THE FORGOTTEN WORD OF THE GOSPEL

April 13, 2023

THE FORGOTTEN WORD OF THE GOSPEL


No man will ever have a relationship with God without repentance. It was the first word of Jesus’ first teaching.

Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17)

Peter’s sermon at the beginning of the first church proclaimed repentance.

Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38)

It was the theme of Paul’s life and ministry.

I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable … solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. (Acts 20:20-21)

A genuine follower of Christ enters a relationship with Christ through repentance and continues repenting in various ways for the rest of their life. To be a true Christian is to be a lifelong repenter.

So what is repentance, and why is it so essential? The parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15 illustrates repentance beautifully.

REPENTANCE IS A CHANGE OF MIND

“He came to his senses.” (Vs. 17)

The prodigal son was a proud, rebellious young man. He saw little need for his father and thought he could handle life alone.

Taking his share of the family inheritance prematurely, he squandered it all in “loose living.” At the end of his rope, he finds himself desperate, alone, and empty. And then, the Bible records five words that describe the nature of true repentance.

All of us are full of ourselves. We are self-absorbed and proud. Our greatest need is for the Holy Spirit to convict us of our sin and bring us to the end of ourselves. To awaken us to the foolishness of our independence.

Have you come to the end of yourself? Or do you still think you can handle life by yourself?

REPENTANT PEOPLE SEE GOD DIFFERENTLY

“But when he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger! (Vs. 17)

The prodigal had seen his father as nothing more than a momentarily essential provider. He wanted to run away from home as soon as he could. We do the same. In our pride, we ignore God’s role and vainly pull away. When the prodigal came to repentance, his first thought was of his father. From that point on, he thought differently about his dad.

Do you understand your Father is the only One who has what you so desperately need? Do you see who He is now and the foolishness of running from Him?

REPENTANT PEOPLE SEE THEMSELVES DIFFERENTLY

“I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight.’” (Vs. 18)

A proud man constantly blames others for his problems and failures. He never admits his sin and acknowledges his need. But when he comes to the end of himself, he realizes he is the culprit. His arrogance has taken him to the pit. His choices have led him away from God. This is why a repentant man confesses his sin openly and specifically.

Do you see yourself properly before God? Are you still blaming others? Unwilling to take responsibility for your sin? Is your first thought about how you can justify yourself? Are you quick to admit your sin?

REPENTANT PEOPLE GET UP

I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.’” So he got up and came to his father. (Vss.18-20)

Repentant people move. Their new awareness of God and themselves causes them to take the next necessary step to return to God.

Repentance is not merely wallowing in self-pity or shame. It’s not simply feeling bad about your condition. It is being so sick and tired of being sick and tired that we get up and go to God. We are willing to make any adjustments, take any steps needed to get to Him. Genuine repentance is not only a turn from something but to Someone.

Do you merely feel bad about your sin, or are you turning away from your sin and to God? Are there fruits in keeping with your repentance? Are you standing now in a different place because you’ve gotten up and moved to Christ?

REPENTANT PEOPLE CONFESS THEIR SIN AND CLEAR THEIR CONSCIENCE

I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight.’” (Vs.18)

Not content to come home without explanation or to merely slip back in with no confession, a repentant person is so profoundly changed that they are willing to admit their sin to those they’ve harmed. They long to be right in two directions: before God and before others. They want the roof off and the walls down in all their relationships, both vertically and horizontally. And they are so broken that they don’t care who knows. Confession is often on the lips of the repentant.

Have you confessed your sin to God? Have you cleared your conscience with others? Do you still find it hard to seek forgiveness, or is it ready in your heart and on your lips?

REPENTANT PEOPLE ARE HUMBLED TO RECEIVE ANYTHING

“I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.” (Vs. 19)

When we see how grievously we’ve sinned against God and hurt others, our proud demands evaporate. We don’t trust ourselves, and we certainly don’t expect anything. We know that only mercy will receive us back and restore us. We gladly take the lowest role, the humblest seat.

Are you still demanding things from God and others? Are you upset when you aren’t immediately restored to ministry? Bothered when God takes you through a trial or testing? Do you think you still deserve something, or are you aware you deserve nothing and that whatever you receive from God and others is a gift?

REPENTANT PEOPLE EXPERIENCE THE FATHER AND HIS MERCIFUL RESTORATION!

“So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate.” (Vss. 20-24)

God is always looking for His prodigals. He is waiting for them to come to their senses. With no thought of further punishment (their sin has punished them ruthlessly), He stands with open arms to receive and restore the truly repentant.

The riches of the Father await the repentant. He is waiting for them to enjoy all that He had prepared beforehand. Religious people don’t understand this mercy (like the prodigals’ older brother). They perish in a different kind of pride, never seeing their need. But the truly repentant are continually stunned by the goodness of God.

Are you experiencing the mercy of God? Are you overwhelmed by His grace, forgiveness, and restoration? Do you gladly sing the songs of the redeemed and the Redeemer? Are you more in love with the Father than you’ve ever been because you’re continually experiencing the joy of His salvation?

 

 

 





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