Now there is no change or conversion possible that will avail us eternal life except through Jesus Christ. This may seem hard to understand, that what I just said I feel is not genuinely accepted nor understood by most people. I know they're not, at least not in the world, but you people who are professing to be Christians don't comprehend the full story on that. Conversion is not like a change of religions – a person 'converts' to Catholicism or to Judaism or a person might convert from Judaism to Christianity or change religions or churches. This is not conversion. The Bible does not speak of it in those terms. We're talking about a total, permanent change in the individual, effected by God when He brings a person to Him. All right, so we're talking about what happens to the person and the change or the conversion in the individual. It's not a matter of changing outward beliefs or the church or the organization you belong to. So when the Bible speaks of conversion, it's speaking then of that change in the person. When the person, then, turns to God, makes that kind of a commitment to obey Him – now this is an important truth that we have to remember as we approach the Passover season and as we, of course, keep the Passover because it tells us certain things here.
It's vital to know, for those who are being called by God to His great purpose, to have God's great purpose fulfilled in them. In fact, we observe the Passover each year to bring us right back to the fact that there is no salvation, that there is no deliverance from sin and death except through Jesus Christ. It doesn't matter what other philosophy you have, you want to believe in, or religion or creed or whatever, it's only going to happen through Jesus Christ. There is no name under heaven carrying that kind of authority, then, and telling us who He is that will suffice to give us the kind of salvation that is talked about in the Bible. Now once you get into the New Testament, then you find Paul dealing with people who want to be good and they want to be right or righteous before God, but they rejected Jesus Christ as a means by which they could be made righteous. Now you really need to study Paul's letter to the Romans to grasp how deep this goes into the lives and the consciousnesses of all people. And so this is why Christ inspired this to be written for the benefit of all people one day to whom God will offer salvation. They need to understand this because it is within man to want to be good, to be right, to do right. It's very, very difficult for a person to live under the stress of a bad conscience or guilt or knowing somehow they are just not what they ought to be. People do live sometimes in states of depression because it's just not right, they know it's not right.
Now the man wants to be good, but the righteousness of God is demonstrated to us in a way that should convince us that really no good of any lasting value dwells inherently within us. Nothing lasting of any value that you could call 'good' that would be lasting, that would be continual, that would be permanent or that would be reliable that dwells within us. I didn't say we couldn't do good things, many people do. I think we all do. Some people do a lot of good things and this, of course, is commendable. And some people do have some very strong values. That's also very commendable. And to live simply as a human being, which is what we are, then it is important, then, that we hold to values that are right and good for the benefit of others, the benefit of ourselves, benefit of our families, and the benefit of the entire community and so on.
Romans chapter 5, verse 5 – I want to show you how Paul expresses it here and without, well maybe, going too much into the book of Romans, it helps us to explain where he's coming from and what he's saying.
Romans:5:5And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. - Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which was given to us. It says the word 'who' there, of course that's a holdover from the Trinitarian teachings because of the way that was translated. Vs. 6 - For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. Now he said earlier, two chapters earlier in the book of Romans, there is not one good, no not one – just not one. He says they have all gone astray. And we have. No question about that. There's not one good person there and what he's trying to show us is that whenever you see who God is – now God is God and He has been what He is for all eternity. And, of course, that's His name. 'I Am.' 'I Am that I Am.' He doesn't change. But this is what He is. You and I are subject to being corrupted. You and I are subject to being tempted and also to be led down a wrong path. We all have been. But this is what He is and what He is, is what He wants for us. He wants us to be like Him.
Now long ago He devised a plan and He says it here - When we were still without strength ... what does it mean? Strength, that is we did not have the ability, we did not have the power, we did not have anything within us that we could achieve what He wanted us to achieve. So it says, ... in due time Christ died for the ungodly ... it says. Now everybody's in that category. No one's exempt from this because we all went down the wrong path simply because we were humans. This is what we did when we lived in this world. We were without strength.
