Repentance, Forgiveness, Power and Understanding Through Grace

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Repentance, Forgiveness, Power and Understanding Through Grace

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True repentance is the first step on our way out of sin—putting us, by God’s grace, on the road to eternal life. But our human efforts are far from enough.

Without God’s help, we cannot accomplish this difficult task of coming to freely admit to Him with shame and regret that we have been totally wrong in our defiance of Him and that we seriously intend to change our ways.

The apostle Paul challenged Christians in Rome with this crucial question: “Do you despise the riches of His [God’s] goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4 Romans 2:4Or despise you the riches of his goodness and forbearance and long-suffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?
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). Indeed, God must grant us repentance (see Acts 11:18 Acts 11:18When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then has God also to the Gentiles granted repentance to life.
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2 Timothy 2:25 2 Timothy 2:25In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;
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).

Acts 2:38 Acts 2:38Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
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;is one of the most crucial passages in the Bible. The apostle Peter cut to the core of what God expects from us when he told his convicted listeners: “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (NIV).

This passage critically shows that our repentance and God’s merciful forgiveness and empowerment are all necessary parts of the overall salvation process. And these all come through His grace.

Since repentance has to occur before forgiveness, let’s look at repentance first.

Repentance in action

The book of Acts covers about 30 years of early Church history. In one sense it is also a record of the repentance of God’s people during the first century.

Paul, like Peter, continually preached the importance of repentance. He testified “to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21 Acts 20:21Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.
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).

He emphasized that promises to turn away from sin had to be reflected in obvious good works. He stated that men and women “should repent and turn to God and demonstrate their repentance by their deeds” (Acts 26:20 Acts 26:20But showed first to them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.
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NIV).

Paul and Barnabas urged the people of Lystra to “turn from these worthless things to the living God” (Acts 14:15 Acts 14:15And saying, Sirs, why do you these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach to you that you should turn from these vanities to the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein:
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NIV). Those who are truly being called by God normally feel a strong sense of urgency to move forward—taking the biblical steps our Creator requires.

Procrastination—putting off God’s clear command to repent and be baptized—gets us nowhere! We have to act on the truth God has revealed to us. Then He will bless us by revealing more truth and helping us to follow Him. This is further pouring out of His grace.

God views sin seriously

God does not view sin lightly! He is deadly serious about it—hating the transgression of His law in any form. When King David broke the Ten Commandments through adultery and murder, the Creator asked him through Nathan the prophet: “Why did you despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in his eyes?” (2 Samuel 12:9 2 Samuel 12:9Why have you despised the commandment of the LORD, to do evil in his sight? you have killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and have taken his wife to be your wife, and have slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon.
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NIV). The shaken king responded, “I have sinned against the Lord.”

But notice Nathan’s reply: “The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die” (2 Samuel 12:13 2 Samuel 12:13And David said to Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD. And Nathan said to David, The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die.
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NIV). David’s sincere, heartfelt repentance is detailed for us in Psalm 51. You should read this psalm to recognize the kind of heart and attitude God wants to see in us.

Our Creator hates what sin does to human beings—the harm it inevitably produces for anyone caught in its clutches. But God has mercifully provided us a way out of sin—at great cost to Himself. Once we really grasp the greatness of God—and really begin to see ourselves in comparison to our Creator like Job did—we are on our way to genuine, heartfelt repentance.

Notice what this ancient patriarch said in reply to God’s personal revelation to him: “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted … My ears had heard of you, but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:2 Job 42:2I know that you can do every thing, and that no thought can be withheld from you.
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; Job 42:5-6 Job 42:5-6 5 I have heard of you by the hearing of the ear: but now my eye sees you. 6 Why I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.
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NIV).

God’s merciful and compassionate forgiveness

King David expressed God’s gracious nature in Psalm 103: “Praise the Lord, my soul … and forget not all his benefits [which are through grace]—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases … The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love … He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.

“For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust” (Psalms 103:1-14 Psalms 103:1-14 1 Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. 2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: 3 Who forgives all your iniquities; who heals all your diseases; 4 Who redeems your life from destruction; who crowns you with loving kindness and tender mercies; 5 Who satisfies your mouth with good things; so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. 6 The LORD executes righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed. 7 He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the children of Israel. 8 The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. 9 He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever. 10 He has not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. 11 For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. 12 As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. 13 Like as a father pities his children, so the LORD pities them that fear him. 14 For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.
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NIV).

Once you have truly repented of your sins, God’s forgiveness is total and complete. He applies the sacrificial blood of His Son Jesus Christ to you personally. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16 John 3:16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
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In His grace and mercy God blots out our transgressions of His law through the sacrifice of Christ, “in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:14 Colossians 1:14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:
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Christ’s atoning sacrifice can and will provide a way to clear our troubled consciences and rid us of guilt: “How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God” (Hebrews 9:14 Hebrews 9:14How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
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NIV).

Empowerment and instruction to eternal life

After repentance and water baptism, we receive God’s Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38 Acts 2:38Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
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). This begins a completely changed life for the true Christian. Once this bridge has been crossed, our salvation is sure—provided we keep to the path of God’s law. As the psalmist wrote, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalms 119:105 Psalms 119:105Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.
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). Spiritual empowerment and instruction here are still further aspects of God’s grace, continuing on to everlasting life.

Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him [the Father] who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he [or she] has crossed over from death to life” (John 5:24 John 5:24Truly, truly, I say to you, He that hears my word, and believes on him that sent me, has everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death to life.
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NIV 1984).

The apostle John repeated this encouraging truth in 1 John 5:11-12 1 John 5:11-12 11 And this is the record, that God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 He that has the Son has life; and he that has not the Son of God has not life.
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: “And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.”

After His resurrection, Jesus, speaking of Himself in the third person, told the apostles that “repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” as a key component of the mission He gave His true followers (Luke 24:47 Luke 24:47And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
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NIV)—to be accomplished through the promised “power from on high,” the Holy Spirit (verse 29).

Now we can see how genuine repentance, followed by God’s merciful and compassionate forgiveness through His grace, along with spiritual empowerment and teaching—all blessings of grace—converge to impart to us true conversion and put us firmly on the road to eternal life! 

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