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James Merritt - What Does Repentance Mean?

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    James Merritt - What Does Repentance Mean?
TOPICS: Repentance

I want to begin by, first of all welcoming those who are online, thank you for coming, appreciate you being here. I'm a golfer. Many of you know, I love to play golf. Golf can do one of two things, it'll help you better your religion, or make you want to lose it. It all depends on kind of where you hit, one of my favorite golfers frankly is Tiger Woods. He's considered to be one of, and in my opinion, probably the greatest golfer to ever play the game. Well, on August the 28th, 1996, he appeared at his first press conference just before he played his first tournament. So you can imagine the room was packed, the entire golf world had tuned in to listen as he stepped out. Tiger had won three US amateurs in a row, which if you know anything about golf, unprecedented, nobody's ever done it before, probably will never ever be done since, has won more golf tournaments in his life than anyone who has ever lived. But his reputation preceded him.

So everybody wanted to know what would be the first thing Tiger Woods would say. And if you know it, you remember it, but it's cool. He got up and he just looked at all these reporters, and he said, hello world. That's it. We had a reason for doing that because in just two days, Nike launched the Hello World ad campaign, had a three page spread in the Wall Street Journal, 30 and 62nd spots on CBS and ESPN. And you may say, well why were they pushing that so hard? Well, they were trying to recoup some of the 43 million they'd already promised Tiger if he never swung a golf club. Think about that. Never hit a ball in his professional career, 43 million. But then that got me to thinking, go back 2000 years.

And I just wonder, what if Jesus had called a press conference, and he was going to introduce himself to the world because his reputation had kind of began to proceed him, and this mysterious miracle working man from a no name family in Nazareth. He goes on to take the world by storm, and he would go on to speak things nobody had ever said, to do things nobody had ever done, to claim things nobody had ever imagined. And word was already spreading about this carpenter, this kid from Nazareth. Well what in the word would he say? What would be the first words he would've given at his press conference? Well, we don't have to wonder because one of his disciples named Matthew tells us, and it was a shocker. No, he didn't say hello world. He didn't say, I'm here. He didn't say, be glad to sign autographs. He actually said one word.

And here's the first word Jesus ever spoke. From that time on, Jesus began to preach. Say that word with me. Say it loud. Repent. Don't hear that word much anymore. I don't know that I've heard a preacher use that word in years. Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near. First word. Repent. If you're joining us for the first time or you're visiting with us today, we're in a series that we're calling lost in translation. Because sometimes we use big churchy words that not only do unbelievers not understand, but frankly believers don't totally understand. And yet there's certain words, there are certain doctrines or certain beliefs that are at the core of the Christian faith. And it's so important that unbelievers hear and understand them because without them you cannot have a relationship with God. And it's so important that believers understand them because without them you won't really understand your relationship to God. And they all relate to salvation.

Now let me just catch you up. Last week, we talked about a big word called regeneration. And what we said last week was this, regeneration is the work that God does in bringing spiritual life to a spiritually dead person so they can truly see spiritual truth through their eyes, hear spiritual truth through their ears, and respond to spiritual truth with their heart. Because there are only two kinds of people in the world today, your next door neighbor falls into one of two categories. He is either spiritually alive or either spiritually dead. That's the only two categories of people that they are. And we said last week, if you are spiritually dead, you don't need reformation, you need regeneration.

Well, today we're talking about repentance. Now I'll tell you why I think it's a pretty big deal we understand it because that word is mentioned 969 times in the Bible. Now if God says something once that ought to get our attention, but this word is used 969 times, that makes it a really big deal. It's God's way of saying, I'm trying to get your attention. You better understand what this word means. And yet, one theologian I studied after when I was working on this message said, repentance is the forgotten word. And I want to tell you, I listen to a lot of, today they're called communicators. But I listen to people who are called great communicators, and great preachers. I'm just simply telling you, you rarely ever hear this word from most preachers throughout America.