Now here we have the very heart of the matter. Even in the garden of Eden the serpent convinced Adam and Eve that they could be good without God. "You can be everything you need to be. You don't need God." And he wanted them to understand that. That's the basic philosophy you have in the world today - that you do not need God. And so mankind is always philosophizing, we're always trying to be better. They even have government and government programs so structured in order to encourage better behavior. You know that. A lot of these are socially based programs that you have in government. The Australian government is famous for this, by the way. You even have taxes in order to encourage certain behavior and discourage other behavior. Oh, yes, you do. It's all out there. So then you have, of course, the various religions around who talk about the way we should be or what we should believe and so on. Then you have, of course, many of the psychology books or even you move on into the self-help books and you have whole, huge areas out here where man is, of and by himself, trying to be better, they're trying to overcome violence, they're trying to overcome poverty and they're trying to deal with warfare, they're trying to deal with how people hurt themselves and hurt other people. And you have just an enormous amount of material out here in discussions of how people can actually be more fulfilled and happy and better and good. It's there, it's simply there. I don't think some are better than others. Of course, and I'm not criticizing what people might say – anything that anybody can achieve in terms of being a better person and if they make those kind of changes in their lives is all for the better and that is, of course, to be commended. We're not talking about that.
We're talking about how a person is going to satisfy God's great plan that He has for them. That is, to fulfill that plan and to understand who and what God is and we had here a whole religion of people, Paul's people then who had developed a religion where they said, "We do not need the Messiah - in the way and the form that He came - to be good. We'll do this through our own efforts to keep and to observe the law." And Paul says you will never achieve righteousness this way. You will never be good this way. It is impossible and he, of course, in the 1st chapter, he deals with all of mankind, all of humanity. They have all gone astray , he says. They have not sought God and they have gone into terrible things and all kinds of perversions and violence and wars and hurtful things toward other people. This is what mankind has done and he convicts the whole human race in that way. And so you see what Paul is dealing with. He starts out this way by showing that man, of and by himself, cannot and will not achieve what God wants him to be and to become. It's impossible. So He sends Jesus Christ.
Now, as I said, in the garden of Eden the heart of the matter was also focused on when the serpent told them, "You can be good," and they bought this. They thought, well, they actually could be. They could be everything if only they chose the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, he said. They were, as they were created, without strength to be righteous. Now were they righteous or were they unrighteous? Well, choices were never presented to them until a certain point, so you can't say that. But God was offering them a chance to accept Him as the One who would provide for them the strength to become a son of God, spiritually begotten as symbolized in the tree of life. He says, "Now this is what I'm offering for you. The tree of life. You can have life." And they needed the strength to live a life delivered from sin. The serpent was telling them they didn't need that. Their creator was offering them a chance to be delivered from death. We're told death comes through sin. Sin entered, if you read a little bit further down in Romans chapter 5, sin entered because the first man sinned and then all have sinned. Death has entered all men because all have sinned, it says. But with offering them the tree of life, He was saying, "This is life, take this way, choose this way." Now verse 7, he's going on to demonstrate what he means, then, in some of the questions we have been asking.
Vs. 7 - For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. Now rarely – on rare occasion someone would give himself for a godly person, Vs. 8 - But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners ... not reformed ... still sinners, Christ died for us. We have something quite extraordinary happening here. Vs. 9 - Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. So we look to be saved, then. We want to be saved from wrath. Vs. 10 - For when we were enemies ... that's how it should be understood ... we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
It would come through Jesus Christ. First of all there are the two great parts or phases, if I can put it that way, of achieving eternal life that God holds out to us. #1, you have to be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ. This is what we keep the Passover for. #2, you have to allow the life of Jesus Christ to live within you and your righteousness, then, comes through Jesus Christ living in you as symbolized by the eating of unleavened bread for that seven day period. Now the Passover tells us our sins of the past are forgiven and that we are reconciled to God. The Feast of Unleavened Bread tells us that we have to live by the bread of life and every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God and receive the strength to follow Jesus Christ. Paul said, follow me as I follow Christ . You're not left to simply do whatever you want to do and go on being free from sin. You can't. You turn to God completely. And the only way that you can do that is through Jesus Christ living within you.
