Repentance - The Essential Key (Matt.21:28-31) (Acts 17:30)

I. Introduction

A. God makes much in His Word about the need for repentance

I. Whether Gods call is directed to a lost world or to a redeemed but needy church, His first word is repent. Rev. 3:19

2. For that reason Jesus Himself began his teaching-Repent ye for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.

3. It was Peters first answer to the people on the Day of Pentecost Acts 2:38.

B. Repentance is the essential key by which all the blessings of the gospel come alive to us.

I. It is a mistake to think this word is only for those who are lost.

2. It is extremely important to the believer.

3. The risen Christ sent His message to the seven churches through the Apostle John.

4. His message to five of the seven was-Repent.

5. His message to them was not to try to work harder, make new promises, be more devout-the message was to repent.

II. A Mistaken Idea Abounds

A. That idea is that the need to repent is not for the Christian

I. To the church at Laodicea the Lord says, be zealous and repent.

2. We all feel its proper for Christians to be zealous in prayer, zealous in our witness to others.

3. But he also wants us to be zealous in this matter of repentance.

B. But what are we to understand by the word-Repent?

1. The Greek word means simply-to change your mind.

2. The classic passage is in our text in Matt 21

3. Two sons were told to go work in their fathers vineyard.

4. One of them said I'm not going-but afterward repented.

5. In other words He changed his mind about the matter.

6. That passage settles the meaning of the Word.

7. To repent means to change ones mind-keep it at that.

C. I say that because some preachers have added to that meaning

I. Some think it means you give up your cigarettes, drinking or dancing or some such other things.

2. The problem with that is there is so much doing to be done on our part it ends up with being inconsistent with grace.

3. Martin Luther is a classic case.

4. The Roman Catholic Bible in Luther's day translated the word repent as do penance.

5. Luther took that seriously and tried to do penance but he never knew when he had done enough and because of this he never was sure of having eternal life.

D. It was only as he studied the Greek word and found that it meant a change of mind that light broke through upon Him.

I. He saw that salvation was by grace through faith and that a change of mind that agreed with God was the sole requisite to receiving eternal life.

III. Picture Is Not Quite Complete

A. Though repentance is an attitude-it is both inaudible and invisible unless expressed.

I. Let's put it this way-repentance has one son.

2. This son is the confession of sin which is repentance in word.

3. Once you change your mind you have to confess to God your need. Whosoever will call on the Lord shall be saved.

4. That's what I mean by confession of sin.

B. There is something that I have discovered through my friend Ray Hession and that is entering into the positive by repenting of the negative.

I. I am finding that the major part of asking is confessing that I haven't got the thing I am asking for.

2. In this way I am presenting the Lord my emptiness

3. That is exactly what He wants for confessed emptiness is ever the way to fullness

4. In this way I become a candidate for grace.

C. In other words I enter into the positive by confessing the negative.

1. This is entering by the back door-the beggars door.

2. The grace of God welcomes me every time I come as a beggar. He delights in giving me what I lack.

3. If you lack love for a person, don't just ask for love but repent of unloved.

4. God not only forgives but fills the emptiness with his love.

5. If you lack courage don't ask for courage but repent of fear.

6. If you lack peace-repent of worry and with its forgiveness, God provides the needed peace.

7. If you lack the fullness of the Spirit, confess your emptiness and as sure as grace is grace, you will be filled with His fullness.

D. 1 Say Again, Confessed Emptiness Is The Way To Fullness.

1. The Holy Spirit is not the reward for your faithfulness but is God's gift for your weakness and we surely have plenty of that.

2. We enter into the positive by confessing the negative which means we are entering by the blood of Jesus.

IV. The Importance Of Repentance To The Believer

A. It is important that we Christians learn to repent.

I. If we are never heard taking the sinners place than those who don't know Christ will never repent either.

2. A Christian leader once said: Where there is no revival everybody is right. But when revival comes, by that I mean when Jesus comes, then every one is wrong even those who are thought to be the best Christians

B. I think its true to say, that you can judge the degree of the presence of God in your midst by the degree of repentance manifested.

1. An African leader came to London to be groomed for diplomatic service. He came from the midst of the foremost revival in the world at that time.

2. A Christian asked if he had heard Dr. Martin Lloyd Jones preach. The man went on to explain all of the greatness of Dr. Martin Lloyd Jones.

3. After listening patiently the African Christian simply asked-Does He Repent?

4. To the African brother there were only two kinds of Christian-casual Christians and those who repent.

5. Great preacher or not repentance flattens every distinction.

6. It is one thing God is concerned about in each of us.

C. When should we start repenting? Start with the first thing you know to be sin in your life.

I. A contemporary of John Wesley summarized His ministry:

2. His constant theme was salvation by faith apart from works preceded by repentance and followed by holiness.

3. A brother who is now in heaven ended his letters with: Yours repenting and rejoicing. Repenting always leads to rejoicing.