Summary: This Sunday’s Message is about God’s call to Repentance, and not only what that means and looks like, but also the blessings that we can expect when we do.
God’s Call to Repentance
** Watch at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ROpEIeCzCk4
With last week’s topic on forgiveness, and as we have been looking at the vital doctrines of the church and Christianity, especially throughout history as to what caused the remnant church to stand out, what I’d like to share with you today is what naturally follow or flow from forgiveness, and that is repentance.
Now, in last week’s message I shared that in order for forgiveness to take place trust needed to be restored, and for this to take place I gave this prescription, and that is, a quality proven measure needs to take place over an extended period of time. Well, that is what is at the heart of repentance, which is basically making right, and whatever that looks like, it’s making right whatever wrong we’ve perpetrated, or that was perpetrated upon us.
Why is this so important and vital? it’s because many believers are trapped in an endless cycle of sinning and confessing with no resolve. Day after day they experience the haunting and persistent accusations by Satan, the accuser, and day after day they cry tears of sorrow, only to find themselves doing all over again what they said they would never do.
This is true for just about every one of us. We all seem to struggle with persistent sin, where we try to do what is right but fail and fall and get up only to fall again. This is something that the Apostle Paul knew well in his own life.
“I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.” (Romans 7:19 NLT)
And the cry of our hearts is, “Lord, I want to, need to, and have to change. But how?” And so the question becomes, can we change? Can we break this cycle that finds us in constant despair and discouragement?
And the answer is “Yes.” We can change, and Satan’s accusations and lies against us can be silenced, and the chains that bind us can be broken. And, while society and the church have a lot of different programs and methods to help facilitate this change, God has only one way. It’s through repentance.
And while this is something we obviously know, what I have found is that it is rarely taught or fully understood by most Christians. Therefore, I feel like Peter when he wrote that it was no big thing for him to remind the church about these things while he was still around so that they will not forget after his departure (2 Peter 1:12-15).
What Repentance Means
Now, when it comes to this word, “repentance,” it is something that Bible mentions often, and something that we hear in church a whole lot, but I’m not sure if we know what it means, only because it really isn’t taught all that often; mentioned, yes, but not fully taught.
In reviewing ten books and booklets for new believers, I found only three talking about repentance, and their treatment was anemic at best. One had it in its glossary of terms. Another said, “Repent: Be willing to turn from your sin.” Finally, in a two-hundred-page book for new believers, repentance was only mentioned once with a one-sentence definition.
Let me just say that true repentance takes place when the knowledge of Jesus’s death upon the cross makes its way from our head to our heart. This is when we will experience a true turning away from our sins and the ways of the world, and a turning towards the Lord.
Now, some people think it’s being sorry for our sins. But it means much more than being sorry. It means being sorry enough to quit. Others believe repentance is merely turning away from doing what’s wrong, turning away from sin. But it means not only turning away from sin, but also turning toward God.
Repentance, therefore, isn’t this half-hearted “I’m sorry God,” that most people seem to think it is. And this is what the Apostle Paul makes so very clear.
“Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner … For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.” (2 Corinthians 7:9-10 NKJV)
What’s the difference between being sorry, and having a heartfelt sorrow? Being sorry is being ashamed that we were caught, but not changing or turning toward God.
Godly sorrow that leads to repentance is our heartfelt sorrow over our sinfulness. It is a heartfelt sorrow, that is, a deep sorrow over what we’ve done, and how it has hurt and wounded the heart of God.
Wayne Grudem in his book on systematic theology probably gives the best definition for repentance. He said it is, “A heartfelt sorrow for sin, a renouncing of it, and a sincere commitment to forsake it and walk in obedience to Christ.” (Wayne Grudem)