Evangelical Repentance

Evangelical Repentance
Covenant Words
Evangelical Repentance

Jun 23 2024 | 00:39:42

Episode June 23, 2024 00:39:42

Show Notes

2 Corinthians 7:8-12


Pastor David Schexnayder

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Episode Transcript

[00:00:07] Please pray with me. [00:00:10] Heavenly Father, now as we come to your holy, inspired, inerrant, infallible word. [00:00:16] Father, we desire your work in our hearts to enable us to see and to hear this morning. Father, we ask, according to your abundant mercy and your powerful grace, please drive far from our hearts and minds all of the doubts, difficulties, fears and anxieties that this world heaps on our weary souls. Father, we know that there are problems for tomorrow, but we ask today by your spirit that tomorrow's problems would be for tomorrow. That today you would enable us to be present here in body and in soul and in mind and in heart and in thought. Father, enable us to be wholly present, to let your word move powerfully in our hearts, to change the course of our lives and our very passions. Father, we pray that you would illuminate us in our inner being, that we might come to see you and know you more than we did yesterday, and that you might strengthen us to follow you tomorrow more than we did today. Do these things we ask in the name of our savior, Jesus the Christ. Amen. [00:01:19] Now, brothers and sisters, please turn with me and your copy of God's word to two Corinthians for the sermon passage today. Second Corinthians, chapter seven. [00:01:30] Second Corinthians, chapter seven, verses eight through twelve. [00:01:36] We'll go ahead and add verse 13. Who said Presbyterians aren't spontaneous? So two Corinthians, chapter seven, verses eight through 13. Please give your attention to the word of God. [00:01:50] For even if I made you grieve with my letter, I do not regret it, though I did regret it, for I see that the letter grieved you, but only for a while. [00:02:00] As it is, I rejoice not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting, for you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. [00:02:14] For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. [00:02:24] For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves. What indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment. At every point you have proved yourselves innocent in the matter. [00:02:42] So although I wrote to you, it was not for the sake of the one who did the wrong, nor for the sake of the one who suffered the wrong, but in order that your earnestness for us might be revealed to you in the sight of God. Therefore we are comforted. The grass withers and the flower fades, but the word of our lord will stand forever. Please be seated. [00:03:12] It was a little more than two years ago now that we started to plant Providence. OPC up in Scottsdale, been coming and filling the pulpit at covenant longer than our church has actually existed, which is a joy. And as we were gathering together, one of the jobs that we had was to pick a name, which, if you've ever church planted before, is a curious job. Who gets to pick the name? How do you pick the name of a church that you hope will last for generations, hundreds of years? And so, as we prayed and considered, we came to the name Providence. It's a common name in the OPC, but we don't necessarily like new ideas, new inventions. [00:03:47] We came to the idea of Providence because we felt it reflected what God had done for us, that God had opened door after door. He had provided blessing after blessing, out of his grace, out of his goodness. He had provided a way forward for us to plant a church in this new city. God's providence had led us. We always wanted God's providence to lead us as a body. So we named ourselves Providence OBC. We thought that would represent ourselves well to other christians, to non christians, considering Jesus Christ, that we believed in and followed the providence of gone. So it was to my horror that about four or five months ago, at a church conference we hosted, I heard everyone calling our church popsy, which sounds terrible in my ears, no offense. If you've called us that, it sounds like a bad children's drink, right? That's full of high fructose corn syrup, red number five popsi at your local circle k. [00:04:41] That was not what I was hoping we'd be known by. But you can't really control these things, can you? [00:04:47] You endeavor to be known a certain way. You can tell everyone, my name is David. It's not Dave, it's not Davey, it's David. But at the end of the day, how you're known by people around you is oftentimes out of your control. [00:05:00] But it's important for a church to consider, how are we known? What's our reputation in the city? What's our reputation among our congregants? What's our reputation around people around us? It's an important question, and certainly I think the church in Corinth has a certain reputation among christians, doesn't it? The church in Corinth receives not one, but