But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,” (John 1:12, ESV)

One of the perennial dangers facing the Christian is to separate the benefits of the gospel from the Christ who gives them. Thinking like this tends to make the gospel transaction impersonal and, in the worst of cases, legal in nature. Permit me to explain: The sinner comes to the table with his sin and Christ comes to give forgiveness and a title to heaven. What must the sinner do to ‘persuade’ Christ to give the forgiveness he so desperately needs? The conventional answer is simple: repent and believe the gospel. This is our part. We do it and Christ grants forgiveness. Do you see a problem here? In such a scheme, faith and repentance become graces that qualify us for Christ. We must have them before we come to the Savior, or, so this logic goes, He will never take us in. Do you see a problem here? Such thinking puts too much stress on the sinner and tends to abstract faith and repentance from the Savior - as if we were capable of such exalted religious feelings outside of Christ. Worse still, such thinking leads inexorably to doubt: Have I believed well enough? Have I repented sincerely enough? If I must bring faith to the Savior, how much faith must I bring? If I must repent from my sins before I come to the Savior, how fully must I repent? What about sins that have me enslaved? I cannot break them without His help, and yet, am I to break myself free in order to come to Him? In the end, following this line of thought, I am left forever wondering, have I done my part well enough to persuade Jesus to do His?

The answer to this conundrum is not more doing, it is not more faith, and it's certainly not more repentance. The answer is simply Christ. Christ is the gospel. He is enough. God calls us to receive Him (to as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God). Christ offers to give Himself. Faith’s only role is to receive Him — not His benefits. All of His benefits are inside of Him. When we welcome Him into our souls, all the riches of heaven come with Him. It is not benefits that Christ stands ready to give us, it is Himself. The only question the gospel leaves on our lap is this: will you have Him? 

The giving of ourselves to Him in repentance, self-denial, and cross bearing come later — never as qualifications for coming, but simply as consequences of our coming. There are no “ifs” in Christ’s gospel offer. The gospel is not, I will save you if you feel sorry enough for your sins (contrition), or if you say sorry enough for your sins (confession), or if you prove you're sorry enough for your sins (penance). The gospel is Jesus standing before us, fully willing to give Himself and all that He has to us as a free gift. To take us as His bride forever — for better, for worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health; in failure and in success; in faithfulness and in failure. Whatever happens, He will not leave us, forsake us, or abandon us. He will never be ashamed of us. He will bear the full cost of our redemption. He will bring us home to God. Faith is simply saying, “Yes! Of Course I’ll take you! I do! I do! I do!”

Receiving such an offer changes a person from the inside out. How could it not! No one has ever loved us like this before, and no one will ever love us like this again. In response, what can we say? — What do we all say…

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

This is repentance and it is an evangelical grace {a grace that comes after the gospel not before — a grace given to a soul that already has Christ, and with Him, every blessing God has to give (Ephesians 1:3ff)}. 

So Christian, when you come to Jesus worry not about your believing, your repenting, or your doing. Your Savior says, “You have better doings to be thinking about. Think not of what you can do for me. Think only of what I have done for you. At the bar of infinite justice, it is enough.” ‘Take me on these terms, and you shall have me forever! I will never let you go.”