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Doctrine of Salvation - Conversion & Repentance

February 13, 2022 Series: Great Doctrines of the Christian Faith

Scripture: Matthew 13:1–31

Quote - Thomas Manton

A godly man is afraid of losing God, and a carnal man is afraid of finding him. The voice of slavish fear is, ‘Hide us from the face of him that sits upon the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb,’ Rev. 6:16. But true fear is afraid lest God should hide himself — afraid lest God should ­shut up himself in a veil of displeasure. Observe that place: Hosea 3:5, ‘They shall seek the Lord their God, and David their king, and they shall fear the Lord and his goodness.’ That filial fear which arises from the goodness of God makes us seek God and run after him. It is a blessed fear that drives us to seek the face of God, and bring us into his presence.


Last week we discussed the doctrine of Regeneration.

We learned:

  • Regeneration is not conditioned on man’s will
    • It is conditioned upon an act of God.
  • Regeneration is an internal work
  • Regeneration is a new birth
    • The Holy Spirit regenerates in internal calling,
    • The Holy Spirit frees man from the bondage of sin
  • Regeneration is a new heart
  • Regeneration is a new nature
  • Regeneration is a new life
    • This results in a change in the whole character of man
    • It is a change in the disposition
    • It is a change in the desires
    • It is a change in the behaviors
  • This results in a desire to walk in obedience to Christ, enjoying His fellowship (Heb 12:14)

The Spirit always does the regenerating work and gives faith and repentance to those who are called according to His purpose.

  • Romans 1:6-7
  • Romans 8:30
  • Romans 9:23-24
  • Galatians 1:15- 16
  • Ephesians 4:4 – There is one true calling of God which results in hope and faith.
  • 2 Timothy 1:9 – Conversion comes through the internal work of God.


What is conversion?

  • Conversion is an intentional act of God
    • Whereby the regenerated, in their conscious life, turn toward to God in faith and repentance.
  • It is a conscious turning of an individual to God in with faith and repentance.
  • God is the author of conversion

The author of conversion is God

  • Man does not convert himself.
  • Man does not mentally change his own mind. Acts 11:18
  • It is God who granted their understanding and repentance that leads to life.
    • The Spirit enlightens them
    • The Spirit teaches them

2 Timothy 2:25

  • Man cannot repent unless God granted them by the quickening work of the Holy Spirit.
  • Men can't repent on their own.
  • Man cannot exercise faith on their own.
  • God must provide the repentance and the faith for him.
  • God must, through the application of redemption, give the elements necessary to accept and place faith in the Redeemer.
  • God uses the foolishness of preaching
    • It is not the preaching that converts
    • It is not anything that we do which enables a man to be saved
  • It is God's Spirit using the word that is preached.
  • God grants to man, in conversion
    • repentance -> that they may turn from their sin
    • faith -> that they may believe that which is promised according to the word
  • It takes place in a moment, in an instant
  • It takes place only once in a person's lifetime.
  • It is not repeated.
  • It is not something that happens over time like continual, progressive sanctification

Conversion is used in 3 different senses in the Bible

In Reference to National Conversion.

  • An entire nation is affected -> Jonah 3:1-10
  • It is a conscious turning away of a nation from sin
  • It is a realization that what was once being done can no longer be done
  • It is a turning away from what is evil and turning towards what is good
  • Other examples can be seen in the days of Hezekiah and Josiah
    • But these may not have always been true conversions of all since when wicked rulers replaced the righteous ones, the people readily followed

In Reference to Temporal Conversion

  • It is a conversion with no real change of heart
  • It is only a temporary change
    • it could last years or days....there is no time requirement
  • It does have an outward expression of change
  • It is a temporary conversion that does not last.

Matthew 13 – Seed on the stony ground

  • He who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy. Yet it has no root in him.
  • He endures for a only while but stumbles when tribulation and persecution arises

Hebrews 6:4-6

  • Those who who walk in the Covenant and seem to be converted
  • They are visible church members.
  • They are tasting of the promise of the covenant
  • Yet they are not truly the redeemed of the Covenant

1 Timothy 1:19,20 - Hymenaeus and Alexander

1 John 2:19  - they went out from us…

In Reference to True Conversion

  • It is a change of heart which is evident in the conscience
  • It is a godly sorrow and results in a life dedicated to God
  • It is a change of life by an outward expression
  • It is someone who turns to, recognizes, and embraces Christ

Acts 9:1-5

  • This is a perfect example of a biblical conversion
  • Saul was intent upon persecuting members of the way.
  • Saul is visited by the Lord Jesus Christ
  • Christ comes as a light He strikes him down
  • Saul immediately recognizes the conversion in his life
  • He consciously expresses it outwardly
  • He immediately recognizes who the light was.

