We evangelize, worship, fellowship, teach, and preach without a sense of passion and credibility. We call it the best of news. We encourage people to turn from Satan and sin and turn to Jesus Christ. However, we most often practice our Christianity without tears in our eyes and fire in our bones? We stand and sing of God’s amazing grace, but as of late we have been doing so without a fresh sense of amazement. We have lost the awe. The passion we once knew has not been seen in a while. Zeal for the Lord’s house hardly consumes us. What is going on? From whence comes this cold religiosity in our souls?
It is because we have been warming ourselves with old coals. Fresh fuel, fresh fire, and fresh heat have not been experienced in our souls and in our assemblies for many months, and it is because we have been living on borrowed spiritual collateral. We have talked to much about the Spirit’s moving in the past, and have not panted for his fresh presence in our midst. Sadly, the Gospel experience of yesteryear has been stored up and used up; it is all expended. And now, we still have a very true, very deep, and very old “head-truth,” but is void of an experiential “heart-experience” and “hand-practice.” Our theological doctrine is fine, but our corporate worship and personal communion is flat-lining.
If we are truthful, as of late we have not been that impressed with Christ and his Gospel. If we are not self-deceived, Our children are not so moved by our talk and walk. And now we understand why our neighbors are not so interested in talking about the hope we have within.
Friends, repentance is what we need.
Proverbs 28:3 Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.
Ministers, the buck stops with us. Church leaders, revival starts with us. It has been a long time since we were broken by our sin and more broken by Christ’s unimaginable love. It has been too long since our hungering and thirsting for righteousness resulted in a private flow of tears, much less a public one. Regularly, we who are most cognizant of Law and Gospel, we should be the ones fighting back tears of sorrow and unbridled joy. Our lips should quiver more than they do; they used to. We need to beg that the Spirit may give us afresh the gift of repentance. May he fan into flame a renewed fascination with God’s Law and God’s Gospel.
Elders, this is not a hypothetical question for you. Consider your recent practice; in your interactions with each other, when was the last time you saw a mature brother weeping over his transgression and then joyfully loosing it over the immutable love of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? Shouldn’t we regularly read God’s Law, hear God’s Gospel, grow as true friends, sharpen each other, confess our sins to one another, and point each other to our High Priest? As mature men, are we not to be the ones seeing our sin more and more as we age? As elders, are we not to be the ones continually growing our fascination of the cross?
Church leaders, “The core problem is that we are inviting men and women to come under the power of the Gospel, without having recently come under that power ourselves ….” (C. John Miller)
Repentance was pictured by the Old Testament covenant system. Over and over again God’s friends were reminded of their transgressions and their God’s substitutionary mercy.
Repentance was practiced by the New Testament covenant community. Disciples of Christ received the initiatory gifts of the Spirit — faith and repentance. They then spent the rest of their days practicing internal faith and repentance. Following this, they were set out, freshly inflamed and internally motivated by the Holy Spirit — to walk faithfully and bear forth the fruits of their repentance.
Repentance was preached to the Seven Churches of Asia. They were called to remember the Law, remember the Gospel, and remember the good works done by God through them. Then they were called to realize their sin, repent, and recover. Those who persevered in a repentant state were promised to have blazing lampstands.
Repentance is what we need for evangelism. As our repentance deepens, we learn to have more compassion towards our neighbors. We remember afresh that which God has done and is doing in our lives, and we find it harder and harder to keep such glorious news to ourselves when so many of our friends and neighbors are languishing about us.
Repentance is what we need for corporate worship. When we gather to repent, the truths of Scripture will leap off the page. We will understand better the nature of God’s good Law. We will experience afresh the sweetness of God’s good Gospel. Songs of adoration will leap forth from our hearts and erupt from our mouths. Our prayers will be deep and meaningful. And time will fly by as we take one deep look at our sin and ten deeper looks at Christ. We can’t help but worship better when we focus on our Savior who redeems us from both the penalty and power of sin.
Repentance is what we need for our preaching and teaching. Martin Lloyd-Jones called preaching, “Theology on Fire.” Men, we no longer need to over-think our sermons; we just read and study until we burn afresh, and then let us go out and warm our dearest friends. Every week, let us go to the good Law of God and mull over his commands until we see the standards we have broken. Then, let us take our friends with us to the Savior, his life, his love, his cross, his resurrection, and his perpetual intercession on the throne. Let us help our weary congregants look in his eyes and hear his voice. Together, let our adoration of him fuel a hunger and thirst for righteousness. Yes, let us lead our congregants in the very same repentance we experienced in our studies. Let us lead them in sorrowful and joyful repentance.
Repentance is the command of God.
Repentance is the gift of God.
Repentance is the manifestation of those walking with God.
Repentance is something for which we can pray and know it is according to his will.
Therefore, let us pray for an increased ability to repent, and let us go and practice it more deeply, more regularly, and more communally.