Summary: A sermon on repentance and the Christian (Material adapted from Richard Own Roberts' book, Repentance: The First Word of the Gospel, chapters 11 and 13)
There was a farmer who had three sons: Ron, Don and Little John. All had their names on the church roll but none ever attended church or had time for God. Then one day Don was bitten by a rattlesnake. The doctor was called and he did all he could to help Don, but the outlook was very dim. So the preacher was called and appraised of the situation. The preacher arrived, and began to pray as follows: "O wise and righteous Father, we thank Thee that in Thine wisdom thou didst send this rattlesnake to bite Don. He hasn’t been inside the church in years and has shown little interest in You. We trust that this experience will be a valuable lesson to him and will lead to his genuine repentance. And now, O Father, wilt thou send another rattlesnake to bite Ron, and another to bite Little John, and another really big one to bite the old man. For years we have done everything we know to get them to get serious with Thee. Thank you God for rattlesnakes. In Jesus’ name, Amen! “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.” Matthew 3:8
When we receive Christ through belief, confession, repentance and baptism, we must recognize that these things are not a one and done. “I did that so now let move onto something else.” We could say that baptism is that way but these others are not.
If we no longer believe in Jesus Christ, renounce Jesus Christ, we are no longer Christians.
As far as the good confession before many witnesses, yes, that is a one time event. However, from that point on, we need to keep confessing Jesus Christ before others. Give testimony
Repentance is also that way. Started talking about this last week. Need to keep on repenting.
What does the Christian need to repent of?
1. Sins of commission. Things we do that are violations of God’s Word. Like David committing adultery with Bathsheba. David did this of his own free will. “For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do--this I keep on doing.” Romans 7:19.
2. Sins of omission. These sins include both sins of neglect, such as neglecting Christ, our soul, our family, God’s church, prayer, and the Bible; and sins of failure, such as missing opportunities of doing good to widows and orphans, making the best possible use of our time, and redeeming opportunities for ministry. Think of all the things that God wants to do through the church. God calls and equips certain people to do these tasks but they remain undone. Why? Because those called to do them do not do them. “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” James 4:17, NIV.
3. Inner and secret sins of the heart. These sins seemingly affect no one except the one committing them. “You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence.” Psalms 90:8, NIV.
God wants to continue to mold us and make us after His will, and repentance is one of the things that allows God to do just that. “I’m good, I’m saved and forgiven, so why repent.” Many face the danger of procrastination. They fully intend to repent but never really do. All of us are in danger of loving certain sins and their pleasures so greatly that genuine repentance cannot happen.
It is unwise to suppose that we can repent whenever and wherever we please. Delaying repentance for any reason whatsoever is the most dangerous thing we can possibly do.
Thesis: Consider the dangers we face in delayed repentance
Hardening of the heart
Heard of hardening of the arteries, this is hardening of the heart. Our hearts become so hard that we reach a point of no return. Every time we hear a call to repent and do not, we harden our hearts. Eventually even the most fervent calls to repentance will have no effect upon us.
Israelites had a heart so hard that they reached a point of no return. The problem of Israel’s hardened heart was so severe that the book of Hebrews makes Israel the example of how Christians must not behave. Go to Hebrews 3:7-11.
God’s seasons of mercy may pass
The author of Ecclesiastes declared that there is a time for everything and an appointed time for every event under heaven. While he talked about such things as birth and death, planting and uprooting, tearing down and building up, a time to search and a time to give up as lost (Ecclesiastes 3), he might well have included a time for repentance and a time for judgment.
Consider this: The farmer is not so foolish as to try to plow the land when it is frozen solid. he does not sow vegetable seeds in the fall, nor does he plan to gather a great harvest in the springtime. The cattleman does not send his stock to market when they are skin and bones nor go on feeding them for years after they have reached their prime.