Why Does God Require Repentance?

Examining The Importance Of Repentance In Your Walk With Jesus

Dan Franklin
Apr 24, 2022    41m
In the church, we often hear about repentance, but this message takes the time to teach us the importance of repentance in your personal walk with Jesus. To repent is not a punishment, it is a process of recognizing your sin, revelation of the better way, moving into repentance, and then returning to God's love. Video recorded at Upland, California.

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Life Bible - Why Does God Require Repentance?
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Dan Franklin: [00:00:18] All right, let's jump right into it and talk about the word of the day, repent. Repent is the word of the day, you just heard it read, we're going to be talking about it. Who's excited? All right, some of you are, I don't know how serious that was. When we hear the word repent, most of us don't have positive feelings run through our bodies. It's not a word that has a lot of positive associations for us, in fact, for some of you, there might be certain images that come to your mind when you hear the word repent. You might think of the guy hanging out on the street corner, holding a big giant sign, and in big red letters, what does it say? Repent. And every passer-by, on foot or in the car, is called to repent. You might think of the angry old preacher standing up in a suit, staring down at his cowering congregation, calling out the word, repent. You might think of a mom and dad looking down at the guilty-looking child sitting on his couch, pointing the finger at him, and saying, repent. Or you might think of the angry protester calling out to a whole bunch of gay people, repent. The word repent does not have great associations for us. Even if you were to look at some of those situations and say, yeah, yeah, that's appropriate, people do need to be called to repentance, it doesn't bring us joy, it doesn't bring us happy feelings.

Dan Franklin: [00:02:01] But we've got to deal with this word, partly because we just heard this word read for us, and it came from the mouth of the Lord Jesus. We've got to deal with the whole idea of what repentance is, but it's hard because we have these images in our heads that make us think only of negative things. So before going any further, here's what I want to do, I want to give us the opportunity for some new images associated with repentance. Let me give you a few of them.

Dan Franklin: [00:02:30] Image number one is a guy driving in his car, he's texting while he's driving, not looking where he's going. And because he's doing this, he starts to veer over into the oncoming traffic lane. He doesn't realize it, but he's careening toward a giant big rig, and at the last moment, he looks up, grabs a wheel, steers it back into his lane, and narrowly avoids death.

Dan Franklin: [00:02:56] Image number two, there's a young person sitting on a couch getting ready to press send on a gossipy text that is probably going to ruin a relationship forever. And right before hitting send, she instead hits delete and sets the phone down.

Dan Franklin: [00:03:16] Image number three, there's a husband driving to a hotel room to meet up with a woman who he is not married to, and suddenly he, in the car, flips a U-turn, starts going in the different direction, gets on the phone and says, this is a mistake, we're never going to do this, I never should have done this, and never shows up to that hotel room.

Dan Franklin: [00:03:38] Image number four, there's a young man sitting on his bed staring into a bottle of pills and feeling like that's going to solve everything. But then suddenly he sets the pills aside, gets on the phone, calls his best friend, and says, I need help.

Dan Franklin: [00:03:58] All four of those images are pictures of repentance. They're all pictures of repentance, they're pictures of somebody coming right up to the verge of disaster and then experiencing rescue. When we think of repentance, we sometimes just think of guilt and shame and condemnation, when you think of repentance, I want you to think of the beauty of coming up to the verge of disaster and suddenly being rescued. And repentance is important for us to talk about, especially because there is no hope, there is no life, and there is no closeness to God without repentance. And if you want an image in your mind to think of repentance as we go through this today, here's the image I want to give you, to repent is to return to the love of God.

Dan Franklin: [00:04:51] Now here's what we're going to do, as I walk through this message, it's going to be a little bit different than how we normally do it, Ali read our key passage, Mark chapter 1 verses 14 and 15, so if you have a Bible, you can get there. But that'll sort of be a home base, we're going to go through a lot of verses today because we're going to try to get a picture of what repentance looks like if you're not a Christian, and what it looks like if you are a Christian. And we're going to do it, throughout today, I'm just going to make three statements about repentance that are going to help us figure out how we respond to this idea, and I'll give you the first one right now.

