Summary: This uses Joel 2 as a base passage, and talks about the urgency, nature of, and rewards of true repentance.
(Note to reader: I am heavily indebted to Raymond C. Ortlund Jr. in my preparation of this sermon. It is largely based on a chapter in his book "When God Comes To Church" called "We Return to God"
Also, at any place where verse numbers are given with no other information, it is understood that they will be read aloud by the preacher from Joel chapter 2.)
INTRO: Since 1947, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has depicted on its cover a Doomsday Clock
-The clock registers how close the world is to nuclear apocalypse, in the opinion of the editors
-They estimate it by placing the hands of the clock in relation to midnight
-On June 11, 1998 when India and Pakistan were menacing each other with nuclear tests, and the rest of the world failed to stop the spread of the weapons, the clock was moved forward 5 minutes, making it 9 minutes until 12.
-Only once since 1968 had the clock been moved so many minutes at once.
-There have been many books, movies, and TV shows that deal with the end of the world
-During the time that my parents were growing up, along with fire drills at school, they had to practice what they would do in the even of a nuclear attack from the Soviet Union.
-At different times, such as September 11th, or the recent Tsunamis we have worried about our physical safety, and the threat of destruction.
-These threats are possibilities that might or might not happen in our lifetime, and might or might not happen at all.
-As Christians, though, we should be much more concerned about a day that God has promised is coming. It’s not a matter of “If”, it’s a matter of “when”.
(Open Bibles to Joel 2, our primary text for today)
-Joel describes the day of the Lord
2:1-2 – Darkness, gloom, clouds, and blackness.
When we see the inevitability of the day of the Lord, we have to ask ourselves, “What does this mean for me?”
-The Bible is unambiguous in that all people can be put into one of two categories: either I am for God or against God.
Most of us know Revelation 3:15 , “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”
-Last week we talked about the dangers of pride, and we spoke some about this situation regarding the Pharisees.
-No matter what, someone is sitting on the throne of your life. You can’t serve two masters, if God isn’t sitting on the throne in your life, someone else is
-most often, we put ourselves there. That’s what the Pharisees did.
-They made God a high priority, but their first priority was themselves, and as a result, when Jesus came, they made sure he was put to death.
-In trying to be lukewarm towards God, the result is hostility towards God.
Revelation 3 continues: “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent.”
This morning, I want to speak to you about repentance; not as a one-time activity, but a lifestyle and daily necessity for Christians.
Colossians 1:10 gives a good picture of repentance, “live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God”
Repentance is a total commitment.
-A person who has really repented won’t ever ask certain kinds of questions
For example, “Now that I’ve been baptized and have my “Fire Insurance” against Hell, how can I sin to the fullest extent possible without discrediting myself as a Christian.”
-That is not repentance; that is hypocrisy.
Repentance echoes the words of the prodigal son, “Father, I have sinned….against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.”
-God embraces true repentance.
In talking about repentance, we must be aware of the urgency of repentance
-Joel 2:1 starts off, “Blow the trumpet in Zion, sound the alarm!”
-When an alarm goes off, it is expected that people would respond swiftly.
-If you’re at home and your fire alarm goes off, you can’t wait until after you’re done watching this TV show, you need to act right now!
Jesus spoke of repentance with a great sense of urgency
In Luke 13, some people spoke to Jesus and said,
“Jesus, have you heard about the Galileans whose blood Pilate mixed in with their sacrifices! Isn’t that terrible punishment! Isn’t that awful”
-Jesus turns this around and replies,
“DO you think these people were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they died this way? No! But unless you repent, you, too, will all perish.