So Paul here is saying that mankind generally – and each one of us individually – cannot achieve the goodness of God. You cannot do this. Left to yourself you can become a better person, no question about it, but you will not achieve eternal life. Will you become a better person forever? Permanently? Will you become a person that Jesus Christ can always rely upon that will never turn against Him? There is something that happened here in the sacrifice and the gift of His Son that, of course, would bring about an effect in us that would be permanent, forever. That's the way it had to be. It had to be something that when a person was converted, you don't go back, you don't drift, you stay with what you have here. You may be tried and I appreciate Russell's sermonette on that. There may be some difficulties that come along because God wants to see how much you are going to believe in Him as to what He says. But the only way that our compete and total loyalty and our obedience to Him forever and ever, never to be turned aside from, is through Jesus Christ. And that's why we spend a little bit of time for a couple of weeks here talking about who was Jesus Christ. Where did He come from? And it's not just a matter of the fact that being so overawed by the fact that He would forgive us of our sins, but understanding who He really is and the sacrifice that He made, would do something to the individual who properly understood this. Because what it would do, it would always bring to mind because of what He did, "I don't want to sin in the future." I didn't say you wouldn't sin, but it would bring about this very powerful motive and thought in your mind that, "Look, I don't ever want to be a time when I am not trusting Him, when I have not put myself completely into His hands, where I am not under His authority." And that's the intent. This is what is to be achieved in and through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ in that forever and ever and ever there will never be a time that you will make any kind of a choice that will cause you to turn against God, rebel against Him or come up with some wrong and foolish ideas that the devil has come up with and tries to get man to believe in.
It was very, very powerful and they sat down and they considered exactly what was needed so as to so move and insure the devotion, the loyalty, the obedience and the worship forever in every person they call. Now how does He know this? Well, what you do now with what you know is the determining factory in God's mind as to what you are going to do in the future. We have a lot of scriptures on this as to the fact that, yes, judgment is on us. He watches. He looks. He has given us His very Son to die for us. Now He wants to see, well, what are you going to do with that? How are we going to deal with temptations? How are we going to deal with the capacity within all of us, then, to turn against Him? There has to be a conscience there. There has to be something so powerful in our mind that has so affected our thinking, so affected our minds that we just do not ever want to turn against Him. It affects our will. It gives you strength. It gives you power. This is what it says. We were without strength . Okay. Now He makes it possible for you to be a part of His kingdom, to be a part of His family forever and it is done through Jesus Christ. It cannot - there is no way that this can be done through your personal resolve to be better. It just cannot. There is a famous saying by Maya Angelou – let's see, I do have it written down here somewhere. "I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better." Is there a problem with that? There isn't with respect to living your life as a human being – as a human being. Whenever you know better, if you try to do better that, of course, is certainly beneficial. 1 Corinthians chapter 15, verse 45. He says,
1 Corinthians:15:45And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. - And so it is written, "THE FIRST MAN ADAM BECAME A LIVING BEING." ... Stop there. That's exactly what it was. That's all it was. He was a living being. Okay. What could he become? Now, ... The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. So when Jesus Christ came – that's the last Adam - He was a life-giving spirit. In Him was life we are told.
John:1:4In him was life; and the life was the light of men. - ... and the life was the light of men. That is, He was able, then, to give life. I'm talking about eternal life. He had that within Himself, He could give life.