two, what we call angry letters from the apostle Paul, letters full of concern and rebuke. Now the church in Galatia receives some rebuke. The church in Thessalonia, in Thessalonica excuse me, gets a pretty clear warning about some things that are about to happen. But the church in Corinth has this reputation among old time, doesn't it, as a church that was full of sin, full of foolishness, that just couldn't get its actual together. [00:05:42] Well, I wonder if that's a deserved reputation. In some ways it is. But let's unpack what Paul is saying here in his second letter to the corinthian church. And I think in examining his call to repentance, we're going to find a reputation that should belong not only to the church in Corinth, but a reputation that should belong to every faithful church in Jesus Christ. That is a reputation for evangelical repentance. So let's look at what Paul is saying. Let's look at what the corinthian church is being called to this morning. We have three points to consider when we're asking what is evangelical repentance? What should our reputation be? The first part of evangelical repentance is a godly rebuke. That's our first point this morning. The second part is godly grief. And then our third point is godly restoration, godly rebuke, godly grief, godly restoration. And I hope that over the course of the sermon in these things, we will find an evangelical repentance that will define us, that will give us a reputation. [00:06:45] So a godly rebuke starts in verse eight and nine, when Paul mentions that he wrote a letter of rebuke to the corinthian church. It's not necessarily clear, but most scholars, theologians agree that Paul is referencing the letter of one corinthians, which, if you've read it, if you're familiar with it, can very well be defined as a letter of rebuke. That's why people call it the angry letter in church history. But what is the content of this godly rebuke that the apostle Paul gave to the believers in Corinth? The first thing that's interesting is that Paul says in this godly rebuke, he was not bothered by their sorrow. He was not upset that his rebuke caused them to be sad. Now, that's an interesting question, right? Most of the times when we make someone else sad, we're immediately provoked to some kind of sympathy or concern. We want to remove the sadness. This is even our response when we see people sad and we don't even know them. And generally that's a good thing. It's called sympathy. It's the way God made us. If we see someone crying in the library or at a school, at our workplace. Our first impulse is to go to them, to ask them what's wrong, and what do we tell them? Hear, hear. There, there. Don't be sad. But that's not what Paul's doing at all, is it? Paul's not saying, here, here, there, don't be sad. Paul's saying, I know I made you sad, and I'm not bothered by that fact. [00:08:07] It's an interesting part of a rebuke, but we have to connect that with the next thing Paul says. [00:08:14] Paul says he didn't delight in their sorrow either. The point of the rebuke was not to make them sad. So Paul is neither bothered by their sorrow, nor is he delighting in their sorrow. [00:08:26] And now we've reached an interesting point. [00:08:29] Just as many people have an impulse to comfort those in sorrow, we certainly know that there are many people who seem to delight in causing sorrow. Right? Our culture has many words for these bullies, the rude, the crude. [00:08:44] One of my professors in seminary, Kevin Young, said this, but he said he's got it from somewhere else. He doesn't remember where. But many people who talk about being brutally honest simply delight in being brutal, don't they? Honesty is just an excuse for them to express their brutality. And so now we find ourselves between what we might say, a rock and a hard place. Paul is neither bothered by their sorrow. He's not seeking to immediately comfort it or dispel it, but nor is he delighting in it, nor is he trying to make them sad, or is he happy that tears are following from their faces. [00:09:14] Why is this? [00:09:16] Well, I think a quick by word, a quick definition of godly rebuke is this. Is that a godly rebuke is concerned with sin over status? I'll say that again. A godly rebuke is concerned with sin over status. [00:09:31] In effect, their sorrow is secondary to Paul, because his ultimate concern is that they address the sin that is taking over their life and the life of their congregation. Paul says that the point of his letter was always for their growth. The point of his letter was for them always to take sin seriously. Now we're going to see in a minute that christians taking sin seriously necessitates grief, that there is a sorrow attached to repentance. But for Paul, that was always secondary. Primary was his concern for sin. [00:10:05] And I think that's an important word for us to hear this morning, that a godly rebuke is concerned more with sin than the status either in the person we're rebuking, or the status that it creates in them. Now, sorrow is what Paul saw in the corinthian church. But let's be clear. A rebuke of sin can create many emotions in us and humans, can't it? Some of us don't respond to rebukes of sin with sorrow. Some of us respond to rebukes with anger. [00:10:32] With frustration. The skin turns to red. Our hair stands on end, our hands start to shake. We're angry when we're rebuked with sin. Maybe it's anger over the loss of pride. Maybe it's anger at our foolishness. But sometimes it's anger. Sometimes it's anxiety, right? Sometimes it's fear. But Paul's point is that all of these emotions are secondary. And that's a really important thing, because as human beings, we tend to let emotions control us, don't we? In fact, we tend to define whether or not something is good or bad by our emotional response to it. [00:11:08] There was just a movie that came out a couple weeks ago. I haven't seen it. I have little kids, so I'm sure I will see it seven, 8910, twelve times in the coming years of my life. But it's a second movie by Disney where emotions are controlling the life of a person. That's the theme of inside out. But Paul says that can't be the way. Our emotions, our emotional status, does not control whether or not we get a rebuke, nor should it control our response to the rebuke. The most important thing is the sin. That's why Paul can say that they don't suffer a loss when we are crying, when we're emotional, when we're angry, when we're anxious. Most of us would consider that a place of loss. [00:11:49] Here's how I can say that confidently. When you gain, you are not sad or anxious or angry. If one of you came home yesterday to find a winning lottery ticket taped to your door, your response would probably not be fear or anxiety or sorrow. I imagine it would be joy and dancing and shouts of acclamation. But Paul says it's not a loss. Because, again, your emotional status is secondary to the sin that Paul wants to kill in the hearts of christians, that we all want to kill in our hearts. [00:12:19] As an illustration of this, I got my wife's permission. If you were just at family camp with us, many of you were. You know that I don't usually use family illustrations, although being at family camp, you wouldn't believe that's true. My wife and actually lived in Tucson for a long time. We met at the University of Arizona down the street. That means our kids this weekend were subject to all of the parental. That's where we met. That's where we get lunch. And of course the kids are groaning in the backseat. But driving down here, we pointed out to them the houses that we both lived in on prince when we were dating. When we were towards the end of our college, both of us lived in different houses. To be clear on princess. And when you're dating another Christian, you certainly want to be above reproach. But let's be honest, you also kind of want to hide maybe some of the parts of your life right? You want to show them that you're the kind of person deserving of marriage. And so you don't want them to see how messy your kitchen is. You don't want them to see yourself at rest. You want to present a good face. And so I think sometimes the point of Christian dating is getting to know each other as we truly are so that we can make a qualified decision when it comes to marriage. The moment where that happened for my wife and I was one Saturday over the summer. It wasn't during school year, but I got a call from my wife early in the morning. She's a very responsible person. She wakes up at five in the morning. College me was not that kind of person. I won't tell you the ungodly hour I tended to wake up at, but I get this phone call from my wife and she invites me over to her house and I think we're going to get maybe watch a movie, we're going to have a date. But I can tell her voice is very frantic and she's screaming. And then I realized the reason that I am invited over is because a giant sewer roach has crawled out of her bathroom and crawled into her bed. [00:14:00] So amidst many screams, I realize what the problem is. I run over with, I think I brought a shovel, not an exterminator. And my wife hurries. Then my girlfriend hurries me into the house. Come, come, come. And it's a big roach. To be fair to my wife, it's huge. But she is screaming beside herself. Finally, I vanquish her dragon. I proved myself prince Charming. [00:14:21] And then I realized that's the first time I saw my wife without makeup. My girlfriend at the time, not proper, not perfect. Because in that moment there was something more pressing to her than appearing perfect in front of me. It was the terrifying cockroach invading her personal space. [00:14:39] She was willing to show me who she really was. She was willing to throw off all appearances because they were something really important to her in that moment. And Paul wants us to see sin that way. He wants us to see it as so important, let's say more important than a cockroach, more terrifying than whatever haunts our fears. Paul wants us to be so important that we're willing to cast aside appearances, that we're willing to cast aside our emotional status and care about killing sin above everything else. And so we see that a godly rebuke is sin over status. [00:15:10] But then Paul moves in to talk about the sorrow and the godly grief that always comes with, always comes with true repentance. [00:15:20] And so Paul is going to contrast in our second born here, godly grief and worldly grief. And we're going to examine this by looking at both the root of grief and the fruit. That's probably a christian phrase you've heard before, the root and then the fruit. Well, what's the root of a godly grief? Paul says it's this, that a godly grief looks upward towards salvation. A godly grief leads to salvation. And that means it's looking upwards to God. And specifically for us New Testament believers, we know the name under which salvation comes. We know the savior to who we turn to, forgive us our sins, cleanse us from our iniquity. It is the only name under which men can be saved. It is the only name under which repentance and forgiveness is possible. That is the Lord Jesus Christ. And so the root of godly grief is looking upward to Christ Jesus. And the proof of this is that Paul says a godly grief has no regret. [00:16:16] But if you look Across The PAuLIne COrpus, across all of his letters, this is what he says to his friend, his mentee, TiMothy. He says that being in Christ produces neither fear nor condemnation, that there's no regret in belonging to Jesus Christ. And so the root of godly grief is looking upwards to Christ, where there's no fear, there's no condemnation, there's no regret. That's a godly grief. Well, a worldly grief is contrasted. The root of it is looking downwards towards earth, toward earthly things. But even more so, where does worldly grief lead you? And it says, down to death, down to Sheol. [00:16:57] Godly grief looks upward towards God and Christ. It has no regret. Worldly grief looks down to the things of man. It leads you down death and towards man. Another way of saying this is that godly grief is vertical. It's concerned with the things of God, looking up to Christ as he is sitting at the right hand of his father, living to intercede for you, to lead you to repentance. That's why he's there now. Worldly grief concerns ourselves with the horizontal. What will people around me think about my sin? Often, worldly grief only comes when you are caught. And that's perhaps the best picture of worldly grief or worldly repentance. Are we only sad? Are we only repentant when we've been caught in our sin and there are now worldly consequences? And John Owens says this, you can tell worldly grief that the minute worldly consequences go away. So does the grief. So does the sorrow. One goes up to God. One goes out sideways to mankind. Well, what's the fruit of godly grief versus worldly grief? Paul gives several evidences that the corinthian church has a godly grief that looks up to Christ and then seeks to change because their sorrow is leading them towards Jesus. [00:18:07] There are six here. He says, first, that you get a sincere sense of cleansing from sin, that a corinthian church is seeking to clear themselves. Now, let's be clear. They're not trying to establish that they were never guilty. That's the opposite of repentance, isn't it? When faced with sin, saying, I never did that, that's not me. That was my evil twin. That's not godly grief. No, it's not saying that you were innocent in the first place. Paul means here that they are clearing themselves, cleansing themselves of sin sincerely. That's one of the fruits. The next fruit, Paul says, is indignation, is anger. [00:18:41] The fruit of godly grief is anger against your sin. You ought to hate it the way God hates it. You hate it because you see how it's affecting people in your life. You hate it, you see, because how it's rotting away at your soul. You hate your sin because you see how it separating you from Christ, who loves you. The third fruit is sincere fear when it comes to sin, certainly fear of the sin of where it might take you, of its consequences in your life. To be clear, we can still be concerned with the consequences of our sin in a godly grief. It's just that the consequences are ultimate. That's why the fear here is most likely, according to Calvin, the fear of God. A godly grief leads us to a fear of God, not fear of judgment, not fear of the hatred or indignation of God, but fear of God as a loving father in the way that any loving father sincerely, deeply corrects his children who he loves. We have fear of God. And that's important in grief and growing, because the book of proverbs reminds us that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. And it actually goes on to say in verse 16 that it is only the fear of God that leads men away from evil. And so godly grief must produce fear of God. The fourth here is a sincere longing. Now, theologians say there's two things maybe that they're longing for here. One is a longing for holiness, to be clear of