As we prepare to share in the table of our Lord, we turn to a subject in the Word of God that is of great importance to me and to us. Obviously, everything in Christian faith centers on the cross of Jesus Christ, His sacrifice for sin. And it draws us into many considerations, many doctrinal areas, many realms, many issues. The matter that I want to bring before you this morning, as we think about the cross of Christ and His sacrifice for us, is the matter of repentance, repentance.
There seems to be today a great indifference toward the matter of repentance. In some cases, there is even a hostility toward the issue of repentance. It is not fashionable to preach a gospel that demands that men and women turn from sin. That kind of preaching is very rare today, and very often frowned upon. There is both indifference and hostility toward repentance, even though it is a centerpiece of the Christian Gospel.
But to put in perspective, that’s not anything new. This disinterest, this assault on the doctrine of repentance started long ago. In fact, we can go back, for example, to the year 1937, 1937, some 60 years ago. And in 1937 there was a formidable preacher in America by the name of Dr. Harry A. Ironside. Some of you will remember him. He was a prolific Bible preacher and writer. In 1937, Ironside noted that the Biblical doctrine of repentance was being diluted. It was being diluted on purpose by those who wished to preach the Gospel, but exclude from the Gospel the doctrine of repentance.
Ironside, in response to this, wrote a book called Except Ye Repent. And in it he said, this. “The doctrine of repentance is the missing note in many otherwise orthodox and fundamentally sound circles today.” Further, he said, “There are professed preachers of grace who, like the antinomians of old decry the necessity of repentance lest it seemed to invalidate the freedoms of grace.” End quote.
Ironside was recognizing in his day the dangers of an incipient easy believism. He said there were preachers of grace, and certainly grace is a good subject to preach, who were like antinomians. That’s a word that refers to people who have low regard for the Law of God. They were like antinomians of old, and they thought that if you teach repentance you’re somehow invalidating the freedoms of grace. And so, for the sake of grace and the preservation of grace, they eliminated repentance, believing it to be an intrusion. Since that time in the 30s until this very day, there has been a continual effort to strip the Gospel of repentance.
In the pragmatic movement, which is inimitable to our times in the ‘80s and the ‘90s, this has also occurred because too much preaching about sin and repentance tends to irritate people and drive them away from responding to the gospel. And so, repentance has fallen on hard times in spite of the fact that it is at the very core of our Christian faith and at the very core of our salvation personally. In fact, if you go to the beginning of the New Testament and start reading, you read a few chapters and you arrive at the first preacher, or maybe better, the last preacher of the Old Testament.
The first preacher in the new, John the Baptist, and he has a simple message. It goes like this, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” That is the one word that dominated John’s preaching. And when the Jews came to see him, he’d preach repentance and said, “Bring forth fruit unto repentance.” He was followed by the one he told the people was coming, the messiah Jesus, and Jesus message was the same as John’s. Jesus came and preached, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” He called sinners to repentance.
And as you read through Matthew and as you read through Mark and, particularly, as your read through Luke, you will find again and again and again the centerpiece of repentance brought to the fore in the preaching in the ministry of our Lord, Jesus. And, obviously, when we look at his life, we would say he preached repentance. You come to the book of Acts and the day of Pentecost, the first great sermon in the book of Acts is preached. And the first great call is made to sinners, and Peter says, “Repent,” repent. Peter preached repentance until, as it were, he handed the baton to Paul.
In the fourteenth chapter of Acts, there’s a sweeping ministry of Paul that begins, and Paul, like Peter, preached repentance. You find it all through the book of Acts. Paul wrote the book of Romans, and chapter 2 verse 4 talked about repentance; wrote to the Corinthians, 2 Corinthians chapter 7 talked about repentance. It was the message not only of the Gospels and the message of the book of Acts and the message of Paul, it was also the message of Peter in his epistle. Second Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance,” for all to come to repentance. Repentance is a requirement.
In fact, Jesus said in Luke 13 - He said it twice; once in verse 3 and again in verse 5 - “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish,” perish. Now repentance then, is a crucial element. We cannot understand the Gospel, we cannot rightly believe the Gospel, we certainly cannot proclaim the Gospel, unless we understand the matter of repentance. And the widespread diffidence toward repentance causes me to want to draw repentance, as it were, up out of the darkness a little bit and shine the light on it so that we can understand the centrality of it and the significance of it.
