London Baptist Confession of Faith:
This saving repentance is an evangelical grace, whereby a person, being by the Holy Spirit made sensible of the manifold evils of his sin, doth, by faith in Christ, humble himself for it with godly sorrow, detestation of it, and self-abhorrency, praying for pardon and strength of grace, with a purpose and endeavour, by supplies of the Spirit, to walk before God unto all well-pleasing in all things. ( Zechariah 12:10; Acts 11:18; Ezekiel 36:31; 2 Corinthians 7:11; Psalms 119:6; Psalms 119:128 ) chp. 15.3
Special faith in Christ is of the operation of the Spirit of God:
he produces it by his mighty power in the soul;
he enlightens the mind,
reveals the object,
brings near Christ, his righteousness and salvation, and
enables the sensible sinner to look unto him,
lay hold on him,
and receive his as his Savior and Redeemer;
hence he is called the Spirit of faith (2 Cor. 4:13);
because he is the author of it, who begins and carries on, and
will perform the work of faith with power:
the principal use of which grace is to receive all from Christ, and
give him the glory.
God has put this honor upon it, to constitute and appoint it to be the receiver-general of all the blessings of grace.
It receives Christ himself as the Father’s free-gift;
it receives out of the fulness of Christ,
even grace for grace,
or and abundance of it;
it receives the blessing of righteousness from the Lord of justification;
it receives the remission of sins through his blood, according to the gospel-declaration;
it receives the adoption of children,
in consequence of the way being opened for it through the redemption which is in Christ;
it receives the inheritance among them that are sanctified,
the right unto it, and the claim upon it; and to this post it is advanced,
that all the glory might redound to the grace of God; it is of faith, that it might be by grace (Rom. 4:16).
Again, The London Baptist Confession of 1689 reads;
“The grace of faith, whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls, is the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts,”
“By this faith a Christian believeth to be true whatsoever is revealed in the Word for the authority of God himself”
“and so is enabled to cast his soul upon the truth thus believed”
“This saving repentance is an evangelical grace, whereby a person, being by the Holy Spirit made sensible of the manifold evils of his sin”
The idea that all men everywhere must repent is biblical, BUT, the repentance required of the reprobate is legal. All men are guilty of breaking God’s law and therefore must repent of their deeds and they never do. Sure, unsaved people feel guilt or regret over their sins but they still rage against the holy and living God. Only the elect are given the “evangelical grace” of repentance and faith that leads to eternal life.
John Gill’s comments on Acts 20.21 are useful in understanding this subject and so, I post them below.
Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks,…. To the Jews first in their synagogue, and then to both Jews and Greeks, or Gentiles, in the school of Tyrannus; opening and explaining to both the nature and use, urging and insisting upon, and proving by undeniable testimonies the necessity,
of repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ: the former of these is not a legal repentance, but an evangelical one; which flows from a sense of the love of God, and an application of pardoning grace and mercy, and is always attended with hope, at least of interest in it, and as here with faith in Christ Jesus:
it lies in a true sight and sense of sin, as exceeding sinful, being contrary to the nature and law of God, and a deformation of the image of God in man, as well as followed with dreadful and pernicious consequences; and in a godly sorrow for it, as it is committed against a God of infinite purity and holiness, and of love, grace, and mercy; and it shows itself in shame for sin, and blushing at it, and in an ingenious confession of it, and forsaking it: and the latter of these is not an historical faith, or an assent of the mind to whatsoever is true concerning the person, office, and grace of Christ; but is a spiritual act of the soul upon him;
it is a looking and going out to him, a laying hold and leaning on him, and trusting in him, for grace, righteousness, peace, pardon, life, and salvation. Now these two were the sum of the apostle’s ministry; this is a breviary or compendium of it; a form of sound words held fast and published by him: and as these two go together as doctrines in the ministry of the word, they go together as graces in the experience of the saints; where the one is, there the other is; they are wrought in the soul at one and the same time, by one and the same hand;
the one is not before the other in order of time, however it may be in order of working, or as to visible observation; repentance is mentioned before faith, not that it precedes it, though it may be discerned in its outward acts before it; yet faith as to its inward exercise on Christ is full as early, if not earlier; souls first look to Christ by faith, and then they mourn in tears of evangelical repentance, Zec 12:10 though the order of the Gospel ministry is very fitly here expressed, which is first to lay before sinners the evil of sin, and their danger by it, in order to convince of it, and bring to repentance for it; and then to direct and encourage them to faith in Christ Jesus, as in the case of the jailer, Ac 16:29 and this is, generally speaking, the order and method in which the Holy Spirit proceeds;
he is first a spirit of conviction and illumination, he shows to souls the exceeding sinfulness of sin, causes them to loath it and themselves for it, and humbles them under a sense of it; and then he is a spirit of faith, he reveals Christ unto them as God’s way or salvation, and works faith in them to believe in him. Moreover, these two, repentance and faith, were the two parts of Christ’s ministry, Mr 1:15 and are what, he would have published and insisted on, in the preaching of the word, Lu 24:47 so that the ministry of the apostle was very conformable to the mind and will of Christ. [end quote]
Yours in the Lord,