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Jan15SunJanuary 15, 2023
I am sure you have heard someone repent using these words; If I have done anything to hurt or offend you, I am sorry. While there are times we have hurt or offended someone unintentionally, this blanket statement really does not count as repentance if left at just a statement, as it is a way to get off the hook without really repenting for anything. If there was no intention to harm, then you would take the time to find out what happened when it came to light and then make amends. That would be repentance. To leave a situation with this blanket statement is not repentance. Repentance is admitting to the problem and then acting on it because there is sincere regret or remorse. Using this blanket statement is actually offensive to the person you are saying it to because they are not admitting to doing anything wrong. In essence they are actually blaming you for being hurt. There will be no change and this person will probably continue in their ways and do it again. True repentance is about change. Not admitting specifically to your wrongs is false repentance.
There are two parts to this blanket statement. The first are those who truly do not know what they have done and the second are those who do know but won’t admit what they have done or be accountable for it. I have included in this second one those who really don’t care. The first step is to repent before God. Repentance to others will follow. This first group covers many in the church today as there is a lack of knowledge when it comes to repentance but having said that there is no excuse. Most in the church do not believe they have anything to repent for. True repentance is not promoted because that would lead to massive change in the church and that would affect the bottom line. Scripture is very clear about repentance, even if you do not hear true repentance preached. You fall into the second group when you hear God’s word but fail to do anything about it, yet you remain accountable. Isaiah 55:6 “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. 7 Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon. 8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. 9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. 10 As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, 11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” As John tells us John 3:18 “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” Rejecting God’s word is called stubborn obstinance. Ezekiel was told Ezekiel 2:3 “Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against me; they and their ancestors have been in revolt against me to this very day. 4 The people to whom I am sending you are obstinate and stubborn. Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says.’ 5 And whether they listen or fail to listen—for they are a rebellious people—they will know that a prophet has been among them.” Ezekiel 3:4 “Son of man, go now to the people of Israel and speak my words to them. 5 You are not being sent to a people of obscure speech and strange language, but to the people of Israel— 6 not to many peoples of obscure speech and strange language, whose words you cannot understand. Surely if I had sent you to them, they would have listened to you. 7 But the people of Israel are not willing to listen to you because they are not willing to listen to me, for all the Israelites are hardened and obstinate.” Listening to God’s word leads to repentance.
If the lack of repentance is unintentional, that is still no excuse not to repent. This is why, as Paul said, to work out your salvation with fear and trembling. We need to make sure but as we are told Hosea 4:6 “my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.” Many people go to church Sunday after Sunday and still do not know that they need to truly repent. They assume all is well because that is what they have been told. They adhered to the doctrines and theology of the church they attend and have committed their lives to them, but will they see eternal life? Most people who go to church do not know they follow other gospels, and their salvation is not as secure as they have been told. 2 Peter 3:17 “Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position.” This is where they can fall into the second group as once they hear that they have followed other gospels, they must do something about it. It is not wrong to question based on scripture what you are hearing. The word unintentional seems to imply not guilty, but not according to scripture. Scripture is clear that saying I didn’t know is not a valid excuse but unfortunately many do not know that they are accountable. Romans 1:18 “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.”
Leviticus tells us to repent even if unintentional. Even though this passage is talking about following the laws, it still applies to the church today. No, we don’t have to offer up sacrifices like a bull or a goat, but we must offer God our lives as a living sacrifice. Romans 12:1 “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” Leviticus 4:1 “The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Say to the Israelites: ‘When anyone sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the Lord’s commands—.” Then we see several examples. Leviticus 4:3 “‘If the anointed priest sins, bringing guilt on the people, he must bring to the Lord a young bull without defect as a sin offering for the sin he has committed. 13 “‘If the whole Israelite community sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the Lord’s commands, even though the community is unaware of the matter, when they realize their guilt 14 and the sin they committed becomes known, the assembly must bring a young bull as a sin offering and present it before the tent of meeting. 22 “‘When a leader sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the commands of the Lord his God, when he realizes his guilt 23 and the sin he has committed becomes known, he must bring as his offering a male goat without defect.27 “‘If any member of the community sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the Lord’s commands, when they realize their guilt 28 and the sin they have committed becomes known, they must bring as their offering for the sin they committed a female goat without defect.” Leviticus 5:1 “If anyone sins because they do not speak up when they hear a public charge to testify regarding something they have seen or learned about, they will be held responsible. 17 If anyone sins and does what is forbidden in any of the Lord’s commands, even though they do not know it, they are guilty and will be held responsible.” The church continued in its ways and refuses to repent, even though scripture makes us aware that our ways lead to death.
