We are called to honest repentance, actions
of repentance and trust in Christ's gracious rule in our daily living.
EXAMINE THE HONESTY OF OUR RESPONSE
TO GOD'S CALL TO REPENT.
A. Already did that," as if once is enough; now we no longer need to
1. As Christians, the more we grow in our understanding
of God and His holiness, the more we become acutely aware of our own
a. This drives us to the grace of
God in Christ.
b. It drives us to daily
repentance in the light of that grace.
c. Paul reflects this repentance
in Rom. 7: "O, wretched man that I am ...I thank God through Jesus
Christ who give the victory!"
2. It is a truly false notion and grave danger to think
that our salvation will not all the more bring us to repentance and godly
living as it's response!
B. "I haven't done anything bad enough to require confession...I
have a few flaws, but hey, doesn't everybody?"
1. This viewpoint refuses to recognize the reality of
a. Sin is what we are, not merely
what we do or fail to do.
b. Any sin is an incredible
affront to the holiness of God.
2. Those who say such thing suffer under the
misconception that God is comparing us to others and He isn't!
a. God is not looking to cast
blessings on the best of the worst!
b. He is looking for people who
know they have no hope at all except in His Son, Jesus.
C. "My parents or grandparents were outstanding Christians...Surely
that counts for something."
1. This was the game the Sadducees & Pharisees were
playing with John.
a. Salvation is not
b. A name listed on the church
rolls does not impress God.
c. Having been confirmed at age
13 will not do the job!
2. Those who make such claims are putting the
responsibility for faith on someone else and that will not work!
D. Here is Reality: God's Law and Spirit reveal that we are nothing but
1. We are full of ignorance of both God and His will for
2. We daily sin...How does our sin make us feel?...How
does it make God feel?
3. Luther: Daily drown the Old Adam and bring forth the
NOW LET'S EVALUATE OUR RESPONSE TO
GOD'S CALL TO WALK DIFFERENTLY.
A. Do we just want to give the appearance of repentance to God and
1. Put on a dour face.
a. Look sad all the time so
others will see our piety?
b. Go on a diet and call it
fasting so our actions will be noticed?
c. Engage in constant
"put-downs" of ourselves so that all will know our godly
2. False notion: If we look repentant, then we must be
B. Do we turn to evaluating our lives on the basis of our earthly
1. If we have all the "goodies" of life, then
God must favor us!
a. The proof of my status with
God must be my income, my power, my pleasure.
b. "You don't think God
approves of me, look at my lifestyle!
2. This is a fine idolatry...Remember even the lost
prosper in this life!
C. Do we think God approves of us because of our good works?
1. After all, I've overcome a bad habit or two, given to
charity, helped a neighbor.
2. See: I've earned God's blessing...What an affront to
the cross of Christ!
D. God's Law and Spirit exposes our deceptive tactics and pious
1. The Law shows us in our reality...far from what God
2. The Spirit works through the Law to seek a way to be
in fellowship with God.
GOD CALLS US TO RESPOND TO HIM WITH
A. God comes us in our need.
1. The whole point of Christmas is God coming to
a. This is not just a celebration
of presents and religious Christmas cards...This is about God on a rescue
b. ILLUS: Scott O'Grady...lost
without the Marine helicopter crew....It was an extraction mission that
O'Grady could not do on his own.
2. This is not a "Go find God" mission...This
is God in our flesh to fight our battle with sin.
B. In our baptism, we receive the Holy Spirit...God works the repentance
the faith in us...It is a gift!
1. The full measure of salvation is ours at our
Baptism...God's action toward us.
a. Faith is a gift at any age.
b. If the Spirit is present, then
there is salvation. (Acts 2:38-39)
c. Baptism cleanses us from our
sin. (Acts 22:12-16)
2. This purifying power of God has End Times
a. Who we are in Christ is the
only question that matters when the world comes to an end.
b. Eternal destiny is THE
C. To know God's absolution in Christ and to live a repentant life is to
walk in His way.
1. A repentant life is a life of Christian change
empowered by the Holy Spirit.
a. A life of repentance refuses
to continue to live by sin's rules.
b. Impenitence raises mountains
of obstruction...repentance opens the way for the Lord to change us.
2. As a result of God's gift of repentance and faith, our
new nature cannot help but do the things of God. (Gal. 5:19-21)
a. It is worship, the study of
God's Word, partaking in the Lord's Supper through which God continues the
process of changing us into His Son's image.
b. If you have felt that your
faith was really just a concept rather than a way of life and living, then
you need to follow the Spirit's leading and become more connected with God's
enabling power of Word and the Sacraments!
Conversations With God, by Bob Miller: People: God, why do some of
your preachers feel the need to scream and shout? I can hear just
fine." God: "Prove it!" May God grant us the power to respond
to His life-giving grace with lives reflecting repentance.