REPENTANCE BEING GIVEN BY GOD
Another verse tells us that repentance is not only related to faith but is related to salvation as well. Acts 5:31 says, "This One God has exalted to His right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins." We see here that repentance is given by God in the same way that forgiveness is given by God. In the Bible a few times repentance and forgiveness are joined together. Acts 2 says that repentance is for the forgiveness of sins (v. 38). Acts 3 says that repentance results in our sins being wiped away (v. 19). Two other places mention repentance without forgiveness. In two of these four instances, repentance and forgiveness are joined together. Repentance is linked to salvation. Forgiveness is something God initiates. Repentance is also something God initiates. The gift of forgiveness is given by God. A heart of repentance is also given by God. Therefore, repentance is a part within faith and a part of salvation. Both of these are something that God initiates. God gives man repentance in the same way that He gives him forgiveness. It is God’s word that comes to us. It is God that enlightens us and tells us that our past was wrong. It is God who gives us a heart of repentance, who commands us to repent. I marvel at this. This is salvation. Because we do not see our past, God shines His light on us. This is God’s way of working.
If a child’s face is dirty, his mother would not ask him to earn some money to buy a towel to wipe it clean. Instead, the mother would find a towel and tell the child to use it. When God wants us to repent, He Himself gives us repentance in the same way that He gives us forgiveness. God Himself gives us repentance so that we would see our past and realize how low, weak, and corrupt we were. After this, He tells us to repent.
Luke 24:45-47 is a most amazing passage. It says, "Then He opened their mind to understand the Scriptures; and He said to them, Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise up from the dead on the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name." The ones mentioned here preached repentance for forgiveness. We should preach forgiveness in His name. We also should preach repentance in His name. Today we can repent in the Lord’s name because the Lord has given us repentance. It is similar to God’s creating two eyes for us and then asking us to see. If we did not have two eyes, it would be difficult for us to see. Thank the Lord that He first gives us eyes and then asks us to see. First, He gives us feet and then asks us to walk. It is the same with repentance. First, He gives us repentance, and then He asks us to repent. All of this is done by God. Hence, when we preach the gospel, we can say that as we have forgiveness through the Lord Jesus, in the same way we have repentance through Him. If a man says that he cannot repent, that he still considers sin attractive, and that he does not feel that he is a sinner, we can tell him, "This is all right. I am now preaching the gospel to you in the name of Jesus. God will give you repentance. It is a part of salvation. Just as you receive life and are justified before God, in the same way you receive repentance."
(Gospel of God, The (2 volume set), Chapter 11, by Watchman Nee)