A Call to Biblical Repentance
We are at a crossroads in our nation. On one hand, we are so thankful to God for the blessings He has bestowed upon this nation, the freedom to walk through the doors and come together as a body of believers and to worship God. On the other hand, we are on a downward spiral, that if not reversed and reversed soon, our nation will suffer the wrath of an angry, Almighty God.
A Wichita minister said it best in his prayer before the Kansas state legislature in 1996:
Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask Your forgiveness and to seek Your direction and guidance.
We know Your Word says, “Woe to those who call evil good,” but that is exactly what we have done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and inverted our values.
We confess that we have ridiculed the absolute truth of Your Word in the name of moral pluralism.
We have worshipped other gods and called it “multi-culturalism”.
We have endorsed perversion and called it an “alternative lifestyle”.
(Read Leviticus 20:13 to the congregation. Mention Romans 1. Mention that it’s not an “alternative lifestyle but an “abominable lifestyle”. Mention how anti-Christian forces are trying to silence the pulpit from the speaking out against sin and how “you God cannot be put on trial and expect to win”.)
We have exploited the poor and called it “a lottery”.
We have neglected the needy and called it “self-preservation”.
We have rewarded laziness and called it “welfare”.
In the name of “choice”, we have killed our unborn.
(Read 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. Mention the baby’s body and the mother’s body belong to God, not the mother.)
In the name of “right to life”, we have killed abortionists…
Search us, O God, and know our hearts today. Try us, and show us if there be any wicked way in us. Cleanse us from every sin, and set us free.
Pat Robertson put it this way on page 37 of his book, Six Steps to Spiritual Revival:
“God Bless America. But which America are we asking God to bless? The America of our founding fathers, or the America we have become in the twenty-first century? Do we suppose He will bless us just as we are-with our same-sex marriages, high abortion rate, blatant immortality in the media, abandonment of the traditional family, and mindless pursuit of riches and pleasures?”
Before we can state in this country “God Bless America”, we first need to rise up and say, “America, Bless God!”
Let us compare the top seven major issues that took place in the Public School system about forty years ago and today in our present age:
40 Years Ago:
1. Talking in class
2. Chewing gum
3. Making noise
4. Running in the halls
5. Getting out of line
6. Improper clothing
7. Missing the wastebasket
1. Drug abuse
3. Alcohol Abuse
As we see what has happened in just the Public School system, much less our nation as a whole, something screams “Something went wrong!”. We reap what we sow, more than we sow, later than we sow. And by the looks of what we’ve been sowing in our nation, if we don’t turn the tide and turn it fast, we will reap the wrath of the judgment hand of God.
Let the storms and devastation and destruction that is sweeping our nation be a wake up call in order for us to turn back to God, become once again One Nation Under God, and return to our firm foundation on the Holy, inspired, eternal Word of God.
(Mention we need to get back to the three R’s: 1. Repentance in our hearts, 2. Revival in our churches, 3. Restoration in our nation.)
(This morning we’ll focus on just one of those. Mention Sermon Title: A Call to Biblical Repentance)
(Invite Congregation to turn to 2 Chronicles 7:14)
The people of Israel were gathered around the newly built Temple from Solomon, the most glorious building ever built in the history of the world (it would cost around four to five billion dollars to reconstruct such a temple today). During this worship service, fire came down from Heaven and filled the Temple. It was the Shekinah Glory that filled with such brilliance that the people fell on their faces in awe before God. The word “Shekinah” in Hebrew means “dwelling”. God literally dwelt with His people.
That evening after this filling took place in the Temple, the Lord Himself spoke the words to Solomon we see in this verse so that the people of Israel would repent and turn to God.
