I thought about commenting on your understanding of the verses I mentioned, but I feel that will be to no avil. I can give my understanding and you can do likewise and we'll have come to no where. Instead, I'm going to try something different. My aim is to make a good enough case for man's depravity in order that you may see grace as it really is - namely, undeserved, unmerited, and amazing! In saying all of that, I want to affirm with you that repentance, along with faith, is a command by God that we must obey if we want to have eternal life. That said, is man able in and of himself to believe, or more specific to this particular converstion, repent? You say man can and does. I'd like you to pay close attention to my following explanation, because what I'm about to say is paramount to my argument. Because you see the Bible telling man to repent and believe upon the Savior, you assume that man can. The following is an illistration of what you believe:
First Premise: God commands sinners to repent, believe, and come to Christ.
Assumed Premise: God would not command what is unable.
Conclusion: Therefore, sinners are able to repent, believe, and come to Christ.
Again, I agree with the first premise. Yet again, we cannot assume because God commands us to repent that we actually can, or more specifically, will or even want to. First, let me show from scripture that God commands things that we in and of our own strength cannot do, in order to prove my point that God does command things we cannot do without His grace.
1. "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength." As much as we Christians would love to, the Bible says none have kept that law. In fact, Christians groan for the day when we'll be rid of this body of sin and therefore be able to love God as He ought to be loved.
2. "Be Holy as your Father in Heaven is Holy." Without God willing and working in us to bring about good (Philippians 2:13), we can never keep this commandment.
3. "Lazarus, arise!" This is pretty much obvious. Could Lazarus, beind dead, "hear" the Savior's call? Being dead, could he have also arose on his own? Incedentially, Lazarus is a great picture of a dead sinner who has been made alive by God.
4. "Let my people go!" Could Paraoh obey this commandment, especially considering that God had already hardened his heart in order that he might not let God's people go?
From those four, very basic emamples, it is seen that God does in fact command things that we cannot do, therefore this shows the conclusion based on the assumed premise, is wrong. Now, the question should be asked, "why can't man repent" in and of his own strenght, especially considering why he should and needs to? The answer has to do with man's nature as a sinner. What does it mean to be a sinner? Or more specifically, how bad off are we before God? Let scriptures tell it - I'll use the same ones I've been using:
To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled " (Titus 1:15).
"Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart" (Eph. 4:17-18).
Please note that the natural man, that is to say, the "unregenerated sinner," has both their mind and conscience' defiled, their understanding is darkned, they have hardend hearts and nothing is pure to them. Because of all of this, they are alienated from God. This is a far cry from what we as people would claim of ourselves. In fact, most of us would yell with enthusiasm and emphatically shout "yes!" when asked if we are good people. God, however, says different as we will see:
"Truly, Truly, I say unto you, anyone who commits sin, is a slave to sin" (John 8:34).
"The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned" (1Cor 2:14).
"For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot" (Romans 8:7).
Herein lies the question that leads to the crux of the issue, which incidentally, no one has answered as yet: How can a man who is already a slave to sin (John 8:34), who is in the flesh and cannot even understand the spiritual things of God - namely, to believe the gospel (1 Cor. 2:14), and who is hostile to God (since he loves darkness rather than light) and cannot submit to God's laws (Romans 8:7), choose within himself to keep the highest law - namely, to glorify God and please Him by repenting and following after Christ? Moreover, how can he do this amazing feat if he does not even seek after God (Romans 3:11)?
