Those who believe in the sovereignty of God ought to be the most kind instead of belligerent, and the most patient instead of panicked, in discussions with those who disagree. This is true logically; it is inconsistent to act as if you make the difference while saying that God makes the difference. So it is an issue of being consistent. It is also an issue of obeying God’s command.
the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. (2 Timothy 2:24–25)
Act in accordance with your doctrine, and that doctrine is displayed in the next sentence. As the Lord’s servant behaves himself, “God may perhaps grant them repentance.” Turning from sin is a gift of God, a work of His independent grace.
But what particularly interests me is the result of repentance. “God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth.”
Repentance precedes knowledge. Sin is blindness,. and God gives the gift of open eyes. Sin is willful error, and God gives the gift of hating falsehood. Sin is slavery to lies, and God gives the gift of freedom from confusion.
This is God’s work in unbelievers, those who are caught in “the snare of the devil,” those who were “captured by him to do his will.”
As it applies to spiritually dead men repenting toward a knowledge of the truth, let us not forget that spiritually alive men still need to repent, and our repentance will result in knowing more truth. We are rescued from the devil’s stranglehold, but we are not without need of correction. Sometimes our sin makes us stupid, and we learn when we turn.