Repentance Is Always Only “A Change Of Mind”

by David J. Stewart | August 2021

Acts 20:21, “Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2nd Timothy 2:25-26, “In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.”

       Dear reader, repentance in the Bible concerning salvation NEVER means anything more than a change of mind. Anybody who adds to that meaning is preaching another gospel.

I moved last month from Guam to Pensacola. I feel like a cow looking at a new gate. I have been making many sincere mistakes since I've been here. I am learning many new things. For example: I had never used a mobile phone before to answer phone calls. People were calling me and I couldn't figure out how to answer my Samsung phone, that I bought at Best Buy. I tried to call Best Buy, but couldn't get through. I tried to press the green circle, but it didn't work.

So I searched Google for “How To Answer Samsung Mobile Phone.” One website said to swipe upward, which I tried but it didn't work either. Another website said to swipe up on the white circle around the green dot, but that didn't work either. I was so frustrated, as my stupid phone rang, and I couldn't answer it. I was calling people back, to see who had called me, but was getting answering machines and voice mail. This went on for 2 weeks, until I finally had a chance to drive 30 minutes back to Best Buy where I purchased the mobile phone. As it turns out, to answer the phone you have to start at the green dot and swipe diagonally for 3 inches to the middle of the phone. Oh brother! Now I know how to answer my What the phone designer made to be simple was very difficult and a mystery for me, because I was unlearned.

I think this is a perfect illustration of what so many pastors are doing today with the Bible doctrine of repentance. What God intended to be simple they are making complicated because they are unlearned. Repentance is simply “a change of mind.” That is what the Greek word metanoia means, and nothing more. Yet I hear foolish pastors expressing their anger that someone would teach that repentance is just a change of mind. One such unreasonable pastor is Charles Lawson of the Temple Baptist Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. I love the man's preaching otherwise, but he really blows it regarding repentance and how to be saved. Respectfully, that means Pastor Lawson is not truly saved. How can he be when he is wrong on the Gospel?

Dear friend, repentance NEVER means anything more than a change of mind. But doesn't the Bible give us some indication of what we must change our mind about? Yes, the Bible does! First let's look at Acts 20:21, “Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” Here we read that repentance is “TOWARD GOD.” Amen! Now let's look at 2nd Timothy 2:25-26, “In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.” So here we learn that repentance is “TO THE ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF THE TRUTH.”

A key Scripture passage to understand Bible repentance is John 3:20-21, “For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.” So here see that repentance is when a lost person changes their thinking. Whereas before they refused to come to the light of the truth of the Gospel to be saved, now they have changed their mind TOWARD GOD AND ARE ACKNOWLEDGING THE TRUTH. They have acknowledged THE TRUTH that they are a guilty sinner (Romans 3:19-20) and are believing THE TRUTH of the Gospel to be saved. That is salvation! That is simple, free and easy.

In sharp contrast, many unlearned preachers today (both layman and pastors alike) are corrupting the Word of God and casting stumbling blocks before the people, by teaching that repentance means “turn away from your sinful ways.” False Teachers like Dr. Steve Pettit (president of Bob Jones University) and Dr. Marty Herron (Vice President of Faith Baptist Bible College And Theological Seminary) pervert the Gospel, teaching that repentance means that you must turn away from a lifestyle of sinning to get to Heaven. This is manmade righteousness, and not the imputed righteousness of God through faith alone in Jesus Christ (Romans 4:4-7). These wicked men will deceitfully claim to believe the latter, but by adding the additional requirement to turn away from your willful sinning, they have corrupted the Gospel.

Pastor Charles Lawson Gets Repentance Wrong

Dear friend, there is an entirely different mindset in the brain of someone who thinks that you cannot continue in sin and go to Heaven. They utterly fail to understand that we are saved solely on the basis of what Jesus Christ did through Calvary's cross, by the shedding of His precious blood for our sins. If YOU must turn away from your sinning to get to Heaven, then in fact you are only placing partial faith in Christ and adding your own self-righteousness. Repentance is a simple change of mind. When preachers like Pastor Lawson teach that repentance means more, they are adding to the Word of God and complicating the Gospel. Read what Pastor Lawson says for yourself:

“You've heard it defined, repentance, Bible 'repentance' as simply meaning 'a change of mind.' See, 'a change of mind.' They limit it to mean that—a change of mind, you've changed your mind. Bible repentance is far more than simply 'a change of mind.'”

SOURCE: Repentance (by Pastor Charles Lawson)

Pastor Lawson elaborates further:

“If repentance is not part of the Gospel, why did the Jews say, 'That God hath now to the Gentiles granted repentance?' If repentance is not part of the Gospel, then you're just believing some facts, and nothing goes on inside you to change who you are. The change is when you've received it into your heart and acted upon it. And once you received it into your heart and act upon it, a profound change is going to take place. Your attitude towards sin is going to change. Your attitude towards your self's going to change. Your attitude towards the world is going to change. You're going to change. That is repentance, not just changing your mind.”

SOURCE: True Repentance - - Dr. Lawson

Let's look at Acts 11:18 within its context. Acts 11:16-18, “Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost. Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God? When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.” Pastor Lawson left out verse 17. They were saved by BELIEVING ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST!!!

