“And they glorified God, saying, ‘Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life’.” – Acts 11:18
So different are we today from the saints of scripture. For when God delivered his people by the hands of Moses, they rejoiced in the destruction of their enemies, and sang praises to the God who saved them, specifically, from out of all the people groups in the world (see the song of Moses and Miriam in Exodus 15). But since studying scripture is scarce among the saints, why would we all glorify God for his specificity in our salvation? What I mean is, how can we all be truly grateful to God for our repentance, if we don’t realize that repentance is a gift that God gives only to those whom he endeavors to save? I believe we miss so much when we miss this truth; not the least of which, of course, is our inability to say with Paul the Apostle, “the love of Christ controls us” (1 Cor 5:4). But I pray – again with that blessed Apostle – that we may have strength to comprehend the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that we may be filled with all the fullness of God (Eph 3:18-19). May this blog entry be a means to that end. For if you are one to whom the gift of repentance is granted, and you bear good fruit that is keeping with repentance, then this is written for your joy.
We will turn now to the aforementioned text. Who has granted repentance? You will note that the verse says “God has granted repentance.” The word “granted” suggests that there is an inability on our part to perform the necessary task, and so this step in salvation must be given or “granted” to us. But many say, “it is I who have repented and so have become a Christian.” Yes, but why have you repented? Again, according to the text, it was granted. But there are again still many convinced that it was them, in and of themselves, who have conjured up the strength to do the impossible. To them I can strive no harder to explain than I am doing now. They may claim a share in salvation, but far be it from me to bask in a glory that does not belong to me. For all of salvation – everything from my faith, repentance, and obedience, comes from God. For thus says the scriptures: “God works in your both to will and to work” (Phi 2:13), and again “…perhaps God may grant repentance leading to life” (2 Tim 2:25). If, then, it does not depend on him who wills or run, but on God’s mercy (Romans 9:16), shall we who live repentant lives not also glorify God? Again, if God is the one who both “wills and works” in me – that is to say, he is giving me the desires (or will), to live according to his commands, and then also giving me the power to perform those desires, shall I not with the saints of Acts 11, be wondrously stunned at his sovereign selection of me? I am sure you are like me, and could count others better suited for God’s selection. Nevertheless, it is you and I who have a share in the gift of repentance, and not the world at large. Since, therefore, it is us who are saved, we should glorify God for repentance.