Acts 20:21

Tom Harding

“…..Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ”–Acts 20:21.

Faith and repentance are always joined together, where you find one you find the other (Acts 20:21). Faith and repentance are both gifts from above, not virtues produced from within (Acts 5:31; 11:18; Eph. 2:8-9). They come at the same time, and are given by the sovereign grace of God. The only thing that is native to a totally depraved heart is sin and unbelief (Rom. 3:9-12). We have all planted gardens before. Corn and beans and tomatoes are not native to the soil. You had to prepare the ground, add the fertilizer, pour in some water, and then purpose to sow the seed. The only thing that is native to our gardens are weeds of all kinds, that must be pulled out. So likewise, God is the Husbandman, He must prepare the ground (Matt. 13.23), add in the fertilizer of power and the water of life, and by a mighty operation of grace sows the seed of life in the heart of the sinner (Col. 2:12; James 1:18; 1Peter 1:23;). The results of God's preparing, power and planting are faith and repentance, which are the evidences of the new birth, not the cause (I John 5:1). Most religious people in our day have made a carnal act and a fleshly work out of faith and repentance, rather than the gifts of sovereign grace that are revealed within.

Something else we need to remember about faith and repentance, they have never atoned for sin! It is clearly taught all the way through scriptures, "It is the blood that maketh atonement for the soul" (Lev. 17:11); "In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace" (Eph. 1:7). Saving faith and genuine repentance promptly and openly confess that Jesus Christ is God's only redemption and remedy for sin, and gladly embraces Him as Lord and Saviour (John 5:24; Heb.11:13). They also fully confess the truth of salvation by grace (2Tim. 2:25; Titus 1:1) Furthermore, faith and repentance, is an ongoing process in the regenerated believer, not an isolated act. Genuine faith and sincere repentance continues to develop and grow in the sinner’s heart (2 Peter 3:18). As we see more and more of our sinful nature and wicked heart, this causes us to look more eagerly to Jesus Christ, crucified and exalted (1 Cor. 2:2; Heb.1:3; 12:2) with certain and full expectation of salvation and pardon from all sin by His precious blood (I John 1:7).

God has joined these two graces together, therefore let us not try to put them asunder (Matt. 19:6). But rather, rejoice that God has been pleased to sovereignly grant them to those who otherwise would surely perish in their sin (Luke 13:3).

Tom Harding, Pastor
Zebulon Baptist Church
Pikeville, Ky.


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