It's almost like it's a forbidden word. It's almost like it's a dirty word. And I'll tell you why people don't like to talk about it anymore. Because when we say repent, I just told you something. No matter how good you think you are, there are things you need to repent of. 'Cause none of us are as good as we think we are. And of course then that sounds like, well, you're judging other people if you call them to repent. Well regardless it is a word that we can't forget, we can't forsake, we can't forbid. So today I want you to turn, if you brought your Bibles, I want to get on your iPhone, iPad, whatever, Matthew, mark, Luke, I want you to turn to the third gospel. Luke 13, I want you to show you a conversation that Jesus had with a group of people here. And I want to show you three ways how you can relate to this principle of repentance.

Now here's the major thought I want you to think about today. All right, you ready? To turn to God, we must turn from sin. Let's say that together, out loud, to turn from God to God, we must turn from sin. Got that? That's the thought. Now, first thing I want you to see, Jesus makes it plain. We are commanded to repent. Now, the reason the topic even came up is very interesting. Jesus having a conversation. Here's what happened. "Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way"?

Now, back in that day, news really did travel pretty quick. And evidently Pontius Pilate had put to death some Galileans who were offering sacrifices at the temple. We don't know why he got mad. We don't know why he got upset. But whatever reason, Pilate didn't like it. He was very, very deeply offended. And so he had all of them killed. And then just to add insult to injury, he mixed their blood with their sacrifice. I mean it was really a way of kind of rubbing their nose in it. Well, the people wanted to know what Jesus had to say about it because here's what they thought, and we think this a lot of times. Something bad happens to someone, and we sometimes will think, I wonder what they did to deserve that. And so they had this this terrible, terrible front page tragedy. And Jesus is asked the question, so what did they do to deserve it?

Well, Jesus brings up another incident. He says in verse four, well, how about those 18 who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them. There were some people, they were just walking down the street, minding their own business. And all of a sudden the tower falls down, and kills 18 people. Jesus says, do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? Because back in that day, people also thought if hey, if things are going good and everything's coming up rosey, and it's all sweet and it's not bitter and it's all sweet, and it's not sour, evidently I must be good to go with God. I must be living a pretty good life. Well what happened was there were some people in Siloam, which was a reservoir that had a pool and they were either getting a drink of water or they were hanging out at the pool and this tower falls on them and kills them.

And so these people had this strange reaction, they go, wow, I didn't know about that happening. So I'm going to ask you again, what did they do to deserve that? So Jesus wants to set their thinking straight. So he uses those two incidents to prove a point. Now I'm going to tell you something we all know, disasters happen to everybody. Tragedies happen to everybody. I don't care if you love Jesus or you don't. I don't care if you go to church or you don't. I don't care if you're religious or not. I don't care if you're a theist or an atheist. I don't care if you're a Democrat or Republican. I don't care if you're a liberal, conservative. Disasters happen to everybody. Nobody gets a free pass. Nobody gets to get out of jail free card. Disasters and tragedies happen to everybody. Not just bad people, but good people. Not just the people who go to church, but people who don't. People who are religious, people who are not, people who don't believe in God and people who do.

And see, that's why you really can't divide the human race into who is bad or who is good or that something happens because of good things or something happens because of bad things. Now the truth of the matter is yeah, tragedy does divide people. Some of you have had a lot more suffering in your life than I've had, some of you're going through a lot more than I'm going through. Some people just seem to have it tougher than others. We know that and we know that tragedy and disaster, and terrible things separate people. But I want you to understand this. They don't separate the believer from the unbeliever. They don't separate the saved from the lost. They don't separate the religious from the irreligious. They just really separate the dead from the living.

And so Jesus makes a point and it shocked everybody. But then he had a way of doing that. He said, look, the real issue of death is not when you die. And the real issue of death is not where you die. And the real issue of death is not how you die. We all die. He said the real issue of death is why we die. 'Cause he says, when we die, we are all going to meet God. So then he says this, but, and he's talking to all these people, these good people, these people who go to church, pay their taxes, give their tithes, give money to the poor, they're trying to check off every box, dot every I, cross every T, he says to these real good people. "But unless you repent, you will all likewise perish". So many people in that crowd were going, you talking to me? You mean me? He says, yeah, unless you repent, forget about what happened to them. Unless you repent, you too will perish.

