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For by grace you have
been saved through faith,
and that not of yourselves;
it is the gift of God.
Ephesians 2:8 WEB

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Gifted with Repentance

Have you ever thought of repentance is a gift? It sure doesn't feel that way! Usually, when we realize that we have done wrong, we feel guilt which feels lousy—not at all like receiving a present. We may also feel fear ("What kind of trouble am I in now?  Is God going to be mad at me?"). That certainly doesn't feel like a blessing! We may also feel the sting of wounded pride and shame ("How could I have done that? I'll just die if _____ finds out!"). Not good, right? Just guessing, you probably didn’t like to take your medicine either.

For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. 2 Corinthians 7:10 ESV
 

Why We Have It Better Than the Angels

Have you ever thought about why we get to repent and the angels didn’t? Sometimes it helps to see something that feels onerous in a different light. Repentance can be onerous: We hate Man at the Cross : The Grace of Return by Repentancegetting it wrong and having to go back to someone to apologize. Even worse is having “our noses rubbed in it” by someone who is lording over our moment of abasement. Being “called on the carpet” by God may seem like the ultimate affront to our dignity. But perhaps we are seeing repentance in the wrong light.

You don’t “have to” repent. That’s the God’s honest truth. You could easily refuse to repent and guarantee hell as your ultimate destination. That is your choice and no one, not even God who loves you best, will ever take your control over that decision away from you.[1] You alone get to choose life or death, blessing or cursing. God can’t choose it for you—or you would be enslaved to His will. He wants you free! But He will do everything in His power to help you see that choice (and every other choice) in the best possible light, so that you can make the right decision, if you want to. One definition of grace is that God is giving us time to turn around and helping us see our need to turn to Him.

The angels didn’t get that. Why? One third of the heavenly host fell from grace in an instant, never to recover, never to repent.[2] We have been falling for six thousand years![3] God is always sending His Word to us, His Spirit to us, and His servants to us to try to get us to turn before we burn. Not only that (though that should be sufficient), He whispers within our conscience and shouts at us through the glory of creation’s beauty.[4] If we still don’t get the message that we are going the wrong way, He allows consequences to work us over.[5] Don’t blame Him for the pain: Whenever we choose to sin, we are also choosing the consequence that comes with it. It’s a real world, a moral and spiritual universe not of our making, with consequences going out in every direction.

Why weren’t the angels given our blessing of being wooed and winnowed into repentance? In one terrible moment of time they made their decision and God made His. God saw their rebellion and they were instantly, finally and fatally banished from His presence. No right of appeal, no opportunities for pardon, only the unbending decree: “Depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness.”[6] Why? Here it is in a nutshell: They were born into the light; we were born in darkness.

The angels always live in that realm of spirit now invisible to us; there is nothing hindering their spiritual vision. They could see the Lord God in all of His beauty and majesty and still freely chose to reject Him, following Lucifer instead into eternal darkness. It was impossible for God to reveal more of Himself than they were already seeing, so their decision to turn away from the Light was irreversible. Not so with us.

We have been “in the dark” from the beginning. That’s our problem—we are blinded by our sins and our ancestral separation from being able to see God as originally intended. But the problem is also our salvation. The “safety net” God created for us is the material world. That same veil of time and space which now keeps us from seeing God also gives us the opportunity for God’s saving grace to work. It is because we cannot see directly by heaven’s Light that we have the opportunity to repent and return to it. As Jesus comes into our lives, the “lights go on” and God begins a slow, lifelong process of drawing us out of darkness into His marvelous light.[7] One step of repentance at a time.
 

Next "Free Gift" to Open

Gifted with Resurrection  Naturally enough, the big resurrection that has all of us shouting is that Jesus has been raised from the dead. Because He lives, we have a solid hope that one day we too will be raised from death to live eternally with Him. But don’t stop there. Many things go down towards death: hopes die, relationships die, careers die, loved ones die, dreams die. Our need for “resurrections” is life-long!
 

Repentance Scriptures

"Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Matthew 3:2-3 ESV

“I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance." Luke 5:32 ESV

Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. Luke 15:7 ESV

And that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. Luke 24:47 ESV

God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. Acts 5:31 ESV

Testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Acts 20:21 ESV

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. Acts 26:20 ESV

Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? Romans 2:4 ESV

For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. 2 Corinthians 7:10 ESV

And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. 2 Timothy 2:24-26 ESV

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 2 Peter 3:9 ESV


Scriptures and Foot Notes

[1]  I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days. Deuteronomy 30:19-20 ESV
[2]  One third is the scholarly consensus. While it is certain that an enormous host of angels fell to their damnation under the spell of Lucifer’s deception, there are only hints about the actual extent of it in scripture. See Hebrews 12:22 and Revelation 12:3-9 for two of these allusions.
[3]  The Biblical texts carry a timeline that shows about 2000 years from Adam (the first who fell) to Abraham (the first to walk by faith), 2000 years from Abraham to Jesus, and of course 2000 years from Jesus to now.
[4]  For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. Romans 1:19-20 ESV
[5]  Do not be deceived and deluded and misled; God will not allow Himself to be sneered at (scorned, disdained, or mocked by mere pretensions or professions, or by His precepts being set aside.) [He inevitably deludes himself who attempts to delude God.] For whatever a man sows, that and that only is what he will reap. For he who sows to his own flesh (lower nature, sensuality) will from the flesh reap decay and ruin and destruction, but he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Galatians 6:7-8 AMP
[6]  I am taking “poetic license” here. No one knows—because the exact words are not recorded in scripture—what God said to the angels who fell. But Jesus has told us what will finally be said to us if we don’t repent: “And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'” Matthew 7:23 ESV
[7]  But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 1 Peter 2:9 ESV

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Rescued from Hell

I'm Steve, a former hippie and carpenter, now a passionate follower of Jesus.

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