FAITH AND REPENTANCE ARE BOTH GOD’S GIFTS!
All men have some kind of faith or they could not possibly live here on earth. Even an insignificant act as sitting on a chair requires faith! You decide to sit on it because you have the faith that the chair will hold you. When your friend offers you a drink you drink it because you have the faith that it is safe, and so on. But the faith which saves a man is something different altogether! It is called the ‘Faith of God’s elect’! [Titus 1:1] And the Apostle says that “All men have not (this) faith”! [2Thes 3:2].
The Bible speaks of this faith as something which belongs to Christ, for it speaks of “the faith of Christ” “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the FAITH OF JESUS CHRIST, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the FAITH OF CHRIST, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified”! [Gal 2:16]
This saving faith is God’s property and is given as a gift to His chosen ones! And Jesus is spoken of as the AUTHOR and the FINISHER of this faith! [Heb 12:2] “Now faith “cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God”. [Rom 10:17] Notice that faith ‘cometh’ from somewhere. It is not an inherent product of fallen nature! So WHERE does it come from? It comes from above! “A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from Heaven”! [John 3:27] And again, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from ABOVE, and cometh down from the Father of lights”! [James 1:17]
But here is the question to ask – “If faith ‘cometh’ by hearing the word of God, why does it not come to ALL who hear it”? [Rom 10:17]
Because all refuse to believe, is the usual answer given! But that is only one side of the truth! Yes ALL refuse to believe, but the fact remains that some do! In what way are these who believe different from those who do not? The answer is found in Paul’s rhetorical question – “For WHO maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not RECEIVE? Now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it”? [1Cor 4:7]
The reason why faith does not come to the majority is because, to the majority the Word of God comes in WORD ONLY! It is not accompanied by power, and the Holy Spirit and much assurance! Hear what the Apostle wrote to the Thessalonians – “Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God. For our gospel came not unto you in WORD ONLY, but also in POWER, and in the HOLY GHOST, and in much ASSURANCE“! [1Thes 1:4,5]
How did the apostle know that the Thessalonian Christians were ‘elected’ by God to salvation? Why, by this- that when he initially preached to them, the word of God came not just as a dead word from the Bible, but the Word was accompanied by power, the Holy Ghost and much assurance!
Now this is the way it is through all the ages! To God’s chosen it is GIVEN to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of God by the gift of faith, but to the rest IT IS NOT GIVEN! [Matt 13:11]
God is absolutely sovereign and does not owe fallen man ANYTHING! He can give to one what He withholds from many and none can say unto Him “what doest Thou”?! So He has mercy on whom He will and whom He will He hardens! [Rom 9:18]
The Scriptures make it plain that NO MAN can repent GOD-WARD unless God GRANTS him that repentance!
“When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles GRANTED REPENTANCE UNTO LIFE”. [Acts 11:18]
“And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will GIVE THEM REPENTANCE TO THE ACKNOWLEDGING OF THE TRUTH”. [2Tim 2:24,25]
God grants this repentance ONLY to His chosen vessels of mercy. But the vessels of wrath on whom He hath chosen to display His justice and wrath, He does not grant this repentance. Weigh carefully the case of Eli’s sons who practiced wickedness. In spite of their father pleading with them to repent, they repented not. And the Scripture tells us Why – “Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto the voice of their father, BECAUSE the LORD would slay them”. [1Sam 2:25]
The unsaved man can no more ‘repent’ than the man with the withered hand could stretch forth his hand when the Lord commanded him to do so, or when the decaying Lazarus who was dead four days and bound hand and foot could ‘come forth’ when the Lord commanded him to. [Matt12:10-13; John 11:39-44 ] As Augustine said “God must GRANT what He requires” or man WILL NOT BE ABLE TO DELIVER IT”.
So ultimately, saving faith, repentance and perseverance which are all required for salvation are the gifts of God, not of works lest any man should boast! Salvation is “not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God who showeth MERCY! [Rom 9:16]!
And all the praise and glory shall be to God alone! Amen!