Repentance and Coming to Christ
Some sinners think that they cannot come to Christ unless they experience repentance, and that repentance prepares for the forgiveness of their sins. It is true that repentance is necessary for salvation and it does come before the forgiveness of sins. But should the sinner wait till he has repented before he can come to Jesus?
The Bible does not teach that the sinner must repent before he can accept the invitation of Christ that says, “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Sinners can’t repent without the Spirit of Christ to awaken their conscience. “Can an Ethiopian change his skin or a leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil” (Jeremiah 13:23). No one can change his evil nature without the help of God (Romans 3:9–12; 7:22–8:4).
Christ is the source of every right impulse. He is the only One that can implant in the heart hate to sin. Every desire for truth and purity, every conviction of sin, is an evidence that His Spirit is moving upon the hearts (Romans 8:13,14). Paul wrote, “for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (Philippians 2:13). The power for salvation comes from God, and this power works in His children to achieve His good purpose. Thus, God gives the stimulus for the initial determination to receive salvation and the strength to make that decision possible (2 Thessalonians 3:3).
This does not mean that people are completely passive beings, subject only to God’s will, but that God awakens the desire to be saved and the sinner goes to Christ for help. Thus, redemption is seen as a cooperative work between God and His children. “We work together with God” (2 Corinthians 6:1). Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). People abide in God by daily study of the Scriptures and prayer.
Therefore, every sinner must go to Christ as he is even though if he doesn’t feel sorrow over sin and is weak. A sinner realizes that he is wicked when he compares his life to God’s moral law (Exodus 20:2-17). And when he understands he has broken the law, he must go right away to Christ for help, cleansing and receive power to overcome (Ezekiel 36:26).
In His service,