When Things Seem Insurmountable, Always Remember the Three “C”‘s

BIBLE TEXT:  1 Peter 1:2; Romans 5:1-11

The Apostle Peter’s letter was addressed to the followers of Christ who lived in the area we know today as Turkey.  Peter was writing to Christians scattered far from home, some because of persecution and others because of circumstance.  It included words of encouragement to people who were lonely, afraid and discouraged in their doing.

Have you ever been in this state?  Of course, you have.  We all have.

The words that Peter wrote so long ago are an encouragement to us today.  Look closely at these words in 1 Peter 1:2 (NLT) –

There are THREE THINGS I hope you can see, as I saw in Peter’s words:

#1.  God the Father CHOSE you.

#2.  God the Holy Spirit CHANGES you.

#3.  God the Son CLEANSES you.

Let me take each of the above, one at a time.

GOD THE FATHER CHOSE YOU!

Ephesians 1:4 tells us,  “For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight”  (NIV).

That’s an amazing verse:  We’ve been chosen, You’ve been chosen, and I have been chosen.  Chosen because of God’s LOVE for us!

Even before He made the WORLD, God LOVED us and chose us in Christ Jesus to be HOLY without fault in His eyes.

The FIRST “C”:  God has CHOSEN us!

We are special to Him…

We belong to His family…

We are children of the living God.

God the Father knew you and chose you long ago – The GREEK WORD used here is eklektos (ek-lek-tos’), meaning set apart, chosen before, elect, selected.  [Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary]

God is ETERNAL.  He knows the end from the beginning and everything in between.

He knew you from the start of time as we understand time, and loved you and chose you to be His.

God CHOSE those whom He knew would believe and trust in Him.  God has given us all FREEWILL, yet He knew who would willingly REPENT and turn to Him.

In ALL THINGS, especially in SALVATION, God is sovereign!

He KNEW who would believe.

He KNEW who would know their need of a Saviour.

He KNEW who would turn to Jesus as their personal Lord and Saviour.

God the Father knew everything and everyone even before He spoke the universe into existence.

You and I, and all who have FAITH in the one TRUE GOD are LOVED & CHOSEN to be the people of God.

2 Timothy 2:19 REMINDS US,

If you are a Christian, if you have repented of your sin and trusted in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, then you have been LOVED AND CHOSEN by God.

The SECOND “C”:  God the Holy Spirit CHANGED You!

God the Father knew you and chose you long ago and His Spirit made you holy.  The NIV Bible says “through the sanctifying work of the Spirit”.

The Oxford dictionary defines sanctified as “Set apart”, “declared holy”, “consecrated”, “Freed from sin” or “purified”.

As disciples of Christ, we are “set apart” for God’s purposes in this world.

At the moment we give our lives to Christ we are SAVED,  BUT…there’s an ongoing process of CHANGE and SANCTIFICATION that continues in our lives until God calls us to step into eternity.

The Holy Spirit works IN US to be His holy people.  In fact, His command, not His suggestion to us in 1 Peter 1:16 is “You MUST be holy because I AM holy”.

Oswald Chambers wrote, “Sanctification is not my idea of what I want God to do for me, sanctification is God’s idea of what He wants to do for me.”

The Holy Spirit Helps Us to Be Obedient to Our Heavenly Father.

HOLY SPIRIT works in us…

  • He helps us FOCUS on God’s plans and purposes for us.
  • He reminds us we are LOVED.
  • He reminds us we BELONG to God.
  • He reminds us we are CHOSEN by God.

The Holy Spirit can CHANGE & TRANSFORM our lives.

Here’s a QUESTION for you to ponder:

Do you allow Holy Spirit to change you?  I mean really change you, your thoughts, your actions, your words.

Do you ever make CHOICES based on what you want rather than what you know God expects of you?

Do you allow God SOME control or FULL control of your life?

The Holy Spirit makes us Holy.  His presence IN us is meant to CHANGE us; to reflect the character and holiness of God to those around us.

In Romans 12, the Apostle Paul encourages us to let our bodies be a living and holy SACRIFICE to God.  I heard someone once say, that “A SACRIFICE is something given that comes with a cost.”  So if it doesn’t “cost” you something, then it’s not a sacrifice.  Deductive reasoning on my part I guess.

The NLT Bible says it this way:  “But let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think [even when things seem insurmountable].  Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”  — (I added the brackets in the verse.)