Here we reach the heart of the issue - the problem with man. Man is enslaved to his sin and thus his free willed choices are therefore always consistant to his nature. Man hates God, therefore He does not seek to find God. God is not the one lost, but man is. Yet again, he doesn't seek, lest he find truth and have to conform to it. Why do you think we have religion? We try to appease our guilty conscience (the very thing that proves to us that we are guilty before God), with good works and vain acts of righteousness and piety in order that we may not have to conform to what God says is good. His ways are too high for us. God is too humble, we are too proud. God is too selfless, we are too selfish. God is too holy, we are too much in love with the pleasures of sin. And so because of this, none come to God. This is why Jesus says, "No man can come to me unless the Father who sent me first draw him." But, lest you think I'm eisigesing scripture, let me give some more examples. The following is a list of man's responsiblity to repent in juxtaposition to scriptures that proves man's inablity to come, believe, repent, be born agian, etc:
1. "choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve" (Josh. 24:15) versus "Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? (No!) Then may you also do good who are accustomed to do evil. (Jer. 13:23)
2. "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." (Mt. 11:28) vs "How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks." (Mt. 12:34)
3. "If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God." (Jn. 7:17) vs "A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor a bad tree bear good fruit." (Mt. 7:18)
4. "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink." (Jn. 7:37) vs "'Who then can be saved?' But Jesus looked at them and said to them, 'With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.'" (Mt. 19:25-26)
5. "Repent, and let everyone of you be baptized" (Acts 2:38) vs "unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." (Jn. 3:3)
7. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved" (Acts 16:31) vs "no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father." (Jn. 6:65)
With this being said, we arive back to the topic at hand: Is repentence something man can do or is it a gift of God in order that man can be saved? I think it is now at least concieveable, that man does not seek after God and that man, left to himself, which is to say being apart from Christ, man is totally depraved inasmuch as he cannot bare good fruit on his own, nor does he have any good before God (Isa. 64:6, Romans 14:23). Apart from Christ, man is not just a sinner, as we have gotten so used to saying, but that he is most vile and wicked, before God. There is nothing good in him and nothing worth the infintely precious Jesus shedding his blood for him. Why then does God save us? Because He loves us (not becomes of worth in us, but because He has chosen to love us from forever), and for the praise of His glory and grace (48:8-11, Romans 9:23, etc.). Because no one seeks after God that they may find Him and because ALL are equally guily, not just for their own sins, but supernaturally thorugh Adam as well, God takes from the same lump of depraved mankind some to save to reveal His grace and mercy, and leaves others their willing unbelief and then judges them that His glory may be revealed in justice (Romans 9:21).
So then, God has mercy on whomever He wills. "Therefore, it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy (Rom. 9:16)." Salvation, after all, is of the Lord!" So how do we believe? God gives the gifts of faith and repentence to His elect. "Those called out from the Jews and the Gentiles" believe the gospel (1Cor. 1:24). When they hear the gospel, which by the way is the means that God uses to bring about the end in salvation, the elect/sheep hear Jesus' voice and they follow Him. Note Jesus' words: "My sheep hear my voice and they follow me." Believing does not make us sheep, but rather we believe because we "are" sheep. So why has God done it this way - namely, all by Himself? Its simple: That He alone may get the glory! "God has shut up all in disobedience that He might show mercy to all (Rom. 11:32)." And He saves us all by grace alone, through His gift of Faith alone, and in Christ alone that He alone may get all the credit and we will have no grounds for boasting. And since it is all God's doing and grace alone, it is NOT of works - not of us doing anything, otherwise grace is no longer grace (Romans 11:6). God demands all of these things we cannot do so we will be compelled to call out for His mercy. God is a good God and He desiers to save. In Exodus 34:6, God gives the first discription of himself..."The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, "The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children's children, to the third and the fourth generation."
If anyone here isn't saved, I plead with you to call out to God and He will save you!! If you deseire to be saved, He will save you! "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him will not die, but have eternal life (John 3:16)." That much is sure! If you don't understand the inner workings, who cares? Work that out after you get saved. Don't think about who's elect or who isn't. We aren't called to find out if we are elect or not, we are called to believe upon Jesus. If you see a need for forgivess, don't wait! Now is the day of Salvation! You are made for God and if you live any other way, you are wasting your life! Please don't live a vain life only to end up in eternal torment, Repent and Trust the Savior!!