So first of all, he says, let me help you out on something here. Repentance is not an option, it is a command. The first word Jesus ever spoke in his ministry was the command to repent. By the way, I'm going to remind you of something here in a few weeks. A lot of people think that the last thing Jesus ever said to the church was the great commission. What we call the great commission, go therefore and make disciples of all nation, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things I've commanded you. And I've heard preachers say that was his last word to the church. No it wasn't. His last word to the church was in the book of Revelation. And here's what he said, "Those whom I love, I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent". Big deal. Jesus book ended his entire ministry. He starts out by saying repent. He ends up by saying repent.

So the first thing we understand about repentance is this. We are commanded by the Lord Jesus Christ to repent. He said, we are to repent. Listen, it's not just that everybody should repent or ought to repent or even needs to repent. He said, if you want to have a true relationship with God, you must repent. So first of all, we're commanded to repent. Now, if we're commanded to repent, understand what that means for me. I'm commanded to preach it. If any preacher's out there listening to me, some of you do listen to me, you are commanded to tell people to repent. You say, well they won't like it. It's not our job to get people to like the truth. It's our job to get people to hear the truth. People must repent. So we're commanded to repent. Everybody got it?

Number two, we are to commit to repent, we were commanded to do it, we ought to commit to do it. So Jesus repeats himself twice. He says the same thing both times, He says it again, "Unless you repent, you too will all perish". Now, we've been begging a question that I need to answer. Well what does it mean to repent? What exactly is that? Because we need to know if we're going to perish if we don't, we better know what it is because otherwise we're going to perish. And by the way, the word perish doesn't just mean to die physically. We know we're all going to die physically. That word perish really refers to dying spiritually. It means to die eternally. So in other words, what Jesus is saying is this, repentance really is a life and death decision. Not physical, but spiritual, eternal, forever. So I want to be very clear to what it means.

Now before I tell you what it means, I did a lot of study and research and thinking, I thought, you know what? Before I can teach our people what it means to repent, I think we need to go back and review what it doesn't mean. Because there's some of you, when I use the word repent, you're thinking it means this, but it really doesn't mean that. It may include it, but it really doesn't. So let me just give you an example. For example, repentance is not just the conviction of sin. Repentance is not just the conviction of sin.

Now to be clear, you will never repent until you're convicted of your sin. But you can be convicted of your sin and still not repent. I told you, I think not long gone, but it's a great story. The IRS has a gift fund. It's called the conscious fund from voluntary contributions from people who have, they've not paid their taxes, they've kind of defrauded the government, they've evaded taxes and they got away with it, but they feel guilty. So occasionally the IRS will get anonymous money from people who've cheated on their taxes. I mean they do.

Now this is a true story, I'm not making this up. The IRS got a letter one time from an anonymous person, and here's what it said, dear Internal Revenue Service. I have not been able to sleep at night because I cheated on last year's income tax. Enclosed is a thousand dollars. If I still can't sleep, I'll send you the balance. Now that's not repentance, it is conviction of sin, but it's not repentance. Now some people say, oh, I know what repentance is. It's not just a conviction of sin, it is the confession of sin. Well, you can not only realize your sin, but you can also say that you have sinned. You can confess your sin and still not repent.

Now again, you cannot repent of sin until you confess it, but you can confess it and still not repent of it. Give you an example. There was a man that was feeling guilty over something he had done. And so he went to his priest to confess. And so he is sitting at the confession booth, and the priest said, my son, what have you done? And the man said, well father, I've been working for this supply company, and I've been stealing lumbering supplies. He said, well what did you do with it? He said, well, I used some of it to build a home for me, and my family. And then I just built a house at the lake. And so the priest said, son, that's very serious. I need you to think about an appropriate means of penance and a way for you to be restored. And he said, I'll tell you what I want you to do. I want you to get away for a while and just think things through and get before God. He said, okay, I'll do that father. And then the priest said, have you ever done a retreat? And the man said, no, but if you can get the blueprints, I can get the lumber.

