October 17, 2017

More on Repentance

With Dr. John Mincy

Recently we published an article by John Mincy on the topic of repentance. A blogger has since picked up on it with an article demonstrating a poor understanding of Dr. Mincy’s point. We offer here some comments by Dr. Mincy intending to add clarity to the original article and rebut some of the allegations made against it.

P&D: Dr. Mincy, your recent article on repentance has drawn some criticism. Could you expand on your views of repentance for our readers?

My article is no denial of the need for personal repentance. It is an affirmation that pre-cross preaching on repentance was primarily directed to the nation of Israel urging them to return to the God of their covenant. The prophets’ preaching was directed to restore Israel to their God that He might bless them as a nation over their enemies. In order for an Israelite to go to heaven he, of course, must have his heart right with the Lord regardless of Israel’s relationship to YHWH. The Lord and John the Baptist were in the same vein, urging the nation to get their hearts ready for the Kingdom. In some cases it would take personal salvation and for others who were already right with God to clean up their lives. Every Jew was expected to be baptized by John and respond properly, whether or not that person was previously right with God. Even the perfect Lord Jesus demanded to be baptized by John to demonstrate His approval of this national call.

Justification repentance is a result of being convicted that I am a sinner, a person without hope apart from the grace of God. My very nature is an affront to the holy God. I must abandon (turn away from) all hope of being accepted by God by anything I can do (my dead works as mentioned in Hebrews 6:1) and turn to and cast myself upon the mercy of God as offered to me in the person and work of Jesus Christ. This is the emphasis of post-cross evangelistic preaching.

P&D: Some criticism was made of your citation of Geerhardus Vos in your paragraph defining “justification repentance.” The citation has drawn some criticism. Could you explain what you were getting at with that citation?

[Full citation: Geerhardes Vos writes of the difference between Christian and non-Christian repentance: “To the non-Christian mind, repentance took place from one act to another, or from one source of action to another only. The cause of this difference is found in the lack on the pagan side [of a] comprehensive conception of sin. Where ‘sin’ in its comprehensive sense is not known, then real repentance cannot develop, even as a conception.”[1]]

My reference to Vos was to use his helpful explanation of the difference between sin and sins which in my view is crucial in understanding the difference between justification and sanctification repentance. Most certainly there is repentance at the point of salvation (justification) and ongoing repentance in the saved person throughout life (sanctification).

I would also like to expand my reference to John 16:8 in the original article. My interpretation of John 16:8-9 is supported by a number of commentaries (William Hendriksen, Albert Barnes, and others). Wiersbe, for example, writes: “The Holy Spirit convicts the world of one particular sin, the sin of unbelief. The law of God and the conscience of man will convict the sinner of his sins (plural) specifically; but it is the work of the Spirit, through the witness of the believers, to expose the unbelief of the lost world. After all, it is unbelief that condemns the lost sinner (John 3:18-21), not the committing of individual sins. A person could ‘clean up his life’ and quit his or her bad habits and still be lost and go to hell” (see his Bible Exposition Commentary on John 16, emphasis his).

P&D: What was your motive for writing the article in the first place?

My article grows out a concern for the abuse and misunderstanding of the phrase, “You must repent of your sins in order to be saved.” Such a statement raises questions: how many of my sins, what if I forget some, what if I commit that sin again, and so on. I began the article with an illustration along this line. Another would be the testimony of a girl who came to be saved, and in the process the counselor found out that she was engaged to a Muslim. The counselor told her to break the engagement before she could be saved.

[Illustration from the original article: Part of our problem is superimposing our ideas over the Biblical text and coming up with the interpretations that we are looking for. It seems that, as long as I can remember, there have been heated discussions on this issue. It was first brought to my attention when people were often getting “saved again” at a Baptist church nearby. When individuals were struggling with sins in their lives, they were told that it was due to the fact that they had not truly repented of those sins and therefore had not been genuinely saved.]

P&D: Could you comment on the connection between your statements in the article and your position in the FBFI?

It should be obvious that my views must not be seen as representative of the FBFI, BJU, or anyone associated with me. These are my personal views.

P&D: Any final comments?

I appreciate the criticisms. Surely iron sharpens iron.

P&D editorial comment:

As stated to an enquirer, we call the attention of our readers to our disclaimer that is attached to every post on Proclaim & Defend:

Although Proclaim & Defend is the blog of the FBFI, the articles we post are not an expression of the views of the FBFI as a whole, they are the views of the author under whose name they are published. The FBFI speaks either through position statements by its board or through its president. Here at Proclaim & Defend, we publish articles as matters of interest or edification to the wider world of fundamentalist Baptists and any others who might be interested.

Our position is that the authors published on the blog speak to the FBFI, not for the FBFI. We recognize that some may mistake our purposes in publishing a blog at all. We can’t help misperceptions, but want to take this opportunity to once again make this distinction plain to our readers.


John Mincy was a church planter in Singapore and California and is now pastor emeritus of Heritage Baptist Church in Antioch, California.

  1. Geerhardus Vos, Biblical Theology Old and New Testaments, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1948), p.424. []


Although Proclaim & Defend is the blog of the FBFI, the articles we post are not an expression of the views of the FBFI as a whole, they are the views of the author under whose name they are published. The FBFI speaks either through position statements by its board or through its president. Here at Proclaim & Defend, we publish articles as matters of interest or edification to the wider world of fundamentalist Baptists and any others who might be interested.

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