Lifestyle Repentance

This is an outline for a sermon to be delivered on 10/10/10.  This outline is way too long for the time allotted, so I am placing it here for reference.

I. INTRO

A.   Brennan Manning has said, “The temptation of the age is to look good without being good.”

B.    Before we get any further it’s important to distinguish between life-style repentance and conversion repentance

1.     Christian conversion, or salvation, occurs when genuine repentance and sincere faith in Jesus intersect.

2.     These are not two separate actions – but one motion with two parts:

a.     As we turn to Christ for salvation we turn away from the sin that we are asking Jesus Christ to forgive us from.

b.     Neither repentance nor faith come first – they must come at the same time.

3.     Repentance and faith are two sides of the same coin.[1]

C.    So, there is an initial repentance (with faith) that leads to salvation, but what does life-style repentance look like in the life of a believer?

D.   The Beatitudes seem to affirm this…Mat 5

3“Blessed are the poor in spirit, [who see their need for God]
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4Blessed are those who mourn, [this a call to a lifestyle of repentance]
for they will be comforted.

E.    For those of us who have read Pete Scazzero’s book, The Emotionally Healthy Church, we remember that the 3rd principle of the EHC is to live our lives in brokenness and vulnerability.

1.     Scazzero says this means living (and leading) out of our failure and pain, and out of our questions and struggles[2] (Did you know that the words intimacy and intestine come from the same root word… share your guts. This is a picture of what the church is to be.)

2.     At best, life-style repentance is counter intuitive to our normal way of thinking.

3.     One of my favorite authors on the subject of life-style repentance is Dan Allender.

a.     In one of his books Allender relates repentance to the “unlikely route to joy.” A more complete description of his premise would include 3 conditions: (1) complete honesty (Larry Crabb – integrity is not pretending about anything), (2) repentance, and (3) bold love.  This is what he says about repentance:

b.     “Repentance is an about face movement from denial and rebellion to truth and surrender…it involves the response of humble hunger, bold movement, and wild celebration when faced with the reality of our fallen state and the grace of God…It is a shift in perspective as to where life is found…It is melting into the warm arms of God, received when it would be so understandable to be spurned.”

F.    Some definitions:

1.     “Some of us will wear ourselves out trying to change ourselves before we
realize that it is not about fixing; it is about letting go…[3]

2.     CS Lewis describes repentance as the “process of surrender…full speed astern.”[4]

3.      “A shift in the direction of our soul from self-protection to trusting love… The richest love grows in the soil of an unbearable disappointment with life… The fruit of repentance is a changed style of relating that replaces self-protective maneuvering with loving involvement.”[5]

4.     Tim Keller refers to “gospel repentance.”[6]

a.     With reference to the parable of the Prodigal Sons (in Luke 15), Keller says that we don’t only need to repent for things we have done wrong, but that we also need to repent of the things we’ve done right! – or, under our own power. He notes that the older brother said he had never disobeyed his father and his father did not dispute this. Keller calls the sin of seeking to be our own Lord and Savior.

b.     The purpose of gospel repentance is to repeatedly tap into the joy of our union with Christ in order to weaken our need to do anything contrary to God’s heart.

5.     Thomas Watson, English Puritan (ca. 1620-1686) wrote a helpful treatise on repentance. He said, “Repentance is a grace of God’s Spirit whereby a sinner is inwardly humbled and visibly reformed.”[7]

6.     Repentance is not a decision of the will to do right instead of wrong. It’s an internal shift in our perceived source of life. [8] –Dan Allender

G.   “Repent therefore and return, that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.” Acts 3:19 (NAS)

H.   Repentance is one of the great privileges of the unconverted as well as the Christian.  Why do we usually postpone repentance until after nothing else seems to be working??

II. BODY

A.   Hebrews 12:14-17 (NAS)

B.    The overarching theme of Hebrews is that the implications of the Christ Event are superior to Judaism.[9]

C.    The author moves seamlessly between teaching doctrine and exhorting (meaning to draw near – cheerleader) (or application). This is distinctive from Paul’s style, which is to teach doctrine in the first section and save exhortation/application for the second section.

1.     Context: If we had to boil down the book of Hebrews to a one-word description, the word would be perseverance. It is thought to have been written by a pastor to his congregation, who were struggling to hang in there.

2.     As we move into Hebrews 12, we find the first half of the chapter speaks of God’s admonition to fix our eyes on Jesus, submit ourselves to God’s instructive disciple (disciple?), and strengthen one another. Verses 14-17 instructs us in how to do engage, specifically, in a lifestyle of repentance

14Pursue peace with all [men], and the sanctification without which no one will see [to see with perceptive insight – the author is speaking about an Aha! moment] the Lord.