Now we are a living being by virtue of the creation, but we are in need of eternal life. Now this is where we are going with all of this. You are a living being and you have the ability with what you have - when you know better you can do better. Some people actually do better. I've said that. You had no choice in the life you have now. You are a living being. All of us were born as a natural result of the human race procreating. This doesn't give you eternal life just as Adam and Eve didn't have eternal life simply because they were created a living being. They were asked to choose the tree of life and then they could embark upon that process. It doesn't make you good or righteous because you are human. It doesn't make you deserving because you are human. You have to turn to God and receive Jesus Christ for who He is. And in doing so you have to acknowledge deeply what He has done for you and what you could never ever do for yourself. You cannot. Can you be better? Yes you can. But what He has done is something you could never approach, you could never come close to doing it of and by yourself. You do not have it within you. This has to be done for you and so therefore let me put it this way - that He was a gift, eternal life is a gift, the kingdom of God is a gift and we should understand it all and put it all on that footing, it's not something that you earn. You cannot earn it. It's impossible for you to earn. This is something that is done for you and it was done for you while you were still an enemy and all this happened before you were ever born. You didn't even know anything about it, but yet it took place. The whole thing was set in motion. In fact, as we've said in previous sermons, it was set in motion before the first human was ever put on this earth. The whole thing was thought out, the whole thing was considered. God wanted to have children, that is beings such as Him, to live forever with Him in love and in harmony without rebellion, without violence always accepting Him, then, as the One who will rule their lives and who will always understand God to be Father, always understanding Jesus Christ to be the elder brother who went before us and made it all possible, always living in that relationship for ever and ever, not just a million years from now, but longer than that and to guarantee and insure that those children would never turn against Him.
How would you go about that? What plan would you put into effect? How would you achieve that? This was it. This was it, man had to choose. He's not there simply because he's made to be there, we're here because we choose. What would make him choose? What would make him always, always, always choose God? Will they have knowledge of the evil or the alternative? Oh, yes indeed. They will always have that. We have that now. We're exposed to it. It's one of the reasons we are here on the earth. We're exposed to it. Okay? And we could be - if we make the choice, we could be subject to it – but we know about it and we have to make those kinds of choices. Now there's something, then, that, of course, should be affecting us deeply, so very deeply and that is what God did in His great plan, to send Jesus Christ into this world among us, to live among us as a human, to become as one of us. It's very important that we really grasp what takes place. Now, whenever we take the Passover, then, this is what we come face to face with - that we consider who He was, we consider His past existence, we consider the fact that He agreed fully and completely to become a man, a person after all that He had seen. He knew He was going to do this long before the first man was put on this earth, before the universe, before anything. It says if we embark upon this - if we embark upon this, then this is what it means. Do We, then, expand Our family? Do We bring other people into Our existence and a family relationship with Us and they will always be there, never letting Us down, always in a loving family relationship where God is the Father, Jesus Christ is the elder brother, we are always family members? And how do you do this and it never fails? That's the question and this is something They had to think out and They had to consider. And so what we have, then, is One who then came. Acts chapter 20, verse 20. Here is what Paul says then, that he told the Ephesians – sorry, yeah, it was the Ephesians. Yes, it was.
Acts:20:20And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house, - how I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house ... he wants to make it so clear to them. Remember, I did this. ... testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. Now the Jews, they thought they had an inside track somehow and they had Abraham as their father. The Greeks, they're the ones who needed repentance. This is not what Paul says. He says, 'I told both Jews and Greeks wherever I went.' ... repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ ...
The only way sins are going to be forgiven – He's already convicted everybody. In the book of Romans, remember, everybody – both Jews and Greeks – convicted them all of being under sin. And the only way that your sins will be forgiven is repentance toward God. When you repent, you repent of sin, the breaking of God's laws. Your repentance must be toward God. Then you have to have faith toward Jesus Christ because He is the One, then, who is going to see you through all of this. But your repentance has to be toward God. You cannot say, "I will change this or that about myself. I would be perfect if I just didn't have this habit." I've heard people say that. "I would be a good person if I just didn't have this particular habit, so I have to work on that habit." So what does that make them? Absolutely nothing. Makes them a better person. Okay. Fine. We're cool with that. But you can have regrets – but that isn't repentance toward God. You must understand that you have violated His holy and righteous way of life, everything that He is. You can want to be different. You can want to be better, but this is not repentance toward God. What it brought home to us is that our sins have to be forgiven freely, without payment by the enormous payment of the life of Jesus Christ. Romans:3:21But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;. Let me refer to this. Actually we will read it. Once again the point he's getting across to his Jewish hearers - well, also the Gentiles, too – he wants them to understand that everybody comes under this.
