Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Bethany Bullet Sermon Message - Week of February 25, 2018

Sermon: “TURN”

I can’t recall where I experienced this, but I’ll always remember a Call to Worship at a chapel in my past.  It was during Lent and the worship leader divided the sanctuary into a pair of chanting sides: one crying, “It’s Lent, it’s Lent, it’s Lent people Repent.”  While the other answered, “Repent, repent, repent people it’s Lent.” 

Lent and Repentance go hand in hand, and yet, Repentance is not confined to a single season but it is to be the daily action of the people of God.  In fact, Martin Luther said in the 1st of his 95 theses, “That when our Lord and Master said ‘repent’ He willed that the entire life of the Christian be one of repentance.”

It is fair to call repentance an action for the very word in the original indicates a change of direction, a turn if you will.  Thus colloquially we speak of repenting as meaning ‘turning from sin and turning toward God.’

This TURNing from sin includes Terror, Upheaval, Regret and a “Nod” and it also includes Trust, Unwavering, Remembering and Newness.

Terror – Repentance includes terror over our sins. Its offense and consequences, is part and parcel to the TURN.   Let me be clear, such terror is not about seeing the error of our ways; for real repentance must rest on the realization of Whom we have ultimately offended.  You can never just sin against the neighbor who lives next door to you, the classmate who sits at the table next to you, the coworker in the cubical across from you, or the dude parked on the 405 next to you. Sin, all of it, is always also against God; terrifying indeed. 
Upheaval – Such terror ought to lead us into a great spiritual upheaval.  When we come to know that God demands holiness from us, holiness equal to His own; and when we then realize that we are unable to merit God’s company, earn a place in His presence, and work our way into His good pleasure (and that not even our repentance is reason for Him to grant us such)  there is upheaval. 
Regret – An upheaval filled with real regret. Now, the Reformer said regret was, “the little black dog of repentance, it doesn’t stop barking and biting the conscience, even though you know that your sins are forgiven.” In this usage regret means sorrow over the injury that sin has caused to self, spouse, sibling, society yet ultimately the “injury” it has caused the Lord.  Repentant regret is shame over having offended God and what it cost Him to cover.  
Nod – such repentance clearly includes acknowledgement of our sins and sincere sorry for them.  The evangelist wrote, “If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  But if we confess our sins God is faithful and just and will forgive us from all unrighteousness.”  This “nod” so to speak is not a simple a religious “what’s up” affirmation, but a heartfelt sorrow and honest admission of our guilt. 

While no repentance is truly ever deep enough, repentance is begun when we acknowledge our sins and are sorry for them and it is completed when we trust the mercy of God in Christ is sufficient and it and it alone grants us forgiveness and restores us to God. 

This TURNing to God includes Trust, Unwavering, Remember, and Newness of Life

TRUST – As we TURN from sin to God we do NOT place confidence in our contrition but solely in God’s action. Forgiveness is not given or received because of our sorrow over sin but because of God’s graciousness in Christ.  In grace God regards us favorably on account of Jesus.  Faith trusts that God, in Jesus, has removed our sins of the penitent and reconciled them to Himself. 

UNWAVERING – this trust is an unwavering thing. Luther said that, “It leads one to sake their life on it a thousand times over.” Such faith is fixed on the promises of the Lord, the certainty of His Word, Christ’s agony on the cross and vict’ry ore the grave. 

REMEMBER – thus the penitent, even as they are confronted with the guilt and sin, recall God’s declaration over them.  Remembering His covenant secured in baptism the child of God can flee to Him in repentance and faith.    

NEWNESS Thus turning from sin and turning toward God includes a directional move forward as well.  In a Maundy Thursday sermon on 1 Corinthians 11, Luther noted that, “Repentance doesn’t merely probe and ponder how bad we have been, it ponders and probes how good we desire to become.” Thus in repentance we don’t simply peek backward, we peer forward. 

Since we, the saints of the Lord, are at the same time sinners by nature the “turn” is as repetitive of a chapel chant you can’t forget.  One might think therefore that Christian would get dizzier than a competitor at the Winter Olympics; but this is actually how we keep our bearings and get our true orientation. “For our Lord Jesus when He said ‘repent’ willed our entire life” to be one that…TURN’s. 

 -Pastor Kevin Kritzer


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