Now repentance is not just a confession of sin. You can be convicted of sin. That's not repentance. You can say, yeah, I did it. Well that's not repentance. Somebody says, okay, I know what it is. Repentance is contrition for sin. No. Repentance is more than just contrition for sin. You can be sorry for your sin but still not repent. As a matter of fact, dirty little secret, most people do say they're sorry, but the reason they say they're sorry is because they got caught. Now don't look at me holy like you don't know what I'm talking about. Most people confess not because they're truly repentant, they got caught. Now again, if you're not sorry for what you've done, you're not going to repent. But you can be sorry for what you've done, and still not repent. Repentance is not being sorry for getting caught. Repentance is coming clean.

So let me be clear. Repentance includes conviction. That's step one. It leads to confession. You agree with God, I have sinned, that's step two. It is born out of contrition where you're broken over your sin. But repentance is not repentance until it leads to what we call conversion, where you turn from sin. So repentance is when you turn from all that you are, and all that you've done to all that he is, and all that he has done. So I thought about this definition a little bit long, let me give you my definition of repentance so you'll truly understand it. Repentance is true remorse over our sin. I'm sorry, I'm brokenhearted. It is a determined renouncing of our sin. I am going to turn away from that, and it is a sincere resolve to forsake our sin, and follow Jesus. Let me tell you why that's so important to understand. Because repentance is not just turning from something, it is turning to someone.

So let me give you an example. You can be sorry that you've done something wrong. You can confess that you have done something wrong. You can absolutely resolve in your mind you're going to turn from that and never do it again. But if that's all you do and you don't also turn to God, you have not truly repented. Repentance is not just turning from something, it's turning to someone. So here's what I mean by that. Repentance doesn't just mean you're going to stop sleeping with your girlfriend or your boyfriend or you're going to quit listening to filthy music. You're not going to look at pornography anymore or you're going to start going to church. Now we think, okay, that's repentance. No, that's reformation. You're trying to be a better person. But trying to be a better person just means you're trying to be a better sinner. 'Cause until you repent of that, till you really turn to God, that's all that you are.

So here's what people don't understand. The first step, the real step of of repentance is not just turning from sin. Are you ready for this? It's turning from self. I'll tell you when you know that you're ready to repent, when you realize you need to repent just as much as a serial killer on death row, then you get it, then you understand I need to repent just as much as that person. I need the grace of God just as much as anybody else. And I now understand the only person I can rely on to clean me up is Jesus. You know one of the things that frustrates me when I talk to people about Jesus, is I'll talk to people all the time and I'll start talking about repentance, and they want to keep going back to reformation, and they'll say things like, I know I need to get my act together. I know I need to start going to church. I know I need to get baptized. I know I need to do this and I know you need to do that. And then what they're really trying to say is, I know I need to clean my life up before I come to Jesus.

Let me be honest with you. If all you ever do is clean yourself up, you won't be clean 'cause you can't clean yourself up, and you cannot clean yourself up before you come to Jesus. Matter of fact, just think about how illogical that is. If you can clean yourself up, you don't need to come to Jesus. Why do you need Jesus? If you can clean yourself up, you don't. But repentance is when you realize, you know what? Only Jesus can clean me up. Only Jesus can take care of my sin. So I'm not just going to turn from my sin, I'm going to turn to Jesus. That's why repentance and faith are two sides of the same coin. So here's what repentance is. It's not just that you're going in this direction, and you do a 180 and you turn away from that sin. The question I want to ask you is, I know what you turned from, what did you turn to?

Well, I turned to the church, I turned to baptism. I turned to try to be a better person. I turned to giving money to the poor. I turned to doing this and I turned to doing that. That's not repentance, that's reformation. Repentance is when you not only turn from sin, you turn to Jesus. And when you place your faith and trust in Jesus, this is what happens. There's a change of mind about yourself and about your sin. And that leads to a change of heart. And when you have a change of heart, that leads to a change of direction. So I'm going to put it this way, and I think maybe the hammer will drive the nail home. Okay? Repentance is not really changing your behavior. Repentance is changing your savior, which changes your behavior.

