Return of Repentance
Repentance sounds like an outdated word that shouldn’t matter anymore. And yet, the Bible says it should be a part of our daily lives. Find out why.
Morning. Happy May! Glad you’re here with us today.
My name is David Sorn. Lead Pastor here.
Has anyone else noticed that reboots are everywhere?
Seriously, it’s like no one has an original idea anymore.
Like, imagine you went into a coma during the 80’s and you just woke up.
You wake up, and no one notices, so you turn on the TV in your hospital bed.
As you flip through the channels you see Rosanne is on, and McGyver, and a preview for Star Wars
You’d think, “Oh, I was barely even asleep!”
Today, as we resume our series on the Gospel of Luke that we started back in March we want to talk about a word that doesn’t get used all that often anymore: repentance.
Repentance is to say you’re sorry for your sins, and then turn (it literally means “to turn”) away from them.
You ask God to forgive you, and then, start walking towards Him instead of your sin.
We don’t talk about this (or hardly practice it) anymore, because our culture tells us we are fine just the way we are…there’s nothing to turn from.
And I can actually visually demonstrate for you how we don’t talk about this as a society
Are you familiar with the Google NGram viewer?
You can type in any word you want, and it will tell you how popular that word has been in a books from 1500 onwards.
So out this NGram from google on the word repentance
(Show GOOGLE NGRAM)
You can see that we’ve basically given up on the concept.
And yet, it’s an incredibly important concept in the Bible…and one that we’ve come to today as we are walking through the book of Luke
We spend about half of our time here at Renovation going verse by verse through a book each year…
And our Book for 2018 is the Gospel of Luke.
In March, we covered the story of the birth of John the Baptist, and today, we’re going to get to his life and ministry.
(Luke 3:1-2) – NIV
In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar—when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene— 2 during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness.
Pause just for a moment:
Why does Luke write all of these names of government leaders in here?
Because…the Bible is not a fairy tale.
It doesn’t start with “Once upon a time”
It’s a recounting of real people, doing real things, at a real time in history.
If you put all these leader’s reigns together, we narrow down the start of John’s preaching to 27 or 28 AD
(Luke 3:3-6) – NIV
3 He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 4 As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet:
“A voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.
5 Every valley shall be filled in,
every mountain and hill made low.
The crooked roads shall become straight,
the rough ways smooth.
6 And all people will see God’s salvation.’”
So Luke tells us that John is fulfilling a 700 year-old prophecy from Isaiah.
A prophecy that someone like John will come and prepare the way for the Messiah.
I know so many of you are new here, even just in the last month, but if you were with us back in March…
We saw in Luke chapter 1, the angel Gabriel told John’s father in verses 16 & 17, that John would go before the Messiah in the Spirit and power of Elijah
Meaning, he would be like the Prophet Elijah from the OT
And indeed, later in the book of Matthew, in chapter 17, Jesus himself SAYS that John the Baptist was indeed the “Elijah” who prepared the way for him.
In fact, let me show you something very cool about the Bible.
Turn to the very last page in the Old Testament in your Bibles.
And look at the very last two verses
This is the VERY last prophecy of the Old Testament.
Nothing else was prophesied for 400 Years! Until the New Testament begins.
(Malachi 4:5-6) – NIV
5 “See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. 6 He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.”
And so the Old Testament ends with a prophecy about a person like Elijah coming and preparing the way for the Lord.
And the very first book of the NT that was written, which was the book of Mark, opens up, how?
With the story, of John the Baptist, preparing the way.
DO NOT BEGIN TO SAY TO YOURSELVES
And so John goes out into the desert, near the Jordan river, and begins preaching
The Book of Matthew tells us that
(Matthew 3:4) – NIV
4 John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey.
So he wasn’t an exceptionally cool preacher.
He didn’t wear skinny jeans, or have a flannel shirt or oversized glasses…
I bet he did have a sweet beard though!
We saw in Luke already that John is preaching a “baptism of repentance”
He’s telling the people they need to turn away from their sin and start following God again!