When you go back in the history of the church - and I’ll give you a little bit of a flow so that you know that I’m standing in some fast company when I exalt the doctrine of repentance. When you go back in the history of the church, you find a great concern about the matter of repentance. It was clear, for example, in the second century, in the year 150, when a man named Clement lived. He wrote an epistle, a second of his epistles that he wrote. In this epistle, he expressed his grave concern about the doctrine of repentance being at the center of the Christian Gospel.
Now he was only about 50 years after the writing of the last New Testament book, which would’ve been the Book of Revelation written at about ‘96. So 54 years later or so, Clement writes this. “Let us not merely call Him Lord for that will not save us. For He says, ‘Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will be saved, but he who does what is right.’ Thus, brothers, let us acknowledge Him by our actions.” By our actions. And that’s exactly the issue. There must be something in the life that is dramatically different. It’s not enough to say something; there must be a turning. There must be a change.”
He talks about the fact that there are two worlds, and those two worlds are enemies of each other. This one world is adultery, corruption, avarice and deceit, while the other world gives them up. We cannot then be friends of both. To get the one we must give up the other. That really involves the essence of repentance. Repentance is a turning. It is a rejecting of one thing and an embracing of another. That is repentance. They were concerned about it in the New Testament; they were concerned in the first century after the New Testament.
The next stop we’ll make in the history of the doctrine of repentance would be in the year 1517, a remarkable and notable year in Europe, particularly in Germany. Because it was in the year 1517 that a priest, a Roman Catholic priest by the name of Martin Luther decided that the Roman Church had it all wrong. He had discovered the gospel of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. He wrote a thesis. In fact, he wrote 95 separate points that comprised the 95 theses. And he went to the church at Wittenberg and he nailed that thesis to the door for everyone to see.
The first three things of the 95, the first three theses in the 95 theses go like this – the very first three, Number one, “our Lord and Master Jesus Christ” – wrote Luther – “in saying repent meant the whole life of the faithful to be an act of repentance.” Luther was calling for a real understanding of repentance, not a superficial one, not a ceremonial one, but one where the whole life is turned in another direction. The second in his 95 theses said this: “This saying cannot be understood of the sacrament of penance.” That is to say true repentance is not an external sacrament, which is administered by the priesthood.
So first Luther said, “I’m calling you to a true life of repentance, and it is not a sacrament that is external and administered by priests.” That was an all-out assault on the Roman system. Then came the third thesis: “Yet He does not mean” – wrote Luther – “interior repentance only; nay interior repentance is void if it does not produce different kinds of mortifications of the flesh.” End quote. That’s how the reformation began. The reformation began with a call to repentance. A life of repentance not to be understood as taking external sacraments and not to be understood as some internal attitude that doesn’t change the life dramatically.
It was in the middle of the 17th century in the 1640s that we move to another monumental moment, the century after the reformation began. And the great minds of the church got together to form what is known as the Westminster Shorter Catechism. In the 17th century, they wrote that catechism. It was edited and updated through the years. A 1674 version of the Westminster Shorter Catechism asks this question. Remember, a catechism is a series of questions and answers intended to lead someone through an appropriate and complete understanding of sound doctrine. And in those days, the catechized the children, the catechized everybody in this question and answer format. It comes from the Greek katecheō, which basically has to do with an interchange of discussion.
The question is, “What is repentance unto life?” This is what they said in the Westminster Shorter Catechism. Here’s the answer: “Repentance unto life is a saving grace, whereby a sinner, out of a true sense of his sin, and apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ, does, with grief and hatred of his sin, turn from it unto God, with full purpose of, and endeavor after, new obedience.” End quote. That is just a great statement. I don’t know how one could improve on it even though it is in excess of 300 years old.
Let me read it again. “Repentance unto life” - that is onto eternal life - “is a saving grace, whereby a sinner out of a true sense of his sin, and apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ,” - that is he understands truly his sin and he understands truly the Gospel of God in Christ - “does with grief and hatred of his sin, turn from it onto God, with full purpose of, and endeavor after, new obedience.” Further, said the catechism, “Repentance unto life doth chiefly consist in two things: One, in turning from sin, and forsaking it.” And “two, in turning onto God.” That’s precisely what repentance is. It’s turning from sin to God.