You know what some of you watching me right now need to repent of? This idea that you think you can save yourself by what you do. I'll tell you why I'm going to church. I'll tell you why I'm going to heaven. I'm a Catholic, I'm a Baptist, I'm an Episcopalian, I'm a Presbyterian. I'll tell you why I'm going to heaven. I live a good life. I pay my taxes. I'm good to my wife. I don't kick my dog. I mean, you got all these things you might, this is why I'm going. And what Jesus says is you don't only need to repent of your sin, you need to repent of yourself. So we're commanded to repent and we're to commit to repent. Now, you may be sitting there, most of you would be saying, well I've done that. I did that. And you can know a time and a place. I truly did repent. I truly turned away from my sin and I turned to God.

Well, there's one last part of repentance that a lot of Christians forget, and don't think about. And there's one aspect of repentance. And this is why a lot of people who get saved, and then they mess up after they get saved, start doubting their salvation and say, you know what? I thought I got saved. But you know, I said I wasn't going to do this anymore but I did it. So maybe I didn't get saved because they don't understand the other aspect of repentance because it's true we're commanded to repent. It is true that we're to commit to repent. But I want to remind you of this. We are to continue to repent. Now that word that Jesus used, he said, unless you repent, you too will all likewise perish.

Now this is something a lot of Christians have never thought about and don't realize. It took me a while to realize it. There is this initial repentance. When you turn from your sin, you realize you're a sinner, you need a savior, Jesus is that savior. And you surrendered your life to Jesus. That's the initial repentance. But after the initial repentance, there's this continual repentance. 'Cause repentance is not something you just do one time, then you put it in a can and you stick it on the shelf. That word repent in the Greek language is in the present tense. And when a verse is in the present tense, of the Greek language, it means continuing action. So what Jesus was saying was, as you place your faith in me and you become a believer, you must be willing to repent of self and sin.

So you do this about faith, you make this 180 degree turn, you turn from self to savior. You turn from sin to salvation. Then he says, now what you do, what you do, you don't ever have to repent again in the sense that you got to get saved over and over again. You don't have to repeat that initial repentance because the penalty for sin has been dismissed. So the moment you give your life to Christ, the moment you truly surrender your life to Christ, you have eternal life. Jesus will never take it away from you. It is forever yours. But here's the problem, though the penalty of sin has been dismissed. The presence of sin still remains. Because when you turn to Jesus, and this is what so many people don't get.

When you turn to Jesus, the real battle begins because for the first time in your life, guess what? You and the devil are no longer going in the same direction because when you turn to Jesus, you turn your back on the devil. And he doesn't like anybody turning his back on him. And so the minute that you turn from sin, he declares war on you. And guess what? The world declares war on you. And guess what? Your flesh declares war on you. Now here's the good news. Ultimately we're going to win the war, ultimately. But sometimes we lose the battle. And so there's still times that you have to confess sin, and repent of sin. And the initial repentance is so that we have a relationship with God. But the continual repentance is so we have fellowship with God. So to put it simply, repentance is a one time action followed by a continuous attitude.

Now I'm going to take me, I'll use me as an example. So I got saved as a nine year old boy, and I've been saved for decades. But I want to tell you something, I have done a whole lot more repenting since I got saved than I did when I got saved, a whole lot more. I mean a whole lot more, over and over. Because after I got saved and I realized how much I needed to be saved and once I understood I was saved, and I am saved, I am more aware than ever before when I don't act like I am saved. That's why you know you're saved. While I'm in the neighbor, let me just say something just so you'll understand this. There's only one difference between a Christian, and a non-Christian. Only one. Only one. Both of them can sin, but only one of them can enjoy it.

That's why I tell people, people say you believe that a Christian, and they'll just fill in the blank. Do you believe a Christian can commit adultery? Yep. Do you believe a Christian can steal? Yes. Do you believe a Christian can murder? Yes. Can you believe a Christian can declare he's a homosexual or she's a lesbian? Absolutely. Do you believe a Christian can engage in that activity? I do. But if you do and you're sleeping well at night, you better check your salvation. Because when you repent, God puts an alarm in your heart called the Holy Spirit. And it's not that God won't let you sin, he'll let you sin. He will not let you enjoy it. That's what repentance does.