The “FULLNESS” of God’s Spirit Operating, HELPING, GUIDING, TRANSFORMING, EMPOWERING You in ALL Areas–Each of us needs the Holy Spirit, to daily bring about CHANGE in our lives, to make us holy.

Try squeezing a full aluminium can of soda and then an empty can.  Which is the easier to CRUSH?  The empty can, of course.  Being FILLED with the Spirit of the living God works the same.  Our lives are easily CRUSHED when we are empty, yet when FILLED with the Holy Spirit, we are not “cramped or crushed”.

2 Corinthians 4:7-8 says it this way:

[7] But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 

[8] We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not destroyed.

The THIRD “C”:  God the Son CLEANSES you.

God the Father knew you and CHOSE you long ago and His Spirit has made you Holy.  As a result, you have OBEYED Him and made CLEAN by the BLOOD of Jesus Christ.

Peter tells us so because we have been SET APART by our OBEDIENCE, living our lives as children of God, DISCIPLES of Jesus.

You might be thinking, “Well, not exactly living my life in TOTAL obedience.”

Remember, “Transformation” isn’t a one-time event that happens when you are SAVED.  It’s an ongoing process enacted by the Holy Spirit.

Casual, convenient Christianity isn’t OBEDIENCE to God.  God wants us to be FAITHFUL…NOT FAITHLESS!  It’s about commitment.

So our “OBEDIENCE demands something from us–that we give it without regard to circumstances or results” (quote by Chuck Colson).

You have OBEYED Him and have been CLEANSED by the BLOOD of Jesus Christ.

In Old Testament times, people were sprinkled with some blood from an animal sacrifice to remind them of their vows to God and God’s great promises to them.  It was a COVENANT relationship, an agreement that was SEALED with BLOOD.

In the New Covenant, God has established with us, the PERFECT SACRIFICE, Jesus: We are CLEANSED, SET APART and PLEDGED to OBEDIENCE.

When we turn to Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, when we REPENT… turn completely in a different direction from our sinful life and ask God to forgive us, and because of our FAITH in Jesus, WE ARE SAVED!

Our SINS, past, present and future are FORGIVEN because Christ shed His blood for us on the Cross.  Jesus has washed away the PENALTY for our sins by His BLOOD.  We have been purchased, bought and paid for with a price and our lives are not our own, God has SAVED us and the Holy Spirit has taken up residence within us.

READ the words of the Apostle Paul in Romans 5:1-11

ENDURANCE Provided When Things Appear to be Insurmountable.

The verses here in Romans tells us to “REJOICE in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance” (Rom. 5:3).

The KEY to pick up here is to find JOY “IN” our trials, our problems, our sufferings and not “for” them!

This is where ENDURANCE comes from (Rom. 5:4).  It produces HOPE, the strength of character; and CHARACTER strengthens our confident HOPE OF SALVATION.  And this HOPE will not lead to disappointment for we know how dearly God loves us, and He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our innermost being with His love.

When we were utterly helpless, Christ Jesus came at just the right time and died for us sinners.  And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the CLEANSING BLOOD of Christ, He will certainly SAVE US from God’s condemnation.

God loved you then, loves you now and will continue to love you!

Despite your faults, despite your imperfections, and Lord knows, we all have plenty, God knows you and He loves you.

  • God CHOSE you.
  • God has CALLED you.
  • God has SELECTED you.
  • God has a PLAN for you.

God wants you to DISCOVER this plan, your destiny He has ordained for you.

The Holy Spirit lives IN you.

He has CHANGED you, is changing you while I write this POST, and will continue to work IN you and THROUGH you.

JESUS DIED for you and me.

JESUS SAVED you.

JESUS CLEANSED you.

The SACRIFICE Jesus made on the Cross was made on our account and set us free from the penalty of your SIN.

May God help us to become the people He has called us to be!

“Chosen, Changed, Cleansed” and committed to discovering our destiny!

_______________________________________________________________________________

CREDITS HONORED –

Photos:  Google Image Search – Settings: Advance search.

Dictionary:  Oxford Dictionary.

Sermon Notes:  Dean Courtier, Pastor at Estuary Elim Church Group.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV) and Amplified Bible (AMP), except where noted in the text.

 

PARADISE, HEAVEN OR SOMEPLACE ELSE?

LUKE 23:42-43 (Amplified Bible):

[42] Then he [the criminal] said to Jesus, Lord, remember me when You come in Your kingly glory!