So John the Baptist is out in the desert, preaching fire and brimstone, and the Jewish people are coming out to him in droves, asking to be baptized.
John is preparing the hearts of an entire nation for the coming of the Messiah.
God wants the hearts of His people to be ready and receptive for what will be His greatest chapter in all of history.
So, many of the Jews are being baptized by John because they want to publicly show that, by their faith, God is forgiving them…washing them clean.
And they want their lives to be different now. Repentance!
And as the crowds increase, all sorts of people come out.
Pharisees, Religious Leaders, tax collectors, soldiers…
And John begins preaching to these people.
Let’s keep reading
(John 3:7-14) – NIV
7 John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 9 The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”
“What should we do then?” the crowd asked.
John answered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.” 12 Even tax collectors came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?” 13 “Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” he told them. 14 Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?” He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.”
So John starts off by saying, “You BROOD of VIPERS!”
This guy is not seeker sensitive.
And he says in verse 8, “Do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father…”
“That won’t save you…The ax is at the root of the tree.”
What does that mean, “We have Abraham as our father?”
Abraham (Genesis 12) was the father of the Jewish nation.
And so many Jews thought that just by being Jewish in heritage, that they were saved…no matter what they did.
John is saying, “Not so much…”
It’s only the mercy and forgiveness of God that saves you…and THAT is obtained by faith.
In fact, think about this:
Jews, in those days, didn’t get baptized.
Do you know who the only people were that got baptized?
Gentiles (the non-Jews)
In the days before Jesus, if you were a Gentile, and you believed that the LORD (the God of the Bible) was the one true God (and not Zeus or Apollos or anyone else)…
And if you wanted to convert to Judaism, you would (as a final step of that process) get baptized.
You would be fully immersed in the water…a symbol that God was not only washing away your sins because of your new faith in Him, but you were completely leaving behind your old life. (Repentence!)
But Jews, Jews NEVER got baptized.
And yet, here’s this guy, out in the desert, eating bugs, telling the Jewish crowds, that they need to get baptized.
Because many of them are not REALLY believers.
They’re not really children of Abraham.
Because children of Abraham (galatians 3) are children of faith.
And so John the Baptist says, “Do not begin to say to yourself…we have Abraham as our father…”
And so we oughta hear John’s words in our day:
“Do not even begin to say to yourself:
Well, my parents are believers…so…
I went to church as a kid…so…
I was baptized as a baby
I was confirmed in ninth grade
I got to church 26 times this year
I’m in a House Group
There’s always this temptation to say, “I am saved because of what I did”
But we’re only saved because of what He did”
WHAT SHOULD I DO THEN?
And if we are saved because of what He did (in our case, Christ died on the cross for us), then that ought to absolutely change our lives.
Think of it this way:
It would be a tragic thing if you had the power to release someone from prison…and right after you released them, they went right back out and committed a crime
You’d think, “But I went through so much work to get you released?”
Shouldn’t the fact that I delivered you from bondage change how you live your life?
It would be a tragic thing if you had the power to release someone from their extreme poverty, and right after they took all of your generous money, they blew it on wild living.
You’d think, “But I gave you so much? I sacrificed so much to give you this opportunity?”
Shouldn’t my generosity have impacted your life?
And this is the question that sits before us this morning.
If Jesus saved me, shouldn’t that have an absolutely radical impact on how I live my life?
Jesus Christ gave his life for you on the cross.
He suffered, bled, and gave it all on the cross.
And the Bible says that IF you believe in that, He will remove all of the guilt of your sin from you, and save you, and you’ll spend all of your eternity in heaven.
And yet, for far too many Christians, we let Jesus get us out of bondage, shower us with free grace, and then we walk right back to our old lives and live basically the same old way.
But I LOVE…I LOVE what the people keep asking John the Baptist.
Did you see it?
They ask the same question three times.
In verses 10, 12, and 14?
And it’s the question you ask when you’re returning to repentance.