And I'll be honest with you, I don't know if you're like me, I can't remember the last day if I've even had one. I can't remember the last day where I didn't repent of something. I was back in my office a while ago and I was just praying. I said, Lord, I want to make sure my heart is clean. God convicted me. It wasn't a big thing, but God convicted me of something that happened yesterday. I said, Lord, I'm sorry. I need to repent of that. The leader of, you may know about, but the leader of what's called the Protestant Reformation was a man named Martin Luther. If you don't know who that was, I'll give you a quick history lesson. Martin Luther grew up Catholic. And I'm not here to knock Catholics, but he grew up a Catholic, began to read his Bible. He began to realize you're not saved by good words, you're saved by grace through faith.

So he started this movement called the Reformation, the Protestant Reformation. And it all started when he nailed a piece of paper to a wall on the Catholic church at Wittenberg. It was called the 95 thesis. The very first one of those 95 thesis that really got the Catholic church upset was this one. "When our Lord and master Jesus Christ said repent, he willed that the entire life of the believers be one of repentance". Now, it's not that the Catholic church doesn't believe in repentance, they do, they call it penance. They do believe. I want to make that plain. But they didn't understand that once you truly do that, you are saved. But once you are saved, you continue to repent. Just to be honest, I hate to break the news to some of you. There's only one place you'll never need to repent again. And that's heaven.

Till you get to heaven, you're going to need to continuously repent. And before we get there, we all need to remember, you know what? I need to be on my guard. I need to continue to repent. So here's the truth about repentance, ready, good news and bad news. There's no sin so small that you don't need to repent of it. But there's no sin so great, you can't repent of it. The time for repentance is now because every day you listen to this, every day you put off repenting. That's just more sin you got to repent off, and less time to repent in. And if you're lost and without God, you've got to repent to have a relationship with God. But if you're saved and there's sin in your life, you've got to repent to have fellowship with God. So I'll tell you all this, it's so great how God moves in my life, how God works out. You know, last week I preached on regeneration, what it means to be born again.

So I want to close this, everybody close your bibles, put your bibles up, turn off your iPhones, quit texting your girlfriend, and think about where you're going to eat. Give me about four more minutes, we'll be done. I'll tell you what happened this week, had one of the greatest conversations in my life. And it goes back to the last two weeks of preaching. It's amazing how God works. I told the 11 o' clock service last week. There's a man in our congregation, one of my best buddies, he has a cousin who lives down in Florida. He's may be watching the service right now. He lives in Florida. And 68 years old, two weeks ago they were together, a picture of health, guy said, we're going to go play golf. They were just having a great time. And a week ago, diagnosed with stage four cancer. Devastating news.

So my friend called me and he said to me, he said, I want you to pray for my cousin. I said, hey, is your cousin a believer? He said, I don't know, I said you need to find out. And I said, tell your cousin if he would be open, I'd be more than happy to pray for him, and I'd like to call him. So he calls his cousin, you'll love this story. He calls his cousin and I'll just call him John. John knows who I'm talking about. So he calls his cousin and he says, hey John, how you doing? Fine. He said, what did the doctor say? He said, hey, I want to ask you a question. He said, John, he said, do you believe in the Lord? Have you had an experience with the Lord? And here's what he said, you ready? Typical answer. He said, you know what, I need to get back in church. That was his answer. I need to get back.

That's not what he asked him. I need to get back to church. So he called me and told me, and I said, okay. I said, I'll call him. He said, oh by the way, he said his wife wants to know if she can get in on this conversation. I said, okay. And she's from another denomination, she's from a different denomination. I thought, well I don't know about this, but we'll see how it goes. So I said, sure, that's fine. So I called them Wednesday afternoon. I asked him about his condition, and what did the doctors say and what are your options, and all that. I gave him some recommendations from some doctors he might want to go to. And so then I said, hey look, I want to pray for you, I said, before I do, do you mind if we just have a short spiritual conversation?

