21 May 2012

HOW WILL THEY KNOW THAT I’M A CHRISTIAN [PART 3]



2 Cor 7:8-16

It was a bright Sunday morning in 28th century London, a man named Robert Robinson’s mood was anything but sunny. All along the street there were people hurrying to church, but in the midst of the crowd Robinson was a lonely man. The sound of church bells reminded him of years past when his faith in God was strong and the church was an integral part of his life. It had been years since he set foot in a church—years of wandering, disillusionment, and gradual defection from the God he once loved. That love for God—once fiery and passionate—had slowly burned out within him, leaving him dark and cold inside. Robinson heard the clip-clop, clip-clop of a horse-drawn cab approaching behind him. Turning, he lifted his hand to hail the driver. But then he saw that the cab was occupied by a young woman dressed in finery for the Lord’s Day. He waved the driver on, but the woman in the carriage ordered the carriage to be stopped. “Sir, I’d be happy to share this carriage with you,” she said to Robinson. “Are you going to church?” Robinson was about to decline, then he paused. “Yes,” he said at last. “I am going to church.” He stepped into the carriage and sat down beside the young woman. As the carriage rolled forward Mr Robinson and the woman exchanged introductions. There was a flash of recognition in her eyes when he stated his name. “That’s an interesting twist of fate,” she said, reaching into her purse. She withdrew a small book of inspirational verse, opened it to a ribbon-bookmark, and handed the book to him. “I was just reading a verse by a poet named Robert Robinson. Could it be…?”.........He took the book, nodding. “Yes, I wrote these words years ago.” “Oh, how wonderful!” she exclaimed. “Imagine! I’m sharing a carriage with the author of these very lines!” But Robinson barely heard her. He was absorbed in the words he was reading.
Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace’
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.

His eyes slipped to the bottom of the page where he read:

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it—
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

He could barely read the last few lines through the tears that brimmed in his eyes. “I wrote these words—and I’ve lived these words. ‘Prone to wander…prone to leave the God I love.’” The woman suddenly understood. “You also wrote, ‘Here’s my heart, O take and seal it.’ You can offer your heart again to God, Mr. Robinson. It’s not too late.” And it wasn’t too late for Robert Robinson. In that moment he turned his heart back to God and walked with him the rest of his days.

See brokenness over sin is a fundamental truth to someone who is truly born again. The bible says repentance plays an important part in the life of conversion and in your sanctification......Repentance is something that is lacking in the church of Jesus Christ today.

Abraham Lincoln said these words “We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven. We have been preserved, the many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to God that made us It behooves us, then to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.” Repentance is one side, of a two sided coin! Faith being the other side......Repentance and faith has always been the underlining theme to salvation in the Gospel. In Mark 1:15 “ it says, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel."

The Bible says......Now is the timedo not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness,” Heb 3:8 It’s commanded by God “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent” Acts 17:30

J C Ryle said these words.......“True repentance is never alone in the heart of any person. It always has a companion—a blessed companion. It is always accompanied by lively faith in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Wherever faith is, there is repentance; wherever repentance is, there is always faith. I do not decide which comes first—whether repentance comes before faith, or faith before repentance. But I am bold to say that the two graces are never found separate, one from the other. Just as you cannot have the sun without light, or ice without cold, or fire without heat, or water without moisture—you will never find true faith without true repentance, and you will never find true repentance without lively faith. The two things will always go side by side. C H Spurgeon said ......."Repentance is as much a mark of a Christian, as faith is. A very little sin, as the world calls it, is a very great sin to a true Christian."

How will they know that I’m a Christian? By the life you demonstrate though your brokenness over sin and the desire to repent of it. Which is illustrated very well in the last letter that Paul wrote to the early believers. We see two contrasts of repentance in this passage, which helps us understand the true meaning of repentance and a false understanding of repentance. True repentance is what a true believer does....which is our identity in Christ, because of His great sacrifice on the cross. Our sin burdens us to the point of turning away from which is what godly repentance brings to the true converted person. A genuine hatred towards our own sin and the sin of this world against a holy God.

Let me ask you before we begin looking at these two contrasts. Does your sin truly bother you? Or it’s not really that important and you don’t think about it often? So let’s look at the negative side or false side of repentance! It’s a sorrow over being caught at all or so quickly. You ask any good thief they will never tell you that they were sorry for stealing your belongings....they will tell you that they are sorry for being caught. Why? Because they don’t like the consequences that they are about to face. They do the time and then their back out there again doing what they love best! Having what is mine. It’s having a seared conscience and unconcern for anyone or anything. This is what Paul is telling us in this portion of his letter to a church that was behaving horribly wicked. Worldly Sorrow is no repentance at all and it only leads to death and eternal torment for all eternity......"Worldly sorrow brings death." You keep going down, sinking in misery, vain regrets, bearing all the consequences of your folly, increasing isolation, and so on. Worldly sorrow drives men to despair. Remember Judas Iscariot. He had been party to many intimacies with Jesus, along with the other disciples. Yet when he had got his money after betraying our Lord he was no happier, and those who had taken Jesus were now utterly disinterested in him - so much for partners in crime! What fair weather friends they were. Judas couldn't bear it. He was utterly alone. All men despised him. He could not deliver himself from the consequences of his own actions. He was in despair and death seemed the only way out. Judas stands as the classic example of the unconverted man expressing his pain and regret in the only way he knew how. Matt 27:3-5  “then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, "i have sinned by betraying innocent blood." they said, "what is that to us? See to it yourself." and throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself. Worldly sorrow brings death! It’s not taking repentance seriously.