[43] And He [JESUS] answered him, Truly I tell you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.

maxresdefault

I first began THE WORD DETECTIVE study on Paradise, Heaven, Or Someplace Else, actually, by reading and enjoying reading various EPITAPHS (Inscriptions of Tombstones).

I know you might be thinking, “You actually got inspiration from reading notices of DEATH?”  Well, no, I receive inspiration from reading daily in Scripture, prompted by Holy Spirit to write on a theme, topic, subject from God’s Word.

That said, I thought I would SHARE one Epitaph I enjoyed reading [see Footnote [i] ]:

“Here lies the body of old man Peas,

Buried beneath the flowers & trees.

But Peas ain’t here, just the pod,

Peas shelled out & went to God.”

PARADISE REGAINED –

In reading the two previous verses in Luke one morning, some questions came to my mind:

Are heaven and paradise the same thing?  Did the criminal on the cross next to Jesus go to heaven or paradise?

JESUS told the church at Ephesus,

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the Paradise of God (Revelation 2:7~ NAS).

So apparently, PARADISE is where God is at, because it is called the “Paradise of God.” 

JESUS told the robber, He would be with him in Paradise that very day.  The words in Luke 23:43, is taken as a great source of COMFORT & HOPE by most Christian believers. Many say, this is clear proof that we go to HEAVEN when we die.

Church Doctrine of Heaven Exposed

One of the most misunderstood doctrines within the Bible is the Doctrine of Heaven. There are a lot of false myths about Heaven and it’s easy to get caught up in them if we’re not careful.

The Bible tells us that we are going to spend an eternity there, so it made sense to me to investigate the place where we are going to LIVE FOREVER & FOREVER.

So what is up with HEAVEN & PARADISE…are they the same?

The word “Paradise” is a transliteration of the Greek word, “paradeisos”.  It is a word used only three times in the New Testament.  Also, the context of each of the three uses is different from the others, by three different authors.

As far as the original meaning of the word PARADISE:

  • (Persian) A grand park or hunting preserve, enclosed, protected, well cared for, but sealed off or contained.
  • A pleasure garden.
  • A grove or park.
  • (“Later” [?] Jews) The part of Hades set aside of the souls of the righteous until the resurrection [Also known as the Bosom of Abraham].
  • Heaven (possibly including multiple levels of “heaven” – sky or atmosphere, outer space/universe, God’s abode).

In 2 Corinthians 12:4, it appears to parallel or point to, the term “third heaven” in verse 2.

Since God is apparently immediately present there, this seems to be a reference to what is considered “HEAVEN”.

However, since the passage refers to Paul’s vision, it is difficult to relate directly to JESUS’ statement made in Luke 23:43.

In Revelation 2:7, this is given as the LOCATION of the “tree of life” – again, what we typically believe as an attribute of “HEAVEN”.

In this case, the word is modified with a prepositional phrase– “of God” — to set apart it from any other paradises.

Now in Luke 23:42-43, the meaning is somewhat more cloudy at first reading.  First of all, we have to understand JESUS’ destination after death on the Cross–did JESUS descend into Hell/Hades, and if so, how long did He remain there?  In other words, does “PARADISE” refer to an understanding of Hades as a “holding area” for the dead?  Or, would was He speaking in a sense outside of space and time, actually referring to HEAVEN?

Now THE STUDY gets really down to the ‘nitty gritty’ !

Teaching the Bible to others for over 30 years, in addition to my own study notes, I have utilized many available sources in helping me understand the application of God’s Word.

This study was no different [See Footnotes & Credits]. 

Here is one example pertaining to the bible verse in Luke 23:43 [The NET Bible Notes]

Note, #4 – sn.  In the NT, paradise is mentioned three times. Here it refers to the abode of the righteous dead.

In Rev. 2:7, the restoration of Edenic paradise predicted in Isaiah 51:3, Ezek. 36:35.

Sheol/Hades/Paradise:  IN THE BEGINNING…

Because of the CURSE of sin, all mankind faces the reality of physical death–100% Guaranteed (Gen. 2:17; Rom. 5:12).

NONE can evade it by their own power, nor can any man or woman escape SHEOL/HADES/DEATH on their own.

