At the heart of Calvinism is an answer to a very simple question. Is a person saved BECAUSE he repents and by faith believes in the finished work of Christ on the cross or is a person saved so that he can THEN by faith repent and believe in the finished work of Christ on the cross?
Calvinism stands solidly on the latter. Calvinism contends that an individual who is lost has no capacity or ability to respond to the gospel message unless and until he is given new life at God’s sole initiative and the result of that initiative of grace on God’s part. At that point, the new born individual’s only response is one of repentance and believing faith. In this scenario, repentance and believing faith are in reality the new born’s first acts of sanctification.
The question must be asked, is repentance necessary for salvation? It is crystal clear that the Scripture establishes the fact that repentance brings forgiveness, which brings about conversion.
Notice what Peter said in Acts 11 when he recounted the event of the Holy Spirit falling on a group of gentiles: “17 If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?” Peter did not say, “God gave them the same spirit that He gave us so that we COULD believe.” There is a major difference in these two concepts.
Consider the following passages of Scripture with respect to the importance of repentance to salvation, not salvation for repentance.
Acts 2:38 38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let everyone of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. We do NOT receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (which is essential to regeneration) before we repent; we repent and THEN receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Acts 3 “19 Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, 20 and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before,[a] 21 whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.” Notice repentance comes before times of refreshing comes from the presence of the Lord. This alone would seem to negate the “regeneration prior to repentance position.
Romans 1:16 says, “the gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation, to every one that believes.” It does not say the gospel is the power of God unto salvation so that ALL may believe.” Salvation is the result of believing faith not the other way around.
Mark 1 14 Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom[e] of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”
Acts 16 29 Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”
John 3 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in Him should not perish but[b] have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. 18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
I John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Confession comes BEFORE forgiveness which procedes new birth.
Rom 10:13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Paul did not write, everyone who is saved will call upon the Lord.”
Mark 16:16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. Notice once again, believing precedes being saved.
Ro 10:9 Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. If one confesses, believes and repents he WILL be saved. We do not do these things BECAUSE we are saved.
Romans 10:10 “For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth, one confesses and is saved.”
Acts 2:21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’
2 Cor 7:10 “For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.” Repentance leads TO salvation, not the other way around.
John 1:12 “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” Believing in Christ gives us the right to BECOME children of God. We do not become children of God and THEN believe.
Galatians 2:16 “16 knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.”