The word repentance in verse 18 is the Greek word metanoia, which simply means that they changed their mind. Kindly said, Pastor Lawson indicts himself when he teaches that repents is not just a change of mind. He says that YOUR attitude must also change toward sin, self and the world, so that YOU are going to change. The problem with his humanistic theology is that it attributes the changes in a person's life to SELF, YOU! This is NOT God's plan of salvation.

So what is the truth then. What saith the Scripture? Romans 12:1-2, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Here we learn that the believer's life is transformed (changed) by the renewing of our mind. Literally, when a person gets saved their mind needs to be renovated, just like an old shabby house that you just bought which needs to be fixed up. Pastor Jack Hyles gets it right, in his classic sermon called: “Your Salvation Did Not Change You A Bit.” Pastor Lawson wrongly accuses Dr. Hyles of leaving off repentance! 1st Peter 2:2, “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.” John 17:17, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” So here we learn that it is the inspired Word of God, God's truth, that renovates the believer and not the repentance unto life at the time of salvation.

Notice in the following quote that Spurgeon accurately teaches that repentance does not precede believing. When a man sees Christ (John 6:40), he changes his mind (repents) and believes at the same time. And then it is the precious indwelling Holy Ghost Who turns us from sin. That's how it all works! ...

“Repentance will not make you see Christ; but to see Christ will give you repentance. You may not make a Christ out of your repentance, but you must look for repentance to Christ. The Holy Ghost, by turning us to Christ, turns us from sin. Look away, then, from the effect to the cause, from your own repenting to the Lord Jesus, who is exalted on high to give repentance.”
SOURCE: “The Moody Colportage Association’s (known as Moody Press, and now as Moody Publishers) first and all-time best-selling book is Spurgeon’s "All Of Grace";  Chapter 13 - Repentance Must Go With Forgiveness

Boy, that was brilliantly said. Yes, that is right! Pastor Lawson is looking to the effect (repentance) rather than the cause (which is Christ). We must look to the Lord Jesus, and not to our own repenting. Repentance and faith are inseparable. The Gospel of John mentions the word “believe” 85-times; but the word “repent” is never mentioned even once. In genuine salvation, one who believes on Jesus Christ has repented; and one who repents has believed on the Lord Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins. The Good News (i.e., Gospel) is that Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay for our sins, was buried and triumphantly raised up from the dead, so that He can save those who believe.

Once Saved, Always Saved

NO ONE is saved who thinks that a person can lose God's free gift of salvation, because it proves that YOU are not completely trusting the blessed Savior. I have had people argue with me, who claim that they were formerly confused as a Pentecostal, thinking that salvation could be lost, but still insist that they were saved back then. I am not sorry to disagree fully with them. You were never truly saved (born again) until you completely ceased from trusting in your own works, and you wholly rested in Jesus Christ as your Savior. If turning away from sinful living, or maintaining a life of holy living, is required to know that you are truly saved, then YOU ARE NOT SAVED! If you have to look at your life to prove that you're saved, then you're not saved.

I was gloriously saved at age 13 by faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 16:30-31; Galatians 3:26). I became God's adopted child forever when I got saved. Nothing more was necessary or required. I have NEVER one time in my Christian life thought that I could lose God's free gift of salvation, which He gave to me because of my faith in His only begotten Son (John 3:16). I have never thought that I must persevere in holy living to prove the genuineness of the reality of my faith. This is a very important matter dear reader. The Bible is very clear that there are not two gospels. There is a very dangerous teaching going around in our Bible colleges and churches today, which says that “Lordship” salvation (i.e., Calvinism) and Wrong Repentance (i.e., Calvinism) fall within the realm of orthodox theology. No, they don't! Anything other than a 100% free grace Gospel is a lie of the Devil.

In closing, repentance in the Bible concerning salvation NEVER means anything more than a change of mind. Anybody who adds to that meaning is preaching another gospel (Galatians 1:6-9). You simply need to think differently so that you will admit you are a guilty sinner and believe the Gospel. The only change of mind that you must have is the realization (acknowledging THE TRUTH) that you are a guilty sinner under the condemnation of God's law, deserving of punishment in Hell. In other words, you need to know what you are being saved from. You need to know why you need a Savior. You are a guilty sinner and so am I (Romans 3:23).

Consequently, we all deserve to burn in the Lake of Fire for ever (Romans 5:9, 6:23; Revelation 20:15). But God sent His only begotten Son, Jesus, into the world to die on the cross. Christ paid our sin debt (1st John 2:2). Anyone who by faith receives Christ's sacrifice on the cross as payment for our sins is saved. It is simply a matter friend of trusting the truth as recorded in God's written Word concerning His Son, Jesus Christ. John 20:31, “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.”

The Gift Of Eternal Life Is Wrapped In The Wonderful Package Of Jesus


“Faith is the only righteous thing that I can do!”
—Pastor Jack Hyles, a quote from the MP3 sermon titled: God's Reversal Of Psalm 51

1st Corinthians 16:24, “My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.”

Souls Are Dying!

How Permanent Is Your Salvation?
(an excellent MP3 sermon by Pastor Hank Lindstrom, 1940-2008)

Mark 1:15, “...repent ye, and believe the gospel.”

“The mark of the child of God is that he loves everybody!”
(a quote from Pastor Jack Hyles' classic MP3 sermon, “FORGIVENESS”)

Mark 11:22, And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God.

Ye Must Be Born Again!

You Need HIS Righteousness!