While PARADISE is NOT now a part of Sheol/Hades, I wanted to mention here, that it was located in Sheol/Hades at one time.

hades-lk-16-simple

Before the death, burial, AND resurrection of Jesus Christ, everybody who died went to Sheol/Hades, which at the time was divided into TWO compartments.  One was a place of TORMENT (“Tartarus”) and the other place of BLESSING, referred to as Abraham’s Bosom–Paradise (Luke 16:22-25).

We know that since the CROSS, the souls of those who die “in Christ” do not go to Sheol/Hades (See 1 Cor. 15:19, 20, 51-57).

After the RESURRECTION and the ASCENSION of JESUS, PARADISE was moved to HEAVEN.  The area for the RIGHTEOUS (Paradise) was emptied out.

The BELIEVER goes directly to HEAVEN–

From the New Testament teaching, we can find that the new location of PARADISE is in heaven.

Tree of Life Location –

In the first PARADISE, The Garden of Eden, the Tree of Life was located in the “center of the garden (Gen. 2:8, 9).  

After Adam and Eve’s SIN, disobedience to God’s Word, God “drove out the man; and He placed at the east of the Garden of Eden the cherubim and flaming sword which turned every way, to keep and guard the way to the tree of life” (Genesis 3:24).

I can imagine that the Great Flood, no doubt, geographically speaking, the GARDEN PARADISE was destroyed…but NOT lost!

PARADISE REGAINED…

Revelation 22:1-3 Amplified Bible:

1353073853“THEN HE showed me the river whose waters give life, sparkling like crystal, flowing out from the throne of the Lamb.  

Through the middle of the broadway of the city; also, on either side of the river was the TREE OF LIFE…

There shall no longer exist there anything that is accursed…”

In PARADISE REGAINED, the Tree of Life is “on either side of the river” where “the leaves are used for the healing and the restoration of the nations.”

JESUS Words Spoken On The CROSS…

In the gospel of Matthew, we find Jesus responding to the religious leaders of His day. And when asked if He would give them a miracle or sign, that He was the Promised One, Jesus said,  “No sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet JONAH” (Matt. 12:39 b.).

The Given CLUE (verse 40): 

“For even as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”

He was saying that He would spend the time between His DEATH & RESURRECTION in Sheol/Hades (“in the heart of the earth”).  

We know that JESUS went into the depths, the heart, the center of the earth (Ephesians 4:9) for three days and nights while His body lay in the grave (Matt. 12:40).

The Lord Jesus told the repentant criminal that He would join him in PARADISE that same day.  This tells us the PARADISE was located in Sheol/Hades at that time.  I believe this evidence given, in God’s Word, was the same place referred to as Abraham’s Bosom in Luke 16.

However, AFTER Jesus rose from the grave, He ascended to the Father, taking the saints who were in Abraham’s Bosom to HEAVEN with Him.

He took “captivity captive”–including the thief on the cross–with Him.

Ephesians 4:8-10:

“Therefore it is said,  When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive [He led a train of vanquished foes]  and He bestowed gifts on men.

[But He ascended?]  Now what can this, He ascended mean but that He had previously descended from [the heights of] heaven into [the depths], the lower parts of the earth?

He Who descended is the [very] same as He Who also has ascended high above all heavens, that He [His presence] might fill all things (the whole universe, from the lowest to the highest).”

That PARADISE was moved to HEAVEN (2 Corinthians 12:3-4) –

JESUS’ WORK COMPLETED…

With Jesus’ work now completed…FINISHED, the believers who had previously been confined in Sheol/Hades, are now taken to HEAVEN to wait in God’s presence until the time of their resurrected bodies to enter His Kingdom on Earth.

Sheol/Hades: The Present Location of the Unrighteous Dead –

HADES refers to a place of temporary torment; referred to as the immediate, or present HELL.

What I mean by this is, that at the time of DEATH, the souls of the LOST–the unbelievers–the unrighteous– that don’t confess Jesus is the Son of the living God–God incarnate, go directly to HADES to suffer in torment until the Great White Throne Judgement; where they will be resurrected and cast into the Lake of Fire–“This is the second death” (Revelation 20:13,14; 21:8).  

The souls of ALL the lost who have already died and presently there, and… those who die now in their sins, immediately go there to join them.

The Simplicity of the Three Crosses –

One criminal’s REPENTANCE and acceptance of JESUS as his Savior went to PARADISE that day and then to HEAVEN.

The other criminal’s soul was delivered Sheol/Hades–the place of torment.

Three Crosses: Rejection, Repentance, Redemption:

The REPENTANT CRIMINAL didn’t have a degree in Theology.