The Westminster shorter catechism then asks two further questions: “What is the turning from sin, which is part of true repentance?” The answer comes, “The turning from sin which is a part of true repentance, consist in two things: One, in turning from all gross sins, in regard of our course and conversation.” – that’s your life and speech – “two, in a turning from all other sins, in regard of our hearts and affections.” So, said the catechism, a true repentance consists in turning from external sins of conduct and turning from internal sins of affection and heart attitude.
Then the question came, “Does such a truly – does such as truly repent of sin never return again unto the practice of the same sins which they have repented of?” It’s a good question, isn’t it? Is this like a “once-for-all” thing and once you’ve repented, you never go back? Here’s the answer. “Such as have truly repented of sin do never return unto the practice of it, so as to live in a course of sin, as they did before; and where any, after repentance, do return unto a course of sin, it is evident a sign that their repentance was not of the right kind. Two, some have truly repented of their sins, although they may be overtaken and surprised by temptations, so as to fall into the commission of the same sins which they have repented of; yet they do not lie in them, but get up again, and with bitter grief bewail them, and return again unto the Lord.”
That’s a great definition, great statement. Repentance then, summarizing, consists chiefly of two things: turning from sin and forsaking it and turning to God. We know that someone has truly done that because it shows up in their life, in their course and conversation on the outside, in their affections and in their heart on the inside. Do they ever sin the sins of which they have repented? Not as a constant course of life. If they do, then their repentance was not of the truest kind.
But it is possible, as so well said, for some to have truly repented of their sins and still be overtaken and surprised by temptations so as to fall into the commission of the same sins which they have repented of, yet they do not lie in them but get up again and with bitter grief bewail them, and return again onto the Lord. That’s repentance. You can’t preach the Gospel without preaching that. There is no Gospel without repentance.
The great British Puritan, Thomas Goodwin, wrote this, “Where mourning for offending God is lacking,” – where it’s absent – “there is no sign of any goodwill wrought in the heart to God, nor of love to Him without which God will never accept a man.” Great statement. If you don’t see mourning for offending God in the life of an individual, says Goodwin, “there is no sign of any goodwill yet wrought in the heart toward God, nor of love to Him.”
Further, says Goodwin: “Else there is no hope of amendment. God will not pardon till He sees hopes of amendment. Until a man confesses his sin, and that with bitterness, it is a sign he loves it. While he hides it, spares it, and forsakes it not, it is sweet in his mouth, and therefore till he confess it and mourn for it, it is a sign it is not bitter to him, and so he will not forsake it. A man will never leave sin till he finds bitterness in it, and if so, then he will be in bitterness for it. And godly sorrow works repentance.” End quote.
So where you have true repentance, there is bitterness and there is a sadness. There’s not just the attitude, “My life wasn’t very fulfilled but Jesus has helped me fulfill it.” There isn’t just the attitude, “You know, I needed something else to make my marriage work.” Or “I needed something else to take some fears and doubts away to remove my anxieties, and Jesus solved all those problems for me.” That is devoid of the heart repentance, the bitterness that should come to the true penitent, which is essential to the reality of salvation.
Moving a few hundred years later, we come to the great preacher of London, Charles Spurgeon, and he said it as strongly as possible. Listen to what Spurgeon said from his pulpit about repentance. “There must a true and actual abandonment of sin, and a turning under righteousness in real act and deed in everyday life. Repentance, to be sure, must be entire. How many will say, ‘Sir, I will renounce this sin and the other, but there are certain darling lusts, which I must keep and hold?’ O sirs, in God’s name, let me tell you, it is not the giving up of one sin, nor 50 sins, which is true repentance; It is the sole renunciation of every sin.”
Spurgeon says, “If you harbor one of those accursed vipers in your heart and do give up every other, that one lust, like one leak in a ship, will sink your soul. Think it not sufficient to give up your outward vices; fancy it not enough to cut off the more corrupt sins of your life; It is all or none, which God demands. Repent says He; and when He bids you repent, He means repent of all your sins, otherwise He can never accept that repentance as real and genuine. All sin must be given up or else you will never have Christ; all transgression must be renounced, or else the gates of heaven must be barred against you.
“Let us remember then, that for repentance to be sincere, it must be entire repentance. True repentance is the turning of the heart as well as of the life; it is the giving up of the whole soul to God, to be His forever and ever; it is the renunciation of the sins of the heart, as well as the crimes of the life.” End quote. Now remember, this repentance is not something that you can do on your own. It is a grace that God grants. 2 Timothy 2:25 says, “God grants repentance.” Acts 11:18; Peter said that “God had granted repentance” to the Gentiles. It is the grace of repentance that God works in the heart that is the companion to belief.