sin. But Calvin says, I think he's right. Where will we be ultimately clear of sin? And that's a longing for heaven, a longing to be totally redeemed, to be delivered from what Paul calls a body of death. And so godly grief makes us think heavenward towards Christ, towards a future where we will be free from sin. [00:20:19] The next fruit of a godly grief is a sincere zeal. [00:20:23] A sincere zeal. [00:20:26] Now, I think I've been here before. I've shared my testimony that when I came to the University of Arizona as an undergraduate citizen, I didn't come as a Christian. I came raised as an atheist at Christmas and Easter. Catholic a little bit, but certainly not knowing God, God in his kindness, found me, pursued me through friends going to Bible study, I found Jesus at the University of Arizona, the greatest day of my life. And what flowed from that conversion is zeal. That's why there's a saying, no zeal like a convert. And part of that zeal that I felt as a new believer was this kind of repentance. I understood what it meant to be delivered from death, from hell, from lifelessness to Christ. But Paul is saying here that, that zeal isn't only for new christians, that that zeal can be the gift of every Christian. If we would but repent like a new believer, if we would grab onto the beauty of Christ and the deadliness of our sin, that's going to produce that zeal, that electricity in our faith. But it's going to come through repentance, and that's not the way we want it, right? We want the zeal to come through when everyone praises what a good Sunday school teacher I am or when everyone notices how many chairs I'm picking up at the church potluck. But the Bible says that zeal will come when you repent. The last fruit here of godly grief is fascinating. It's punishment. [00:21:44] But we know that can't be punishment from God. The Bible says quite clearly, right, that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus the Father disciplines those he loves, but he doesn't punish them. [00:21:56] I think John Owen is really good here. It's the punishment of the flesh. [00:22:02] This is why the Bible tells us to crucify ourselves, to carry our cross. Although we, our sins have been crucified with Jesus Christ, there is something in us that still needs to be crucified, still needs to be killed. And that's the old man. That's the flesh that leads to sin. So a godly grief willingly crucifies the flesh, willingly punishes, disciplines our bodies so as to remove them from sin. [00:22:26] Well, how does this contrast with the fruit of a worldly grief? The last passage here in this section talks about that they are establishing themselves innocent. [00:22:40] Well, the opposite of that in worldly grief, is proving ourselves guilty. [00:22:44] What worldly grief does, because it's only concerned with consequences. What people can see is, at the end of the day, worldly grief will prove ourselves guilty. I mean, that we will continue or even grow in our sin. A good picture of this is found in the Old Testament law. Now, the application of it, we know, has been fulfilled in Christ, but the general equity, the value of the law, continues. So maybe this week I want you to look back at some books of the Bible we don't read a lot, books like Leviticus, numbers, and deuteronomy. And look in particular for how the Old Testament law punishes a crime that happens more than one time. The word for that is called recidivism. And one short example of this is what happens if an animal that you own hurts somebody else. The first punishment for it is very simple and equitable. You pay for your damages, right? You give the person money to pay for their injury, to pay for what's lost, you restore them. That seems reasonable. But what's the crime for the second time? What's the punishment for the second time? Your animal hurts somebody else. [00:23:43] The answer is death, not just for the animal, but for you. [00:23:48] And we see here the extreme danger of committing the same crime, of committing the same sin over and over and over again. That's why that punishment is just and equitable, because we're not simply talking about another animal injury. We're talking about someone that's willfully growing and continuing in sin. That's the greatest danger. It requires the greatest punishment. And that's what worldly grief produces, is someone who is engaging the same sin again and again, or it's getting worse and worse and worse. [00:24:20] The short phrase I've got here to sum up godly grief is Christ over consequence? [00:24:27] Godly grief is Christ over consequence. Godly grief is motivated by the vertical it seeks. Jesus Christ, no matter the cost, no matter how it will affect my relationships, no matter how much it will affect my pride, my reputation, my wealth, Christ above any consequences of godly grief. Our grief has taught me to strip myself of everything else. And the only thing that remains when I'm grieving over my sorrow is the one who will never leave you. Even in your most serious sin, in