Romans:3:21But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; - But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed ... what does he mean by that? That is they were trying to establish the righteousness of God in themselves through obedience to the law. Now he's not saying you're not supposed to keep the law. That's not what he's saying at all. He's just saying the righteousness of God apart from their efforts to keep the law is now revealed. ... being witnessed ... of all things ... by the Law ... itself ... and the Prophets, Vs. 22 – and the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference ... There is no difference here. Everybody has to have this in exactly the same manner, in the same way. Vs. 23 - for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God ... everybody. He's already established this in the book of Romans. Vs. 24 - being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus ... You see it has to be done this way. It can't be done if a person thinks, "Well, God will accept me because of who I am because I've always tried to be good and because I have achieved a certain amount of goodness on my own." So when you are justified, you are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ. You cannot ever in any sense redeem yourself. You don't have the ability to redeem yourself. Someone else has to pay the price. Vs. 25 - whom God set forth as a propitiation ... or a mercy seat literally ... by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness ... now so much for ours here, ... demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God passed over the sins that were previously committed ... So he says God is not bringing them into judgment in terms of eternal life. He's got to pass over them till the person comes to the point where they are going to have to make some choices. So He will pass over that until the time, until He comes to bring that person to this kind of knowledge. Vs. 26 - to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus Christ.
You can't find a way to justify yourself. You can't find a way for you to be better to the point where God simply accepts you. Then, if that's the case, He's accepting you on your terms. God says, "I accept you on My terms and the terms are this: I'll forgive you freely." That's it. Freely. It's paid for by someone else. It's paid for by another person here who made a decision to die personally for you. Now, at that point are you going to say in any sense, "But, Lord, I'm righteous. Appreciate you doing it for us, but I'm righteous." Are you going to say that? Of course not. You can understand that this was something that was done for you through what the Bible calls as grace. What's that do to you? How does that affect you? Does it make any changes to you? Now you need to think about this because if it doesn't, then there's not a lot of hope for you. I really want to say that. I want to make it very clear to you that this has to so move you that it does stop sin and it should stop sin from occurring in you life as you understand what a person who had such love for you personally, then, has done for you by giving His very life for you. And we're going to treat this in a frivolous manner, never considering what we do in our lives, never considering that we might want to somehow emulate Him and do what He says? It should have that powerful effect. That's what it was here for. That's why we get into this, that Jesus Christ was prepared to give Himself as a sacrifice, but He also suffered and sometimes we talk about that suffering. Sometimes we talk about that suffering in detail. Is it a nice sermon? No. But it's something, then, that is very important for you and for me to have a full grasp of, because if we don't have that full grasp of it, we're not going to appreciate what He has done. It's the power of Jesus Christ, the power of His sacrifice for us, it simply will not have the effect that it should have upon us. Remember, this is how God chose to do it. He knew this is the only way that would get deep down to us and affect us, so He puts all of humanity in the same situation here as we have just read.
Now, you can be sorry for what you did. After all, look how you've messed up your life. That's a good start. That's a very good start to do that. Now, that's regret. Okay. I will say openly I have some regrets. I did that. I think I told you that last week. I don't mind saying that. I think for a person to say, "I don't have any regrets," I don't think they have a good sense of reality as to what they have done. No, I've had some. I do have them. I wish that I had done some things differently, but I have no forgiveness nor will I have a permanent change unless I experience repentance. Now, that's a little bit different matter, isn't it? You see the difference in this. So repentance must be toward God - that's what we just read - not just regret that I did something wrong that hurt myself or I hurt somebody else. Oh, yes. We have to realize that we hurt God, we let God down. And for our sins, our failures, our drifting from God's way of life, our neglect was paid for by Jesus Christ who was the eternal life, remember. In Him was life. He was the eternal life and it was paid for by Him. And if we don't repent with faith toward Jesus Christ, those sins aren't forgiven. So that's why you have to experience a repentance. Nor, then, are you guaranteed that you won't commit those sins again and God wants to put us in a situation here where He can be guaranteed you are not going to go down that same road again. You are not going to turn back to your old ways and ten thousand years from now you are not going to come up with an idea that you know better than God. You can't ever have that. You have to realize the reason you are there is because He got you there. He put you there and it was a gift – complete, outright gift and a sacrifice. It is only with a conviction of who Jesus Christ is that you can repent. It's true. To imagine now that the Eternal One who has lived forever would become human, a human son of God but a man, humble Himself to the Father, come to this world, do the will of God completely, sacrifice so much, put everything on the line for you, is one of the most unimaginable ideas that you could ever come up with. But it is the very thing that will, when fully comprehended and understood - and especially what He went through - that will bring you to repentance.
