“Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham.”
- Luke 3:8
“Doing right is not the way into the Kingdom; but it is the way of life in the Kingdom. It is not the condition of regeneration, but it is its inevitable consequence and invariable accompaniment.”
- Sinclair Ferguson, Children of the Living God, p. 69
“But nonexistence of remorse makes repentance impossible, and nonexistence of repentance makes forgiveness impossible.”
- J.I. Packer, Concise Theology, p. 245
“We cannot be saved from sin without recognizing the awful evil of our sin, hating it with our whole soul, and earnestly desiring to be delivered not only from its guilt but also from its power. That is to say, we cannot be saved from sin while we desire and intend to continue in sin. If we are to escape God’s wrath and curse, we must turn from our sins to God.”
- Johannes Vos, The Westminster Larger Catechism Commentary, p. 432
“Repentance is not just believing that one is a sinner, or feeling sorry for one’s sin, or even hating them. It is the very act of turning away from them. To turn from sin is to turn to goodness.”
- John Frame, The Doctrine of the Christian Life, p. 331
“When a preacher of righteousness has stood in the way of sinners, he should never again open his lips in the great congregation until his repentance is as notorious as his sin.”
- John Angell James, quoted by Charles Spurgeon in Lectures to my Students, p. 9
As the 19th century preacher Charles Spurgeon stood to exhort young preachers, he warned them to keep watch over both their souls and their lives. He specifically warned them about notorious sins and their effect. Said Spurgeon, there are certain sins which disqualify men from pastoral ministry and do not discount the importance of reputation. He said, “Alas, the beard of reputation, once shorn is hard to grow again.” His encouragement in this came from another preacher, John Angell James, who said that one’s repentance should became as notorious as one’s sin. These are important and wise words for us. The glory of God in the saving work of Christ is reflected in ’notorious’ repentance. Think of David. Think of Zachaeus. Think of Peter. Think of Nicodemus. Think of Lydia. And think of the Philippian jailer. These saints are recorded in the annals of Holy Scripture by their acts of ‘notorious’ repentance. Their acts of repentance are a demonstration of the powerful and effectual work of the Holy Spirit.
As we consider our own lives may our repentance be pervasive, radical, and notorious. When others think of us may they see the Spirit’s work in vibrancy, in life, and in turning from sin in a manner that calls attention to the pervasive, radical and saving nature of God’s work through the gospel. May God keep tepid and shallow repentance far from us. Please pray that our repentance will become as notorious as our sins.