In this series of posts on Lordship salvation and repentance, I have sought to make clear that the Bible teaches that sinners must both repent and believe in order to be saved. However, an essential objection to the lordship position on repentance remains to be addressed. Non-lordship proponents almost unanimously object to the lordship position on repentance by claiming that the Gospel of John nowhere teaches that repentance is necessary for salvation. Hodges cites John 1:26-27, where John the Baptist compares his baptism with that of Jesus, noting that there is “not a word–not a syllable about repentance.” Hodges proclaims the absence of repentance in John’s Gospel “the death knell for lordship theology,” claiming that “John did not regard repentance as a condition for eternal life . . . if he had he would have said so.”
It has already been adequately shown that the New Testament clearly presents repentance and faith inseparably together as the human responses to the gospel call unto salvation. Hodges fails to address some of the New Testament’s clearest teaching on repentance and faith such as Mark 1:14-15 and Luke 24:46-47. Thus, Hodges leaves open the possibility that John’s Gospel teaches a different soteriology than that of the Synoptics. However, the word repentance “itself does not have to appear for us to see the principle of repentance as part of the message of God-centered evangelism.” Jesus commanded the adulterous woman in John 8 to repent when he told her to “go, and from now on sin no more.” It is difficult to make sense of such a command if the call to repentance is absent from John’s soteriology. In addition, the idea of repentance is present in the Johannine epistles (1 John 3:4-10). Furthermore, repentance is boldly commanded in John’s letters to the churches in Revelation as “the Lord found it necessary to rebuke five out of the seven churches in Asia Minor and to call them to repentance.” John need not be pitted against the Synoptics as repentance plays an essential role in Johannine soteriology.
Chafer, Systematic Theology, 376. Hodges, Absolutely Free!, 147-148. Ryrie, So Great Salvation, 97-98.
Hodges, Absolutely Free, 148.
Reisinger, Lord and Christ, 67.
Reisinger, Lord and Christ, 67. Reisinger notes that there are several places in the Synoptics where the word is absent but the idea of repentance is clearly present (c.f. Jesus and the young ruler in Mark 10:17-22 and the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32).
Roberts, Repentance, 37-38. Roberts cites Revelation 2:1-5, 2:12-16, 2:18-22, 3:1-3, 3:14-19, and 3:22.