Presented November 8, 2009 am & pm

(Note This lesson was presented over 2 sessions)

     Today we conclude our study of fruit worthy of repentance.  We have talked extensively about what repentance is and what it is not.  We have emphasized that TRUE repentance takes place in the mind and results in a lasting and genuine change of conduct.  TRUE repentance is seen by the fruit that it produces.  That has really been the focus of our study.  We have noted that when one truly repents it will be manifest by the effort they put forth to 1) cease from their sinful behavior and 2) make right whatever they have wronged.  Last week we looked at three incredible examples of repentance: 1)The Prodigal Son – Luke 15:11-32; 2)Peter in his denial of Jesus – Matthew 26:31-34, 69-75, etc.; and 3) David in his sin with Bathsheba – 2 Samuel 11-12, etc.  In our lesson today we want to focus on two things: 1) Who needs repentance? and 2) How do we react when a brother repents? 

 I.                    There are many more examples of repentance

a.        The Parable of the two sons – Matt. 21:28-32 – regret and action.

b.       Luke 19:8 – Zacchaeus – repentance where needed and restitution (fourfold)

c.        Simon the Sorcerer – Acts 8:22 where he is TOLD to repent and pray.

d.       Job after being rebuked by God for his bitterness, etc. - Job 42:6, “Therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”

e.       Ninevah – Jonah who didn’t really repent, but reluctantly obeyed God preached to a city destined for destruction.  The reaction of the city was fasting and sackcloth including the king. (Jonah 3:5-10).

f.         God repented Jonah 3:9-10 notes that as a result of Ninevah’s repentance He relented from his intended destruction (KJV uses the word “repented”).  NOTE that repentance is a change in mind that results in a change in conduct.
  Exodus 32:14, because of the golden calf Israel had made while Moses was on Mt. Sinai with God, He was ready to destroy the people.  Moses interceded on behalf of the people and the Lord relented from the harm He intended to do.

 II.                  Who needs Repentance?

a.       The alien sinnerActs 17:30-31, Luke 13:3& 5, etc. 
There are many passages that require one to repent AS PART of obeying the gospel. 
It has to happen BEFORE one is baptized. Acts 2:38 – repent AND BE baptized…
  Acts 3:19, “Repent and be converted that your sins may be blotted out…”
  Acts 20:21, as Paul spoke with the Ephesian elders on his way to Jerusalem he noted that his preaching was complete as he kept nothing back both publicly and from house to house, “testifying to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.”  NOTE that both repentance and faith needed.
  Acts 26:20 before Agrippa, Paul spoke of what he taught to both Jews and Gentiles, “that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance.”
2 Peter 3:9 tells us that God wants all men everywhere to come to repentance.

b.       The Christian who has sinned – cf. Acts 8:22, Simon the sorcerer.  Who had been baptized and began to revert back to his old ways was told by Peter he needed to repent and pray.
2 Corinthians 7:8-12 was written to the brethren of that congregation calling for them to repent.
IT is the sinning brother that we have been dealing with primarily (though as we have seen the alien sinner needs to understand this concept as well). 
And there are other passages that deal with sinning brethren such as Luke 17:3, etc.

c.        Churches that are not what they ought to be - The seven churches of Asia, five of which needed to repent because they were not what they ought to be as the church.
NOTE: How does a church repent?  Its members come together as a family and seek the true unity God calls for – Phil. 2:1-2, Eph. 4:3, etc. 
Furthermore, its members ALL repent of whatever errors they have been involved in and begin doing what is right. 
NOTE: What sins must one repent of?  Not just the major sins, but EVERY sin.  We need to look at the things we perceive to be “no big deal” in comparison to what others are doing.