15See to it [Looking diligently – episkapao for 3 things:] (1) that no one comes short of the grace of God; that (2) no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled [stained];

16 (3) that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal.

17For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing [Esau was double-minded – we tend to want the glory of God w/o the discipline of God], he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance [NIV – he could bring about no change of mind], though he sought for it with tears.

D.   In the words of Jesus (Matt 6:24) we sometimes get stuck trying to serve two masters. We seem to want God’s blessing w/o responsibility…

E.    To quote one commentator: “The only one who experiences the radiance of joy and light is the one who chooses a single goal with a single eye.”[10]

F.    Listed in this passage are (at least) 6 instructive admonitions to biblically engage a lifestyle of repentance.

1.     Pursue peace with all (v.14)

a.     Pursue: to run swiftly [NIV – Make every effort]

b.     Peace: from a primary verb eiro (to join or bind together that which has been separated).

“If therefore you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar, and go your way; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.” Matthew 5:23,24 (NAS)

“…As far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Roms 12:18

c.     Are you a peacemaker or peacekeeper? (Mat 5:9)

d.     We tend to think of peace as the absence of conflict, yet biblical SHALOM is MUCH more than that…SHALOM means the knitting together of God, humankind, and all creation in equity, fulfillment, and delight.[11]

e.     I once flew from Reno, NV to Tulsa, OK and then rented a car and drove 3 hours just to ask someone’s forgiveness after reading Matthew 5:23-24 and taking it to heart.

2.     Pursue sanctification (v.14)

a. Sanctification: hallowed [NIV – and to be holy] The Lord’s Prayer (Mat 6) hagiasmos (Heb 12:14 – noun), hagiazō (Mat 6 – verb)

b.     The Lord’s Prayer is a prayer for and about sanctification…

c.     The prayer Jesus taught us is a prayer of community and reconciliation, belonging to a new kind of people who have left the land of “me” … Here our God teaches us the interconnectedness of grace and liberation in a new social order.[12]

d.     “Hallowed be your name,” then, is a prayer that God would teach us to live a new way of life…

e.     …We form habits of hoping that our lives will look more like God’s life. And at the same time, we give ourselves over to an extended family of all God’s children, in which we learn to give ourselves as Christ gave himself for us.

f.      As we’ve talked with God this way, we’ve also begun to see that we gain a community of others who are learning to give themselves for us. Which is another way of saying that we find our lives in Christ. We become the kind of community that is the answer to our request: Make your name holy, Father, by bringing your kingdom here on earth. Christian community is the gift of a life that is worthy of God’s name. Forgetting our- selves, we become the sort of joyful people who hallow God’s name by how we live with one another.

g.     When we see God’s Name as hallowed, it “lift[‘s] us right out of the prison of the self.”[13] (217)

h.     “…Just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.”   Romans 6:19 (NAS)

i.      Sanctification means to be set apart for God’s purpose.

j.      Notice the word “present.” That’s where it starts – it’s not about ability, its about surrender.

k.     Esau was rejected by God because he steadfastly refused to serve the purpose of God and instead served his lust for the immediate and the tangible.

3.     Pursue grace

a.     “See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God.” (v.15)

b.     Grace: All that God is lavishly poured into you. If God has acted lavishly toward you, could you not be lavish to others?

c.     Why do we call grace amazing? Grace is amazing because it works against the grain of common sense… Realistic common sense tells you that you are too weak, too harassed, too human to change for the better; grace gives you power to send you on the way to being a better person…[14]

  • Saving grace to us
  • Sanctifying grace in us
  • Serving grace through us

d.     Jerry Bridges, in his masterpiece Transforming Grace says, “The idea portrayed here is analogous to the ocean waves crashing upon the beach. One wave has hardly disappeared before another arrives.[15]

e.     We don’t need a changed life, we need an exchanged life…

f.      Donald Miller in Blue Like Jazz said, grace is living in a system where nobody owes anybody anything…We don’t mind giving charity, but we don’t like being [God’s] charity…[Miller asks himself] why would I forsake the riches of God’s righteousness for the dung of my own ego? …Our role in our relationship with God is to humbly receive God’s unconditional love. [16]

g.     “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age.” Titus 2:11-12 (NAS)

  • “Disciplining us…”
  • Deposit grace into each other’s account.