Notice that it is still possible, even though unintentional to repent and obtain forgiveness. We see sin take place unintentionally, but we also see them come to their senses and realize their guilt. This is why preaching about true repentance is so important. It is important to point out sin to the unintentioned. Sometimes it is through preaching and other times, like the lost son, it is through life’s circumstances. Luke 15:17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.” True repentance is turning from our wicked ways. Many who call themselves Christians think they have repented because they have followed the directives of the church that they attend, but what have they been saved into? Most have not tested the spirits to find out and have not worked out their salvation. 1 John 4:1 “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” Today the church is filled with people unintentionally sinning before God and not repenting as they think their life in the church is how it is supposed to be. It is also filled with those intentionally not following God’s word. There is a willful rejection of God’s word and going so far as to replace God’s words with their own. We are told Malachi 2:5 “My covenant was with him, a covenant of life and peace, and I gave them to him; this called for reverence and he revered me and stood in awe of my name. 6 True instruction was in his mouth and nothing false was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and turned many from sin. 7 “For the lips of a priest ought to preserve knowledge, because he is the messenger of the Lord Almighty and people seek instruction from his mouth. 8 But you have turned from the way and by your teaching have caused many to stumble; you have violated the covenant with Levi,” says the Lord Almighty.” 2 Peter 2:2 “Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute.”
Today in the church there is a blatant disregard for God’s word. Many act like they have repented and are Christians but do not follow God’s word. There is no remorse for how they live and because they go to church, they think all is well. Christianity has transformed into going to church instead of being the church. Everyone is accountable to God’s word even though some think if they ignore it, all will still be well with their soul. Proverbs 1:20 “Out in the open wisdom calls aloud, she raises her voice in the public square; 21 on top of the wall she cries out, at the city gate she makes her speech: 22 “How long will you who are simple love your simple ways? How long will mockers delight in mockery and fools hate knowledge? 23 Repent at my rebuke! Then I will pour out my thoughts to you, I will make known to you my teachings. 24 But since you refuse to listen when I call and no one pays attention when I stretch out my hand, 25 since you disregard all my advice and do not accept my rebuke, 26 I in turn will laugh when disaster strikes you; I will mock when calamity overtakes you— 27 when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind, when distress and trouble overwhelm you. 28 “Then they will call to me but I will not answer; they will look for me but will not find me, 29 since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the Lord. 30 Since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke, 31 they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes. 32 For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them; 33 but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.” Isaiah 1:15 “When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you; even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening. Your hands are full of blood!”
I have always thought these were interesting passages. Hebrews 5:11 “We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. 12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. Hebrews 6:1 “Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, 2 instruction about cleansing rites, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3 And God permitting, we will do so.” It is interesting that these are called elementary truths.” Today’s church doesn’t see the results of the biblical laying on of hands. Having said that be careful who lays their hands on you. The foundation is repentance, but true repentance is not preached, therefore the kingdom of God does not come near which is why the church is powerless against our enemies. Jesus said Mark 1:15 “The time has come,” “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” 2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” True repentance means change. 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” Revelation 21:3 “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” 5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” As we saw last week, people fear death and there is little to no healing in the church. True repentance means that God’s kingdom comes near, and we see how it is supposed to be in this passage. James 5:14 “Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” What we see in the church today looks nothing like this.
The lack of anointing leads to a lack of true confession. Confession is not just admitting our sins but turning from them. The lives of many remained unchanged even though they go to church. There is no remorse for not following God’s word, but the church is like this. Jeremiah 8:6 “I have listened attentively, but they do not say what is right. None of them repent of their wickedness, saying, “What have I done?” Each pursues their own course like a horse charging into battle.” After Pentecost, Peter preached and some listened. He said, Acts 2:36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” 37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Notice the remorse. Paul said Acts 20:20 “You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house. 21 I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.” Acts 26:20 “First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and then to the Gentiles, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and demonstrate their repentance by their deeds.” Notice the action of repentance. 2 Timothy 2:25 “Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.” When Paul and Silas were in prison, the power of God opened the prison doors and chains came loose. The jailer saw this and said to Paul and Silas Acts 16:30 “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. 33 At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized. 34 The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household.”
