The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.
Acts: 5:30-31: “‘The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross. He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.’”
Acts 11:17-18: “‘Therefore if God gave to them the same gift as He gave to us also after believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?’ When they heard this, they quieted down and glorified God, saying, ‘Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life.’”
The simple meaning of God granting repentance is God giving the opportunity to be saved, for both Jews and Gentiles alike. However, when Calvinists read “grant them repentance,” they see “Irresistible Grace,” and for secretly elect Jews and secretly elect Gentiles.
Question: Who was Paul talking about that were in “opposition”?
Answer: Paul’s brethren according to the flesh, the Jews. Paul states: “For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea, for you also endured the same sufferings at the hands of your own countrymen, even as they did from the Jews, who both killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out. They are not pleasing to God, but hostile to all men, hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved; with the result that they always fill up the measure of their sins. But wrath has come upon them to the utmost.” (1st Thessalonians 2:14-16)
Question: What does it mean that “perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth”?
Answer: As an example, the Jews for instance, had previously been hardened by God (Isaiah 6:10), for being unrepentant and spurning God. God had said: “I have spread out My hands all day long to a rebellious people, Who walk in the way which is not good, following their own thoughts all day long.” (Isaiah 65:2) However, Paul still loved them dearly. (Romans 9:1-3) Praying for them unceasingly, he encourages Christians to be loving to them, if perhaps God may unharden them, and grant them repentance.
Question: What does it mean to be granted repentance?
Answer: God had only partially hardened Israel. Romans 11:25 states: “...that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.” Paul suggests that since God might grant them repentance, to be patient with them so that they may be more receptive to the Gospel. (See also 1st Corinthians 9:19)
Calvinists treat ‘granting repentance’ as evidence for the Preemptive Regeneration:
John Calvin: “In the hope that God will grant them repentance. The phrase in the hope that, ‘if peradventure,’ or ‘if sometime,’ emphasizes how difficult this is, even to the point of being almost impossible. Paul means that gentleness should be shown even to those who least deserve it, and even if at first there is no apparent hope of making progress, still the challenge must be accepted. Paul reminds us that God will grant this for the same reason. Since the conversion of a person is in God’s hands, who can say whether those who today seem to be unteachable may be suddenly changed through God’s power into different people?” (1 & 2 Timothy & Titus: Calvin, The Crossway Classic Commentaries, p.145, emphasis mine)
Calvin offers a combination of Total Depravity (Total Inability) with a combination of irresistible, Preemptive Regeneration. Calvinism is almost its own language, so let’s break down its many terms:
“Impossible”: By this, Calvin implies Total Depravity (Total Inability) for someone to surrender to Christ when Jesus comes knocking and the Holy Spirit comes convicting.
“In God’s hands”: By this, Calvin doesn’t mean that God simply enables a person to repent, believe and be saved, but rather, unilaterally makes them preemptively Born Again in order to have their will involuntarily changed, i.e. Irresistible Grace.
“God’s power”: By this, Calvin refers to the aforementioned, unilateral Regenerative Grace.
In this sense, he ponders why a person mysteriously goes from rebellion to repentance, and he attributes it to Elective Grace and Irresistible Grace.
Calvinist paraphrase: “With gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them [regeneration] leading to the knowledge of the truth.”
However, this doesn’t say anything about regeneration. This is talking about repentance. However, in the mind of a Calvinist, one cannot repent apart from regeneration, so it might as well say regeneration. However, such an interpretation is negated by Acts 5:31 which states: “He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.” Should we understand from this that because God granted repentance to Israel that He regenerated Israel? Of course not. What God was doing was taking those whom He had previously hardened and granted them the ability to repent. Previously, this is what God said concerning Israel: “Render the hearts of this people insensitive, their ears dull, and their eyes dim, otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and return and be healed.” (Isaiah 6:10) However, after the cross, God granted them repentance through the preaching of the Gospel. Peter stated to the Jews: “‘Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ--this Jesus whom you crucified.’ Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brethren, what shall we do?’ Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.’” (Acts 2:36-39) How exactly does God grant anyone repentance? You might also ask, how is anyone able to repent? The answer is that it starts with the Holy Spirit, who convicts the world of its sin. Jesus stated: “And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.” (John 16:8) Who does the Holy Spirit convict? The world. So when Paul speaks of God granting repentance, he is speaking about God sending the Holy Spirit to convict people of their sin. The whole idea of God “perhaps” granting “repentance” to the apostate opposition to the Gospel, speaks of God granting the ability for repentance through the Holy Spirit and the preaching of the Gospel. Jesus loves them and gives them the opportunity through the preaching of the Gospel, and that’s why Jesus entreats us to pray that God would send people to preach the Gospel to the lost. Jesus said: “Beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” (Luke 10:2) It is through the preaching of the Gospel that the Holy Spirit convicts people of their sin so that they may be able to repent, believe and be saved.
