosity of the tape ministry of All Souls Church, Langham Place, London.
Have a great week.
Director, Institute for Christian Worship
School of Church Music and Worship
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
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