As the water is still dripping off them from their baptism…
(Luke 3:10) – NIV
10 “What should we do then?” the crowd asked.
God has forgiven us, and we want to follow Him, so what should we DO??
And it’s all rooted out of this very important phrase in verse 8:
(Luke 3:8a) – NIV - Leave up for a minute
Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.
Every word of that sentence is important.
See, for us, often after the water from our baptism dries, we stop asking, “What should I do then?”
As the water dries off of us, we let our spiritual lives become dry too.
And WAY too many of us, became satisfied with just being saved.
“Great, I’m a Christian…I’m not like my neighbor, or my co-worker. I know the truth. I’m saved.”
But we stopped asking, “What’s next? What should I do now, God?”
We repented, but we never returned to repentance.
But John says, “if you want to produce fruit, you have to keep up with repentance “
And if you’re sitting here today, and your faith feels dry, or dull, or like it’s just been AWOL for a few years…
Then…start asking that question again:
“What should I do then?”
ALLOW SPACE TO BE CONVICTED
In fact, I want to give you a few practical ways that you can live out this passage…of “producing fruit in keeping with repentance”
How to Routinely Return to Repentance
1. Allow yourself space to be convicted
Here’s what I mean by that:
Far too many of us have compartmentalized our sin in such a way, that you don’t even feel convicted of it.
Over half of you have already decided this message isn’t for you.
But one of the devil’s favorite tricks is convincing you (through your pride) that you really have nothing to work on.
And our fast-paced American culture plays right into his hand.
When your whole life is just go-go-go, and you never have any time of reflection, you’ll never stop to ask, “What should I do then?” “If you saved me, where do I need to change?”
Where is my sin taking over my life?
Where is my sin offending you?
Where am I sitting on your throne?
Where am I sinning but I just stopped noticing it?
DO YOU ASK THESE QUESTIONS?
Where have I compartmentalized my sin so I wouldn’t have to think about it?
Christians nowadays are often much slower to grow in maturity because we so rarely allow ourselves any space to be convicted by the Holy Spirit
If you stop, and give God the space, and ask Him, “Lord, what next?”
He will answer.
I dare you to ask him that
I find one of the only ways Christians ever hear from God anymore is…in the shower.
Because it’s the only place they’re not distracted!
But even then, I keep hearing more and more stories of young people bringing their devices in ziplock bags in the shower so they can keep watching Netflix!
Give the Holy Spirit some space!
Make sure you have a set-aside time to pray every day.
Carve a time of silence…to listen…into that time.
And keep up your other spiritual disciplines
Too many of us only have two modes:
1) Crazy busy mode
2) Zombified Netflix mode
And there’s no space for conviction in either of those modes.
How can you get this space back in your life?
By the way, this is why it’s so powerful, to be HERE, in the flesh, on Sundays in worship…
It’s a place where you can give God space…to speak to your heart
And then when God puts something on your heart…confess it
How to Routinely Return to Repentance
1. Allow yourself space to be convicted
2. Confess Your Sin
This has come up a lot lately in the passages we’ve been studying the past few months.
God is saying something to us here.
(1 John 1:8) – NIV
8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.
Friend, you are not without sin.
We’d be here all day if I just started listing my sins.
But we’re afraid to talk about this in our proud midwestern culture.
We sit in our small groups and instead of really confessing sin to one another, we say:
“Hmm, prayer requests: My cousin’s dog is having surgery on Monday, could you guys pray?”
You can do that…but you’re never gonna grow!
Daily repentance is the pathway to staying on track with God.
And you can’t do that unless you’re being honest.
You need to trust God and others with the real you.
The degree in which you’re honest with another person, is the degree in which you can grow spiritually.
That’s why the Bible says this:
(James 5:16) – NIV
16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
When you confess your sins to another person, it begins to free you from the power of sin.
Sin grows in secrecy.
It’s like mold…it loves the darkness.
Listen, the loneliest people alive are the prideful people.