This kind of power is not present in the church today because the church does not obey God’s word. Some is unintentional and some intentional but there is no excuse either way. The fact that there is little healing or demons cast out should cause people to repent but it doesn’t. This should cause people to seek God, but they stubbornly refuse. It also means there is not as many people saved as they say there is. Instead, false teachers teach people what we see in the church today is normal Christianity which does not lead to repentance, nor does it lead to God turning His face back to us. Jeremiah said to king Zedekiah Jeremiah 38:20 “Obey the Lord by doing what I tell you. Then it will go well with you, and your life will be spared.” He did not listen. Jeroboam was told 1 Kings 11:38 “If you do whatever I command you and walk in obedience to me and do what is right in my eyes by obeying my decrees and commands, as David my servant did, I will be with you. I will build you a dynasty as enduring as the one I built for David and will give Israel to you.” He did not listen. Over and over God said obey me. Over and over people do not listen and reap the consequences. Jeremiah 7:23 “I gave them this command: Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in obedience to all I command you, that it may go well with you. 24 But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubborn inclinations of their evil hearts. They went backward and not forward. 25 From the time your ancestors left Egypt until now, day after day, again and again I sent you my servants the prophets. 26 But they did not listen to me or pay attention. They were stiff-necked and did more evil than their ancestors.” Jeremiah 11:4 “Obey me and do everything I command you, and you will be my people, and I will be your God. 5 Then I will fulfill the oath I swore to your ancestors, to give them a land flowing with milk and honey’—the land you possess today.” I answered, “Amen, Lord.” 6 The Lord said to me, “Proclaim all these words in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem: ‘Listen to the terms of this covenant and follow them. 7 From the time I brought your ancestors up from Egypt until today, I warned them again and again, saying, “Obey me.” 8 But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubbornness of their evil hearts. So I brought on them all the curses of the covenant I had commanded them to follow but that they did not keep.’” 2 Chronicles 36:15 “The Lord, the God of their ancestors, sent word to them through his messengers again and again, because he had pity on his people and on his dwelling place. 16 But they mocked God’s messengers, despised his words and scoffed at his prophets until the wrath of the Lord was aroused against his people and there was no remedy.” Stephen said Acts 7:51 “You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit! 52 Was there ever a prophet your ancestors did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him— 53 you who have received the law that was given through angels but have not obeyed it.”
Today’s church is not cut to the heart when it hears this because most think all is well in the church, but as scripture clearly portrays, it is not. Scripture clearly shows us what the church should look like, yet the church still does not listen. This refusal then turns from unintentional to intentional. For example, some teach a doctrine of demons called cessationism (no power is available like the early church -it has ceased) yet a large portion in the church accept this as truth. The bible says no such thing. This means they have rejected God’s word for man’s / satan. The bible clearly states that there is power available, but we must repent. A calloused heart means people are not hearing or seeing the truth. Jesus said Matthew 13:13 “This is why I speak to them in parables: Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. 14 In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: “‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. 15 For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.” 2 Thessalonians 2:10 “They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie 12 and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.” Jesus also said Mark 7:6 “He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. 7 They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’ 8 You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions. 9 And he continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!” Today’s church is in a severe famine comparable to the severe famines as seen in scripture. Look up severe famine. Amos 8:11 “The days are coming,” declares the Sovereign Lord, “when I will send a famine through the land— not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord.” This still is not an excuse.
Paul, like Jesus was not afraid to speak the truth of God’s word, even though it could offend those listening. Paul said Galatians 1:10 “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” He said this after he stated this, which is true of today’s church. Galatians 1:6 “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! 9 As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!” After Jesus called the Pharisees hypocrites, his disciples said, Matthew 15:12 “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?” 13 He replied, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. 14 Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” Most are not willing to leave their blind guides. They also said Matthew 22:16 “Teacher, we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are.”
When Paul spoke to the Corinthian church, Paul was not afraid to preach the truth of the Gospel. Just as he preached to the churches, he still preaches the same to the church today. Remember when he spoke, God’s power was present. Acts 19:11 “God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.” Paul said 1 Corinthians 4:18 “Some of you have become arrogant, as if I were not coming to you. 19 But I will come to you very soon, if the Lord is willing, and then I will find out not only how these arrogant people are talking, but what power they have. 20 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. 21 What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a rod of discipline, or shall I come in love and with a gentle spirit?” Thirteen books of the New Testament were written by Paul. (Hebrews is uncertain) Yes people find Paul offensive but obviously he speaks truth. Peter said 2 Peter 3:15 “Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. 16 He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.” Peter here describes the written word. 2 Peter 1:9 “We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” Even though we say Paul wrote a large portion of the New Testament, this is the inspired word of God.
