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A Review of Repentance: The First Word of the Gospel

Richard Roberts is an experienced pastor and evangelist. He writes out of a concern that professing Christians today are often strangers to repentance.

  • Byron Snapp,
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Richard Roberts is an experienced pastor and evangelist. He writes out of a concern that professing Christians today are often strangers to repentance. The word is seldom heard from pulpits. A study of Scripture shows that repentance is a central teaching throughout the Bible.

Beginning with the Old Testament and continuing through the New Testament, Roberts provides multitudinous passages that teach the necessity of repentance for salvation. As an aid to the reader, these references are grouped under relevant subheadings within each chapter, such as “Repentance as Returning to God,” “Repentance as a Corporate Necessity,” “The Unbreakable Link Between Repentance and Faith,” and “Sanctification Necessitates Repentance.”

Successive chapters examine such topics as myths of repentance, marks of repentance, fruits of repentance, and examples of Biblical individuals who repented. Many of the chapters are broken down into seven subheadings. The repeated usage of sevens may appear at first glance as overkill. Instead, this gives the author an opportunity to drive home this basic doctrine from a variety of angles.

The final two chapters are devoted to an examination of repentance in Job using these headings: “Repentance and the Character of God” and “Repentance in Dust and Ashes.” He focuses on Job 40–42.

The author answers often-debated questions surrounding this doctrine. Is God angry with sin or the sinner? Roberts references relevant Scripture passages, clearly answering that God is angry with both. What is the difference between a sorrow of the world and Godly sorrow? He explains what Godly sorrow is and its importance in true repentance. Does one repent of the sin or admit that he is a sinner? Without hesitation the author stresses that we must confess personal sinfulness. This makes Christ’s redemption and His atonement all the more real for us.

In defining repentance, Roberts turns the reader to the definition of this doctrine in the Westminster Confession of Faith and points out that repentance is a gift of God and that it is an ongoing action in the believer’s life.

The author has been a student of revival and repentance for many years. He provides the reader with a bibliography of books on repentance. A subject index is followed by a Scripture index, both of which add to the book’s utility.

Pastor Roberts’ writing is compelling, convincing, and compassionate. He shares numerous personal illustrations at relevant points in the text. This is a good book for Christians to read as a reminder of the importance of repentance. It is a clarion call for all believers to press home the need for repentance in their evangelistic presentations. Pastors can read this and ponder the place repentance is given in their own preaching and counseling ministries.

  • Byron Snapp

Byron Snapp is a graduate of King College (B.A.) and Reformed Theological Seminary (M.Div.). He was Associate Pastor at Calvary Reformed Presbyterian Church, Hampton, Virginia, from 1994 until his retirement in December 2014. He is a native of Marion, Virginia.  He has had pastorates in Leakesville, Mississippi, and Gaffney, South Carolina.  He served as Assistant Pastor in Cedar Bluff, Virginia prior to his ministry at Calvary Reformed. He has served as editor of the Presbyterian Witness and was a contributor to A Comprehensive Faith and Election Day Sermons. He is currently a member of Westminster Presbytery in the PCA. He and his wife Janey have 3 children and several grandchildren. 

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