In the article below, the phrase "Be saved and repent!" was endorsed. I wish to know what a Reformed Protestant view would be on this. The context for the phrase is this:

The editor wrote an article showing how God's grace does not render his law pointless; that Calvary is not an apology for Sinai, but that Moses and Jesus are on the same team. Abraham and Moses were justified by faith and, "If you want the whole truth, you need a whole Bible." Then he explained how the Ten Commandments were not 'Ten Burdens' to the newly delivered Israelites. "They were rescued, not by meeting God's moral standards, but by God's grace and mercy - the Law would come after their deliverance, not before."

But then came the quote that prompts this question. One of the editor's friends

"said recently: "The root is salvation by His election and His grace. The fruit is repentance - which lasts until the day one dies. The real formula is "Be saved and repent!" " [Source: Sword magazine, March/April 2020 (Vol. 15 No. 2) pp 4-5, article "He ain't heavy... He's my Saviour".]

Yet given how John the Baptist was sent to the nation of Israel to get them to repent and be baptised, in order to then receive salvation in Christ (Matthew 3:1-12), I wish to examine this claimed 'real formula'. Yes, in those verses Jewish religious leaders were commanded to bring forth fruits worthy of repentance, for the axe was laid at the root of the trees not bearing good fruit. Yet does that not prove that the fruit of repentance cannot come until first those Israelites did what John the Baptist commanded - to repent (confessing their sins) and to be baptised? Surely only then would they be prepared to see the kingdom of God that was at hand, and to enter into it by faith? (John 3:5) Would this not make the biblical 'formula', "Repent and be saved!"?

I'm looking for a Reformed Protestant view on this question, NOT a ‘right or wrong’ view. This is NOT a ‘truth’ question. Nor is this a question about how to be saved. It is about the correct order of two events. Are there any published articles or sermons on this from recognised Reformed Protestant theologians? [Source: Sword magazine, March/April 2020 (Vol. 15 No. 2) pp 4-5, article "He ain't heavy... He's my Saviour".] I cannot give a weblink as I received a paper copy of this magazine and, as far as I know, it is not produced on-line.

  • You can't have faith and be saved without repenting of not having faith. Some repentance may follow, but I think the Reformed view would be that the must accompany each other at all stages.
    – curiousdannii
    Apr 2, 2020 at 12:30
  • 1
    For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of [2 Corinthians 7:10 KJV] As you say, repentance precedes salvation. Men repent : God saves. But the sorrow is a godly sorrow, so God is in the sorrowful repentance, also. I trust that the Reformed view follows scripture ? Yes ? (+1).
    – Nigel J
    Apr 2, 2020 at 13:17
  • @Nigel J A most appropriate scripture and, yes, it does (as Grateful Disciple's excellent answer shows).
    – Anne
    Apr 6, 2020 at 10:25

1 Answer 1


From the limited quote and from the assumption that the article's author is Reformed, probably the author was emphasizing the election part. I found the magazine's website but Vol 15 Issue 2 is not online yet and even if it is, access is to subscribers only.

In Reformed ordo salutis (see also comparison of schemes in wikipedia article) Election comes first, then Regeneration, which produces the fruits of Repentance & Faith as our response. So God needs to do Election and Regeneration first to enable us to respond in repentance and faith. Since in the Reformed tradition the emphasis is on God's action, it makes sense that the author put these Election and Regeneration saving acts FIRST in the logical order of salvation, which ends in glorification.

Therefore in the quote

"The root is salvation by His election and His grace. ... The real formula is "Be saved and repent!",

"Be saved" most likely refers to "election" and "regeneration", which God has to do first in order to repair our Total Depravity (our inability to come to faith), which is consistent with the Reformed view of salvation.

But in the formula "Repent and be saved", "be saved" must have referred to the later stages of salvation in the ordo: justification, adoption, sanctification, preserverance, and glorification.

In this way both quotes are compatible with each other within the Reformed tradition.


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