You see, whenever you come face to face with the truth of Him you can come up with the great philosophies. You are an intelligent person. Most of you are quite intelligent and you can come up with, you can express ideas, you can express concepts, you can delve into all kinds of things. Of course you can. No question about that. But you have to come face to face with the truth of Jesus Christ because it will provide for you the conscience, it will provide for you the will and the power to make this kind of a commitment and to have the conviction to obey God in the face of the world's extreme temptations. It's the only thing that will do that. Now this is what brings a person then to repentance. Matthew chapter 26, verse 31. Jesus says to His disciples:
Matthew:26:31Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad. - " All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written: ' I WILL STRIKE THE SHEPHERD, AND THE SHEEP OF THE FLOCK WILL BE SCATTERED. ' Now, why would that happen? How come they're going to scatter? How come they can't remain loyal to Jesus Christ to stand up for Him? How come they can't do this? Vs 32 - But after I have been raised, I will go before you into Galilee. " Vs. 33 - Peter answered and said to Him, " Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble. " What is he saying? I'm better than the rest. I am good. I won't do this kind of a thing. I just won't do this kind of a thing! Jesus says this, "I can't count on you. Now, we'll do this. You won't stand by me." Vs. 34 - Jesus said to him, " Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times. " Vs. 35 - Peter said to Him, " Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You! " And so said all the disciples. Everybody wants to be right. Did you ever notice that? Everybody wants to be right. They can't stand not to be right. I heard a saying why Congress doesn't work – you know why Congress doesn't work and also down here in Canberra, Parliament doesn't work? They're all made up of lawyers and lawyers always want to be right. This is why we have so many problems trying to solve things. This is it. You can't face this. Always want to be right. So did the Jews. And so one, then, was going to be more right than the other. Wow.
Luke:22:54Then took they him, and led him, and brought him into the high priest's house. And Peter followed afar off. , let's see what happens. Having arrested Him, they led Him and brought Him into the high priest's house. But Peter followed at a distance. You don't quite see him standing next to Christ, do you. Now when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat among them. And a servant girl ... Vs. 56 ... seeing him as he sat by the fire, looked intently at him and said, " This man was also with Him. " Vs. 57 - But he denied Him, saying, " Woman, I do not know Him. " That was a lie. Vs. 58 - And after a little while another saw him and said, " You also are of them. " But Peter said, " Man, I am not! " Another lie. It is interesting how we will lie sometimes. Vs. 59 - Then after about an hour had passed, another confidently affirmed, saying, " Surely this fellow also was with Him, for he is a Galilean. " Vs. 60 - But Peter said, " Man, I do not know what you are saying! " Immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. Vs. 61 - And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the words of the Lord, how He had said to him, " Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times. " Vs. 62 - So Peter went out and wept bitterly.
You see, this is what you do, that is, weep bitterly when you understand that you have let down the One who was willing to do so much for you. Did you ever experience that? Peter did. This is a part of repentance. It's something you are extremely sorrowful over and it's something a person should – they need to experience. I can't let you off the hook on this one, folks. You can't say, "Well, I'll just do better and I'll ask the minister to baptize me. I'll get this straight now in my life so I can become a member of the church or I can get married to this sweet, young thing, or I can be a part of the group then. I'll be accepted." You know, it's a lot more than that, so much more than that. Repentance isn't easy to experience. It's something you come to when you have a realization of two basic things: #1, you understand who Jesus Christ is and along with that you understand what He's done and the sacrifice He's made and the suffering He went through, the terrible suffering He went through. And then you see yourself in comparison to that and you realize what was being done for you. Yeah, it's life changing. This is where conversion comes from, right here. At that time, at that moment, you make your decisions and you know exactly what kind of decisions you want to make and when you do, then it's sincere. If Jesus Christ is not a part of the picture, if it's strictly a humanistic sort of a philosophy, a sort of one that 'I'll do better, I'll be better, I can work on this, I can change this, I have the intellect, I have the ability, I have the youth, I have my life ahead of me, I can do all of this' – if you leave it at that, you haven't repented. You may have had some regrets. You may have done some good things, but you haven't repented. Repentance is on this scale that we are talking about here.