From His first message to His last, Jesus, Himself, called sinners to repent. He called sinners to turn from their sins. It was more than just that they would change their mind about who He was, it was that they would turn from sin and follow Him. And then when He gave the great commission - we’re familiar with Matthew’s account of the great commission about going into “all the world and baptizing and teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I’ve commanded you.” We may even be familiar with Mark’s version.
But it’s Luke version of the great commission that’s important for us this morning. Luke 24:47, Jesus said repentance should be preached. When you go preach repentance. Preach repentance. Call on sinners to turn from their sins. Religion without repentance is meaningless. In Hosea, chapter 6 in verse 6, God said, “I delight in obedience or loyalty rather than sacrifice.” I don’t want your external religion. I want the loyalty of your heart. I want you to turn from being loyal and obedient to Satan and sin to being loyal and obedient to me.
There was a Pharisee in the eighteenth chapter of Luke, and he went into the temple to pray. And you remember the story. He was really impressed with himself. He was a believer. He believed in the true God, the God of Israel, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He believed in the God who had led Israel out of the land of Egypt under the leadership of Moses. He believed in the God who had miraculously parted the Red Sea and fed the children of Israel in the wilderness.
He believed in the God who had given them access to conquer the land of Israel, the land of Cain, and he believed in the true and living God. He believed in the God who was the author of the Old Testament. He also was a somewhat devout man. He prayed regularly in the appropriate place. He gave tithes, which meant he was generous toward God. He fulfilled all the ceremonies that belief would call him to fulfill.
But Jesus told the story about the man. The man went home without ever being justified. He was not saved. He was not a redeemed man. He was not a saved man. He was not a forgiven man. He was, therefore, a hell bound man, and the missing ingredient in his life was repentance. Even though he had faith, he had no repentance to partner with the faith.
On the other hand, there was another man there who also had faith. He believed in the true and living God. He believed in the Word of the true and living God. He believed in the law of the true and living God and he knew he had violated it. And he was the publican, the tax collector, the outcast. And he beats his breast and he won’t even look up and he pounds away on his chest and says, “God, be merciful to me” - what? - “A sinner.” And Jesus said that man when home forgiven because there was penitence in his heart.
There was the rich young ruler in Matthew 19. He came to Jesus. He believed enough in Jesus to say, “How do I have eternal life?” He never got eternal life, because when Jesus wanted to talk about sin and penitence, he wouldn’t admit to any sin and so, he was left in his hell bound condition. Repentance is absolutely at the very heart of the Christian Gospel.
Now for just a few moments, let me talk about repentance by way of a Biblical understanding. Just several things to think about. Number one, repentance is an element within saving faith. I’ve tried to say these things in a brief and concise way that captures the idea. It is an element within saving faith. It is not the same as believing. There are people today who would want to take repentance and make it nothing more than a synonym for believing. They – they think it means nothing more than just changing your mind about who Jesus is and now believing that he’s God.
But repentance is not just another word for faith, it’s not just another word for believing. But it is inseparable from believing. It isn’t the same as, but it is inseparable from. They go together, as the theologian Louis Berhof said, as complimentary parts of the same process. They’re back-to-back like two sides of a coin. They are inseparable but they are required for true salvation. What does repentance mean? What is it? It is as an element of saving faith best understood to be a turning. The verb used - it’s also a noun form – metanoia or metanoeō in the verb form, comes from two words: noeō, which means to understand, and meta, which mean after. So it’s like an after understanding or an afterthought.
It literally means to have an afterthought and be thinking one way and change your thought. That’s – that would be the simplistic meaning of the components of the word. However, the Biblical meaning is much beyond an afterthought. Even secularly, it came to mean a turning, a transition, a stopping and going in the opposite direction. And from a Biblical standpoint, it always appears as a specific turning from sin toward God, turning from sin toward God. It is a changing of your mind about your life, about your sin. It always speaks of a change of purpose, a change of direction specifically connected with a turning from sin toward God, from sin toward righteousness.
In the sense that Jesus used it, He was calling for a repudiation of the old sinful life, and a turning to God for a new and righteous life. In 1 Thessalonians, there is a very simple and straightforward expression of repentance in chapter 1, verse 9, where Paul commends the Thessalonians as true believers because they turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God. They turned to God, which meant they turned from the evils of idols to serve God. That’s repentance. It’s turning from sin to God. It is an essential element of saving faith. Though it is not the faith itself, it is an inseparable component in saving faith.
