And when they arrived and gathered the church together, they declared all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles. (Acts 14:27 ESV)
And when he [Apollos] wished to cross to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him. When he arrived, he greatly helped those who through grace had believed … (Acts 18:27 ESV)
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV)
Or what about true biblical repentance … is it solely my response to the message preached or ultimately from God? Take a look at these verses?
God exalted him [Christ] at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.
(Acts 5:31 ESV)
When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.” (Acts 11:18 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 come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. (2 Timothy
So, I guess the obvious question is why is it necessary for God to give us the faith and repentance that are required by Him to be reconciled to Him and to be given eternal life? Can’t you and I simply exercise our will and believe?
The answer unfortunately is “no.” We all are in constant rebellion to God and do not, at any point, seek after God (see Psalm 14:2-3). As Geoff Thomas puts it, “Man does not possess a free will…The will is in the chains of an evil human nature. You who extol the free will as a great force are clinging to a root of pride. Man as fallen in sin is utterly helpless and hopeless. The will of man offers no hope. It was the will of our first parents choosing the forbidden fruit that brought us into misery. The powerful grace of God is the only source of deliverance.”
The prophet Ezekiel recorded that it was necessary for the Lord to give us a new heart—a heart of flesh in place of a heart of stone—in order that we would turn back to God and walk faithfully in all His ways. In chapter 36 we read:
I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God. (Ezekiel 36:25-28 ESV)
In the end, the child of God has nothing to boast in—no possession of a greater faith than his lost neighbor, no greater amount of intellect or perseverance in seeing and following the light. It is all of God and to Him belongs all the credit, honor and glory.
“A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven.” (John 3:27 ESV)
What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it? (1 Corinthians 4:7 ESV)
“For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:34-36 ESV)