Dan Franklin: [00:05:26] The first statement about repentance is this, repentance is central. In other words, this is not an optional idea, this is not just something that's at the periphery of what it means to respond to God, it's really the primary way we're called to respond to God. Now let's look again at the verses that we heard read in Mark chapter 1, it says, "After John, John the Baptist, went to prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15“The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”

Dan Franklin: [00:06:06] Now, just as a quick running start, you know, I'm not going to have time to go deep into all of it. But before he talks about repentance, you see that he talks about the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God has come near, and the kingdom of God in the Bible is a way of describing what life is like when we live with God as the King. And so there was this idea that the Israelites had, that the Jewish people had, that one day God is going to reign in a way that's not just spiritual, but that's really physical and tangible. And his rule is going to spread through all the earth, and there's going to be justice and peace. Jesus shows up and he says, the kingdom of God has come near. Now, here's the deal, Jesus was not saying that there's not still going to be a future time, that this comes to fulfillment because when Jesus comes back, that time will finally come. But what Jesus was saying is the kingdom is right here, because the King is right here. And if we respond to Jesus, we start to live in the reality of the kingdom. And then he says the words, "Repent and believe the good news.", the good news being the Gospel.

Dan Franklin: [00:07:17] Now, this is not the only time that Jesus talks about repentance, it's all throughout his ministry. In fact, this passage here, it's paralleled in Luke and Matthew, as the way that Jesus started off, as the summary statement about what he talked about.

Dan Franklin: [00:07:33] But let me just do a quick survey of some other passages in the Gospel of Luke. Luke 5:32, "I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Luke chapter 13 verse 3, "Unless you repent, you too will all perish." And then Luke 15:7, this is the build-up to the prodigal son parable, but it's the part where Jesus talks about the shepherd who has 100 sheep, 99 good one is far away. He goes to find the one who's far away. And after describing that, he says, "I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent." And by the way, just in case you're wondering, almost certainly Jesus is being ironic when he talks about the idea of people not needing to repent, it's more about their self-perception.

Dan Franklin: [00:08:29] So let's just pause here, and here's what I want to do. Jesus is talking a lot about the need to repent, that there may be some of you again, that just your gut reaction to the word repentance is negative, it's guilt, it's shame, it's condemnation, it's finger-pointing. I just want to say, I think there are a lot of us in this room, that whatever we think about the word repentance, we find ourselves drawn towards Jesus. Amen? And you might even not be a Christian right now, but you're like, gosh, when I hear about Jesus, I'm drawn towards Jesus. Like nobody loved like this guy loved, nobody loved people like Jesus loved people, and it wasn't just the pretty people, it wasn't just the successful people, Jesus is loving the people on the outside, he's loving the people with infectious diseases, he's loving the people who have made a mess of their lives, nobody loved like Jesus. In fact, just by the way, if you're here this morning and you're like, I don't think I fit in with any of these people, I think that they probably have clean lives and I don't, and I feel like I'm on the outside. If you believe that you are on the outside, if that's how you feel, know that Jesus specialized in loving people who are on the outside. We look at Jesus and we're like, gosh, I'm drawn to Jesus.

Dan Franklin: [00:09:46] So if Jesus is somebody that we're drawn to in that way, and if Jesus is talking all about repentance, I think we have two options. Option number one is that we can say, I guess Jesus isn't as loving as we thought He was. I guess he really is harsh and judgmental and dismissive because he keeps talking about the need to repent. Or we can look and say the most loving person who ever walked the face of the earth believes that the best thing for us to do in response to God is to repent.