Secondly, it is a redirection of the will. The best way to understand it, I think, now that you know it 27:33 __ as an element of saving faith, is to see it as a redirection of the will. Faith apprehends something is true. Repentance redirects the will. Where the will has hankered after sin, where the will has pursued lust - the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life - where the will has been driven toward those things that fulfill the flesh, those things that allure in the world. Where there is real repentance associated with saving faith, the will is completely redirected. It is not just being sad about your sin. It’s not just feeling sorry that you got caught.
There is in genuine repentance remorse, there is in genuine repentance a bitterness and a sorrow and a hatred of sin, but there is also a redirection of the human will. That is to say you could be very sorry about your sin, very sad about your sin, feel awful about your sin, and just sort of wallow in that. That does not constitute repentance. Repentance is when the will is redirected and, all of a sudden, the dominant choices and the purposeful choices of life are toward righteousness and virtue and what is good and holy, just and pure. That’s repentance. It is an element of saving faith in that it is a sorrow over sin, it is also a redirection of the will and that that sorrow turns into the longing to make choices towards righteousness.
So that I’ve always said through the years, it’s not always the perfection of our lives that demonstrates our Christianity. That would be hard for us to do because we’re not perfect. But it is the direction. It’s what you long for. It’s what you hanker for. It’s what pleases you. It’s what your will is driven toward that identifies you as having been changed, saved. Now at this point, again, I want to say this is a work of God. This is a grace work that God does in the heart. Along with bringing, saving faith, He produces this kind of repentance, which is associated with saving faith and which is a redirection of the otherwise dead and impotent human will. Only God can create this redirection. That’s why Acts 11:18 and 2 Timothy 2:25 says God grants repentance.
Some people say, “Well, you know what. If you tell sinners to repent, if you preach repentance, you’re asking them to do something they can’t do.” And so they say, “You know, are you asking people to do some pre-salvation work to get their life in order so that God will save them? Is this call to repentance a call to people to stop sinning on the spot? And if you’ll just stop sinning and start doing what’s right, God will save you?” Not on your life. Who could do that? Can a leopard change his spots? No. “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.” Nobody’s going to change that. No human. You can’t do that. Repentance is not a pre-salvation attempt to set your life in order.
I was talking to a doctor one time who said, “You know, I’m going to come to Christ as soon as I get my life straightened out.” I said, “I got a better idea. You’ll never do that. Why don’t we just give it to Him and let Him straighten it out?” Repentance is a component of saving faith, which, like saving faith, is a great, gracious work of God. But we call on sinners to repent because that work is not apart from their response. We call on them to believe, we call on them to repent because that’s what the Bible tells us to do. We give invitations to sinners to turn their back on their sin and to embrace Christ with wholehearted devotion.
In his excellent little book, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, Jim Packer wrote this. Quote, “The repentance that Christ requires of His people consists in a settled refusal to set any limit to the claims which He may make on their lives.” End quote. Repentance says I’m so sick of my sin, I’m so weary of my sin, I’m so tired of my sin and its consequences, that I embrace Christ at any cost. Jesus said it’s losing your life to find it, didn’t he? Losing your life to find it. Now this redirection of the will has some components. First of all, it’s intellectual. It is intellectual. It begins with a recognition - and I want you to get this cause it’s very important - it begins with a recognition of sin as an affront to God.
You’re not going to get redirected until you understand the seriousness of sin. And by that, I don’t mean just that sin messes up your life and goofs up your – your life and creates complications in this world, and causes stress and anxiety and all that, although it does do that. You really will come to a true repentance when you understand more than the personal consequence of sin, when you understand the divine consequence of sin, when you understand that you are an affront to a holy God and there are immense consequences to that effrontery. That was has to be contained and understood and proclaimed in the Gospel, that a sinner is not just messing up his own life and Jesus can fix it. But a sinner has put himself in enmity with the holy God and the consequences are frightening and terrifying.
I think this is very important in the rearing of children. You have not satisfied the responsibilities of parenthood when you’ve made your child to submit to you. When you put so much fear in your child that your child is afraid to violate you, that is not where – that is the not the end of parenting. You have parented your child appropriately when your child lives with the fear of God, not you. You’re an intermediary with the responsibility of teaching your child to fear God. I don’t want my children to just grow up and fear me, because what are they going to do when I’m not there?
