2 Corinthians 7:9-11 ~ 20190714 ~ Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org
07/14_2 Corinthians 7:9-11; Repentance; Wounded to Heal ; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20190714_2cor7_9-11.mp3
Review: Grief According To God
We are in 2 Corinthians 7. Paul has met Titus in Macedonia and been encouraged by him, especially by the report he received about their response to his severe letter. Their grief caused Paul to rejoice.
We looked last week at some examples of grief according to God that led to repentance, Rahab and David, in contrast to examples of worldly grief that ended in death, Achan and Saul.
Today I want to look more carefully at repentance, what biblical repentance is, what the outcome of repentance is, and how grief according to God can lead to repentance.
First, what repentance is. Jesus came
The good news of God, the time is fulfilled, the kingdom has appeared, repent and believe the good news. Jesus said in Luke 15:
After he rose from the dead, Jesus commissioned his followers
Repentance is to be proclaimed in the name of Jesus to all people. Repentance is what sinners do that brings joy to God. Repentance is connected with the forgiveness of sins. Repentance is connected with believing the good news.
Defining Repentance [μετάνοια]
Repentance comes from the Greek word μετάνοια, a compound word made up of μετά (after, a prefix that indicates movement or change) and νοιέω (to think, to consider, the mind and its thoughts and perceptions and dispositions and purposes); it means to think differently in retrospect, to have a change of heart and mind. This is a deep inward change.
This word 'repent' is sometimes found with a different word [ἐπιστρέφω], a synonym that literally means to turn around. When Peter preached in Acts 3, he said:
Forgiveness of sins is contingent on this change of mind and change of direction. In Acts 26, Paul described his life and mission:
Conversion is another English word that has been used to try to capture this idea of turning, this new thinking, new direction. Conversion or repentance is a change of mind, a deep inward change, a turning away from what you were trusting in, hoping in, holding on to, a turning toward God, to treasure him, to trust him, to cling to him.
Fruit in Keeping with Repentance
This inward transformation produces fruit. People who truly turn, truly change, begin to live consistent with their new direction. John the Baptist called people to be genuine, to “bear fruit in keeping with repentance” (Mt.3:8).
The Duty of Repentance
Jesus commanded that we have this deep inward change of heart and mind, and believe or depend on the gospel. He instructed his followers to proclaim to the nations that they experience this inward change and their sins would be forgiven in Jesus' name, because he suffered in their place. He said there would be consequences, condemnation for those who refuse to repent.
This turning, this genuine inward change of heart and mind is required for the forgiveness of sins through Jesus.
God's Kindness and Patience Lead to Repentance
And we see that God is kind, he is eager for us to repent, to experience that inward change, to receive forgiveness for our sins.
God does not immediately pour out the consequences of our sins on us. He is patient, he forbears, all in order to lead us to repentance.
Our Turning and God's Creative Act
Paul used this other word 'turning' in 2 Corinthians 3:16 to describe the turning of Jewish people to Jesus as the overcoming of their hardness of mind and the removing of the veil on their hearts that prevents them from seeing the light of the good news of God's glory in the face of Jesus Christ.
How does repentance come about? He says their minds are hard and their hearts are veiled, but if one turns to the Lord the veil is removed. Only through Christ is it taken away. How does this turning happen? He says in chapter 4 of those whose minds are hardened, whose hearts are veiled, those who are perishing,
He says it is Satan who blinds minds, but through the proclamation of Jesus Christ as Lord,
Satan blinds minds and hardens hearts, but God creates light and removes veils. God works through the proclamation of Jesus as Lord and the sacrificial service of his people to create life and speak light into hard hearts, and blind minds see! We see the glory of God in the face of our Lord Jesus Christ and seeing, we are being transformed! When a blind mind is given light, it begins to see things differently; there is an inward change of mind and heart. What was once distasteful or unimpressive now becomes beautiful. Blind minds are enabled to perceive the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
The Gift of Repentance
The apostles in their preaching celebrated God's gift of repentance. Peter, answering the Pharisees in Acts 5 said of the crucified and resurrected Jesus,
God the Father exalted Jesus to give repentance to Israel. A few chapters later, in Acts 11, Peter is reporting to the Jerusalem church the conversion, the turning of the Gentiles in Caesarea. He recounts to them that the Holy Spirit fell on them as he began to speak. He says:
God gives the repentance that leads to life. Repentance is a gift from God. (cf.2Tim.2:25).
Wounding to Heal
How does God give this gift? We have already seen in these passages that God gives repentance through preaching, through the proclamation of Jesus as Lord and the sacrificial service of his people. He leads us to repentance through his kindness and forbearance. If we return to 2 Corinthians 7, we see that God uses grief to bring about repentance.
Godly grief, or grief according to God; not 'I'm sorry I got caught' or 'I'm sorry that there will be consequences' but 'I am grieved that I displeased God, that I dishonored his name.' This grief, this true sorrow over sin brings about repentance that leads to salvation.
We can see this pattern in other places in Scripture. Last time we looked at David's repentance after he was confronted by the prophet Nathan with his sin. We looked at his prayer of confession in Psalm 51. He says in verse 8
David says that God broke his bones. God crushed him. God caused him to sorrow over his sin, and that genuine grief led him to repentance, and the outcome is a restoration of his joy.
God said in Deuteronomy 32
God claims to be the one both to kill and to make alive, to wound and to heal. The context here is the disobedience and idolatry of his people, and his use of other nations to discipline them and to make them jealous. The sequence is intentional. Before God makes alive, he kills. Before God heals, he wounds. He causes grief – grief according to God – to bring about repentance, a deep inward turning, a changing of heart and desire. He breaks our bones in order to restore to us the joy of our salvation.
The prophet Hosea says
God here likens himself to a lion that tears and carries off. They go to Assyria for healing, but in vain. God says, I tear them like a lion, and then I wait for them to acknowledge their guilt and seek my face. God causes distress and grief to bring his people ultimately to himself, for their ultimate good. Hosea continues:
God has torn us that he may heal us. He has struck us down so that he can bind us up. Do you feel torn, struck down, broken by the Lord? Is he trying to get your attention? He is pursuing you, eager for you to turn, to return to him, to seek his face, to earnestly seek him; not his gifts, not a change in circumstances, but him. He has torn, yes, but he has torn in order to heal; he has struck down in order to bind us up. He intends to raise us up to life, eternal life in his presence. He cares enough that he is willing to do whatever it takes to get your attention, to cause you grief to bring you to repentance, to a change of mind, a change of allegiance, to bring you to depend completely on him, to seek not his gifts, but him, to earnestly seek his face. He says:
God uses his people to speak his words to grieve us into repenting, he slays us with the words of his mouth to lead us to salvation.
God used Paul's severe letter, the gospel forcefully applied to their situation, to grieve them, to crush them, to bring them to a change of heart and mind. Paul rebuked them, he caused them grief, but for a good purpose.
Paul said the hard things, even for a time regretting what he said, so that he could say 'you suffered no loss through us.'
Does God want to use you to speak some hard things into someone's life, not to unload and make yourself feel better, but to love and serve him, to preach the gospel to him; that your sin displeases God and drags his good name through the mud, the good news that God loves you and sent his only Son to die for that sin, so that you can turn to him and experience forgiveness and transformation and life the way it was meant to be. Allow him to change you deep inside, your mind, your heart, your desires, so that you are eager to live consistent with those new desires.
Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org