 III.                The results of repentance

a.        Obviously the result of repentance is a changed life.  That is what this study has been about.  My point in being so strong and detailed if for us, AS WE PROFESS TO REPENT, realize whether or not we have TRULY repented.

b.       If one FAILS to repent note the consequences,
Luke 13:3, unless you repent you will all likewise perish.
Acts 17:31 notes that God has appointed a day in which He will judge the world.  This comes on the heels of calling for all men everywhere to repent.
2 Thess. 1:6-8 speaks of the day of vengeance on those who do not obey the gospel and those who do not know God.  It is assumed that if one fails to repent he does NOT know God (cf. 2 Cor. 5:11).
THEREFORE, if there is sin in our lives, it behooves us to TRULY REPENT!

c.        How should we respond to one who has repented? 

                                                   i.      IF one has repented, we MUST forgive.

                                                  ii.      IF it is sins not involving us (or against another) it OUGHT TO BE easy, but that is not always the case.
Consider the repentant brother of 1 Cor. 5 who was in an adulterous relationship.  2 Cor. 2:3-11 bears out that he had repented and now Paul tells the brethren they needed to “forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow.
Remember the Prodigal son last week? Luke 15:11-32.  The latter part of that parable dealing with repentance and forgiveness (cf. 15:7 & 9 – these 3 “lost” parables) reports a brother of the returned son.  Vs. 26-32 describe his sinful attitude – he refused to forgive his repentant brother and was bitter (i.e. jealous).  The father rebukes him and notes that forgiveness and receiving his brother back was the right thing to do.  It demonstrated compassion and mercy, which God has toward us.  (He ALSO noted there were consequences to the prodigal son’s actions – vs. 31.)

                                                iii.      But WHAT IF one sinned against us?
The clear answer is found in Luke 17:3-4.  It illustrates the degree to which we ought to be willing to forgive one who has sinned against us.  The text speaks of one who has sinned against you “seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent’, you shall forgive him.  Obviously, the point our Lord is making is that our forgiveness ought to be MUCH GREATER than the limits of the world. 
The Christian life is based upon forgiveness.  Consider how much God has forgiven us.  Romans 2:4 speaks of goodness, forbearance and longsuffering of God toward us.  Where would we be if God did not forgive us?  For many of us, our sins are numerous and terrible – but God loved us SO MUCH he provided something painful to Him as a remedy for us (John 3:16).  And then there is all the nonsense and foolishness He puts up with from us.
When a brother repents, we MUST forgive!!!!  Don’t forget Matt. 6:14-15 either.

                                                iv.      But does forgiveness excuse the offender?
There are some other considerations we must factor in when a brother has hurt someone else. 

1.       IS there a difference between forgiveness and trust?  While we are to forgive our brother (and to the best of your ability, that means to bury it never to bring it up again), does that mean you he does not need to PROVE himself?  I believe there is a difference between the two.  The idea of “fruit worthy of repentance” bears this out. 
For example:  If a brother has embezzled from the congregation (or an individual) and repents, while you forgive him that does not mean you should give him back the checkbook.  He HAS TO prove himself worthy.  And quite possibly, he will NEVER again become treasurer.  (Honestly, if he has truly repented he doesn’t want to be treasurer because of the temptations and the opportunity it gives others to scrutinize.  Actions have consequences).
A repentant child molester should NOT be left alone with your children.
Remember the consequences of David’s actions!  Remember the consequences of the Prodigal son (he lost his physical inheritance).
The POINT: Forgiveness should come automatically, but TRUST is earned with time and “fruit worthy of repentance.”

2.        If one sins against a brother with the expectation that others have to forgive them over and over, their actions dictate that they have NOT truly repented.
Cf. Luke 17:3.  Note that the brother sins and says, ‘I repent.’  Obviously, the context implies TRUE repentance is to be forgiven.  But realize that there IS a limit.
If a brother reasons that he can keep doing the same sins over and over because his brother is expected to forgive him, he doesn’t understand or has ignored what true repentance AND brotherly love are about.  His actions are cruel and divisive.  The point is that TRUE repentance produces its fruit!
This is illustrated by God’s longsuffering for Israel.  He tried everything and forgave over and over, but even He had His limits.  Eventually, He cut them off.
It is also illustrated in the parable of the unforgiving servant, Matt. 18:21-34 where Jesus was teaching on forgiveness (70 X 7).  He then tells of a servant who owed a huge unpayable debt and we mercifully forgiven.  But that servant in turn refused to forgive a much smaller debt of a fellow servant.  Because of that, his master revoked his forgiveness and condemned him to debtor’s prison.