He didn’t have the opportunity at this place in time to clean up his life (he couldn’t if he tried!).

He didn’t have time to “work his way to Heaven/Paradise (and he couldn’t if he did have the opportunity).

He didn’t have to offer a long and detailed “prayer of Salvation”.  There wasn’t a counselor at the foot of his cross telling him to “repeat after me.”

He simply TRUSTED in JESUS and CRIED out loud for Him to SAVE HIM!!  His life was changed because of what JESUS was doing on the Cross right next to him!

Both criminals made choices that day on Mt. Calvary:

  • REJECTION/HADES/JUDGEMENT.
  • REPENTANCE/REDEMPTION/PARADISE (Heaven). 

Which CHOICE have you made?  You don’t have to be nailed to a cross when making a decision for Christ Jesus. You can make it right where you are.  Remember, your choice is for an ETERNITY.

stock-photo-cross-with-a-man-kneel-in-prayer-on-a-beach-at-sunset-138903485

 


 

Footnotes & Credits:

Footnote [i] :  EPITAPH from Vernon Caruthers Sermons About Heaven.

Commentary Credits:

Bible Hermeneutics Stack Exchange (PARADISE); Hell, Sheol, Hades, Paradise and the Grave – Berean Bible Society; What did Jesus mean by Paradise?  www.bible-uk.com

Photo Credits:

Google Image Search; Photo Pin.

 

A Biblical Understanding Of ‘TRUE’ REPENTANCE

Does God Want To Hear You’re Sorry?

“JUST AT that time there [arrived] some people who informed JESUS about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices.  [2] And He replied by saying to them,  Do you think that these Galileans were greater sinners than all the other Galileans because they have suffered in this way?  [3] I tell you, No; but unless you REPENT (change your mind for the better and heartily amend your ways, with abhorrence of your past sins), you will all likewise perish and be lost eternally.  [4] Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam felled and killed them–do you think that they were more guilty offenders (debtors) than all the others who dwelt in Jerusalem?  [5] I tell you, No; but unless you REPENT, you will all likewise perish and be lost eternally”  (Luke 13:1-5 AMP).

JESUS’ PROMISE:

When READING the above verses in Luke, I want you to notice ‘The Promise’: “…but unless you REPENT, you will ALL likewise perish and be lost eternally.”  That’s a pretty strong statement in my opinion and saying “I’m so sorry” is a beginning but that  isn’t what Jesus wants to hear.  JESUS is saying here, ‘You MUST REPENT in order to be saved, and if you don’t…, you won’t be saved.’  When JESUS makes a PROMISE like that, it’s important that we understand what JESUS means to REPENT.

AN OLD TESTAMENT LOOK–Judges Chapter 10:

Yes, I’m still ‘jogging through Judges’ and happen to stop at a water stop and was refreshed along the roadside in Chapter 10.  We find in the beginning verses that God had just punished the man that had killed Gideon’s sons and also the people who supported him.  You can also see, you can’t mess with God’s people and get away with it!

There were 2 kings that ruled in Israel at the time.  The Bible doesn’t tell us much about them.  Evidently, they weren’t THAT great or we would have probably heard more; they weren’t exactly terrible or God probably would have told us about that as well.

After those 2 kings died, the Israelites again turned their backs on God.  That brings me to the question, Have you or do you know of someone who hasn’t been in church or your bible study in ages?  Who perhaps has gone so far away from the TRUTH, they have turned their backs on anything representative of God?  I have and it is someone very close to me. Of course, that is my opinion and not theirs.

Now, not only did the Israelites turn their backs on God, they plunged whole-heartedly into following other gods.  VERSE 6 list 7 different gods served:

“And the Israelites again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord”

1.  They served the Baals,

2.  The Ashtaroth [female deities],

3.  The gods of Syria,

4.  The gods of Sidon,

5.  The gods of Moab,

6.  The gods of the Ammonites,

7.  The gods of the Philistines.

The people of God ran to the world, then rolled in the muck!  Isn’t it amazing how children seem attracted to the dirt and mud, no matter how many times we tell them not too?

Again, God got sick of it, and He sent two nations to punish them; the Philistines attacked from the west, the Ammonites from the east.  Things haven’t changed much today in Israel, just pick up the latest world news in the media.

Now notice the people’s RESPONSE to their current circumstances:  WHEN ALL WE DO IS REGRET- (verse 10):

“An the Israelites cried to the Lord, saying, We have sinned against You, because we have forsaken our God and have served Baals.”

REGRET touches our EMOTIONS but it may go deeper than that.  REGRET is REMORSE over the consequences of an act but that’s NOT–REPENTANCE.  If a person is convicted of a crime, you might hear the judge say, “Is there something you would like to say to the family you committed the crime against?”  You might hear him reply, “I’m sorry and I regret what I did!”  “Sorry” he got caught or he has he TRULY REPENTED; a changed direction in his life.

In Matthew 27:3, it says Judas REGRETTED what he had done, then went out and hung himself.  And in the book of Exodus, each time God sent a plague on Egypt, Pharaoh REGRETTED what was happening at the time but as soon as the plague was over he changed his mind once again.

GOD’S RESPONSE TO REGRET OR “I AM SORRY LORD” – (verses 13-14):

“I will deliver you no more.”  God isn’t some fairy god mother to be called just when we have a problem going on in our lives.  GOD IS GOD!  He will either be God of ALL, or He will NOT be your God at all!

When We Truly REPENT –

V15- CONFESSION: we have sinned.

V15- SUBMISSION: do to us whatever seems right to You.

V16- DESTRUCTION: got rid of their gods.

V16- CONSTRUCTION: and served the Lord.  They lived constructive lives; no longer just ‘lip service’; they were serving and obeying God.

James 1:21-22 says, “So get rid of ALL uncleanness and the rampant outgrowth of wickedness, and in a humble (gentle, modest) spirit receive and welcome the Word which implanted and rooted [in your hearts] contains the power to save your souls.  [22] BUT…be DOERS of the Word [obey the message], and not merely listeners to it, betraying yourselves [into deception by reasoning contrary to the Truth.”  (AMPLIFIED version)

Matthew 3:1-2 says REPENT!

“IN THOSE days there appeared John the Baptist, preaching in the Wilderness (Desert) of Judea.  And saying, REPENT (think differently; change your mind, regretting your sins and changing your conduct), for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

:7 – Pharisees, brood of vipers.

:8 – Bring forth FRUIT.

WHAT WAS GOD’S RESPONSE TO ‘TRUE’ REPENTANCE?–

“So they put away the foreign gods from among them and SERVED the LORD, and His HEART became impatient over the misery of Israel”  (Judges 10:16).

That is RELATIONSHIP–God gives, you respond.  You give, and God responds.

NEW TESTAMENT REPENTANCE IN THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW:

An immediate question arises and is obvious when you read verse 8 of Matthew 3:

“Bring forth FRUIT that is consistent with REPENTANCE [let your lives PROVE your change of heart].”

“What are the FRUITS OF REPENTANCE?”

Fortunately for us, this passage in Scripture points out FOUR of the FRUITS OF REPENTANCE.

REPENTANCE, of course, is one essential starting point in the christian journey.  We begin our walk with God admitting that we need Jesus’ sacrifice in expressing our sorrow for the sin in our lives.  And if we’ve had a GENUINE MOMENT of REPENTANCE, we should see the FRUITS of REPENTANCE displayed.

As I closely looked at the FRUITS, I was reminded of the harsh words of John the Baptist,  “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee and escape from the wrath and indignation [of God against disobedience] that is coming?”  (Matt. 3:7 AMP).

JESUS is talking to the Pharisees and Sadducees, the very religious, but also distant from God without true relationship.  Many of us can easily claim to be ‘very religious’.  But if we are not bearing the FRUITS of REPENTANCE, we too are distant from God.

LOOKING AT 4 FRUITS OF REPENTANCE IN THE LIGHT:

VERSE 9.  And do not presume to say to yourselves,  We have Abraham for our forefather; for I tell you, God is able to raise up descendants for Abraham from these stones!.”

Here we are reminded NOT TO RELY on our family history.  The religious leaders of the time were quick to point out their Jewish family history as proof of their closeness to God.

Today we see a similar response when you ask the question, “Are you a Christian?”  And they respond: “Oh, my family are ALL Methodists” or “Sure, my parents were Baptists!”  Our parents or our family cannot believe for us.  Each one of us must CHOOSE to believe ourselves.  This lead me to the FIRST FRUIT OF REPENTANCE:

1.  HUMILITY.

When we rely on our family history like the Pharisees and Sadducees, we act the ability to claim relationship with God without the need to personally come to a moment of REPENTANCE.  It creates a feeling of PRIDE rather than the HUMILITY that should be characterized in our relationship with Christ.