That’s easy to do. All you have to do is whack them around and they’re going to have a normal fear of you. All you have to do is make the consequences to their misdeed’s severe enough and they’ll have a normal fear of you. That’s a far cry from them living with a heart attitude of fearing God. The most important thing you can teach your child is that when they do what is wrong, it doesn’t just irritate mommy, it doesn’t just antagonize daddy, it doesn’t just mess with the order of the family. What they’re doing is putting themselves in a very, very difficult position before a holy God who deals out consequence for violations against His holy law.
I didn’t want to raise my children to fear being chastened by their father. That was incidental. I wanted to raise my children to fear being chastened by their God. Because I’m not always around, but He is. And the consequences of violating God are far greater, infinitely greater, than any violation on the human level. I think at the very earliest stage when you deal with your children, you need to teach them this. They need to understand that sin is an offense against a holy God so that you’re preparing their heart for penitence.
One of the reasons that I’m reluctant to accept the confession of – of belief of a – of a very young child, a 4 or 5, 6-year-old child who says, “Yes, I love Jesus. He died for me and I want Him to live in my heart,” and so forth and so forth, is because I doubt whether that child – it’s not that the child would be in every case incapable of it - but I doubt whether that child has any real understanding of the divine implication of their sin. Cause we don’t tend to deal with that as we ought to deal with it. It’s critical that our children grow up with a fear of God. That’s what leads to true repentance.
When I begin to understand, intellectually, that my sin is my sin and it is an affront to a holy God and that I am personally and singularly responsible for my guilt. Don’t blame anybody. No one is to blame but you. When I come to the recognition that I am a sinner and that that has immense and eternal consequences before a holy God and I want to avoid those consequence and I want blessing for cursing, then I’m intellectually prepared for repentance.
Then it becomes emotional. It goes from being intellectual to emotional. It produces sorrow and shame, and then that begins to move the will. And then it becomes volitional. It finally brings about a turning as God works it in the heart, a willingness - not only a willingness, but I believe a determination to abandon stubborn patterns of sinful disobedience and pursue the will of God, peruse the will of Christ. As such, it produces a – a transformed life.
Coming up to the modern time in history, we read from Martin Lloyd Jones, “Repentance means that you realize you’re guilty, vile, a sinner in the presence of God, that you deserve the wrath and punishment of God, that you are hell bound. It means that you begin to realize that this thing called sin is in you, that you long to get rid of it, that you turn your back on it in every shape and form.
“You renounce the world whatever the cost, the world in its mind and outlook as well as its practice, and you deny yourself and take up the cross and go after Christ. Your nearest and dearest and the whole world may call you a fool or say you have religious mania. You may have to suffer financially but it makes no difference. That is repentance. It launches you into a new disposition and a new life.” And it’s possible because of the cross, isn’t it? Join me in prayer.
Father, as we come now to this table, we realize that repentance is not something we just did when we were saved but it’s an ongoing reality in our lives. As the catechism says, there are times when we are tempted. We are surprised and we fall back into the very patterns of sins we have repented of. But we hate those patterns, and we rise again and return to You.
Lord, we need to come to Your table because we need to confess our sins. We need to admit that we’ve stumbled and fallen. We’ve been surprised by temptations and their subtleties, sometimes in their blatant form. We’ve stumbled and fallen and we need Your cleansing. Oh God, how we thank You that You’ve built into us a penitent heart that has caused us to turn from sin to righteousness, to turn from Satan to Christ, to turn from darkness to light, from death to life.
Thank You for working that work in our hearts through the cross, through faith in the crucified Christ that that repentance becomes a transforming repentance and we’re made into new creations and old things pass away and everything is new. I pray for the repentance of those who have not yet truly repented. I pray that if there are sinners here who – who have not repented, who have not abandoned everything and willingly forsaken all for Christ that they would do that.
I pray for Christians who have stumbled and fallen back into sin, that even now they would confess and be cleansed. I pray for all of us to be able to preach repentance in a way that sinners can hear and understand, knowing that if they will not repent, they cannot be saved.
Oh God, how we thank You that You’ve received repentant sinners through the sacrifice of Your son who died for the repenters. And when we come to You and repentant faith and believe in Christ, You save us. You forgive all our sins because He died in our place. Bless us now as we contemplate this great reality of the cross, Amen.
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