Foreword, Preface, and Introduction


It is a tribute to Dr. Ironside’s books that they are still in demand even if he, himself, has been with the Lord since 1951.

It is especially timely that his book, Unless You Repent, should be reprinted at this time. It deals with issues that are the subject of some misinformation and misunderstanding.

First of all, there is a strong effort to redefine repentance. Some good and godly teachers hold that it only means a changed attitude toward God and the Lord Jesus Christ. They resist any attempt to define it as a turning away from sin.

Linked with that is the insistence that, since salvation is by faith alone, repentance from sin must not be included in the gospel message. The reason for this is a fear that repentance becomes a work, whereas we know that salvation is “not of works.”

Actually, repentance is a work, but it is not a meritorious work. Even faith is a work. Jesus said, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent” (John 6:29). But it is not a work that gives a person merit for heaven. Repentance and faith are like two sides of a coin. One side is “repentance toward God” and the other side is “faith in our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21). To exercise saving faith, a person must first acknowledge that he is ungodly.

Dr. Ironside’s clear and gracious handling of the subject comes as a breath of fresh air, dispelling the fog.



Fully convinced in my own mind that the doctrine of repentance is the missing note in many otherwise orthodox and fundamentally sound circles, I have penned this volume out of a full heart. I hope and pray that God will be pleased to use it to awaken many of His servants to the importance of seeking to present His truth in the way that will bring men to the only place where He can meet them in blessing. That place is the recognition of their own demerit and absolute unworthiness of His mercies and a new conception of His saving power for all who come to Christ as lost sinners. There they must rest alone on His redemptive work for salvation and depend on the indwelling Holy Spirit to make them victorious over sin’s power in daily life.

The pages have been written during a busy summer, as I have gone from place to place trying to preach and teach the very truths herein emphasized. If there seems at times to be lack of continuity of thought, I hope the manifest defects of the treatise may not hinder the reader from getting the message I have endeavored to set forth as clearly as possible, under difficult circumstances.

I have not written for literary critics or for theological quibblers, but for earnest people who desire to know the will of God and to do it. And so I send forth this book, in dependence on Him who has said, “Cast thy bread upon the waters: and thou shalt find it after many days.” If He be pleased to use it to arouse some at least to a deeper sense of the importance of reality in dealing with souls, I shall be grateful.

H. A. Ironside

July 19, 1994

Publisher’s Preface

When the American Tract Society first asked for a “treatise on one or more essential evangelical doctrines of the Christian faith,” little did they realize that H. A. Ironside would send them an explosive manuscript that would lay bare what is popularly called “easy believism.”

Here is his most muscular work. A feisty book for any who soften the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Still, in the heat of battle, our brother remained a gentleman. He had no intention of blackening anyone’s character or ministry.

H. A. Ironside was uniquely qualified to give the clarion call about repentance. He was first a fruitful evangelist, and secondly, a thorough, intelligent Bible teacher. How rarely do we see these gifts of evangelist and teacher combined. Besides this, he has given us volumes that are unimpeachable in their orthodoxy, and command the respect of the Church of God. He had seen the drift of the evangelical church, and in this book we read his farseeing warning.

Those who minimize the preaching of repentance, or worse, banish it altogether, are left with scanty ground to stand after reading Unless You Repent. All the opposers could do in response was give the silent treatment. This classic on the doctrine of repentance has unfortunately been largely ignored by the fundamentalist movement, and by the evangelical movement that has sprung out of fundamentalism.

Ironside knew when he wrote the book that he was a voice in the wilderness. By God’s enabling, he stood up to face that chill north wind with a message both impassioned and eloquent.