I have a concern about question 10 on Quiz 2 Module 11. True or False: We welcome others into the family of God on the basis of their faith alone. The answer that is given is true. This agrees with part c page 51. The confusion for some of our students is number 5 page 52 which says incorporating those who repent and believe in Jesus...I can see how this could be confusing. I thought I would bring this to your attention for future consideration.
Answer (from Dr. Davis):
Thanks for your question!
The answer to this question hinges on what people understand as faith alone. Unfortunately, many typically will separate the concepts of faith and repentance as if they are separate acts, some kind of work or extra action in addition to faith. More properly said, the act of saving faith includes repentance from sin and belief in the truth. Over-thinking this can lead to real error, especially if the students do not follow through on the entirety of what is being taught in this lesson segment. By faith alone includes repentance and belief--faith is a pregnant concept in the New Testament. By all means, we ought to avoid any lesson or discussion that would allude to repentance as a work separate from saving faith. This is why repentance and belief are so integrated in the teaching of Christ and the apostles.
For instance, Peter says in his Pentecost sermon, Acts 2:38 (ESV) 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Paul on Mars Hill said, Acts 17:30-31 (ESV) 30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” A prime example of this is Acts 20:20-21 (ESV) 20 how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, 21 testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
If confusion exists here, it may be in the idea of "faith alone." This phrase is not in juxtaposition to faith and repentance, but faith and works. By faith alone (alluded to in Eph. 2.8-10) refers to faith in Christ separated from our own works, but not from our repentance to God. This is clearly said in 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 (ESV) 9 For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven,
whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come. This phrase "turning to God" (repentance) is intrinsic to salvation by faith alone, not by works but by grace. By faith alone (sola fides) is a long-standing term in the history of Christian thought, based on the Eph. 2 text, and one which our students should know.
To conclude then, by faith alone (over against works not repentance) is the sole ground of reception in the body of Christ. All who truly believe have truly repented, and that is why we ought not separate the concepts of faith and repentance. To repent and believe in Jesus is a theological equivalent to the phrase "by faith alone." What is key here is that your students understand the relationship between faith, works, and repentance. Faith includes repentance and belief, and is juxtaposed over against salvation by our works of the law.