(Have congregation stand and read the passage of Scripture together)
2 Chronicles 7:14
If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
If the Israelites, the chosen people of God, the ones of whom God placed His hand upon and said “I will bless them that bless thee and curse them that curse thee” (Genesis 12:3), need to repent before God, how much more, we, in America, blessed beyond measure, need to repent as well. The verse begins by stating, “If my people”. God didn’t just say “If our president, or politicians, or congress, or the Supreme Court, or Washington (Lord knows if Washington was our hope for this nation we would be hopeless!)”, but He says in His Word “If my people”. True repentance begins with people! We’re not going to see restoration at the national level until we see true genuine repentance at the heart and personal level. The reason we see wickedness in Washington is because wicked hearts vote in wicked people. (Mention the Great Awakening, Revolutionary War) Pat Robertson said it best in his book, Six Steps to Spiritual Revival, “Start revival in my nation, O Lord, by first starting it in me.” Once we get our hearts right with God and repent of our sins, and once we bring revival to our churches and get our churches back on track doing the true mission work of God, then and only then will we begin to see true restoration in our nation, so that we can once again be “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord” (Psalm 33:12).
1. Requirements for Repentance
A. Repentance requires humility “If my people which are called by my name, shall humble themselves”
The problem in this nation? We’re not humble! We strut around boasting about what I’ve done, what I’ve accomplished, how good I am, and…we think we’re so good we don’t need God! We get such wrapped up in our three favorite people, Me, Myself, and I, that we forget about and forsake God.
(Mention the Pharisee and Publican (Lk 18:9-17), how we in this nation have become puffed up as the Pharisee, bragging about how good we are (how we brag about how we took care of Saddam Hussein, Bin Laden, etc.) instead of falling upon our face in repentance of God and thanking God for sparing our nation from further terrorism.)
President Abraham Lincoln warned about the sin of Pride when he stated:
We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers and power as no other nation has ever grown, but we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us. It behooves us, then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.
The Scriptures have much to say about the sin of Pride:
Proverbs 16:18- Pride goeth before destruction,
And an haughty spirit before a fall.
Proverbs 6:16-17- These six things doth the Lord hate:
Yea, seven are an abomination unto him:
17 A proud look, a lying tongue,
And hands that shed innocent blood,
Isaiah 14:13-14(5 “I Wills” of Satan)- For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven,
I will exalt my throne above the stars of God:
I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:
14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.
Genesis 3:4-5(Deception of Eve)- And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: 5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
Proverbs 15:25- The Lord will destroy the house of the proud:
But he will establish the border of the widow.
Psalm 101:5- Him that hath an high look and a proud heart will not I suffer.
James 4:6- God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.
1 Peter 5:6- Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:
Luke 18:14b- for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
Only when we fall on our face before God, humble ourselves before the Most High, and confess our sins to God, then and only then will we experience true, genuine, Biblical repentance.
B. Repentance requires a hunger for God “and pray, and seek my face”
James 4:8- Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded
Matthew 7:7- Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
Do we want healing and revival in this nation? Then we need to ask and seek the face of God for it! James stated in James 4:2 “Ye have not because ye ask not.”
We pray for ourselves, our families, our children, our businesses, our friends, and our health. So why do we not pray for our nation? We are in desperate need of God, so we should ask our Lord to heal us, to bring us back to our firm foundation, and to bring restoration in our nation. (Mention 30 Days of Prayer for our Nation coming up.)
Not only should we pray and seek the face of God, but we should seek him today, now, immediately.
Isaiah 55:6- Seek ye the Lord while he may be found,
Call ye upon him while he is near:
2 Corinthians 6:2- behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.
Proverbs 29:1- He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck,
Shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.
You may think (especially our youth; “if you’re listening say amen”) that death is far away, far out there and you have plenty of time to repent and turn to God later, but you don’t know that! (Illustration of 16 year old friend killed in accident) Death is far closer than anyone imagines. You’re only a mere breath, a mere heartbeat from Death. And you’re either a heartbeat from Heaven or a heartbeat from Hell. Now is the time to seek the face of God, confess your sins to God, and repent.
C. Repentance requires a heart change “and turn from their wicked ways”
True repentance takes a heart change. I’ve seen time and time again where many come forward on mere emotions, put on a major show of emotions on the surface, cry “I’m saved, I’m saved”, and when the service is over, they get over it! And go right back to sinning as if their decision meant nothing in their heart. (Example of student who sat in the parking lot of church every Sunday morning smoking pot before going into to listen to the service and bragging about it) True repentance involves an 180 degree turn from sin and to the Savior.
