The gift of repentance is the gift of God through Christ. By God’s love manifested upon the cross and pleading of His Spirit, He pursues believer’s repentance. Christ said: And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all unto Me. John 12:32. He came to manifest the love of God to the world and draw the hearts of all men to Himself. The first step toward salvation is to respond to the drawing of the love of Christ. The sweetest joy comes to mankind through their sincere repentance toward God for the transgression of His law, and through faith in Christ as the sinner’s Redeemer and Advocate. If they respond to His drawing and yielding their hearts to His grace, He will lead them on step by step to full knowledge of Himself, and this is life eternal.
Christ invites us: Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28. Thus mankind must come to Christ seeing Him as their Savior and only helper, enabling them to repent. For if they could repent without coming to Christ, they could also be saved without Christ. Christ draws the sinner by the exhibition of his love upon the cross. This softens the heart, impresses the mind, and inspires contrition and repentance in the soul.
Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. Acts 5:31
God calls everyone to repentance
A principle of divine origin must pervade his or her conduct and bind them to God. Without the divine working, mankind can do nothing toward the perfection of their character. They can not even repent unless the Holy Spirit works upon their heart. On the other hand the Lord wants no one to wait until he or she thinks they have repented, before they turn toward Jesus. The Savior is continually drawing all to repentance. They need only to submit to be drawn and their hearts will be melted and subdued, fit temples for the indwelling of Christ. It is not now the work of the sinners to make peace with God, but to accept Christ as their peace and righteousness. Thus humanity becomes one with Christ and one with God.
Many think that repentance is a kind of preparation which people must originate themselves before they can come to Christ. Furthermore, they must take steps themselves in order to find Christ a mediator in their behalf. It is true that there must be repentance before there is pardon. At the same time the sinner must come to Christ before he or she can find repentance. It is the grace of Christ that strengthens and enlightens the soul, that repentance may be godly and acceptable.
Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance. Matthew 3:8
Repentance is as much the gift of God as is forgiveness
Repentance cannot be found in the heart where Jesus has not been at work. We can’t repent without the Spirit of Christ. For the gift of repentance is the gift of God through Christ, and whom He pardons He first makes penitent. All who live have sins to wash away. They may have good intentions, and good purposes. Moreover, they may have noble traits of character and live moral lives. Notwithstanding, they need a Savior. Jesus speaks to them as He did to Nicodemus:
Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. John 3:5
True repentance of sin, faith in the merits of Jesus Christ, and baptism into his death, to be raised out of the water to live a new life, are the first steps in the new birth which Christ told Nicodemus he must experience in order to be saved. The words of Christ to Nicodemus apply to every man, woman, and child, that should live in the world. Furthermore, Paul tells us:
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost. Titus 3:5
We are safe in following the example of Christ. But we are not safe in pursuing any other course. Obedience is better than sacrifice. 1 Samuel 15:22. Willing obedience on our part God requires and will accept.
The gift of repentance cannot be experienced without Christ
It is the repentance of which He is the author that is the ground upon which we may apply for pardon. It is from Christ that the grace of contrition comes, as well as the gift of pardon, and repentance as well as forgiveness of sins is procured only through the atoning blood of Christ. Those whom God pardons he first makes penitent. When the sinner beholds Jesus:
- lifted up upon the cross
- suffering the guilt of the transgressor
- bearing the penalty of sin
he or she is led to repentance toward God because of their transgression of the law which is holy, just, and good. They exercise faith in Christ, because the divine Savior has become their Substitute, Surety, and Advocate, the One in whom their very life is centered. To the repenting sinners God can show His mercy and truth, and bestow upon them His forgiveness and love. All Heaven has been poured out in one rich gift. For when God gave His Son, He gave the choicest gift of Heaven. Yet to the repenting soul the enemy will seek to represent God as stern and persistent, unwilling to pardon the transgressor.
Christ alone can bridge the gulf that sin has made between Earth and Heaven
Christ declared: I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. John 14:6. In order that man might be thus privileged, Christ, the divine Son of God, joined himself to human nature. Thus mankind might understand that the living true God would have every son and daughter of Adam a partaker of the divine nature through union with himself. Furthermore, thus manifest to the world, to unfallen worlds, and to the synagogue of Satan, that the redemption of the fallen race is possible. God would have His children bear testimony to the fact that He cannot be satisfied until the fallen race is redeemed, reclaimed, and reinstated to their holy privileges, having free access to the tree of life.
He would have them bear testimony to the fact that through the grace of Christ, they may represent Christ-likeness of character, and find greatest joy in the assurance of His great love wherewith He has loved us. Once separated from God by the lying devices of Satan, they are reunited to Him by learning the lesson of redeeming love. It has been manifested in the great sacrifice of Christ in giving his precious life for mankind. The human is united to the divine by a tie so strong that unfallen worlds, angels, and people are amazed. For those who believe in the love of God to them are secure in the refuge of His love, and not all the arts of Satan can induce them to continue in transgression of the law of God.
It is through the influence of the Holy Spirit that we are convinced of sin
Thus we feel our need of pardon. God is acquainted with all our weaknesses and infirmities and he will help us. He will hear the prayer of faith. The sincerity of prayer can be proved only by our efforts to bring ourselves into harmony with the great moral standard which will test every individual’s character. We need to open our hearts to the influence of the Spirit and to experience its transforming power. We should be molding our lives after the divine model as we put aside:
- love of display
- desire for supremacy
- world’s customs and maxims.
Thus our covenant-keeping God will restore unto us the joys of His salvation and uphold us by His Spirit.
Cast me not away from thy presence, and take not thy Holy Spirit from me. Psalm 51:11
When God gave Christ to our world, He gave in this one gift all the treasures of Heaven. God can do no more than He has done to bring men to repentance and has no means held in reserve for their salvation. For the same reason it is a dangerous thing to doubt the manifestations of the Holy Spirit. For if this agency is doubted, there is no reserve power left by which to operate on the human heart. Whatever may be the sin, if the soul repents and believes, guilt may be washed away by the atoning blood of Christ.
If individual refuses to permit the Holy Spirit to melt his or her heart into tenderness and contrition, that which should have softened them is looked upon as fanaticism. Thus they are led to refuse the heavenly gift. The habit of resistance is fixed. They have so long interpreted light to be darkness and fanaticism, that the most manifest working of God’s Holy Spirit becomes to them not a savor of life unto life, but through their unbelief, a savor of death unto death.
- RH, Apr, 1890; YI, Feb, 1874; YI, Dec, 6, 1894; ST, Sep, 1911; ST, Apr, 1895; RH, Sep, 1901; RH, Feb, 1894; – The Ellen G. White Estate
- King James Version (KJV) Bible – BibleGateway
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