The Signs of the Times


March 18, 1903

Christ Gives Repentance


Many think that repentance is a work which devolves wholly upon man, but this is an error. The Bible does not teach that man must repent before he comes to Christ. Repentance must precede forgiveness; but the sinner does not repent till he has faith in Christ as his mediator. Christ is the author and finisher of our faith. His love, shining from the cross, speaks eloquently of the sufferings of the only-begotten Son of God for fallen man. This love draws sinners to Him. The transgressor may resist this love; he may refuse to be drawn to Christ; but if he does not resist, he will be led to the foot of the cross, in repentance for the sins that caused the death of the Son of God. ST March 18, 1903, par. 1

If it were possible for man of himself to repent, Christ's atoning sacrifice would be in vain. But this is not possible. Repentance comes from Christ just as verily as does pardon. It is a false theory which teaches that repentance is a work which man must do himself, without any special help from Christ. If one step in the way of salvation could be taken without Christ, every step could be taken without Him. But without His help, the sinner can not take the first step in this way. The grace that brings forgiveness brings also contrition and repentance. ST March 18, 1903, par. 2

It is true that great reformations in outward conduct are made by those who have never expressed faith in Christ, and who may not have even a knowledge of Him. But it is none the less true that it is the influence of His grace that put into their hearts the desire to reform. The change in their life is the result of a blind faith. Ignorantly they worship that which leads them to respect true manhood. If they continue to walk toward the light, increased light will shine upon them; and they will bow in adoration before God, filled with gratitude for the love that led Him to give His only-begotten Son as a sacrifice for the lost race. ST March 18, 1903, par. 3

The repentance that God accepts is a repentance that needs not to be repented of,—a repentance revealed by a radical change of mind and heart. The heart must be brought into subjection to Christ, and a repentance that brings about such a change can never originate with man. Only from Him who declared, “I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me,” can such repentance proceed. As the sinner yields to the drawing power of Christ's love, sorrow for sin and a desire to turn from his evil ways fill his heart, and as he seeks help from God, strength from on high is given him. The Saviour says, “Let him take hold of My strength, that he may make peace with Me; and he shall make peace with Me.” ST March 18, 1903, par. 4

Those whom God pardons He first makes penitent. Some will say that this leaves man with nothing to do, with no part in the struggle against sin. This is not so; all the powers with which man has been entrusted must be employed in the effort to do the will of God. Man can never be saved in indolence. Christ declared, “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work;” and those for whom He has given His life are to be co-workers with Him. We must watch and pray, lest we enter into temptation. We must fight against pride, self-exaltation, jealousy, evil thinking, and evil-speaking. Our earnest effort to overcome the evil in our characters will make manifest the sincerity of our prayers. ST March 18, 1903, par. 5

We must exercise faith in God. “Without faith it is impossible to please Him; for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.” It is by faith alone that we can claim His promise, saying, “I receive the things I ask for; Thy Word is sure; it can not fail.” ST March 18, 1903, par. 6

We must be willing to realize our need. Those who feel that they are sinful and poor and wretched are the very ones to whom the invitation of mercy is extended. Jesus says, “I came not to call the righteous,”—those who are clothed with the garments of their own righteousness,—“but sinners to repentance.” Those who are rich and honorable in their own estimation do not hunger and thirst after righteousness. They feel no need; therefore they do not ask for and receive the blessing of God. ST March 18, 1903, par. 7

Without the help of the Saviour, fallen man could never keep the law of God. But how glorious is the truth of the atonement? What a firm foundation have the saints of the Most High on which to place their hope of salvation! Not one of God's promises can fail. Through the righteousness of Christ the condemned sinner may be purified and made white. The Redeemer has carried the world's burden of guilt and woe, and He is able to strengthen His children for the conflicts that day by day they will meet in the path to heaven. ST March 18, 1903, par. 8