Abraham Lincoln summed up true Biblical repentance in this statement:
It is the duty of nations as well as of men, to own their dependence upon the overriding power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with the assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.
Jesus’ first words when He began His ministry:
Matthew 4:17- From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. (Notice it is the same words John the Baptist used when he began his ministry in Matthew 3:2).
Luke 13:3- I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
In the letters to the seven churches in the book of the Revelation, Jesus told the churches eight times to repent!
Time and time again when Jesus forgave the sins of the people, He ended with the worlds “Go and sin no more” (one example John 8:11). We are to go, and sin no more. Does this mean we will never sin and live an impeccable life? Absolutely not. We are born with a sin nature and will continue to have a sin nature until we are ushered into the presence of God. What we are to do, however, is to exercise our spiritual nature over our sin nature, to live our life producing the fruit of the Spirit instead of the fruit of sin (Matthew 7:17-18).
James Kennedy summed up repentance well on page 229 of his resource on America, What If America Were a Christian Nation Again?:
Some need to get rid of a few of their cable channels.
Some need to cancel a few magazine subscriptions. Christ said “Whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matthew 5:28). (Mention some need to lay aside immodest, revealing clothing, especially when coming into the house of God)
Some may be addicted to drugs or alcohol. Repent. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 again) (Mention that it is not your own body, it belongs to God)
Some Christians are thieves. “Thieves in church? Why, the very idea!” you might say. Yet some Christians pull off a heist every Sunday morning. They rob God week after week. God said to Israel, “You have robbed Me, even this whole nation” (Malachi 3:9). And they said, “In what way have we robbed you?” God’s response “In tithes and offerings.”
Some Christians are guilty of anger and animosity toward another person. They need to repent of this sin.
2. Rewards for Repentance
A. God will hear our cry “then will I hear from heaven”
Jeremiah 33:3- Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things
Psalm 34:17- The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth,
And delivereth them out of all their troubles.
Romans 10:13- Whosoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
When we come before our Heavenly Father in true repentance to Him, He will hear our cry from Heaven. He is waiting and listening for us in this nation to cry out to Him in repentance.
B. God will forgive our sins “and will forgive their sin”
1 John 1:9- If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
If we will confess our sins to God in true repentance, He will forgive us of our sins and cleanse us of our unrighteousness. Like the father of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32), our Heavenly Father is waiting with open arms, ready to forgive us of our sins and begin a new personal relationship with us through His Son Jesus Christ. He nailed (crucified) our sins to Christ’s Cross at Calvary, and if we will just surrender our sins to our Savior, we can be washed in His precious blood and made as white as snow.
C. God will heal our land “and will heal their land”
5 So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.
10 And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.
The people of Nineveh repented and turned to God, and He forgave them of their sins, spared His judgment upon them, and brought healing to their land. If the people of Nineveh, who were on the brink of utter destruction and devastation that would have caused them to be wiped off the face of the earth, was able to repent and be spared God’s judgment , how much more in this nation, if we will fall before our faces to God in humility and true repentance, be spared the wrath and judgment that is to come.
Conclusion-If we will truly humble ourselves before God, seek the face of God, and turn from our wicked ways, confess our sins to God, then our Father in Heaven will hear our cry, forgive our sins, and heal our land. We will see true repentance in this nation, and be on the road to revival and restoration in our nation. Today is the day of salvation. Now is the time to come before the Lord, confess your sins to Christ, ask Him to cleanse you from all unrighteousness and save you, and begin a personal relationship with Jesus Christ right here, right now. If you have not accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, do not delay. Come to Him today. Be the one who says “Yes, I am willing to repent and help bring this nation back to God”. You can do that right now.
(Discuss 30 Days of Prayer for our Nation: It is time that we as a congregation come together, humble ourselves before God, seek His face, and confess our sins to Him, so that we can turn the tide in this nation. I invite us all to pray for the next 30 days that God will bring healing and restoration to our nation, and revival to our land.)
(Invitational Hymn (Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus)