“Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.”Acts 8:22
Repentance is a command, not an invitation. God commands all men everywhere to repent, He can do no less because He is Holy and Just. And yet, repentance is a gift (2 Timothy 2:25). Therefore, God the Father grants repentance as a gift exclusively to those He has chosen in Christ from eternity, and for whom His Son the LORD Jesus paid their sin debt. Repentance and faith are one and the same gift. Those that repent toward God are caused to believe on the LORD Jesus Christ as ALL their righteousness before Holy God. All who are caused to believe on Christ, repent toward God, and bow to Him completely, owning His right to save or condemn, Acts 20:21.
Do you take issue with God saving some and passing by others? “What saith the Scriptures, Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonor?” Romans 9:20,21. God is not required to save anyone, but those He does, He grants repentance toward God even faith toward the LORD Jesus.
So what of Simon of whom Peter declared, ‘Repent therefore of this thy wickedness…’? Evidently, although he heard the word declared, and saw the mighty power of God in delivering others by saving grace, his one interest was only that he might obtain the power of choice for the pouring out of the Spirit of God per Simon’s own choosing, Acts 8:19. Isn’t it amazing that Simon would deny God the right to grant His Spirit to whom HE will, and yet want to buy such a right for himself? Here is the evidence of the fallen depraved nature that will not have God to be God, but rather have man to be as God, Genesis 3:5.
Here then is the wickedness of Simon’s heart for which Peter commanded him to repent. And yet his cry fell on deaf ears and a hardened heart, because rather than fear God, Simon feared simply God’s retribution for his prideful thoughts. There are many who fear God’s judgment, and yet no fear of GOD is before their eyes, Romans 3:18. T-shirts that some wear with the words ‘No Fear,’ boldly displayed demonstrate that such have never known the true and living God. Any who seek to approach unto Him in any other way than the blood sacrifice, once for all slain, there remains no more sacrifice for sin and “a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries,” Hebrews 10:26,27.
‘Repent,’ a command that is impossible but for the grace and will of God, yet without which no one will see God. ‘And pray God.’ Why God? Because He alone grants repentance to those He has purposed to save. Ultimately, Simon would not pray God, but requested Peter to pray for him, because God had not given Simon the cry, having already purposed His condemnation. Neither did Peter pray for Simon, God not having given Peter a cry for Simon. So ends the narrative. Sobering, yes! And yet, God alone be praised if He has forgiven any of us for Christ’s sake!
‘If perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee,’ is not conditioned on a work we must do, but the work of the LORD Jesus Christ alone. Forgiveness of sins, as is repentance, are the fruit of Christ’s redemption accomplished at Calvary by His shed blood unto death. Therein lies the only hope of sinners to whom God grants repentance. “Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: 47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem,” Luke 24:46,47
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