Paul said to the Corinthian church 2 Corinthians 7:2 “Make room for us in your hearts. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have exploited no one. 3 I do not say this to condemn you; I have said before that you have such a place in our hearts that we would live or die with you. 4 I have spoken to you with great frankness; I take great pride in you. I am greatly encouraged; in all our troubles my joy knows no bounds.” Paul loved them which is why he spoke this way. Paul continues 8 Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it. Though I did regret it—I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while— 9 yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. 10 Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. 11 See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done. At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter. 12 So even though I wrote to you, it was neither on account of the one who did the wrong nor on account of the injured party, but rather that before God you could see for yourselves how devoted to us you are. 13 By all this we are encouraged.” To the Thessalonians Paul said 1 Thessalonians 1:13 “And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe.”
Godly sorrow leads to repentance. Everyone who called themselves a Christian in this day and age, should be concerned about their salvation. Start by fearing God as He holds your life in His hands. Matthew 10:28 “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matthew 25:34“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 41 Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 46 Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” Proverbs 9:10 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” The good news is that God said Jeremiah 29:13 “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, and will bring you back from captivity.” Malachi 3:7 “Return to me and I will return to you says the Lord Almighty.” Proverbs 8:17 “I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me.”
Reading scripture with the intent to find God so that He will hear you and turn back to you as you return to Him, this will take you on a journey to repentance if you listen closely to the right voice. If you are willing to take this journey, you should know there will be much opposition to it. satan does not want you to repent as he knows the power that is available when the kingdom comes near will destroy his work. 1 Peter 5:8 “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” If you are teaching or preaching the truth of repentance, you should know that there will also be opposition from within the church. Paul was told Acts 21:11 “Coming over to us, he took Paul’s belt, tied his own hands and feet with it and said, “The Holy Spirit says, ‘In this way the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.’ 13 Then Paul answered, “Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” 2 Corinthians 7:5 “For when we came into Macedonia, we had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn—conflicts on the outside, fears within. 6 But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus.” 1 Thessalonians 2:2 “We had previously suffered and been treated outrageously in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in the face of strong opposition.” Acts 23:12 “The next morning some Jews formed a conspiracy and bound themselves with an oath not to eat or drink until they had killed Paul. 13 More than forty men were involved in this plot. 14 They went to the chief priests and the elders and said, “We have taken a solemn oath not to eat anything until we have killed Paul. 15 Now then, you and the Sanhedrin petition the commander to bring him before you on the pretext of wanting more accurate information about his case. We are ready to kill him before he gets here.” Just as there was opposition to the rebuilding of the wall and temple, there will be opposition to the rebuilding of the church. 1 Thessalonians 2:13 “And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe. 14 For you, brothers and sisters, became imitators of God’s churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus: You suffered from your own people the same things those churches suffered from the Jews 15 who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out.” Jesus said Matthew 10:22 “You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” It was the Jews who killed Jesus, they just used the Romans to do it. Matthew 26:3 “Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, 4 and they schemed to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him. 5 “But not during the festival,” they said, “or there may be a riot among the people. 59 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death. 60 But they did not find any, though many false witnesses came forward.” Matthew 27:22 “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate asked. They all answered, “Crucify him!” 23 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!” 24 When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!” 25 All the people answered, “His blood is on us and on our children!” 26 Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.”
