What Is Repentance? Hint: It Is Not “I’m Sorry If Anyone Was Offended”

Q. 76. What is repentance unto life?

A. Repentance unto life is a saving grace, wrought in the heart of a sinner by the Spirit and Word of God, whereby, out of the sight and sense, not only of the danger, but also of the filthiness and odiousness of his sins, and upon the apprehension of God’s mercy in Christ to such as are penitent, he so grieves for and hates his sins, as that he turns from them all to God, purposing and endeavoring constantly to walk with him in all the ways of new obedience.

—Westminster Larger Catechism (1648)

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  1. Indeed. And neither is repentance grieving for and hating someone else’s sins, and turning from someone’s else sins to God, etc.

    News flash! Westminster Confession and Catechisms to PCA General Assembly: “Next time you take up the subject of repentance, please read LC Q. 76. And SC Q. 87. And WCF Chapter XV. Try to frame your pronouncements around your confessional standards.”

    • Frank,

      One concern I have is the many expressions I saw online Saturday seeking to re-define or dumb down repentance, as if to say, “I’m sorry if anyone was offended” constitutes repentance. I thought it was useful to remind those who confess the Reformed faith how we define repentance. I don’t think that re-asserting the truth of WLC 76 somehow excludes the rest of the catechism. I agree with you that we should affirm all of it!

      As for repenting of the sins of others, that’s not implied either by what the divines wrote nor by the post. I do think, however, that we ought to be grieved as to the state of our nation and the character of too many of her leaders.

      I fear that we are getting the government we deserve.

  2. For decades, Christians have said that if our country doesn’t repent, God will judge us. I’m coming more and more to believe that the political situation this year IS the judgment of God. Whether God is “giving them [us] over” in the Romans 1 sense, or what we see around us is a more direct expression of His wrath, it’s frightening to think that we are getting the government we deserve.

    • I believe the judgment was wrought upon us in the election(s) of 2008 and 2012.

      While I know there is no direct correlation, I do pray for a new awakening of hearts. Additionally, a hope for a modern day Josiah of sorts could be a blessing on this land.

      God’s Spirit is on the move nevertheless, even if He gives over this land to its sins. There are growing pockets of Christ followers in Asia, South America and Africa. 🙂

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