Biblical Repentance

My name is Rob K. My involvement in the Geftakys ministry spanned a solid fourteen years of commitment from late 1987 to early 2002 at the assembly in San Luis Obispo, seven years of which I served faithfully as a doorkeeper. I submitted the following study on repentance to the SLO leadership in September of 2001 when I was seriously questioning why David Geftakys was welcomed back to the Lord’s Supper without any kind of confession from him concerning any responsibility he may have for his wife leaving him.


Introduction

  1. What is repentance?
  2. What does God mean when He calls us to repentance?
  3. Why does God call us to repent and what is His goal for us in our repentance?
  4. What does repentance look like and how are we to discern whether or not we’ve repented?

These questions are addressed according to the Scripture and will be answered following this outline:

I. The Meaning of Repentance
    A. Behavior
    B. Inner Attitude
    C. Error
    D. The Whole Man

II. The Fruits of Repentance
    A. Behavior: Cessation
    B. Inner Attitude: Confession
    C. Discernment: Truth
    D. The Whole Man: Recovery

III. Conclusion

I. The Meaning of Repentance

What is repentance? In the New Testament, the Greek word used for "repentance" is metanoeo. Meta means "after". Noeo means "to perceive with the mind." The word literally means "after-thought," or "perceive afterward." The idea is that of changing one’s mind or purpose after coming to a conclusion about a past event. It can be called moral reflection. "Metanoeo" in the New Testament is used in the context of a person changing one’s mind or purpose after perceiving the truth, not only about his involvement in past sins but also about his present state of sin.

A. Behavior

Repentance is demonstrated in behavior. John the Baptist said "bring forth therefore fruits answerable to amendment of life:" -Matt. 3:8

The prodigal son repented..."And he arose, and came to his father." -Luke 15:20

B. Inner Attitude

"Metanoeo" directly implies the inner faculty of the mind at work. Moreover, Ps. 51:6 states that God wants truth in the "inward parts." In this Psalm of confession and repentance, it is clear God desires all inward capacities to be involved. "Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity..." Ps. 51:2.

C. Error

What does God mean when He calls us to repentance? It means that God calls us to both inner reality and (good) external behavior.

Two errors exist.

The first is to view repentance as just inner reality without external behavior. In truth, this is impossible. Truth is the manifested essence of a matter. It is the reality lying at the core of appearance. If there is external sin, it came from within (Mark 7:21). To say I have inner reality with God while continuing to commit acts of sin is absurd. This violates both conscience and reality. "If we say we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:" -1 John 1:6. There is no "metanoeo," when we walk in darkness.

The second error is to view repentance as behavior without inner reality. This is a possibility. Jesus Christ Himself levels the stinging indictment against the Pharisees, "you are like whited coffins, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead bones, and of all uncleanness." -Matt 23:27. It is possible to appear beautiful, but within there is no "perception with the mind" that anything is wrong. A person can do penance, show sorrow, and even receive punishment, but there is no "metanoeo," and thus, no true repentance.

D. The Whole Man

Why does God call us to repent and what is His goal for us in our repentance? Because God wants the whole man! His goal is to "...sanctify wholly; and your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." -I Thess 5:23 Repentance is to be total.

II. The Fruits of Repentance

What does repentance look like?

A. Behavior: Cessation

As we’ve seen above, there is no "metanoeo" when we walk in darkness. For there to be any possibility of repentance, the sin(s) repented of must stop.

B. Inner Attitude: Confession

It’s fairly easy to measure behavior - it happens or it doesn’t happen. But how do we measure inner attitude? How do we know if "metanoeo" has taken place inside someone else?

A clear indication is when there is confession of the sin(s). We see confession accompany repentance throughout the Scripture:

"And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins." -Matt 3:6

"For I acknowledge my transgressions..." -Ps. 51:3

"I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid." -Ps. 32:5

"I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence..." -Hosea 5:15

"Only acknowledge thine iniquity..." -Jer. 3:13

"Make confession unto him; and tell me now what thou hast done; hide not from me." -Josh.7: 19

In order for "metanoeo" (perception of mind) to take place, there must be identification of the cause or reason behind the "change in mind and purpose." There must at least be an inner realization of the wrong we’ve done in order for us to choose to turn from it! If we realize we’ve done wrong, then we are obligated to admit it when asked. "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." -I John 1:8

C. Discernment: Truth

How are we to discern whether or not we’ve repented?

If acts of sin persist, we can only conclude that there is no repentance. For there to be any possibility of repentance, there cannot be any physical evidence that the sin(s) are continuing. When there is no physical evidence of present sin(s) and there is acknowledgment of past sin(s) repented of, then one can conclude there is true repentance.

However, the mere absence of physical evidence of present sin is no indication of a person’s repentant inner state. Confession is the only objective and measurable evidence that repentance is a reality in the inner man. When there is no physical evidence of present sin(s) and there is no acknowledgment of past sin(s) repented of (when there is clear proof of past sin), then one must conclude that true repentance remains doubtful. At this stage, to conclude total repentance would be inconsistent with II Cor. 7:11, "...In all you have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter." The Greek word "clear" means "immaculate - pure from every fault."

D. The Whole Man: Recovery

God wants the whole man. Confession and acknowledgment of sin must take place for total recovery and true healing. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." - I John 1:9 "Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that you may be healed." - James 5:16

III. Conclusion

For true "metanoeo" to exist there must be both cessation of the crime and a confession of the crime. Otherwise, true repentance remains in doubt. Administered punishment, coupled with the absence of present sin do not conclusively prove true repentance. It’s like proving a man guilty of a crime and punishing him by locking him up while he continues to maintain his innocence. Yes, he has been proven guilty. Yes, he cannot presently commit the crime. Yes, he maintains his innocence. But, has he repented? Is it safe to let him out? The answer is obviously, no.


Epilogue

Shortly after this study was read by the SLO leadership I asked, "So what do you think?" A leading brother said, "It was very good and I agree with all of it." I then asked, "So should we then allow David Geftakys to continue to partake of the Lord’s Supper?"  His answer shocked me. He told me we should since "there exist extenuating circumstances and there have been some encouraging recent developments!"  It was at this time that the lights went on, and I realized how far off base this really was. This brother was told to re-instate David by Mark Miller, who was one of George's chief servants in Fullerton. As was their habit, the SLO leaders bowed to outside, "autonomous" pressure and violated what shred of a conscience they had left.

In view of recent developments, I’d like to change the first sentence in my conclusion to read, "For true "metanoeo" to exist there must be cessation of the crime, confession of the crime, and true restoration to the violated against whom the crime was perpetrated." "Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken anything from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold." - Zacchaeus (Luke 19:8)

Today I present the preceding biblical principles to the reader and ask the question, "Have, the Geftakys’ and their servants really repented? Yes, I mean them. Have they? Let the reader be the judge.

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