your most dangerous failings, there is one who will never leave you, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ. And so godly grief strips me of everything but Christ. And then I pursue him with cleansing anger, fear, longing, zeal, crucifying my body, because I found Christ in my godly grief. [00:25:14] But worldly grief is only motivated by the horizontal, only by consequences. And as soon as consequences fade away, so also will my grief. [00:25:23] I think a good illustration of this is a phenomenon that's been recorded over and over again, actually, throughout most of human history. [00:25:30] And that is the amazing, almost inexplicable strength that parents gain when their children are in struggles. I first heard about this from a news report when I was in college, but the car accident was in Los Angeles. But there was a father who was driving a car, and there was a car accident, and there was a child, not his own child, but a child that was caught underneath a pinned car. And so this was in the early days of smartphone. So it's a grainy video. It looks like some kind of conspiracy video. But so great is the concern of this man that summoning all his strength, just barely, just an inch, he's able to lift the car off this child and someone's able to pull away. And let me tell you, brothers and sisters, this parent is not the rock. He's not some big Hollywood actor. He looks like me or like you. But in those moments, right, of great concern and fear, often parents are able to summon this tremendous strength. Now, that man in this story actually ruptured most of the muscles in his arms because he was so focused on saving this child. There's actually a similar story about the time of George Washington, if you read the biography by Douglas. Although Freeman, there's a moment he witnesses that Washington records that affected him deeply when he sees a mother lift a cart off a small child, even though she was only 5ft tall. But in these moments, we're able to summon what seems almost like an extra human strength, because the importance of the moment. But Paul says this, it's not extra human, it's from Christ is the strength. When you see your sin, God will give you in Christ what seems like extra human, supernatural strength to kill your sin. If you would but understand the severity of the situation. What does that lead to? Our last point is a godly restoration. [00:27:16] Godly rebuke leads to godly grief, which leads to godly restoration. And here's what's fascinating about this passage, and it was rolling over my head the past couple weeks as I performed the sermon, is listen to what Paul says in verse twelve. He says it was not for the sake of the one who committed the sin that I rebuked you. [00:27:33] Well, that doesn't make any sense. Who do we rebuke when there's sin? The sinner, right? In fact, some of us like to sit and watch and see who we get to rebuke for sin, right? Some of us have that sinned tendency to wait and wash and see who we can rebuke. But Paul says it's not for their sake. [00:27:50] But he also says it's not for the sake of what we would call the victim. [00:27:54] It's not for the sake of the sinned against, not for the sinner, not for the sinned against. For whose sake? Why does Paul rebuke? And the answer is, he says, for the earnestness. Well, that's a clear callback. We just read that word, didn't we, who were the earnest ones? And it's the ones who are sincerely repenting the ones with a godly grief. Paul says here that the goal of repentance, the goal of the rebuke, the goal of the grief was always this, that those who were earnest would be reconciled, that they would be restored, right? That the perpetrator and the victim matter less than the idea of repentance and restoration. And so everyone is here and involved. The class that matters is those who are willing to forsake their sin and cling to Christ. That's who Paul is writing for. Be they the perpetrator, be they the victim, be they be bystanders or accomplices or the negligent. What Paul is saying is the ultimate end of both a rebuke and a grief is for those who would be restored, for those who are earnest. And this should be paradigm changing. It's totally different than the way the world thinks about conflict, where we are obsessed with the two categories of perpetrator and victim. And in particular, in the modern day, it seems that we are very fascinated by the plight of the victim. And I think that we've moved to a place where the only thing that matters when there's conflict, when there's sin, when there's injustice, is the victim. [00:29:16] Now, this is not to say the Bible doesn't care for the victim. All you need to go is look to the magnificat of Mary, the mother of God. When the good news of Jesus Christ is announced, her, her exclamation is, this is good news to who? The marginalized, the poor, those who have suffered injustice. God's heart is clearly with them. And for them, many of the minor prophets are almost totally concerned with the plight of those who have been