It’s not taking the Lord’s commands seriously! John MacArthur said “we need to understand true biblical repentance is not a psychological, emotional human remorse, seeking merely to relieve stress and improves one’s circumstances....it’s not behaviour, but spiritual.” Do you see how important this is? That we are talking here of life and death and the difference of how we deal with our sin. You cannot cleanse yourself or deal with it on your terms! That’s not how repentance works. This is what Judas did! The easy way out was to deal with it on his own terms! But in the end it would cost him everything eternally speaking. It’s that person who chooses to handle his or her sin instead of taking to the cross in genuine repentance over sinning against a holy God! This is a prime example of what a lost and proud person looks like! Not a genuine born again believer.

Let’s look at the positive side, the genuine evidence of a true Christian who is being sanctified day by day...little by little! Paul writes that godly sorrow is the only sorrow that is acceptable by a Holy and righteous God....."Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret" Godly sorrow brings about a comprehensive repentance, not just a turning from our sins but from our Sin. Its dealing with your sin....it’s brokenness, hatred over your sin! The Corinthian believers were demonstrating this truth by what we read though the report of Titus and response that Paul writes here in this portion of his letter. Look at (v11) Paul writes “innocent or clear” this has the idea of “pure” or “free from sin” The Corinthians demonstrated their genuineness of repentance by their desire for purity. This should be every believer’s desire and goal to walk in holiness of mind! Why? It’s what our Lord demands and desires of His children. To be ever mindful of sin and our ability to sin, but to also know that we have been freed from that bondage. Only genuine repentance will illuminate that truth in the life of a sinner saved by grace. How will they know that I’m a Christian? By how you deal with your sin! How do I know that I’m dealing with sin in genuine repentance? How do I know that it’s not just worldly repentance which leads to death? Let me ask you!...............


WHEN YOU REPENT DO FEEL SHAME?

In the book of Ezra it says “O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift my face to you, my God, for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has mounted up to the heavens.” Ezra 9:6

Job said “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes." Job 42:5-6. Are you broken over sin that you’re so ashamed to look up to the Heavens, as a child is to look into the face of his or her father you’ve done something wrong?

Luke 15 is a prime example of that! What did the prodigal son say? "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants."' Luke 15-18-19


WHEN YOU REPENT IS THEIR HUMILITY?

2 Chron 7:14 says “if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” Admitting your wrong! It’s you who sinned and the only way to find restitution is to go back to the One that loved us and gave His life for us! Jesus Christ.

David was a great example of humility when he said  “For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer....... I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD," and you forgave the iniquity of my sin” Ps 32:3-5

WHEN YOU REPENT IS IT DONE WITH EAGERNESS?

Paul wrote here “For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment! At every point you have proved yourselves innocent in the matter.” 2 Cor 7:11, “Earnestness” denotes the idea of speed or haste! They diligently desired or had a great anxiety which they manifested to remove the evils which existed among them. They had an eagerness to repent and make it right. Zacchaeus was a man of such character and genuine repentance! His outward expression to make it right was outward evidence to His genuine conversion. "Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold." And Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost." Luke 19:8-10. Why? Because he had the fruits of a genuine repentance......There is a newspaper that carried the story of Al Johnson, a Kansas man who came to faith in Jesus Christ. What made his story remarkable was not his conversion, but the fact that as a result of his newfound faith in Christ, he confessed to a bank robbery he had participated in when he was nineteen years old. Because the statute of limitations on the case had run out, Johnson could not be prosecuted for the offense. Still, he believed his relationship with Christ demanded a confession. And he even voluntarily repaid his share of the stolen money!

Genuine repentance is always accompanied by a brokenness that leads to humility and a desire, a passion to make it right with a holy God! Why? Because they take their sin seriously and it was paid with a hefty price through Jesus Christ our Lord. Remember Godly sorrow produces repentance that turns away from sin and going towards God. Worldly sorrow is remorse and self pity which continues in sin as Judas. The Corinthians had chosen life by repenting and turning to God. So my question is! What road of repentance are you on? Is it a road that leads to salvation...restoration and fellowship with God? Or is it a road that has deception, self pity and death which ultimately will have eternal implications? Remember the bible says “when a sinner repents the angels rejoice” (Luke 17:7,10)........Are they rejoicing over you this morning?

1 comment:

PIBuckley said...

Mike,

Thank you for this post. There is a lot of misunderstanding of what it means to be repentant. If we look to God's Word, which you have, I think of 2 Cor 7:10: "For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death." If we do not repent of our repeated offenses, we will not find salvation.