Category Archives: Repentance

“Rejoicing and repentance” by Timothy Keller

“Rejoicing and repentance must go together. Repentance without rejoicing will lead to despair. Rejoicing without repentance is shallow and will only provide passing inspiration instead of deep change.

Indeed, it is when we rejoice over Jesus’s sacrificial love for us most fully that, paradoxically, we are most truly convicted of our sin. When we repent out of fear of consequences, we are not really sorry for the sin, but for ourselves.

Fear-based repentance (‘I’d better change or God will get me’) is really self-pity. In fear-based repentance, we don’t learn to hate the sin for itself, and it doesn’t lose its attractive power. We learn only to refrain from it for our own sake.

But when we rejoice over God’s sacrificial, suffering love for us– seeing what it cost Him to save us from sin– we learn to hate the sin for what it is. We see what the sin cost God.

What most assures us of God’s unconditional love (Jesus’s costly death) is what most convicts us of the evil of sin. Fear-based repentance makes us hate ourselves. Joy-based repentance makes us hate the sin.”

–Timothy J. Keller, Counterfeit Gods (New York: Dutton, 2009), 172.

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“The repentance that Christ requires” by J.I. Packer

“The repentance that Christ requires of His people consists in a settled refusal to set any limits to the claims which He may make on their lives. Our Lord knew– who better?– how costly His followers would find it to maintain this refusal, and let Him have His way with them all the time, and therefore He wished them to face out and think through the implications of discipleship before committing themselves.

He did not desire to make disciples under false pretenses. He had no interest in gathering vast crowds of professed adherents who would melt away as soon as they found out what following Him actually demanded of them. In our own presentation of Christ’s gospel, therefore, we need to lay a similar stress on the cost of following Christ, and make sinners face it soberly before we urge them to responded to the message of free forgiveness.

In common honesty, we must not conceal the fact that free forgiveness, in one sense, will cost everything; or else our evangelizing becomes a sort of confidence trick. And where there is no clear knowledge, and hence no realistic recognition of the real claims tat Christ makes, there can be no repentance, and therefore no salvation. Such is the evangelistic message that we are sent to make known.”

–J.I. Packer, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1961/2008), 81.

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“The race of repentance” by John Calvin

“The Lord is pleased completely to restore all those he adopts to the inheritance of life. And this restoration is not accomplished in a single moment, or day, or year; but by continual, and sometimes even tardy advances, the Lord destroys the carnal corruptions of His chosen, purifies them from all pollution, and consecrates them as temples to Himself; renewing all their senses to real purity, that they may employ their whole life in the exercise of repentance, and know that this warfare will be terminated only by death… I assert, that as far as any man approaches to a resemblance of God, so far the image of God is displayed in him. That believers may attain to this, God assigns them the race of repentance to run during their whole life.”

–John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, III:iii:9, in John McNeil, ed., Library of Christian Classics, Vol. XX, (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1960), 602.

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“A sensory feast but a hearing famine” by Sinclair Ferguson

“Worship is increasingly becoming a spectator event of visual and sensory power, rather than a verbal event in which we engage in a deep soul dialogue with the Triune God.

Contemporary evangelicalism tends to focus on what ‘happens’ in a spectacle rather than on what is heard in worship. Aesthetics, be they artistic or musical, are given priority over bowing underneath the authority of what God says. More and more is seen; less and less is heard. There is a sensory feast but a hearing famine. This is purely medieval, not evangelical.

Preaching did not cut any ice in the Middle Ages. So the people were given circuses– the medieval mystery plays. It is likewise today. Professionalism in presentation replaces power in the pulpit. Worship leadership is in danger of becoming a cheap substitute for genuine access to heaven, however faltering.

Drama, not preaching, technological visuals, not an understanding of the Word, have become the didache of choice. The tragedy is that, whatever good intentions are present in this medievalism, its proponents do not seem to realize that the medieval plays were a confession of the impoverishment of the pulpit.

This is a spectrum, of course, not a single point. But most worship is to be found somewhere on that spectrum. There was a time when four simple words were enough to bring out goose bumps on the neck of our ancestors:  ‘Let us worship God.’ Not so for twentieth- and twenty-first-century evangelicals.  Now there must be color, movement, and audiovisual effects. God cannot be known, loved, praised, and trusted for his own sake.

We have lost sight of great things–the fact that Christ himself is the true sanctuary of the new-covenant people, that true beauty is holiness, that when the Lord is in his temple all are transfixed with a heart of silence before him. These are the glories of worship.

We have lost more subtly lost sight of the transportability of new-covenant worship. By comparison with old-covenant worship, which depended on the temple, the new was simple and therefore universalizable. That was part of the vision that drove our evangelical forefathers. Much of our worship has become dependent on place, size, and, alas, even technology.

No church can afford smugly to point the finger of scorn and derision at evangelicals who have sold their heritage for a mess of modern pottage. In how many of our services is there such a sense of God’s overwhelming presence that outsiders fall on their faces and cry out, ‘God is really among  you!’ (1 Cor. 14:25)?

We must offer our very best to God in corporate worship. But we do that only when we realize that true worship is not a spectator event, where we luxuriate in what others do. It is a congregational event, in which Christ mediates our prayers, conducts and leads our praise, and preaches his word to us.

He alone is the God-ordained worship leader, the true minister in the sanctuary (Heb. 8:2). We dare not obscure this Christ-centered and congregational character, nor make worship dependent on anything other than approaching God in the Spirit through Christ with clean hands and a pure heart. The Father seeks such to worship him!”

–Sinclair Ferguson, The Grace of Repentance (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 2000), 34-6.

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“Two sides of the same coin” by Sinclair Ferguson

“I cannot come to Christ in faith without turning from sin in repentance. Faith is trusting in Christ; repentance is turning from sin. They are two sides of the same coin of belonging to Jesus.”

–Sinclair Ferguson, The Grace of Repentance (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 2000), 17.

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“Repentance is man’s coming undone” by C. John Miller

“Repentance has nothing to do with what man has done. Rather it is man’s coming undone in respect to all human righteousness, followed by his going outside himself in faith to Christ alone for salvation.”

–C. John Miller, Repentance and 21st Century Man (Fort Washington, Pa.: CLC Publications, 1980), 63.

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Lord’s Day Hymn – “Affect, subdue, and break my stubborn heart”

“O Thou Who Hast Our Sorrows Borne”
By John Wesley, 1780

O Thou who hast our sorrows borne,
Help us to look on Thee and mourn,
On Thee whom we have slain,
Have pierced a thousand thousand times,
And by reiterated crimes
Renewed Thy mortal pain.

Vouchsafe us eyes of faith to see
The Man transfixed on Calvary,
To know Thee, who Thou art,
The one eternal God and true;
And let the sight affect, subdue,
And break my stubborn heart.

Lover of souls, to rescue mine,
Reveal the charity divine,
That suffered in my stead;
That made Thy soul a sacrifice,
And quenched in death those flaming eyes,
And bowed that sacred head.

The veil of unbelief remove,
And by Thy manifested love,
And by Thy sprinkled blood,
Destroy the love of sin in me,
And get Thyself the victory,
And bring me back to God.

Now let Thy dying love constrain
My soul to love its God again,
Its God to glorify;
And lo! I come Thy cross to share,
Echo Thy sacrificial prayer,
And with my Saviour die.

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