Dan Franklin: [00:10:20] If you're drawn to Jesus, you've got to start looking at the call to repent in a new way. And not only does Jesus talk a lot about repentance, when you get into the Book of Acts when the apostles who Jesus called are going out and spreading the message about Jesus, they're talking all about repentance too! Just a couple of passages, Acts chapter 2 verses 37 and 38, this is Peter, the great sermon at Pentecost, it says, "When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38Peter 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." And by the way, this is just another rabbit trail that we can't go down because it talks about that you receive the Holy Spirit when you're saved. As a little preview, starting next week, we're going to, for five weeks, talk about what it's like to walk in the Spirit. So if you're like, I wish you talked more about the Spirit, come back next week and you have no excuse not to come back next week if you really want me to talk about that. Here's Peter, they literally ask him, Well, what should we do in response to God? And he says, repent. And it's not just Peter that has this idea, the Apostle Paul when he's talking, not to the Jews, but to the Greek philosophers in Athens, it says in Acts chapter 17 verse 30, the Apostle Paul says, "In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent." Repent is the main message from Jesus, it's the main message from the apostles, for the early Christians, it was the main way that you respond to God.

Dan Franklin: [00:12:06] And so even today, sometimes there's debate in Christian circles like, all right, is repentance necessary to be saved? Do you have to repent in order to be saved? And I just want to be totally clear and unambiguous, yes, repentance is necessary if you are going to come to faith in Jesus. And some people are like, well, but that's a work, I thought we're saved by faith and not by works. No, repentance is not a work, repentance is the flip side of faith, and you see them go in tandem, repent and believe. You can't believe without repenting; repentance is right at the center of how we respond to God. But some of you right now might be getting a little bit impatient because you're like, we're talking a lot about repentance, but we still haven't defined what this is. So I'm so thankful that you asked, that's where we're going to go next.

Dan Franklin: [00:12:59] Repentance is central, and the second thing that we're going to talk about is that repentance is dramatic. Repentance is not something that is casual, it is something that's dramatic. Now, here, let's get into a definition now, and you'll hear this if you listen to podcasts or if you read books on repentance. At its core, the Greek word that's translated as repent or repentance, what it means is something having to do with a change of mind. At its most basic level, it means a change of mind. Now, some of you right now, you're trying to get ahead and you're like, but it's more than just a change of mind, right? Because sometimes when we hear a change of mind, we think, well, all that means is like a theoretical change that I have in my own head that doesn't necessarily affect my life, and we're very uncomfortable with the idea that repentance would just sort of mean in my mind, I've made a different decision.

Dan Franklin: [00:13:58] In fact, I'll give you an example of how sometimes changing your mind is not that big a deal. About five years ago, I had a very unsettling conversation with my wife, and here's how it went. I was telling her some story, I don't even remember what I was saying, but I was telling Karina some story. And I got to a point where I said, and then all of the sudden...And she interrupted me and she said, it always makes me laugh when you say that. And I said, it makes you laugh when I say what? She said it makes me laugh when you say, all of the sudden. And I said, why would that make you laugh when I say all of the sudden? And she said because that's not the expression, the expression is all of a sudden. Some of you were ahead of me on this. Now, I didn't say this out loud, but in my head what I said was, I don't know much, but I know you're wrong. And once I prove you wrong, all of the sudden you're going to be embarrassed. Well, I looked it up, and guess who was right? I had gone 40 years telling stories, saying all of the sudden, all the while not knowing that's not a thing, that's not a phrase. Right now, some of your minds are being blown right now, you're like, I was with you, I was on team 'the', I can't believe what's going on right now. I was so shocked at this, and so, do you know what I did? I changed my mind. The evidence was there, I had to change my mind on this. There's a part of us that says, change your mind, that's all we of, we think something like that, that wasn't a big deal. I mean, it was a big enough deal that I still joke about it with her where I was like, remember how I used to say this? And now I'm like, all of the sorry, a sudden. But some of us would say, like, is that all we're talking about with repentance, something is sort of light and casual? It's just, you know, Oh, I used to look at Jesus and I used to think that he was just a great teacher and a really moral person and a spiritual guru. but now, my bad, he's the Son of God. So I'm changing my mind, rethinking about it, I'll never call him a good teacher again, he's the Son of God, I changed my mind. Is that all we're talking about? Because that doesn't quite seem to capture what's being talked about.