3.       What if we are not sure whether or not one has truly repented?  Having said that we need to be careful before we put ourselves on God’s judgment throne (cf. Rom. 12:19).   What I mean by that is if we are not sure whether one has truly repented, we ought to assume the best UNTIL proven otherwise.  Again, the forgiveness is there, but “fruit worthy of repentance” will become manifest in time.
NOTE: On this point, we ought not be LOOKING for the one who has repented to “mess up.”  That is not TRUE forgiveness.  Love bears, believes, hopes and endures all things (1 Cor. 13:7).  The question is: Do you REALLY WANT to forgive your brother?

4.       We need to give time for healing. 
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just flip a switch and forget about the past?  Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all just separate our emotions from a situation and deal with it totally objectively? Yes!  Such is the ideal and something we ought to work toward (cf. Phil. 3:13).  But it is NOT always that simple, even for the Christian.
One of the big problems brethren have to deal with is EMOTIONS.  We need to understand that at times brethren DO hurt each other and fail to act as Christians.  The hurt is real and so is the damage.
When a brother has been hurt by another, what do we do?
We need to work with them to heal. 
FIRST we need to OBJECTIVELY remind them of what the scriptures teach (about forgiveness, repentance, etc.) SEE above points to apply this.
SECOND, we also need to be compassionate, tender hearted and patient.  Colossians 3:12-13 tells us, “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.”  The NASU says, “Put on a heart of compassion…”
The last thing a hurting brother needs is to be kicked harder while they are down.  The last thing a hurting brother needs is one who doesn’t care what they have gone through.  Christian love means that we CARE about our brethren. 
When he hurts, we hurt with him.   Rom. 12:15 tells us that we rejoice with those who rejoice and we weep with those who weep.  
1 Corinthians 12:25-26 reminds us about the body and how when on part suffers, so do the rest. 
IF we really care, we are going to do everything we can within our power to HELP them overcome their hurts and troubles.
And that includes giving them TIME to heal!  Spiritual wounds take time to heal just like the physical ones.  Consider the example of Paul and Barnabas with John Mark.  Acts 15:36-41 records the contention became so sharp that they went separate ways.  HOWEVER, we know that IN TIME the wounds were healed – 2 Tim. 4:11 Paul even noted that Mark was useful to him.
(Of course, this must be WITHOUT compromise for the truth). 
My point in all of this is that we need to help the hurting brother FORGIVE the one who sinned against them and has repented.
Sometimes in dealing with a sinning brother (and trying to get him to repent) we forget about his “victims”.  We focus all our efforts on the one in sin (and they do need attention).  When progress is made, we rejoice, but we often STILL forget about the one who has been wronged in the first place and we FAIL to help them with their hurts and needs.  Could it not be that in so doing, we have NEGLECTED a different part of the body while working on the other?  MY POINT: BOTH sides need to be dealt with.  We can’t pick one side and abandon the other!  And that IS a two-way street.

 IV.                Do I need to repent?

a.       In these lessons we have been dealing with some specific issues, mainly the sinning brother that needs to repent and how to respond when he does. 

b.       But perhaps we ALL need to give consideration to this in our lives.   I want us to think about this subject not only in reference to when we have wronged another.  But looking at out life in general.

                                                   i.      Do we need to repent because of our attitude? 

                                                 ii.      Our tongues? The language we use.

                                                iii.      Our attendance and support of the church?

                                                iv.      Our spirituality – or lack thereof?

                                                 v.      The way we worship God?

 My point in this lesson is that I want us to understand that repentance is not just saying “I am sorry”.  It means you have changed your mind and you are determined to be the new person you claim you want to be.  You are willing to do whatever you need to do to make yourself right with God and if you have offended others, with them.  Think about it.