Repentance means you will turn from your wicked ways and follow them no longer. This may be a person coming to Jesus for the first time but due to the rebellion and desolation of the church, the church is so far from the truth, repentance needs to start with the church. When the church turns from its wicked ways, then the church can win the world. There is no sense trying to win souls when the church is so off track. Jesus said Matthew 23:15 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.” Here is the problem. Many who are searching will approach someone in their church and they will lead them in what they think to be repentance. They will then commit to that particular church but will not really have repented. I believe there are many in the church discontent with the religion they call Christianity but are afraid to take the journey. Christianity is not a religion, it is the only way. Becoming a Christian isn’t becoming or staying a Baptist or Catholic or Pentecostal etc. There is only one way, not many ways. Ephesians 4:3 “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” God said 2 Chronicles 7:13 “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, 14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. 16 I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there.” He also said 19 “But if you turn away and forsake the decrees and commands I have given you and go off to serve other gods and worship them, 20 then I will uproot Israel from my land, which I have given them, and will reject this temple I have consecrated for my Name. I will make it a byword and an object of ridicule among all peoples. 21 This temple will become a heap of rubble. All who pass by will be appalled and say, ‘Why has the Lord done such a thing to this land and to this temple?’ 22 People will answer, ‘Because they have forsaken the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who brought them out of Egypt, and have embraced other gods, worshiping and serving them—that is why he brought all this disaster on them.’”
The church must fear God and get back to scripture. Read the Gospels and Acts, compare them to the church and you will see what is missing in the church. Don’t be content to go through life without seeking what could be as laid out in scripture. Then set aside the teaching that says the church is the way it is supposed to be. Remember there will be opposition to that thinking. When you come to the realization that there is more, repent whether it was unintentional or intentional and submit to God. Paul prayed Ephesians 1:18 “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” Pray that the eyes of your heart will be enlightened. As Peter said the promise of the Holy Spirit is for you too. Yes, someone will tell you that they have the Holy Spirit and then you will compare that to scripture, and you will easily see the Holy Spirit isn’t as present as most people believe. 1 Corinthians 12:7 “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.” Mark 16:15 “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.” 19 After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God. 20 Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.” When you repent, you come before God willing to lay down your life for Him and serve Him no matter what. Then you wait for Him to shine His face upon you. This is not lighthearted repentance but wholehearted meaning you commit your life to God, and you no longer are in charge of your life. Most in the church really have no idea what it is to submit their lives to God other than attend church. Repentance is the only way for God to turn His face back to the church.
Last week we prayed Daniel’s prayer. Daniel started the prayer Daniel 9:3 “So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes. 4 I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed. 5 we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws.” The last portion of his prayer said, 17 “Now, our God, hear the prayers and petitions of your servant. For your sake, Lord, look with favor on your desolate sanctuary. 18 Give ear, our God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your Name. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. 19 Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear and act! For your sake, my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name.” We must understand that the church is not the church it was intended to be as it is a desolate sanctuary. This is the result of the abomination that causes desolation. This happened because the church, like Israel rebelled against God and His word to go their own way. Our repentance is a rejection of man’s way and an acknowledgment of God’s only way. Like Daniel we acknowledge our sin before God and committing to turn from man’s wicked ways. This will involve big decisions. This decision will affect your life, family, and relationships but God has promised to bless you if you surrender to Him. Mark 10:29 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life.” Jesus told the rich man to sell everything and follow Him. He said this because He knew his heart. Mark 10:21 “Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me. 22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. 23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” God would have blessed him if he had listened and obeyed. How many people have walked away from Jesus because they refuse to commit their lives to Him?
The last part of Daniels prayer says, Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear and act! For your sake, my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name.” We can humble ourselves before God and pray the same. We are asking God to listen, forgive, hear and act. When God does, that means He turns His face back to the church and His kingdom comes near, meaning there is salvation and healing, and demons are cast out. Then the church again looks like Matthew 4:23 “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. 24 News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them.” Often the Lord’s prayer is taken for granted and repeated ritualistically. The first part states, Matthew 6:9 “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 10 your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” We pray this with the intent of submitting to God so that His kingdom will come. Jesus said repent and the kingdom will come near. Hosea 14:1 “Return, Israel (church), to the Lord your God. Your sins have been your downfall! 2 Take words with you and return to the Lord. Say to him: “Forgive all our sins and receive us graciously, that we may offer the fruit of our lips. 3 Assyria cannot save us; we will not mount warhorses. We will never again say ‘Our gods’ to what our own hands have made, for in you the fatherless find compassion.” Zechariah 10:6 “I will restore them (church) because I have compassion on them. They will be as though I had not rejected them (church), for I am the Lord their God and I will answer them (church).”