victimized, brutalized, oppressed. But when it comes to restoration, when it comes to repentance, when it comes to the kingdom of heaven, even those categories fall away in the light of the work of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. [00:29:54] When repentance and restoration is possible, the categories are no longer perpetrator or victim. They are repentant or unrepentant. [00:30:02] That's what matters. Can you be cleansed of your sin? Can you be changed by the power of the gospel? Can you be restored? That's what rebuke. That's what repentance is about. Now, to be clear here, this doesn't nullify the pain or seriousness of sin. In fact, this doctrine supports the idea, because what did we just say? Godly grief is? It's Christ over consequences. [00:30:27] So that means that there are consequences to our sins. Sometimes we sin so greatly, so seriously, so dangerously, that there have to be worldly consequences attached to our repentance. But if we are truly repentant, we welcome those consequences because we care about Christ more than them. That means sometimes there is civil consequences. Sometimes their sins are so great that the civil magistrate is called in and there will be a cost to your sin. And so the centrality of restoration repentance doesn't say, oh, well, we shouldn't report crimes. The centrality of restoration doesn't say, oh, well, we should ask victims and perpetrators to act like nothing happened. No, it's the opposite of that. We care so much for Christ that we willingly suffer the consequences that come along with us. But ultimately, the concern of everyone involved is restoration to Christ and to the gospel, even if, and especially when that includes circumstances for our sins. [00:31:25] That is to say that we care about people more than pain. [00:31:29] We care about people more than pain? More than my pain? More than your pain? More than even the pain that the sin has carried. We care most about the people that God is saving. Through the gospel of Jesus Christ. [00:31:42] When someone sins seriously, we desire for them to be truly repentant, to truly cast aside their sin, to accept the consequences that might come from their actions, and to cling with Christ, even if it means serious loss in this world. Because to lose this world but to gain Christ through repentance is everything. [00:32:02] But he who would cling to this world will surely lose Christ. And so we care about the perpetrator of sin because we desire to see them restored, even if it means they suffer consequences. We care deeply about the victim and allow them to see that they can be restored to Christ even when they have lost serious things. That there is a way back to the Christ who cares for them, ministers them and loves them. And then for the church, for a body, be it Christian or non Christian, that there is either way to first come to Christ for the first time and see real freedom from sin and its death, or in the church to see that there is a way back to holiness and hope in Jesus Christ. If we would but put people and their restoration to Christ above our own lives and our feelings. [00:32:48] The illustration of this, perhaps the greatest illustration of this in fiction, comes to us from Les Miserables. [00:32:57] We see in Jean Valjean the convict, both a victim and a perpetrator, a man who has been greatly sinned against and a man who is a notorious sinner. [00:33:07] It's true that Jean Valjean is thrown in jail for many years only for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his hungry family. Great injustice. But then, the minute that Valjean is released, he goes on a crime spree. If you read the book, this is only slightly captured or not at all in the musical. [00:33:22] But the minute Valjean is let free, what does he fall back into? Recidivism. We just talked about this. He's willing to steal. He's willing to. He starts lying, hiding who he is. And then the minute he's given some measure of grace by the bishop, he's brought into this godly man's house, he's given a fine meal. The minute that happens, Valjean falls back into sin, steals all of the silver and leaves in the middle of the night. [00:33:46] But the bishop here in Les Miserables is concerned more about restoration than about pain. He's concerned more about rescuing this sinner from the pit of hell than what he's lost. And so when the gendarmes, when the french police bring Jean Valjean back to the bishop and say, he's stolen from you, the bishop says, no, no, this was a gift. And then he pulls Valjean aside and he says this. He says Valjean, you are now my brother, and so you no longer belong to what is evil. [00:34:15] I have bought your soul, and I have saved it from perdition, and now I give it to God. [00:34:22] That is restoration. The book of James says this, that by being willing to rebuke, to produce godly grief and to seek people over pain, to seek to restore them to Jesus, the book of James says, you will save some from the pit of hell. [00:34:37] That's what it will