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)
We will never fully appreciate what a deep and awesome thing conversion is until we own up to the fact that it is a miracle. It is a gift of God.
Recall again that we not only sin, but we also are sinful — blind, hard, dead, unable to submit to the law of God. And so when we hear the gospel, we will never respond positively unless God performs the miracle of regeneration.
Repentance and faith are our work. But we will not repent and believe unless God does his work to overcome our hard and rebellious hearts. This divine work is called regeneration. Our work is called conversion.
Conversion does indeed include an act of will by which we renounce sin and submit ourselves to the authority of Christ and put our hope and trust in him. We are responsible to do this and will be condemned if we don’t.
But just as clearly, the Bible teaches that, owing to our hard heart and willful blindness and spiritual insensitivity, we cannot do this. We must first experience the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit.
The Scriptures promised long ago that God would devote himself to this work in order to create for himself a faithful people.