Acts chapter 9 and verse 3. This is Paul. Acts:9:3And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: - As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Vs. 4 - Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, " Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? "Ah, you know what He didn't say? He didn't say, "Why are you hurting other people?" That's not what He said. He said, "Why are you persecuting Me? After all I've done, after all you really do know about Me, why are you persecuting Me?" He says. Vs. 5 - And he said, "Who are You, Lord?" Then the Lord said, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting ... Now it's kind of hard for you to kick against that, isn't it? The goads, the conscience, you can't get around this one, can you? Now he's got to face it. He's got to face it. When Jesus Christ met him, when Jesus Christ looks at Peter, when Jesus Christ gets to you to understand what it is He did, now you're ready to make the kind of decisions you are supposed to. But don't just say, "Well, I'll change" because you can't. If you could do that, there are a lot of programs our here you could pay good money for and go into them to try to affect some kind of change. That might be some help, but I'm talking about eternal life here. This is what we are talking about – the life that comes through Him, from Him. When you meet Jesus Christ you have no place to go, no excuses – not just regrets, but repentance, a change and a conversion that is permanent.
Well, let's go to Romans chapter 2 and verse 1. Once again, here is what Paul was dealing with.
Romans:2:1Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things. - Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. You know, one of the greatest motivations for wanting to be good by whatever standard, it doesn't matter, but one of the greatest motivations to be good is so you can judge. That's very interesting, isn't it? You're better than somebody else. This is how Peter was operating. Remember? "Even if they all forsake you, Lord, I won't." That's an interesting judgment call, isn't it? All right. What did the Jews want to do? They wanted to be right. They had to be right. They had to be so right, the disciples said, "I cannot understand how they can be so right. We'll never live up what they're doing." Paul says, "I was blameless." Get that right, you can judge. Powerful motivation to be right. Very deceptive and you can never be right that way. Vs. 2 - But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. He's really calling them hypocrites because they are making claims and they're not that way at all. Vs. 3 - And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God? Vs. 4 - Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?
Oh the wrath of God, the severity of God gets your attention. Sure does. But it's the goodness of God, then, that brings you to repentance. And it's the goodness of God and His wonderful grace - His generosity toward you personally that you have to understand, you have to come to grips with, you have to come face to face with - that is going to keep you within His worship forever and ever and ever, never to be diminished but always there, a member of His family, And so He can be confident, then, to give you an eternal body that won't ever die. He wants to do that, but doesn't want to give it to you if somewhere along the line you are going to say, "I think I could do this – or I could have done it on my own." You can't ever say that. There is a worldly sorrow and there is a Godly sorrow.
Let me conclude with this – 2 Corinthians chapter 7 and verse 8.
2 Corinthians:7:8For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season. - For even if I made you sorry with my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it. For I perceive that the same epistle made you sorry, but only for a while. It says, you know, in one sense I am sorry that it had to happen – using regret in that sense – but the fact of what it worked was good. Vs. 9 - Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. Vs. 10 - For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. Oh, you can be sorry for something, it doesn't produce life. Godly sorry produces repentance leading to salvation. Vs. 11 - For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter.
Okay. He says, What I did I did it not for the sake of the person who had done the wrong or suffered wrong, but that you may understand how I care for you." You see, they were only going to be moved by understanding Paul's sincere, genuine care for them and so too we understand the absolute genuineness of Jesus Christ, the sincerity that was in God and in Jesus Christ, in His very Son coming to this earth, paying that kind of price, suffering for us personally the way He did. We have to ask then, well what does that do for us? How does that affect us? How does that move us? Does that change us? It should. This is the kind of change or transformation, conversion then, that is permanent and one God can absolutely count on.
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