Summary: The reason why we do not have a close relationship with our Creator is because we do not know how to repent in a God-fearing manner!
Online Sermon: http://www.mckeesfamily.com/?page_id=3567
From the moment, God created humanity from the dust of the ground onwards we have been struggling to know and have a relationship with our Creator. You would think the ambassadors of Christ and royal priests that have been sealed by the Spirit of God would have little difficulty knowing, accepting and striving towards fulfilling God’s command to be holy. How I wish that was the case! Like Paul, we often gratify the evil desires of our sinful nature and thus miss the mark of holiness every single day. Sin leaves us distant from a holy God who refuses to be close to those spiritual babies who continue to covet their strongholds of sin. Since there is no sin that the blood of Christ cannot wash away then why do our attempts of confession and repentance seem to be nothing more than an exercise in futility? How can one repent and yet remain a wretched, blind beggar thirsty to know one’s own Creator?
The problem of course is not with God. To those who truly repent He always forgives and cleanses from all unrighteousness. If you draw near to God He will draw near to you. The reason why holiness and closeness to God remain beyond our reach is because we do not know how to repent in a God-fearing manner! This five-part sermon series will begin looking at the God’s command to repent and a discussion on how offensive sin to the character of a holy God. Next, the series will identify some of the myths of what repentance is not so that one can stop wasting one’s time repenting one’s own way. Third, the series will outline the need to embrace the right motives of repentance. Fourth, the series will outline a model of practical steps that will teach one how to repent God’s way. And lastly, this series will finish by outlining the fruits of repentance.
Before I begin I would like to give credit where credit is due. There are four books that I relied heavily on when writing this sermon series. For a full doctrine of repentance, I turned to Richard Owen Roberts “Repentance: The First Word of the Gospel” and Thomas Watson’s “The Doctrine of Repentance.” For everyday issues concerning repentance, I turned to C. John Miller’s book “Repentance: A Daring Call to Real Surrender” and Stephen Baker’s book “Repentance: Gods Marvelous Gift.” While all these workers were an amazing source of information, I primarily relied on commentaries and God’s holy word.
PART 1: REPENTANCE, SIN AND THE CHARACTER OF GOD
Given how hard it is to break the strongholds of sin, one should not be surprised that the very first word of the gospel message is not “love” or “grace” but “repent.” Even though a man dressed in camel’s hair with a palate of locusts and wild honey and the desert for a church building might seem strange to us today, so must be his message “repent for the kingdom of God is near” or Christians everywhere would have already attained holiness! In a culture that no longer believes in absolute truth, right living has been relegated to a sea of ever changing motives and desires. Missing the mark of God’s perfection is no longer seen as a reason to cry out like Paul “what a wretched person I am” but instead as a badge of honor that says I am open minded enough to change and satisfy every whim of my changing culture. So indoctrinated Christians have become in the ways of the world that we have forgotten God’s command to repent and how offensive sin is to the very character of God!
GOD’S COMMAND TO REPENT
Question 1: How important is repentance to God as outlined in both the Old and New Testaments?
From the introduction of the sinful nature in the book of Genesis onwards humanity has been breaking God’s commands. Repentance in the Old Testament is the mechanism that God gave to His people to be forgiven so that they might not face His wrath but instead His cloeness. Joel told the people of Judah to “rend their hearts” for the “day of the Lord” was coming (2:12-13). The prophet Ezekiel warned the Israelites that that unless they rid themselves of their offenses and get a “new heart and spirit” the wrath of God was coming (18:30-31). Isaiah implored God’s people to seek the Lord while He may be found, call on Him, forsake their wicked ways so that they might enjoy a healthy relationship with God (55:6-7). And what unrepentant person could ever ignore the cries of Jeremiah to repent because God did not want to bring calamity on Jerusalem that would leave her land desolate and deserted (chapter 6). Moses message to Israel sums up God’s view on repentance in the Old Testament best: blessings for those who repent and curses and wrath for those who do not (Deuteronomy 28)!