4.      Pursue the truth in love

“See to it that…no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled.” (v.15)

a.     Notice the word, “many.”

b.     Esau despised his birthright. (Gen 25:34b); So Esau bore a grudge against Jacob because of the blessing with which his father had blessed him; and Esau said to himself, ‘The days of mourning for my father are near; then I will kill my brother Jacob.’ (Gen 27:41)

c.     Like a small root that grows into a great tree, bitterness springs up in our hearts and overshadows even our deepest relationships.

d.     A “bitter root” comes when we allow disappointment to grow into resentment, or when we nurse grudges over past hurts. Bitterness brings with it jealousy, dissension, and immorality.

e.     “God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love – like Christ in everything.  We take our lead from Christ, who is the source of everything we do.” Ephesians 4:15,16 (The Message)

  • In my view this passage speaks to the epitome of what it means to be emotionally healthy – the capacity to speak the truth in love…
  • Peter Scazerro speaks to this in his book, The Emotionally Healthy Church – as differentiated people we fully enter into another’s world while holding on to ourselves and live in the tension of the two.

4.     Pursue purity

a.     “See to it that…there be no immoral…person like Esau.” (v.16)

b.     pornos – when we lust, we stop loving.

c.     “I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. But I am afraid, lest as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds should be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 11:2b-3 (NAS)

5.    Pursue God

a.     Instead of being godless (or, “unhallowed, profane” – Vine’s]

b.     “In everything you do, put God first, and He will direct you and crown your efforts with success.” Proverbs 3:6 (TLB)

c.     Esau found no place for repentance (metanoia), though he sought for it with tears.

d.     We usually associate tears with repentance.  And it’s true that tears very often accompany true repentance.  But here we have the instance of Esau crying for repentance but not finding it.  Why?  Esau was in relentance, not repentance.

e.     This may be similar to the difference between Peter and Judas on the evening before the crucifixion of Jesus…

  • Both men committed the most grievous sins of their lives that night – Judas betraying Jesus and Peter denying Jesus.
  • Yet Judas committed suicide and Peter was ordained into the ministry about 2 weeks later.  What’s up with that???
  • Judas relented (or lamented), while Peter repented.
  • Judas said “no” to forgiveness, while Peter said “yes” to forgiveness.
  • Judas said “no” to the future, while Peter said “yes” to the future.

b.     I want my heart to remain soft and pliable before the Lord through humility, honesty, and integrity – quick to confess and forsake my sins.

c.     I want to live my life in grateful surrender to the plans and purposes that God has ordained for my life.

d.     I want to experience the blessings of being in right relationship with the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, as well as exalted joy and true happiness – through the privilege of repentance.

III. CONCLUSION

A.   The truest fruit of repentance is always hope…which is not optimism; rather it is moving forward in anticipation of redemption in spite of the improbability of rescue.  (Dan Allender, Sabbath: The Ancient Practices.)

B.     The results, or the fruits, of repentance are a series of freeing movements in our lives that return us to the wonder of the cross.[17]

C.    How do we live with our failures? [I will share how I seek to live with my failures at the conclusion of the message.]


[1] Wayne Gudem, Systematic Theology, p. 713.

[2] EHC: 110.

[3] Ruth Haley Barton, Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership: 53.

[4] CS Lewis, Mere Christianity: 44.

[5] Larry Crabb, Inside Out: 213-214, 196.

[6] Tim Keller, Prodigal God: 78-79.

[7] Thomas Watson, The Doctrine of Repentance, Banner of Truth 1999: 18.

[8] Wounded Heart Workbook

[9] The Christ-Event is fivefold: (1) the virgin birth, (2) the miraculous ministry, (3) the shameful death, (4) the glorious resurrection, and (5) the triumphant accession of Jesus. Each of these facets of the incarnation, over a 33-year period of time, inaugurate – or establish – the kingdom of God upon the earth.

[10] Louis Evans Jr., Hebrews: The Communicator’s Commentary Vol. 10, Word 1985: 233.

[11] Neal Plantinga

[12] Shane Clairborne & Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, Becoming the Answer To Our Prayers: Prayer for Ordinary Radicals, IVP 2009:18-31.

[13] Simone Weil, Waiting for God, Harper 2009: 217.

[14] Lewis Smedes, “How Can It Be All Right When Everything Is All Wrong?” Christianity Today-Vol. 39, #13.

[15] Jerry Bridges, Transforming Grace.

[16] Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz: 83-85.

[17] Dan B. Allender, Tremper Longman, Dreams and Demands: 62.

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