Someone wrote to me deeply concerned that I had said that repentance can’t save us. It can’t. Moslems repent. That's the basis of their hope of salvation. It’s the same with many Catholics who have never been born again. They trust that their repentance is enough. But no good judge would let a devious criminal go simply because he said that he had turned from his crimes. The only thing that can save us is God's grace. Salvation is by grace through faith in Jesus (see Ephesians 2:8-9). The way to partake of the grace of God is through repentance, but repentance doesn't save us. If it did, we wouldn't need a Savior. Think of it like this. A man is in a rowboat that’s about to go over Niagara Falls. Someone throws him a rope. He turns towards the rope, and then grabs it in faith. Will that save him? No. He turned. He took hold of the rope in faith. But if the person on the other end isn’t pulling on the rope, he’s still going over the falls.
God has thrown us a rope through the gospel. We turn in repentance and take hold of the Savior by faith. But it is the grace of God alone that saves us by drawing us to Himself (see Ephesians 2:8-9).