Acts 2:42-47

  • Conversion leads to a conscious life in Christ
  • They consciously understood the teaching of God's word and they were obedient.
  • They were baptized.
  • They were added to the church as members
  • They continued steadfastly in the apostle’s doctrine, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayer
  • They became obedient unto their duties and obligations of the Covenant.
    • includes fellowship
    • includes doctrine
    • includes prayer
    • includes teaching of the word
    • includes sacraments

Conversion is a conscious quickening

  • in which man realizes his need for Christ
  • in which man turns unto God for salvation.
  • In which man is called upon to actively respond and participate
  • It is more that just a mere change in the mind but it also brings with it a “clearly perceived aversion to the former direction” - Louis Berkhof
  • We will see that conversion has both negative and positive aspects - it both backwards and forwards
  • Whereas before, man was completely passive
  • Whereas now, man must engage
    • In repentance
    • In faith

Conversion has two elements

These are the 2 elements of conversion: repentance and faith.

The Elements of Repentance

Repentance is a change in the consciousness of man where by he grieves and sorrows over his sin and turns away from it towards God

There is an Intellectual Element repentance.

  • It is a change concerning the past life
  • It is a recognition of sin in that past life
  • It involves a recognition of personal guilt, defilement, and hopelessness.
  • It primarily denotes a change in mind
  • He understands that he is guilty and defiled and helpless, and he needs a redeemer.

Romans 12:1-2

  • The renewing of the Spirit of God causes them to walk in repentance.
  • It is as if I am walking in the world of sin and darkness, blind to choices I am making, and then through the converting work of the Spirit, I am renewed and then I turn from sin unto righteous in Jesus Christ.
  • Now I am walking in the newness of life of Jesus Christ.
  • I have repented.
  • I have turned from the way of sin onto the new man the new way the new life in Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 1:1-10

  • The same concept of repentance
  • Christ has changed you
  • Christ has moved you from the direction of wickedness back to a direction of righteous.
  • We have repented from this way.
  • We have repented from this world in which we sought to gratify our self.
  • We sought to walk according to the power of the prince of the air, the spirit of disobedience as children of wrath.
  • We now consciously understand that is not our way of life, through the converting work of the Spirit.
  • We turn from sin
  • We walk in the teaching of God's Holy Word
  • We put on the mind of Christ

There is an Emotional Element of repentance

  • It is distinctly set forth as the sorrow one expresses for his sin committed against a wholly sovereign God.
  • It is an emotional sorrow.
  • We do not want to transgress against a holy sovereign God.
  • It is contradictory to the very nature of God for us who claim the name of Christ to live in sin

2 Corinthians 7:9-10

  • There is an emotional desire that we seek not to commit sin against our God
  • In conversion we weep
  • In conversion we are sorrowful unto God In conversion we express that sorrow.
  • Forgive us, God, for walking in the way of sin and unrighteousness.
  • Help us, God, to cling on to you in the purity of truth.
  • In conversion, one no longer desires the world but instead desires truth and life and Jesus Christ.

There is a Volitional Element of repentance.

  • It consists of a change of purpose
  • It consists of a turning from sin to seek pardon and cleansing of the Spirit.
  • It consists of an actual desire to pursue newness of life

Acts 2:36-41

  • There is a concern, a change of purpose.
  • They want to turn from the way of sin
  • They want to turn to the way of righteousness
  • In the context of the covenant promise.
    • Peter says repent from your non covenantal keeping way
    • Repent from the way of breaking God's Covenant instead to become keepers of the covenant through Jesus Christ
  • Repentance is a part of the Christian doctrine of salvation.
    • Men must repent.
    • Men must be converted
    • Men must turn from the ways of lawlessness that break the covenant of God
    • Men must turn to a covenant keeping relationship.
  • There is a new path
    • a new direction of life
    • a new purpose
  • They are to apply the principles
    • of repentance of turning away from the world
    • of turning into Christ
    • of bringing all things done throughout the world unto Christ
  • The covenant has an effect upon us in how we live out our lives through the Redeemer Jesus Christ.
  • There is a responsibility to turn away from wickedness
    • Before, their whole life was enmity with God.
    • Before, their whole life was one of being a covenant breaker.
  • There is a responsibility to turn and follow after righteousness.


Conversion is an act of God

  • by which He converts and changes the life of man
  • by which the quickening and regenerating work of the Holy Spirit becomes conscious immediately in man’s life.

That something has changed.

  • That there has been a renewing and opening of the eyes of the sinner
  • That the sinner no longer can walk in darkness.
  • That the sinner turns and repents from the way of the world
  • That the sinner turns to a life in Jesus Christ.
    • by which man sees that the hope of life is based on the object of revelation from the Spirit of God
    • from which he is given faith
    • from which he is given confidence from which he is able to believe what God has said about his mediator

It involves regeneration and faith

  • it requires a definite act of man that is enabled by the grace of God

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