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Visible Fruit; The Evidence of Conversion Luke 2;51-3;1-20 011407

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Visible Fruit: The Evidence of Conversion (Luke 3:1-20)

Intro: What do we mean by conversion? Definition of conversion:  "It's the extra point that is kicked after a touchdown." Nor do I mean conversion of length from meters to feet, or conversion of volume such as cups to pints or quarts to gallons. Neither do I mean conversion of time from time zones or from 12 hour to 24 hour time. I am referring to a spiritual conversion. It is a spiritual, unseen conversion, but it has visible results.

ILL: John Newton     Recovery of one part of this conversion – Repentance.

Matthew 3:1-2 In those days John the Baptist came preaching …, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!"

                    Luke 24:46-47 Then He said to them, "Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, 47 "and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

Give Background (vv. 51-52). John is a bridge between the OT and the NT. Pre-cross ministry. Note description of John. He prepares the way for God’s salvation, the person and work of Jesus Christ. He preached a message of Repentance. Read Luke 3:1-20

1.       The need for repentance (vv. 3-7)

a.        Define Repentance. Metanoia. The “turning from” part of the gospel.

ILL: As an elderly man was driving down the freeway, his cell phone rang.  Answering, he heard his wife's voice urgently warning him, "Herman, I just heard on the news that there's a car going the wrong way on Interstate 64.  Please be careful!" It's not just one car," said her husband, "it's hundreds of them!"

b.       Sins (v. 3c)

*We have wronged God by our sin. *God cannot befriend an unrepentant creature. *If God would save any person without repentance, then He would have to save all persons.

c.        Wrath of God to come (v. 7) – John’s message was a WARNING!!!

Luke 13:3 "I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.

d.       We need a ready heart. “To be at ease in sin, is a proof that the heart is dead, ‘dead in trespasses and sins.’” J.L. Dagg

“In order to have sincere repentance toward God, it is indispensable that we should understand that we have sinned against him. The doctrine of universal total depravity, is therefore conducive to true repentance.”

“We do not truly repent of an offence to a fellow-man and sincerely ask pardon, unless we believe that he has just cause to be offended. In order to the exercise of genuine repentance towards God, we must know that he has a right to be displeased with us, that he has made no mistake in the matter, ...”

APP: Repentance is necessary for all persons.

The Lost/ Unconverted - Rich and Famous; The most vile and evil offenders; The Hypocrites; Good Citizens; The Religious

God’s People – The redeemed are to continue in a spirit of repentance.

Quick judgments                  Sinful thoughts                    Spiritual laziness

Ungrateful attitude              Selfishness                            Lack of Service

Failure to use your talents, times, and tithes for God

 

2.       The Cause of Repentance (vv. 7-9)

a.        The Word of God – Repentance is God initiated.

The Scriptures teach that the author of true repentance is God operating by truth upon the renewed heart.

Acts 5:31. Christ is said to have been exalted "to give repentance to Israel, and remission of sins."

Acts 11:18. "Then to the Gentiles also hath God granted repentance unto life."

b.       The Word of God Preached - The means used is the preaching and other exhibition of the truth. Repentance like faith comes through the hearing of the word.

ILL: There was this sinner who would go forward during the invitation every time they had a revival meeting, and then he would backslide until the next revival. After about six times at the baptizing hole, the preacher put him under, raised him up, and said,  "You've been baptized so much that the fish know you by your first name."

APP: Repentance is our response and yet it only comes as we are empowered and awakened by the Word of God.

 

3.       The Fruits of Repentance (vv. 10-14)

ILL: The Danger of False Repentance - Many years ago, a notorious gangster named Mickey Cohen attended a Christian service in Beverly Hills.  The meeting was being led by a young evangelist named Billy Graham.

Graham was just starting out in evangelism and no one had really heard of him.  Mickey Cohen was much better known.  Mickey was attracted to what he heard at the meeting.  Afterwards, Billy and some of the others talked to him about salvation, but he made no commitment at that time.

A while later a Christian friend read Revelation 3:20 to him - "Behold, I stand at the door...."  The friend then asked Mickey if he wanted this salvation.  He said, "Yes, I do."  The news of his conversion made quite a sensation, and the ministry of Billy Graham became known across the nation.

There was only one small problem - nothing in Mickey Cohen's life changed.  When his friend confronted him about it, Mickey complained: "You didn't tell me I would have to give up the mob!"  [Mafia] "You didn't tell me I would have to give up my friends!"  Mickey had heard that so-and-so was a Christian athlete, and so-and-so was a Christian actress, so he thought he could be a Christian gangster.

a.        Unselfish Action – Being focused on God helps us see others more clearly. When we humble ourselves before God, we take the focus off of ourselves.

b.       Unselfish Action – Depart from Evil and do God. Instead of, avoiding all appearance of evil, the attitude of the age is to avoid calling evil, evil.

APP: T. Watson - Repentance is a spiritual medicine made up of 6 special ingredients:

1. Sight of Sin               2. Sorrow for Sin                   3. Confession of Sin

4. Shame for Sin            5. Hatred for Sin                   6. Turning from Sin

 

Conclusion: The Mightier One is Christ – We must repent and believe in order to be saved. Acts 17:30  "but now commands all men everywhere to repent,” Apostle Paul

Invitation: Reasons for Repenting Now - Thomas Watson

·         You may have very little time left to repent.

·         The sooner you repent, the less sin you will have to answer for.

·         The sooner you repent, the more you can do to please God.

The life of John Newton typifies what it means to be converted.

John Newton was born in 1725.  His mother died when he was six years old, and at 11 he began life as a seaman.  His early years were one continuous round of rebellion and sin.  For a while he worked on the West African coast collecting slaves for sale to visiting traders.  Eventually Newton became a captain of his own slave ship.  The capturing, selling and transporting of black slaves to the plantations in the West Indies and America was a cruel and vicious way of life.

On March 10, 1748, he was returning to England from Africa on a particularly stormy voyage.  Everyone thought the ship would be lost, and Newton began reading the classic Christian devotional by Thomas a Kempis, "Imitation of Christ." The message of the book and the frightening experience at sea were used by the Holy Spirit to bring Newton to accept Christ as his Savior.

For the next several years he continued working as a slave ship captain.  He tried to justify his work by seeking to improve conditions as much as possible.  He even held worship services for the hardened crew each Sunday.  Eventually, however, he felt convicted of the inhuman aspects of this work and led a strong crusade against slavery.

Newton became a minister and preached powerfully about Jesus.  He also wrote one of the most-loved hymns of all time, "Amazing Grace." At the age of 82 just before he died he proclaimed, "My memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things: That I am a great sinner and that Christ is a great Savior!"

On his tombstone he had this statement engraved:

John Newton, ..., once an infidel and Libertine, a servant of slavers in Africa, was, by the rich mercy of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, preserved, restored, pardoned, and appointed to preach the Faith he had long labored to destroy."

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