Dan Franklin: [00:16:21] You know, there's something that John the Baptist says, you can find this in both Matthew and in Luke, but I'll pull the Matthew passage up. He's talking to a bunch of Jewish people who are coming to him, and he has been calling them to repentance. And when they come to him in Matthew chapter 3 verse 8, he says to them, "Produce fruit in keeping with repentance." In other words, he says, all right, change of mind is where all of this starts, and don't underestimate a change of mind, a change of perspective. But he says produce fruit, which is a euphemism to say bring about actions that are in keeping, that are appropriate, with that change of mind. If you've really had that dramatic of a shift in your mind, it should bring forth fruit.

Dan Franklin: [00:17:12] And just think for a minute about some of the things that we can talk about when we talk about the ways that our minds have been changed if we've embraced the Gospel of Jesus. A real change is taking place, I used to think that my life was just sort of all about me and all about what was important to me and that I was the center of my own story in the world, and now I'm coming to realize that's not the case at all, I'm coming to realize that I'm just a small part of the grand story of a great and loving God. And instead of making my life all about myself, I'm going to change my mind and I'm going to make my life about losing myself in that God, that's a change of mind that we're at. Where we're changing our mind about sin too, that we're saying, alright, when it came to sin, I kind of shrugged my shoulders and said, this is going to give me a little bit of relief or a little bit of happiness in the short term, then what's really the harm? And now I've changed my mind, and I see those things as dramatic, and I see those things as destructive, and I'm looking to avoid them, and I'm waging war against the sin in my life, I've changed my mind about that. And do you know what else I've changed my mind about the fact that obedience to Jesus is not just about me doing the right thing and gutting it out? It's about, by faith, saying that there's no step of obedience, no step of faith, that is not one day going to result in a grand reward that is greater than anything else I've left behind, I've changed my mind. And finally, most importantly, do you know what else I've changed my mind about? I've changed my mind about the idea that I could truly find joy anywhere other than in the presence of the living God who made me. And so no matter what it takes, no matter what sacrifices, no matter what gets in my way, I'm going to pursue finding the ultimate joy that I was created for in the God of the universe because I've changed my mind. Don't underestimate what happens with a change of mind. It's not something that just stays in our head, we bring forth fruit in keeping with repentance, but also don't underestimate that it does start with the mind.

Dan Franklin: [00:19:22] I mean, last week, last week was Easter. Can you guys believe that was just last week? Last week was Easter, and we got to have baptisms, which was awesome. And James, that is one of the guys that got baptized last Sunday, sorry, he didn't know I was going to do this. But if you're here in the first service and got to see James get baptized, you heard the videos beforehand and James said something that I just loved so much. You said something to the effect of, to all the people who knew me before I had faith in Jesus, I'm not that same person, this is the new me. Oh, man, I just love it, I was like, that's it right there. Like, every baptism is that, that is repentance, that is the idea of saying, I'm a new person. And he didn't say it in a way that was sort of like arrogant or dismissive, but just like this is the reality, I have been made new. He didn't just say, I used to think this and now I think this, his entire life has been transformed because Jesus started with a change in perspective that ended up leading to a holistic change in his life.

Dan Franklin: [00:20:30] And let me just say something else before moving on, there's something that I want to say that I think is important. Some of you in here, you had a dramatic turning point in your life, some of us in this room didn't necessarily have that same dramatic turning point. You know, I put my faith in Jesus when I was very young, and some of you, either you are very young and you put your faith in Jesus, or your story is similar to mine, where you put your faith in Jesus at a very young age, and sometimes you feel this weird sense of like, I almost don't have a testimony. Like, nobody dragged me out of a ditch, you know, nobody had to put me on a cart and wheel me to the hospital real quick because I'd overdose. You know, like, none of that happened with me, I don't have this sharp before and after in my story. And by the way, if that's a little bit of what you've done, if you look at your life and like, I don't have this dramatic testimony and you listen to people who do and you're like, gosh, I wish I had a story like that. I just want to tell you, everybody that has a dramatic testimony right now would say, no, you don't. Like you don't want the pain, you don't want all that stuff. Like, God does amazing things, but you don't want all the baggage associated with that. But let me just say, if you're looking at this right now and you're like, well, I do believe, and I have had that change of person, but I don't have this dramatic before and after. Please just hear me on this, the evidence that you belong to God is not that you have this dramatic before and after, the evidence is that you have dramatic fruit in your life that demonstrates that you're a different person than you would have been if you would have gone your own way. So God may have spared you, by coming to faith at a young age, from all of the pain that led to a dramatic, demonstrative turnaround. But if you look at your life and you're like, well, yeah, I am living differently I have a different way that I approach marriage, and I have a different way that I approach school, and I have a different way that I approach the way that I talk, and the way that I handle money, and the way that I handle relationships, I do have a different way that I handle all of that and sometimes people look at me and they're like, you're weird, that's a weird way to live. The evidence of repentance is not that you have that sharp before and after, some of us have that, some of us don't, the evidence is that we are living in a way that somebody would say their perspective, their way of thinking is different than the normal person around. Repentance is dramatic.

Dan Franklin: [00:22:54] Now, one more statement on this, and this one is really, really important for us to talk about. Repentance is central, and repentance is dramatic, and the third thing that we're going to talk about is that repentance is ongoing. Now, here's what this means, repenting is the main way that you enter, it's what you do to enter into the family of God, you repent, and you believe. You change your mind about all of those things I said before, you embrace Jesus as Lord, and you repent in entering into the family of God, but it's also an ongoing reality in the lives of believers.

Dan Franklin: [00:23:34] Less than a year ago, during last summer, we went through a seven-week series in the Book of Revelation, where we talked about the seven churches that received letters, so these are letters to Christians, they are letters to churches. And you know what Jesus keeps saying over and over again to the people in these churches? Repent. If you go back and you just later on today, we're just to read through Revelation 2 and 3, you'd see over and over again in the majority of the churches, Jesus, at some point says, repent. Repent is the main way that a non-Christian responds to Jesus. If right now you're not a Christian and you're like, what is the way that I respond to all this that that's being talked about? The main way that you respond is not simply to try to be a little bit better, make sure you show up at church, read your Bible a little bit, it's repent, have a complete change of perspective, and embrace Jesus as Lord.

Dan Franklin: [00:24:28] And you know, Jeff already talked about it, but if you either last week or even today, this week, is your time to say, all right, I'm ready. I'm ready to repent, I'm ready to trust Jesus, I'm ready to follow him with my life. Jeff already talked about it, that, man, Starting Point is just made for you, for you to sign up for that and say, I'm going to start into this. Even if you're not quite there, even if you're like, I think that I'm going to repent, but I don't know if I'm going to, Starting Point is made for you also.

Dan Franklin: [00:24:57] In fact, just as a quick note, over 20 years ago, I got to go on an extended mission trip to Russia. And it was so striking, when the Russian people that we were around on this trip would talk about their testimony, they wouldn't say this, they wouldn't say, I put my faith in Jesus when I was eight years old, or I came to faith in Jesus when I was 12, or I got saved when I was 32. They didn't say that they said when I was 12, I repented, when I was 15, I repented, when I was 32 was when I repented. It's the way that we enter into the family, but it also is a dynamic that's an ongoing reality for Christians.

Dan Franklin: [00:25:34] And I want to spend a little time in a passage, that I just believe this passage is just a treasure trove, it's Second Corinthians chapter 7, I love this passage. If you've kind of read this before but haven't really zeroed in on it, this may be the best thing that we do today, just to zero in for those of us who are believers to talk about repentance in our lives. So we're going to read through verses 8 through 11, we'll just go through it gradually.

