Repentance: God’s Most Meaningful Gift
1. God has given us so many good gifts.
a. Rains and fruitful seasons, the things that satisfy our hearts with food and gladness (Acts 14:17).
b. The unsearchable riches of Christ–the riches of his grace, of his glorious inheritance, of his kindness toward us that he wants to show in ages to come (Eph. 3:8; 1:7, 18; 2:7).
c. Each of his gifts is precious.
2. But God’s most meaningful gift is repentance.
a. The term means “a change of the mind.”
b. It is the turn of the will that stands between sorrow and reform.
c. Without it, every other gift would only deepen our unmet accountability to God.
3. I know that we are more accustomed to thinking of repentance as a command, and for good reason.
a. John the Baptist, Jesus, and the apostles all spoke of this change of mind in the imperative mood: “Repent, for...,” or “Repent and...” (Matt. 3:2; Mk. 1:15; Acts 2:38).
b. The Lord said to some who thought hard things only happened to the worst sinners, “No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Lk. 13:3, 5).
c. Paul told the philosophers in Athens, “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30).
4. It is important to notice, though, that repentance has to also be understood as a gift.
a. Acts 5:31 – “God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.”
b. Acts 11:18 – “When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, ‘Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.’”
c. 2 Timothy 2:25 – “Correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth.
5. To appreciate what this means, consider what it might be like for there to be no place for repentance.
a. The experience of Esau provide us with a biblical example of situation like that – Hebrews 12:16, 17.
b. Think about it. What if...
i. No mistaken thought could be corrected and no erroneous belief could be changed?
ii. There were no possible recovery from a word unwisely spoken, or from a choice poorly made, or from an action that was not noble?
iii. No restoration was possible in a relationship threatened by alienation, or there could be no renewal of a good intention weakened by distraction?
c. Repentance is allowed by grace and has reconciliation as its goal.
6. But if repentance is a change of the mind in which we are active ourselves, in what sense may it be said to be a gift of God?
a. God has given us the opportunity to repent.
i. Like the father watching the road from the far country, he has kept the door open and allowed the time when was not obligated to do so.
ii. 2 Peter 3:9
b. God has given us influences that are capable of leading thoughtful and willing people to repentance.
i. The motivation may arise from consideration of his goodness – Romans 2:4.
ii. Or, it may come through conviction of our own sinfulness – Acts 2:37.
c. God has given us a basis upon which repentance may have a meaning which can be accepted.
i. There is no atoning power in saying you are sorry; the power for that is in the work of Christ (Acts 5:30, 31).
ii. Repentance may be done by one who has been headed in an improper direction, but it can only be given by one who is willing and able to absorb the cost.
7. That is why this concept of repentance is an appropriate summary of the gospel of Christ.
a. Luke 24:47 – “And that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”
b. Acts 20:21 – “Testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.”
i. This is the same as “testifying the gospel of the grace of God” (v. 24).
ii. The order in which things are mentioned here is realistic.
(1) First one turns from idols to the true and living God (1 Thes. 1:9).
(2) Then he relies upon what Christ has done for his cleansing and access to the throne of grace.
(3) This is exactly the way in which Paul approached things with the philosophers on Mars Hill: when he had shown them the necessity of repentance toward God, he spoke to them of faith in Christ.
c. Acts 26:20 – “But declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance.”
1. Repentance is God’s most meaningful gift.
a. It means that, by the grace of God, a change of mind is doable.
b. It means that a different direction in life can be the fruit of that change.
c. It means that every other gift may be received gratefully, as if it were a shadow of the immeasurable riches of his grace to be shown us in Christ in the ages to come.
2. Like all of God’s gifts, this one requires our cooperation (Acts 2:38; 8:22).