Perhaps one of the most compact and clear statements of the grace of God toward us is found in Acts 11:18, “Then to the Gentile also God has granted repentance that leads to life.”
The early leaders of the Christian church, who were all Jewish, made that statement. These leaders had just heard how Peter, the leader among the leaders, preached the gospel to a Gentile (non-Jewish) man named Cornelius. Cornelius, along with other Gentiles with him, received and believed the gospel, and was given the gift of the Holy Spirit. The movement in their hearts toward Christ was called repentance. Repentance means to turn. They turned to Christ. This turning led to life.
How are we to understand the repentance that leads to life?
God grants the repentance that leads to life. The early Jewish leaders of the Christian church realized that people do not turn to Jesus on their own. They understood that repentance is a human response that happens as the Spirit of God works in many ways to turn people to Christ. When they saw Gentiles for the first time turning to Christ, they could not refute the fact that God had done this. So they simply rejoiced.
Are you rejoicing today that God has granted you repentance that leads to life?
The repentance that leads to life is for all kinds of people. Gentile? Yes! Those who these Jewish leaders would previously not eat with are now being welcomed into the church of Jesus Christ. Your nationality, race, previous behavior, lack or abundance of prior religious experience or personal goodness, or any other quality about you makes no difference in repentance. God grants this gift to all kinds of people and all people must repent from all things to turn to Christ.
Are you rejoicing today that nothing about you prevents God from granting you the repentance that leads to life?
The repentance that leads to life is for salvation. This is a controversial point of the gospel. Salvation requires repentance. Turning to Jesus in faith to follow him is the only way a person is saved.
Do you hear this call to repent and believe in Jesus?
The repentance that leads to life is the way of discipleship. This is a misunderstood point of the gospel. Discipleship requires ongoing repentance. Yes, we repent and believe to be saved. And our ongoing growth in Christ and the transformation of our character to be like him requires that we continue to turn from our self-life to follow him.
Are you living close enough to Jesus that you are hearing how to repent on a daily basis?
Repentance leads to life. In repentance we are being turned from the death that results from sin to the life that is ours through forgiveness of sin. We are made alive to God. We live with Jesus now and forever.
Are you expressing the life of God in you today?
I hope you will read Acts 10 & 11 this weekend and join us Sunday as we worship together.