bring. [00:34:40] So to conclude here, we talked about a reputation. [00:34:43] Yes, the corinthian church has a reputation for people who rolled around in sin. [00:34:49] But ought they not also to have the reputation of repentant sinners? That's what we read here in two corinthians seven. They did not become perfect in the twinkling of an eye, and they continued in some sins they ought not to have. But we read here that when rebuked, they repented. They had a godly grief. They cared more for Christ than consequences, and they genuinely sought the restoration of broken and ruined sinners. So shouldn't their reputation among us be at least that of repentant sinners? There's a popular podcast you might have listened to called five minutes in church history. [00:35:21] And there was a time when Stephen Nichols was interviewing Mark Dever, a pastor at Capitol Hill Baptist Church. And he said, give me a one sentence description of these heroes in the faith, because Mark Dever enjoys church history. So the first person he gave Mark Dever was Augustine. And Mark Devere said, great sinner, greater repenter. [00:35:38] The next person he gave him was Martin Luther. And Deborah said, greater sinner, greater repenter. And this came up a couple times. Jonathan Edwards, John Newton. Again and again, the depiction of these godly saints was that they were repentant people, that their repentance, what was handed down throughout history. And so it is for us, the heirs of the Protestant Reformation, of Orthodox Presbyterians. What was William Tyndale executed for when he sought to save the church from darkness and promote the gospel? The first charge that was laid at Tyndale as he is burned at stake for the gospel is this. That when he translated the English Bible, he translated the word into repentance rather than penance. [00:36:21] That he called Christians to repentance rather than the catholic system of penance and paying for your sins. [00:36:29] Or what about the document that started the Protestant Reformation, Luther's thesis nailed to the church door in Wittenberg. I wonder if we know the first sentence on that document, the sentence that started the Protestant Reformation is this. Martin Luther wrote that when our Lord Jesus Christ called us to repent, he willed that our entire life be one of repentance. [00:36:54] And so the Protestant Reformation was a reformation of what? Repentance of the gospel. That christians, though we stumble and fall and are weak, there is a way home for us. That's the gospel. That's the reformation. That's the church. That we be willing as christians in love and in gentleness to go to each other and give godly rebukes, because we desire to see that gospel at work in our brothers and sisters and friends and enemies lives. That as christians, that gospel is our gospel. That we have a godly grief that clings to Christ over any consequence because repentance is for us. And then at the last, that as a church that every one of our reputation covenant in Providence and Calvin and Reformation and Prescott and Concho and Levine and Yuma. That all of the churches in Arizona would have this reputation among us. [00:37:42] That we are sinners, but that we repent because we believe in the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Let's pray. [00:37:51] Heavenly Father, we ask that you would continually make us a repentant people, that we would not consider repenting a scary, a dangerous, or even a difficult thing. That in a sense, Father, you would make us experts at repentance. Not that we desire to sin greatly, but, Father, that we admit in humility that we already do sin greatly. And so, Father, let our repentance be greater than our sin as often as we sin. Let us repent. I pray for covenant and for providence and for all your churches, that we would be quick to have the kind of relationships that are willing to give gentle rebukes, that care more for killing the sin in each other's lives than our status, that don't seek sorrow but that don't pull back from rebuke because of it. And Father, give your people here gathered, give me, give us godly grief that's willing to cast everything aside for the sake of knowing Christ Jesus as our Lord and savior, that is willing to grab onto him over our consequences, that is willing to accept anything for the sake of clinging to Jesus Christ and truly repenting our sin. And then, Father, we pray for true restoration, that we would care about your people as much as you do, that we would seek and believe in the power of repentance even for the most notorious and consistent sinners, people who have sinned against us this week, Father, and perhaps we haven't forgiven yet. [00:39:21] Father, let us forgive as we've been forgiven. [00:39:25] Let us love as we have been loved. And let us seek genuinely repentance to go forth in our hearts and our families and in our church, that we might see sinners restored to their savior Jesus Christ. Do these things we ask in Jesus holy name. Amen.

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