READING: ISAIAH 55
TEXT VERSE 7, "Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon."
[a] We live in the day of the softly softly Gospel - for goodness sake, don't say anything that will offend anyone!!
[b] How can you be a follower of someone Who was crucified, His message was so offensive, and not have an offensive message yourself???
[c] Easy, in some people's minds!!
You water it down so much, that no-one recognises it any more!!
You leave out any bits they may disagree with, like the concept of 'LIVING IN SIN' or 'GENDER GENETICS'!!
Add some bits of un-scriptural twaddle, and even unchristian dearly held tradition!! Kick out the whole idea of hell, and the need to repent!! Give it a good mix round in the cooking pot of ecumenism, and you end up with a wishy-washy load of nonsense - a fairy tale, that no- one takes seriously!! CAN YOU BLAME THEM??
[a] One night in a Peterhead club, a woman told me she found the concept that Christ bore the world's sin, difficult to accept, because she felt that it encouraged people to go out and do what they liked, knowing it was all paid for, as it were!
[b] I told her that she was leaving out a very important part of the picture! There could not be forgiveness, without a person repenting, and turning their back on their sin - doing an about turn, and going in the opposite direction!! THIS IS A LOT MORE THAN JUST BEING 'SORRY'!!
[c] God's Salvation is CONDITIONAL on the REPENTANCE of the sinner!!
"EXCEPT YE REPENT, YE SHALL ALL LIKEWISE PERISH," said Jesus!
[d] The Bible teaches, that because of our sin, we are God's enemies!!
We stay that way, until we do that about-turn, and are so truly sorry for our sins that, with God's help, we turn our back upon them!!
[e] It is only through the tears of repentance that forgiveness can be claimed!
[a] Our text makes it very clear that it is essential that "THE WICKED FORSAKE HIS WAY."
[b] Now people don't like to be classed in the wicked category!
As a woman said to me one night, "I'm not a sinner!"
I kind of congratulated her, as she must be the only one - because, as I told her, the Bible makes it clear, that "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God." and "There is none righteous, no not one."
[c] THE WORLD IS CRAMMED FULL OF SINNERS! THE ONLY DIFFERENCE IS, SOME ARE FORGIVEN AND THE REST AREN'T!
[d] Whether we like it or not, SIN PUTS US IN THE 'WICKED' CATAGORY, AS ALL SIN IS WICKEDNESS!
[e] Psychiatrists tell us that religion instills GUILT in people's minds! Dull dead empty religion may - but CHRISTIANITY DEALS WITH THE GUILT PROBLEM, BY FIRSTLY ACKNOWLEDGING IT, AND THEN REMOVING IT THROUGH THE FORGIVENESS OF GOD!! HALLELUJAH!!
[f] We are promised that if we fulfil the condition, then God's forgiveness and mercy will flow freely - in the words of Scripture, "HE WILL ABUNDANTLY PARDON."
[g] Once those floodgates of forgiveness are open, there is no limit!
As the hymnwriter says, "His love has no limits, his grace has no measure, His power no boundary known unto men; For out of his infinite riches in Jesus, he giveth, and giveth and giveth again."
[a] In Acts 17:30, we find that it is the COMMAND of God that "ALL MEN EVERYWHERE REPENT!"
[b] Those who have not repented, are DISOBEYING GOD'S COMMAND!!
[c] There are many who live as if they don't care what God says! BUT ONE DAY THEY WILL CARE, AND IT WILL BE TOO LATE, FOR THE DAY OF SALVATION WILL BE PAST FOREVER!! IT WILL BE TOO LATE TO GRASP THE OPPORTUNITY TO REPENT, RECEIVE CHRIST, AND BECOME CHILDREN OF GOD!!
[d] Thoughts of JUDGEMENT AND HELL, are very unpopular in this 'enlightened age' in which we live!!
[e] But we must always remember that Jesus speaks of them as ultimate reality for the unrepentant sinner!!
HE WARNS OF HELL MUCH MORE OFTEN THAN HE SPEAKS ABOUT HEAVEN!!
[a] Repentance and conversion, are in a sense the siamese twins of Christianity.
[b] Like the popular song says, of something quite different - "YOU CAN'T HAVE ONE WITHOUT THE OTHER!"
[c] In Acts 3:19, it says, "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out."
"But tears and regret are not in themselves repentance. For sometimes we are only regretting that we were caught! The real indication of a sincere response is change. Read Matthew 3:1-8, 2 Corinthians 7:10; Leviticus 6:1-7."
[d] The test of TRUE REPENTANCE is CONVERSION!!
[e] The truth of this fact is brought out, away back in Ezekiel 18:30- 31, "Oh turn from your sins while there is yet time. Put them behind you and receive a new heart and a new spirit."
[f] Repentance, is the lowering of your drawbridge, to allow the Lord to enter! It is an act of surrender - of total submission!
[a] Do you feel truly sorry for your sin??
[b] Are you willing to REPENT, and turn your back on all your sin??
[c] Are you willing to, as the Bible says, "CAST IT AWAY FROM YOU."
[d] If you are, then respond to Christ - ask him to enter and take over your life.
[e] Sometimes, even in the Christian's life, unrepented and unforgiven sin, can often be a great problem.
We are inclined to think of repentance only as the initial act of Commitment to the Lord. But it has got to be a continuing principle of maintaining close contact with God - it will bring down any barrier that arising between us and the Lord. Anything that would cause a rift.
[f] Sometimes our behaviour, opinions and attitudes do not please God, and in His love He shows us that we must change.
[g] "Repentance" is accepting that He is right and having a willingness to accept His standards, allowing Him the freedom to work in our lives and develop us to become more like Jesus in every way.
[h] Should you be turning to God in repentance just now?
Salvation Army Song Book
PRAYER CHORUS 113