Dan Franklin: [00:25:55] In Second Corinthians chapter 7 verse 8, the apostle Paul is writing, and he says, "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." Now, this is weird, we're obviously jumping right into the middle of something. We're like, what's happening? When we put the pieces together, we find out, all right, Paul wrote a previous letter to the Corinthian church in which he said some harsh things because there was some sin in the church. And the deal wasn't just that alright, there's a couple of people out on the edges that are sinning some small ways, it was like there was sin in the church, and the whole church was in on it, and the whole church was covering up for it, and the whole church was tolerating it, they were all guilty in this. And some people think it refers to something back in First Corinthians 5, it's possible that it does, it's possible that it doesn't. The big point is that Paul says, I wrote you a letter, you felt bad after I wrote you this letter. And then I love this, Paul is like, I don't feel bad about making you feel bad, that's a great way to live.

Dan Franklin: [00:26:56] Anyway, moving on to verse 9, he says, "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." Paul said, I don't like to make you feel bad, but I made you feel bad. And once you felt bad, appropriately, you repented, that's where the grief, the sorrow was meant to lead you.

Dan Franklin: [00:27:28] And he gives an amazing insight here in verse 10. In verse 10, he says, "Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death." Two kinds of sorrow, this is so important, once again, even if some of the other stuff that we talked about today, you're like, I'm not sure I got all this, get this, two kinds of sorrow in terms of ways that you can respond to your own failures in the times that you fall back into sin and don't live up to what you know you should be doing and what God has called you to do, it says godly sorrow and worldly sorrow. Now, first of all, let me just say this, there are some of you that you sin, and you don't even have sorrow, that's not good. In our culture, we're like, oh, guilt is bad, shame is bad. So the way that we're going to handle our own sin is that when we fail, we're just going to be like, hey, what's the big deal? Nobody's perfect, you're going to forgive me or not, and we're just ready to move on.

Dan Franklin: [00:28:27] Paul just assumes sorrow is appropriate, grief is appropriate when we sin. But he says there are two kinds of sorrow, there's godly sorrow, that we already talked about that leads to repentance. But then he says, there's a worldly sorrow that brings death. And by death, what I think that he's talking about is despair, just absolute despair. There are some of you, that you sin, and you're just like the person I talked about. You're like, all right, whatever, nobody's perfect, let's move on, but there are some of you that you sin, and you fail and you just go into despair. Like, I can't believe I did this again, God must be so frustrated with me. I can't believe that I did that, I promised I was never going to do this again, I promised I was never going to talk like that again, or look at that, I can't believe I did this again, and you just go into despair in response to your sin. And by the way, the enemy, Satan, he loves this, he loves worldly sorrow. And even, just to get slightly more detailed, I think the worldly sorrow can go one of two ways. The most natural way that we would all see it going, is that Satan wants you to believe you're worthless, God doesn't care about you, if he did care about you, he doesn't care about you anymore. God has forgotten about you, you've done too much, and that's what a lot of us wrestle with. But let me just say, there also can be a weird pride that the enemy likes to whisper in your ear with something like this, where you can be like, see how bad you feel? Most people don't even feel bad about stuff that's much worse than this, you feel bad, you must be a really good person. Like, look how bad you feel, you must be really godly, look how bad you feel. Some of you are like, that's crazy, but I promise you, there are some people in here who are like, oh my gosh, that's what's being whispered in my ear, like, I recognize that. The enemy loves worldly sorrow, he loves to have us wallow in despair after we fail, that's not what we're talking about with repentance.

Dan Franklin: [00:30:25] He says to the Corinthians, not, oh, you felt so bad, and you just commiserated over how bad you felt, he say, you have sorrow. Here is the process, you sinned, I confronted you, you felt bad, and then you repented, and this is where everything was meant to lead. And look at how he describes their repentance in verse 11, he says, "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." He says, you repented, and repenting was not just you sitting around feeling bad about yourself, it was you being sprung into action to move on this. That they were like, oh my gosh, we've messed up, we have to change, we feel terrible. What do we need to do? How do we need to deal with this in a way of church discipline, and then we need to apologize to this other person who was hurt, and we need to make this right in some way? They sprang into action to move on it, they brought forth, what John the Baptist called, fruit in keeping with repentance. If you are a believer, the process that you are meant to go through is, you mess up, you sin, you feel bad about it because that's appropriate, and then you move into repentance and you get back to action. And here's the beautiful thing, when you move into repentance, do you remember what you're doing? To repent is to return to the love of God. It's not just saying that you're sorry, it's saying I return to God's love, and you begin to move as if you really are that child of God that you stopped feeling like because of the way that you sinned.