“My family has been coming to this church since 1964!”

“My father helped to build that education wing!”

“My mother lead the women’s prayer group for probably 20 years!”

Is your relationship with God characterized by HUMILITY, or are you lacking the FRUIT OF REPENTANCE?

VERSE 10.

“And already the ax is lying at the root of the trees.”

Often in our lives we feel the sins we commit are individually small enough that we excuse it; we haven’t committed an axe-murder or gone on a shooting spree.  After all, our sins are nothing major–just slip-ups aren’t they?

But this verse points us to a SECOND FRUIT OF REPENTANCE:  URGENCY.

2.  URGENCY.

When we come to a point of REPENTANCE, we realize our sins are NOT EXCUSABLE.  There isn’t such a thing as a “little sin.”  If that is what you are sometimes thinking, it’s a LIE, that the great LIAR, the devil is giving to you.

WITH REPENTANCE COMES AWARENESS:

The AWARENESS of the seriousness of our sins; the DESIRE that emerges from from our souls to get rid of this horrible problem right now!

THE FRUIT should continue to show up!  Realizing the SERIOUSNESS of sin in our lives–experience the JOY and RELIEF of God’s FORGIVENESS–recognizing the COST of our forgiveness of Jesus’ death on the cross–understanding our sin cost Jesus’ life.

We walk the journey of FAITH with constant desire to become more like Yeshua (JESUS); to rid ourselves of the remaining sin in our lives.  NOT SOMEDAY, but as soon as possible–because we recognize the URGENCY of the matter. That is AWARENESS!

VERSE 10b.

“…every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown in the fire.”

I have found in over 40 yrs of being a Christian, God is not all about “religion” but about “relationship”.  What am I getting at?  That means that every Christian should CLAIM of having a personal encounter (your testimony of conversion) with the most powerful being in the universe.  You would think, by CLAIMING this experience, they would walk away different people.  But sadly, folks that CLAIM to know Christ personally live unaltered lives.

We are reminded in the last part of VERSE 10, the THIRD FRUIT OF REPENTANCE:

3.  CHANGE.

The CHURCH in America has presumed that you can be a “Christian” with absolutely NO EVIDENCE in your life.  Henry Blackaby, author of Experiencing God noted, “there’s just as many abortions inside the churches today as outside the churches.

The Bible knows nothing of a FAITH that doesn’t lead to a CHANGED LIFE.  God’s Word was very straightforward in speaking to this issue:

“If a person [really] loves Me, he will keep My word [obey my teaching]; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.  Anyone who does not [really] love Me does not observe and obey My teaching.  And the teaching which you hear and heed is not Mine, but [comes] from the Father Who sent Me”  (John 14:23-24 AMP).

“What is the use (profit) my brethren, for anyone to profess to have FAITH if he has no [good] works [to show for it]?  Can [such] FAITH save [his soul]?”  “For as the human body apart from the spirit is lifeless, so FAITH apart from [its] works of obedience is also dead”  (James 2:14, 26 AMP).

An ESSENTIAL PART of TRUE REPENTANCE leads to a changed life.

VERSE 11.  “I indeed baptize (with) water because of REPENTANCE.  But He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy or fit to take off or carry; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.”

There is a lot in this verse pointed out by John’s statement; that the One coming after him is “mightier than I.”  The act of REPENTANCE includes ADMITTING that you messed up and you tried to run things on your own and you failed!

THE FINAL FRUIT OF REPENTANCE IS “DEPENDANCE”:

Recognizing in our REPENTANCE that we’ve fallen short; we admit our shortcomings and PURSUE a changed life.  But if we’ve FAILED in the past, we need more strength than we possess to finish the race.

THE GOOD NEWS for those of us in that position is, we serve a mighty SAVIOR who provides ALL the resources we need for VICTORY in our journey.

AND THE KEY?  We must recognize our need to DEPEND on Him and TRUST in His strength and not ours.  Too many of us are trying to EXPERIENCE “Victory in Jesus” via our own power, smarts and insight.  WE WILL FAIL!

CONCLUDING THE BIBLICAL UNDERSTANDING WITH A QUESTION:

Ask yourself a simple question today:  can you see the FRUITS OF REPENTANCE in your life day-by-day, or are you standing with the Pharisees and Sadducees?