Question: Why did Paul emphasize “gentleness”?
Answer: Does our gentle-witness somehow induce Calvinistic Regenerative Grace? There is no way that a Calvinist would agree with that. Conversely, would rudeness somehow undo a unilateral regeneration? Again, a Calvinist would not agree with that either. Calvinism teaches a unilateral, irresistible, preemptive regeneration, which no man is able to thwart, and therefore Calvinism makes absolutely no sense in light of this passage. However, if regeneration comes after repentance, in contrast to Calvinism, then “gentleness” makes a big difference, so that with their God-given capacity to decide, a gentile loving witness can help open their heart to Christ. (Acts 14:1; Acts 26:18) So once again, Calvinism is at odds with Scripture.
John Calvin: “So when we remember that repentance is God’s gift and work, we will put even more strongly, and be encouraged by this assurance, and will put even more effort and care in the instruction of rebels. We should consider it our duty to sow and to water, and while we do this, we should expect that God will give the increase.” (1 & 2 Timothy & Titus: Calvin, The Crossway Classic Commentaries, p.145, emphasis mine)
To Calvin, both faith and repentance are unique gifts for “the elect” [in the Father]. However, faith comes from hearing the Gospel (Romans 10:17), just as repentance is prompted by the conviction of the Holy Spirit, through the preaching of the Gospel. Luke 24:47 states: “And that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” Granting repentance is not just for a select few, but to all the nations, and that being both collectively and distributively: To the Jew first and then to the Gentile. And what is “all the nations” except all the units of every nation, which is tantamount to saying all men, and it is “all men” that Jesus draws to Himself. (John 12:32)
John Calvin: “In this way our endeavors and efforts are by themselves useless, and yet by God’s favor they are not fruitless. We can also infer from this what repentance means for those who were for a time obedient to God. Paul says that it begins with knowledge of the truth, meaning that man’s mind is blinded so long as he stubbornly holds out against God and his teaching. Illumination is followed by release from the devil’s grip. Unbelievers are so intoxicated by Satan that in their stupor they are unaware of their misery. But when God shines the light of his truth on us, he wakes us up out of our deadly sleep, breaks through the chains that bind us, and makes us obey him.” (1 & 2 Timothy & Titus: Calvin, The Crossway Classic Commentaries, p.145, emphasis mine)
“Our endeavors and efforts”: By this, Calvin means the preaching of the Gospel.
“God’s favor”: By this, Calvin means Elective Grace, for the alleged, eternal flock of the Father.
“Man is blinded, stubbornly holds out”: By this, Calvin means Total Depravity (Total Inability).
“Illumination”: By this, Calvin means Regenerative Grace.
It is clear that John Calvin plays lip-service to the power of the Gospel (Romans 1:16), and has not one solitary shred of confidence in the preaching of the Gospel, apart from Preemptive Regeneration. To Calvin, there is only “power” in the Gospel (Romans 1:16) if it’s accompanied by Regenerative Grace. Believe it or not, that is virtually what Calvin admitted:
John Calvin: “Now let Pighius asseverate that God wills all to be saved, when not even the external preaching of the doctrine, which is much inferior to the illumination of the Spirit, is made common to all.” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, p.109, emphasis mine)
So the living and active Word of God is inferior to Irresistible Grace, no, “much inferior.”
John Calvin, commenting on Acts 5:31, writes: “‘That he might give repentance.’ Here the apostles showed how Christ rules for the people’s salvation--that is, when he brings his own repentance and reconciles them to God through forgiveness of sins. We know that the heart of the Gospel is contained in these two things.” (Acts: Calvin, The Crossway Classic Commentaries, p.80, emphasis mine)
“His own”: By this, Calvin means the alleged, elect in the Father. According to Calvin, in order to receive repentance, you must first be one of “his own,” in terms of the Calvinisticly Elect.
John Calvin: “Repentance is a voluntary conversion, but the source of this is God’s changing our hearts, making a heart of flesh out of a heart of stone, making a pliable heart out of a hard heart, and making straight what was once crooked. This happens when Christ gives us new birth through his Spirit.” (Acts: Calvin, The Crossway Classic Commentaries, p.80, emphasis mine)
“Repentance is voluntary”: By this, Calvin is about to suggest that Preemptive Regeneration is not.
“Making a heart of flesh out of a heart of stone”: Calvin refers to Ezekiel 36:26.
“New Birth”: By this, Calvin means that unless a man is Born Again, he can neither repent nor believe.
Calvinism is absolutely loaded with its own terminology. Therefore, when non-Calvinists read the works of Calvinists, they need to be aware of its subtleties, in order to decode its many subtleties.