And before he could say anything, his wife said, yeah, that's why I want to get on the call. I said, okay. I said, I just preached last week to my church. I said, do you know what it means to be born again? And she said, no, I don't. He said, yeah, I'm not real sure about that. So I told the story, I told you last week about Nicodemus, great religious man, go to church, pay your tithe. Eagle Scout, the whole nine yards. And Jesus says to him, you got to be born again unless you won't see the kingdom of God. So I said, okay, great. I said, well, dumb question I know. Would you like to know how to be born again? Yeah, we would. So I take my little best news, I share the bad news worst news, good news, best news. You've heard me do it before. We get to the end of the conversation and I said, you understand what it means to be born again? They said, yeah, we understand. I said, now do you understand if you want to be born again, you must repent of your sin. I'm talking about this this week.

So I'll go ahead and give you a sneak preview on how to repent and here's what that means. Yes, we want to do that. So we start praying, so sweet, we start praying and in the middle of the prayer they start crying. What do you think I did? I start crying. We're all crying. I can't even pray 'cause we're all crying, right? So they pray, on that phone and they give their life to Jesus. Give the Lord a hand. Give the Lord a hand. So they pray, they pray and they give their life to Jesus. Now this is the best part. This is all new to them. So the first thing they say, now we do need to find a good church. I gave him some recommendations and I said, all right, I said, let me just see if you understand what happened to you. I said, I want you to write this down on a sheet of paper. They said, okay, we got it. I said, write down 8, 24, 22, 4:00 PM. They wrote it down. I said, all right, pop quiz, what is that?

John said, that's my spiritual birthday. That's when I got born again. That's when I repented of my sins, and I trusted Christ as my Lord and my savior. That's repentance, that's regeneration. That's what we're talking about. So it's not a popular word and I understand it. And we're living in a day where we're trying to even teach our kids. Hey, everybody gets the trophy. Nobody gets second place. Everybody's okay. You live any way you want to live. God's a god of love. God's okay. You're okay. You want to do whatever you want to do. You just go do it. As long as you just believe that God is love, everybody's fine. And the whole time, the world's saying that. And the whole time you can hear a lot of preachers saying this, Jesus is saying this, repent for the kingdom of God is at hand. The wonderful news is even a little child can do that. Even you can do that. And I pray, if you've never done it, you'll do it today.

Would you pray with me right now? With heads bowed and with eyes closed. We'll do something a little different. In a moment, I'm going to ask us to pray together out loud. But before I do that, here's the question I'd like to ask. Who here today or who here watching me right now would say, I've never repented, I've never really done that. I'm not trying to scare anybody, and I'm not trying to make anybody doubt anything. But I want to tell you, there are a lot of people that walked down and aisle signed the paper, got it a baptistry, and said some kind of this or that, but they never repented. Their life was never changed. Their life was never different. I'm asking you this morning, you are here right now, kids, teenagers, grown people, grown adults.

Have you ever truly repented of your sin? Because if you don't repent, you will perish. If you're watching me right now or in our church, you'd say I don't know if I have or not, but I want to. I need to repent, I want to repent. I want to get right with God. I want to know I'm right with God, and I now know no matter what else I do, if I don't repent, I will never be right with God. If that's your heart right now and you say, yes, I want to repent, why don't you just tell him right now? Why don't you just say something like this?

Dear God, I am coming to you today in a spirit of repentance. I need to repent of two things today. First of all, me, myself, I've been relying on my goodness, my religion, my this or my that, to have a relationship with you. And I realize now that'll never happen. And I need to repent of my sin, the sin that I've never truly surrendered my life to Jesus. So Lord Jesus, I am coming to you today believing that you died on a cross, believing that God raised you from the dead, believing you're alive right now. I'm asking you to accept my repentance. I turn away from my sin and I turn everything to you. I trust you as my savior. I receive you as my Lord, and I'm giving my life completely to you today. Thank you Jesus for hearing my prayer. Thank you for saving me today.

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