FAITH AND REPENTANCE – THE GIFT OF GOD
compiled by Michael Jeshurun
“And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath GIVEN US AN UNDERSTANDING, that we may know Him that is true” (1 John 5:20). What is communicated to the saint when he is born again is wholly spiritual and exactly suited for taking in the Scriptural knowledge of Christ. It is not an entirely new faculty which is then imparted, but rather the renewing of the original one, fitting it for the apprehension of new objects. It consists of an internal illumination, a divine light that shines in our hearts, enabling us to discern the glory of God shining in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 4:6).
Though we are not now admitted into a corporeal sight of Christ, yet He is made a living reality to those who have been quickened into newness of life. By this divine renewing of the understanding we can now perceive the peerless excellency and perfect suitability of Christ. The knowledge we have of Him is seated in the understanding. That fires the affections, sanctifies the will, and raises the mind into being fixed upon Him. Such a spiritual understanding is not attained by any efforts of ours, but is a supernatural bestowment, a divine gift conferred upon the elect, which admits them into the secrets of the Most High.
THE GIFT OF FAITH.
The salvation of God does not actually become ours until we believe in, rest upon, and receive Christ as a personal Savior. But as we cannot see without both sight and light, neither can we believe until life and faith are divinely communicated to us. Accordingly, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2:8-9). Arminians would make the second clause of verse 8 a mere repetition of the first, and in less expressive and emphatic language.
Since salvation is by grace, it is superfluous to add that it is “not of yourselves.” But because “faith” is OUR act, it was necessary—so that the excellency of it should not be arrogated by the creature, but ascribed unto God—to point out that it is NOT of ourselves. The very faith which receives a gratuitous salvation is not the unassisted act of man’s own will. As God must give me breath before I can breathe, so faith ere I believe. Compare also “faith which is by Him” (Acts 3:16); “who believe, according to the working of His mighty power” (Eph. 1:19); “through the faith of the operation of God” (Col. 2:12); “who by Him do believe in God” (1 Pet. 1:21).
THE GIFT OF REPENTANCE.
While it is the bound duty of every sinner to repent (Acts 17:30)—for ought he not to cease from and abhor his rebellion against God?—yet he is so completely under the blinding power of sin that a miracle of grace is necessary before he will do so. A broken and a contrite spirit are of God’s providing. It is the Holy Spirit who illuminates the understanding to perceive the heinousness of sin, the heart to loathe it, and the will to repudiate it. Faith and repentance are the first evidence of spiritual life. For when God quickens a sinner He convicts him of the evil of sin, causes him to hate it, moves him to sorrow over and turn from it. “Surely after that I was turned, I repented; and after that I was instructed, I smote upon my thigh: I was ashamed, yea, even confounded” (Jer. 31:19). “All His grace in us” (Matthew Henry). Compare “a Prince and a Savior, for to give repentance to Israel” (Acts 5:31); “Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life” (Acts 11:18); “if God peradventure will give them repentance” (2 Tim. 2:25).
THE GIFT OF GRACE.
“I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 1:4). Grace is used there in its widest sense, including all the benefits of Christ’s merits and mediation, providential or spiritual, temporal or eternal. It includes regenerating, sanctifying, preserving grace, as well as every particular grace of the new nature—faith, hope, love. “But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ” (Eph. 4:7), that is, according as He is pleased to bestow, and not according to our ability or asking. Therefore we have no cause to be proud or boastful.
WHATEVER grace we have to resist the devil, patiently bear affliction, or overcome the world, is from Him!
WHATEVER obedience we perform, or devotion we render Him, or sacrifice we make, is of His grace. Therefore must we confess, “for all things come of Thee, and of Thine own have we given Thee” (1 Chron. 29:14).
Hallelujah! Praise you Jesus!
[paraphrased and quoted from the writings of A.W. Pink]