If we go back to Solomon, we see another prayer that is crucial for the church today to pray. There is much hope that comes from this prayer if we would turn from our own ways. When you pray this prayer, the temple now is the body of Christ which is no longer a building. Acts 17:24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands.” 1 Corinthians 3:16 “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?” Ephesians 2:19 “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”
Solomon prayed 2 Chronicles 6:14 “Lord, the God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven or on earth—you who keep your covenant of love with your servants who continue wholeheartedly in your way. 15 You have kept your promise to your servant David my father; with your mouth you have promised and with your hand you have fulfilled it—as it is today.16 “Now, Lord, the God of Israel, keep for your servant David my father the promises you made to him when you said, ‘You shall never fail to have a successor to sit before me on the throne of Israel, if only your descendants are careful in all they do to walk before me according to my law, as you have done.’ 17 And now, Lord, the God of Israel, let your word that you promised your servant David come true. 18 “But will God really dwell on earth with humans? The heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built! 19 Yet, Lord my God, give attention to your servant’s prayer and his plea for mercy. Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is praying in your presence. 20 May your eyes be open toward this temple day and night, this place of which you said you would put your Name there. May you hear the prayer your servant prays toward this place. 21 Hear the supplications of your servant and of your people Israel when they pray toward this place. Hear from heaven, your dwelling place; and when you hear, forgive. 22 “When anyone wrongs their neighbor and is required to take an oath and they come and swear the oath before your altar in this temple, 23 then hear from heaven and act. Judge between your servants, condemning the guilty and bringing down on their heads what they have done, and vindicating the innocent by treating them in accordance with their innocence. 24 “When your people Israel have been defeated by an enemy because they have sinned against you and when they turn back and give praise to your name, praying and making supplication before you in this temple, 25 then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of your people Israel and bring them back to the land you gave to them and their ancestors. 26 “When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain because your people have sinned against you, and when they pray toward this place and give praise to your name and turn from their sin because you have afflicted them, 27 then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of your servants, your people Israel. Teach them the right way to live, and send rain on the land you gave your people for an inheritance. 28 “When famine or plague comes to the land, or blight or mildew, locusts or grasshoppers, or when enemies besiege them in any of their cities, whatever disaster or disease may come, 29 and when a prayer or plea is made by anyone among your people Israel—being aware of their afflictions and pains, and spreading out their hands toward this temple— 30 then hear from heaven, your dwelling place. Forgive, and deal with everyone according to all they do, since you know their hearts (for you alone know the human heart), 31 so that they will fear you and walk in obedience to you all the time they live in the land you gave our ancestors. 32 “As for the foreigner who does not belong to your people Israel but has come from a distant land because of your great name and your mighty hand and your outstretched arm—when they come and pray toward this temple, 33 then hear from heaven, your dwelling place. Do whatever the foreigner asks of you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your own people Israel, and may know that this house I have built bears your Name. 34 “When your people go to war against their enemies, wherever you send them, and when they pray to you toward this city you have chosen and the temple I have built for your Name, 35 then hear from heaven their prayer and their plea, and uphold their cause. 36 “When they sin against you—for there is no one who does not sin—and you become angry with them and give them over to the enemy, who takes them captive to a land far away or near; 37 and if they have a change of heart in the land where they are held captive, and repent and plead with you in the land of their captivity and say, ‘We have sinned, we have done wrong and acted wickedly’; 38 and if they turn back to you with all their heart and soul in the land of their captivity where they were taken, and pray toward the land you gave their ancestors, toward the city you have chosen and toward the temple I have built for your Name; 39 then from heaven, your dwelling place, hear their prayer and their pleas, and uphold their cause. And forgive your people, who have sinned against you.”
He then concludes with this. 40 “Now, my God, may your eyes be open and your ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. 41 “Now arise, Lord God, and come to your resting place, you and the ark of your might. May your priests, Lord God, be clothed with salvation, may your faithful people rejoice in your goodness. 42 Lord God, do not reject your anointed one. Remember the great love promised to David your servant.” We are told Jeremiah 33:19 “The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: 20 “This is what the Lord says: ‘If you can break my covenant with the day and my covenant with the night, so that day and night no longer come at their appointed time, 21 then my covenant with David my servant—and my covenant with the Levites who are priests ministering before me—can be broken and David will no longer have a descendant to reign on his throne. 22 I will make the descendants of David my servant and the Levites who minister before me as countless as the stars in the sky and as measureless as the sand on the seashore.’” The sun and moon still do as they are supposed to do so the promise God gave to David is still in effect, so there is hope but we must repent and submit to God Almighty.Micah 7:7 “But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.”