Because you have to hide who you really are.
But if you can start being honest with someone about where you really are, and throw it out there, you’re making a HUGE step towards repentance.
And a HUGE step towards spiritual growth!
Who do you need to talk to this week?
WALK IT OUT
And after you confess, you’ve got to walk it out
How to Routinely Return to Repentance
1. Allow yourself space to be convicted
2. Confess your sin
3. Walk it out
Repentance is not a one-time thing.
It’s a lifestyle.
Let me show you what my life looks like:
Pretend I get saved here, and Jesus is over there (ASK SOMEONE DUDE from CROWD TO COME UP AND PLAY JESUS)…and I’m trying to follow Him
(walking across the stage from left to right)
“Jesus I want to follow you” (start walking towards him)
“No, I’d rather sin” (turn back)
“No, I repent…I want you…sin is empty (walk towards Jesus)”
“No, this feels better” (turn back)
“No, you saved me. Sin is hollow. I want you”
(YOU CAN HAVE A SEAT)
Notice a couple of things:
Repentance is not a one-time thing. It’s a lifestyle.
John the Baptist is saying, “If you want to produce fruit, you need to return to repentance…daily”
Every day, you’re saying, “What should I do then?”
And notice this: Yeah, you’re going to go back and forth, but the transformation is in the progress you make across the stage.
And you can’t make spiritual progress without a commitment to return to repentance over and over and over again!
This is what John the Baptist is saying: Produce fruit in KEEPING with repentance.
Where do you need to return to repentance right now?
Where have you stopped giving God access, and it’s causing you to walk away from Him…not toward Him right now??
Are you giving Him access to your marriage, what you talk about with your buddies, to your wallet, to your calendar, to whether or not your honest at work, to what you view with your eyes on your TV or your phone…
And I’m not talking about the places where you’re confessing it, and struggling with it, and trying to walk towards Jesus.
Where are you just not allowing Him in?
Where do you need to start walking towards Jesus again in your life?
Because you won’t get any closer to God unless you repent!
Imagine this _____ is representative of your sin.
Unrepentant sin…is like a magnet…it will always pull you away from God.
And you won’t get any closer to God unless you drop it and then turn the other way!
Now, if you’re a sinner like me, chances are you might go back later and pick up again!
I’ve been there!
But then drop it again, turn around again.
If you keep returning to repentance, you will get closer to Him.
It’s the only way we make spiritual progress
What do you need to repent of today?
To tell God, “I’m sorry, this is gotta stop. I’m dropping this. I’m walking towards you?”
GRACE & COMMUNION
This morning, we’re going to take communion together as a body of believers
Because you can not guilt yourselves into producing fruit
You need the grace of God to wash over you.
In the NT, Paul writes this about the reason for communion:
(1 Corinthians 11:23-25) – NIV
23For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me." 25In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me."
In the back, there are 3 tables….with pieces of bread and a bowl of juice. When you’re ready, you can get up take an individual piece of bread and dip it in the juice.
At any time during the last two songs, you can go back and take communion.
There’s a lot of people here, so you can go from any side of the table, you don’t need to wait in one line.
But Paul also writes in this passage that we ought to examine ourselves before taking communion.
For one, that means to only do this if you truly believe.
But it also means, that we must examine ourselves before we just automatically walk back and take communion.
And I want each and every one of us to see communion today, as an opportunity to repent…to turn.
As an opportunity to let God’s grace wash over you.
To remember that He knew…He KNEW you were going to do this…
But He still died in your place anyway…because He loves you!
So remember today…when you say, “God, I’m sorry, I need to let go of this, change this, drop this…”
God is saying, “I know…it’s okay…I forgive you…you just come home again”
And it’s his grace that grows fruit in your life.
It’s his grace that gives you the power to change.
So take a minute or two or five…and repent…tell God what you need to change.
And as you get up out of your chair to go back, feel his grace washing over you
And then drop what you need to drop…get out of your chair…and walk towards Him again.
Let me pray.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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