If a cloud of ambiguity hovers around our understanding of repentance, it might have to do with how we understand faith.
We’re reminded of Luther’s introductory words, unfolding into 94 other theses nailed to the door at Wittenberg: “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said ‘Repent,’ he intended that the entire life of believers should be repentance.”
Our entire lives repentance? In one sense, we understand what he means. We should continually be turning from sin toward Jesus. The one great business of the Christian life is, as John Flavel puts it, to “preserve our souls from sin and maintain sweet communion with God.” In other words, we mortify and vivify, we put off and put on.
But our entire lives? Even if we sign off on this theologically, chances are that few us make this the practical work of our Christian existence, at least not explicitly. Few of us would answer, if asked to describe what it means to be a Christian, “You repent all the time.” Sure, we repent. When we sin — when we are convicted of our sin — we repent. But it’s probably a far cry from our “entire life.” Continue reading →