REVIVAL - REPENTANCE FROM SIN
Fair Avenue Baptist Church
Sunday Morning Sermon
March 22, 1998
Have you ever seen one of those old fashioned mills operated by a water wheel. The stream would flow into the wheel, making it turn. This would operate the mechanism inside and the miller could grind his grain.
Now suppose the miller were to come down some morning and the creek was clogged. With the water power, the wheel would not turn.
The miller could shove the wheel, he could strain, he could call in the neighbors to help him, but it would be fruitless until he went up the creek and removed the hindrances - the dead logs and debris.
Then the water would flow once again, the wheel would turn and the miller would be back in business.
Pastors and churches all over the country are straining and striving to make the wheels of revival go around.
Here in Gainesville, virtually every church has a spring revival of some sort. Revivals are announced, bulletins are printed, churches are calling on people to invite people to come, to visit, to pray, to sing, you name, everything for revival. And all of this is good.
But what the Scriptures call for we seldom see in the call for revival. Almost nothing is said about the need for repentance in the church.
Isn’t it about time we first went up the creek, cleared the channel and removed the hindering debris of sin from our hearts and lives?
Mordecai Ham, a great evangelist from the early 20th century, once said that until we get some of God’s people right, we cannot hope to see sinners saved.
When D.L. Moody went to England the first time, he preached the grace of God. When he went the second time, he preached repentance. He had become convinced that unless there is a genuine turning away from known sin in life and thought, there could be little permanency of change.
When we look at The Book of the Revelation we find that the Lord did not say to the church at Ephesus, “What you need is a bigger evangelistic program.” He said, “REPENT.” The church that gets back to its first love will be evangelistic.
He didn’t say to the churches at Pergamos and Thyatira, “What you need is to step up your missionary activity.” He said they needed to repent.
He didn’t say to the church at Sardis, “What you need is more tithers.” He said they must repent.
He didn’t say to the church of the Laodiceans, “What you need is more soul winners.” He said they needed to get over their lukewarmness and come to a boil.
The truth is that the majority of church members in America give no evidence of having been born again. There are so many people living with known sin and we are ignoring it and hoping it will go away.
A local church has a piano player who is living with his girlfriend in open sin, but, since they need a piano player, they just ignore it.
I heard the story of some boys who got together to play some baseball one Saturday afternoon. When they got to the field they discovered that they had forgotten to get a baseball. There were a few minutes of frustration when one of they said, “Oh, well, forget the ball. Let’s get on with the game.”
I think that is what we are trying to do today. There are those who say, “Let’s forget our faults and failings, our theological differences, our worldliness, let’s just go on.” But it won’t work and hasn’t worked.
Christianity today is tragically below the New Testament standard. A comparison of the church in the Book of Acts and the church of today will show a dramatic difference. We aren’t even close to being like the church in the Bible.
They were daily in the temple, we do good to get people to come two days a week.
They were going house to house and spreading the gospel, we do good to get people to put a tract out at the restaurant when no one is looking.
They were in one accord, we fuss over chairs and rooms.
They were bold to spread the gospel, some Christians today have never shared the gospel.
They gave all they possibly could to the church, we have Sunday School teachers who don’t tithe.
They prayed and prayed and prayed, we haven’t had a man show up for mens monthly prayer meeting in months. Some men have never been to a monthly mens prayer meeting, never.
And still we don’t see the need for Revival.
Are we willing to deal with whatever clogs our lives? Are we willing to go up the creek and get rid of the debris and obstructions, the hindrances?
Are we willing to ask some hard questions and then deal with the answers?
1. Do I have a heart attitude that says, “Lord, everything I now know to be sin, and everything You show me in the future to be sin, I am willing to give it all up for Your sake.”
2. Have I ever experienced the repentance that characterizes genuine salvation? Was my “conversion” experience mere external reformation, rather than internal heart transformation?
3. Can I truly say that I am willing to forsake every sin in my life, including those which are not known to others?
4. Am I willing to call my wrongful acts sin, rather than characterizing them as weaknesses, flaws, or personality traits?
5. Am I more grieved over how my sin has offended a holy God, than I am over the consequences that I have reaped for my sin?
6. Am I willing to accept personal responsibility for my actions, without pointing the finger of blame at anyone else?
7. Am I willing to take whatever steps may be necessary to make complete restitution for my sin?
8. Am I willing, if necessary, to confess my sin publicly before men, as well as privately before God?
9. Am I willing to face the possible consequences of public repentance, such as loss of reputation, position, or influence?
10. Am I willing, if necessary, to suffer the loss of all things in exchange for being clean before both God and man?
11. Am I willing to voluntarily yield privileges and positions of leadership to demonstrate a repentant spirit?
12. Am I willing to submit to the discipline of man for my sin, as well as those consequences directly imposed by God?
13. Am I willing to be accountable to another Christian in those areas of my life where I have experienced past failure, in order that I may develop new patterns of victory?
14. Are there specific sins in my life that I have never truly repented of? Am I willing to repent of those sins here and now?
Some hard questions that have difficult answers. But until we face this matter of repentance head on we will never see revival.
Do we want revival? It is up to us individually.
(Sermons 1998 / I / revrep)