Dan Franklin: [00:32:11] As believers, we know that repentance is not just a one-time thing, it's ongoing thing, we're constantly realigning ourselves once again with God and coming back into right thinking about him and right living before him, we're constantly moving in that sort of cycle and direction. And, yeah, it's frustrating that we're not there yet, but we keep moving through that. And as we think about moving through that, I just want to remind you, at its core, repentance is about a change of mind, and don't underestimate that. The next time you find yourself just so frustrated with yourself because you've fallen back into a sin that you've apologized for, you've confessed, you vowed never to do again. Here's what I want to encourage you to do, instead of just saying, oh, stupid, don't do it again, a good question to ask yourself is what was I believing when I did that?

Dan Franklin: [00:33:06] God has done a lot of work in my life, but there have been seasons of my life where bitterness has been king in my heart, and I'll start to have bitter thoughts, and it'll start to really nurse a grudge. And then I would just go, ah, stop doing that and I'd try to distract myself, and then I'd do it again, ah, stopped doing that and I'd distract myself. That's not the worst thing to do when you're battling with sin, is just to say, ah, don't do it, distract yourself. It's not great or sustainable, and it also makes people think that you're weird if you do that out loud in public. Eventually, the question I had to ask myself is, what is it that I'm getting from this? What is it that I believe? And apparently what I believed in that moment, was that the only way for me to get the vindication that I longed for was for me in my head to punish these people who had wronged me. And I needed to change my mind and believe that God saw every hurt that I ever suffered from, that Jesus died for every hurt that I ever suffered from. And there's nothing like that that is unseen, and God is the ultimate Judge and Vindicator. Don't minimize the change of mind and try to skip ahead to the change of behavior, repentance is ongoing.

Dan Franklin: [00:34:12] And once again, don't forget that, at its core, this is a beautiful thing that we're invited to do because to repent is to return to the love of God. Jesus told a parable about repentance, and we know it's a parable about repentance because he tells us it's a parable about repentance. It's actually a three-part parable, that has to do with a sheep that got away, that a shepherd went and brought back, it had to do with a coin that was lost that a widow eventually found, and it had to do with a son who was lost, and many of you know this as The Story of the Prodigal Son. Even if you're not a Christian, you've heard this story, that this story is famous. And it's about a young man that basically goes to his dad and says, I don't want to wait till you're dead to get my inheritance, I want it now. And the dad says, okay, and gives him his share of the inheritance. And the son then goes out and he lives large, basically lives forgetting everything that Dad ever told him was good or right and just lives it up. He's got a lot of friends around him, because when you're rich and you're spending money like your hair is on fire, you have a lot of friends that want to hang around you and get the spillover of all of that. He blows all of his money, and he ends up literally in the slop feeding pigs, which would be bad for any of us, but was especially bad for a young Jewish man. He was at his absolute lowest point, and when he was at his absolute lowest point, he basically decided, maybe I should return to Dad. But he didn't think it was possible to return to Dad as a son, and so he practiced the speech in his mind. And the speech basically went like this, all right, Dad, I've sinned against God, and I've sinned against you, I understand that the time has passed, I can't be back in the household as a son. But if you would just let me be a servant, I'd get three square meals a day, I'd have a warm place to sleep, I would accept that, so please, just let me back in the house as a slave. And he's walking back home and he's practicing the speech, you can almost visualize him doing it. All right, I have sinned against heaven, I've sinned against you, please just accept me back.

