“I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house, testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” Acts 20:20-21
“Repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” always go hand in hand. You cannot have one without the other. This is the only way that sinners obtain eternal salvation. Both are necessary. And both are vital. Because both are gifts of God’s grace.
True repentance is “toward God.”
Paul preached “repentance toward God,” because there is a repentance that is not toward God. There is a legal repentance that is no more than a sense of guilt, a dread of God’s wrath, and a fear of Hell. But repentance toward God is produced by the goodness of God (Romans 2:4), not the wrath of God. It comes from the revelation of redemption by Christ (Zechariah 12:10), not from the fear of judgment.
Repentance, in its essence, is a change of heart toward God, as illustrated in the prodigal son (Luke 15:14-20), the publican (Luke 18:13), and David (Psalm 51:4).
Repentance is the honest acknowledgment and confession of sin to God (1 John 1:9). It is an acknowledgment by a person that he has offended God by his sin, that his very heart is enmity against God, and that it is right for God to punish him for his sin (Psalm 51:4; Romans 8:7).
Repentance is sitting in judgment with God against yourself, abhorring yourself by reason of your sin, and pleading for mercy on the basis of pure grace through the merits of Christ alone. Only God Himself can cause a person thus to repent (Acts 5:31; Jeremiah 31:18; Lamentations 5:21).
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