Dan Franklin: [00:36:20] What the parable tells us is that the son never makes it back to the house before the father comes and gets them, and the only way that the father could come and get him before he got to the house is if the father was up on the balcony looking and waiting, and then said, there he is. He ran out to him, which is another cultural thing, Middle Eastern men do not run, it is undignified. But the father ran to the son, embraced him, and the son was like, all right, it's go time, Dad, I've sinned against God, and sinned against you. That's as far as he gets into the speech until the father says, you're back, I don't even care, we're going to party. He doesn't even...And just follow on this, this is a parable about repentance. And we can look at that and we're like, well, repentance has to be that the son is really, really sorry for what he did. Well, he was sorry, but that's not at the core of what repentance is. Well, then repentance is that he's got to behave differently and make up for it. Well, that will come, that's not actually what repentance was in this parable. Do you know, what repentance was? Repentance was going home, that's all it was. He headed home, didn't even get to his speech, didn't get to his apology, he didn't get to his plan of what should happen, all he got to was heading home and the father met him and embraced him and forgave him. When you hear the word repentance, don't at all let the enemy steal that away with condemnation, you are returning to the love of God. That's what you're doing if you're becoming a Christian and you haven't been, that's what you're doing if you're a believer who's repenting of ongoing sin in your life. There's no entrance into God's family without repentance, there's no joy in God's presence without repentance.

Dan Franklin: [00:38:09] And so here's the deal, we want to allow some time in our service right now for us, not just to say maybe, later on, some of us need to repent, but to say right now we want to provide some space for repentance. You can see that the worship team is coming out right now, but here's what I want to do, and I apologize because I haven't warned people in advance, if you're in the room and you're a pastor or an elder or a prayer team member, I want to invite you to come up to the front now. If you're at a point where you're like, oh, is it my week? Am I supposed to go up? If you're even not sure if you're supposed to come up, then you're supposed to come up, just go ahead and come up. Because, you know, in in a little while in our service, we are going to get to experience communion together. But before we do that, before we take communion, we thought it just seems appropriate for us to create space, for us to say we want to get a chance to return to the love of God.

Dan Franklin: [00:39:04] For some of you, that, again, that might be a first-time thing where you're saying, I'm not even a believer and it's time to return to the love of the God who made me. And some of you are believers, and either you have ongoing sin that you're like, this has just been running rampant in my life, or maybe there's just something that happened yesterday and you're like, I haven't really dealt with this before the Lord right now. What I want to invite is during this next song that we're going to get to experience together, at any point during the song, you're invited, certainly within the privacy of your own seat, just to go before the Lord and repent. But there's something about returning, there's something about movement, and so there's something powerful about saying, you know what, I'm going to get up out of my seat, I'm going to go to a brother or sister in Christ, and I'm going to pray with them about my repentance. And do you know what, one of two things could happen if, during this song, if you decide to get up and come to one of the prayer team members, you could get up, go to them and say absolutely nothing, and they'll just pray for you, they won't know what's going on, but they'll know that God's at work. Or you might just go up to them, grab their hands, and you might just start praying about what you need to repent of, and they're going to join in with you. We want to create space for us to say, Jesus, who loves us more than anything, believes that the greatest joy lies before us when we repent. So rather than saying later on today, tonight, tomorrow, sometime this week, let's say right now, the Father is up on the balcony looking around, excited for anyone who's wanting to return to his great love.

Dan Franklin: [00:40:36] Father, I pray for this time right now, I pray that you move in our midst, I pray that you move in our hearts. Father, I pray that you would erase and eliminate any kind of pride or insecurity that would keep us from moving actively towards you and your great love, move in this place now by your spirit, heal us, bring us joy, bring us relief, and bring us the assurance of the forgiveness that Jesus has bought for us. And Father, we pray that during this time that you move within us as a church body and that we would experience the joy that comes from repentance. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Recorded in Upland, California.
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Life Bible Fellowship Church
2426 N Euclid Ave
Upland, California 91786
(909) 981-4848