Sermon #36 Series: Isaiah
Will It Take To Make You Repent?
Text: Isaiah 9:8 - 10:4
Date: Sunday Evening - February 11, 1990
“The Lord sent his word into Jacob.” What a blessing of grace! God chose Jacob above all the people of the world to be the recipient of his word. He sent his prophets one after another in unbroken succession for two thousand years into Jacob. “And it hath lighted upon Israel.” Not only did they hear the bare letter of the word. God caused the light of his truth to be plainly revealed to the nation of Israel. No other nation in the world, before or since, has been so distinctly blessed of God. Yet, the Jews were a people who “in the pride and stoutness of heart” rejected the counsel of God against themselves. Because they despised his goodness and rejected the counsel of his word, because they turned their back on God, God turned his back upon that nation and stretched out the rod of his wrath to destroy the rebellious people. In the chapter before us we have a record of Israel’s obstinate impenitence and of God’s judgments upon them.
1. The Lord raised up the Assyrians, the Syrians, and Philistines to invade and devour the land; yet they repented not (9:8-12).
2. The Lord greedy magistrates and prophets of deceit, such as they desired, and cut off the whole nation in one day; yet they repented not (9:14-17).
3. The Lord sent darkness through all the land, moral darkness, political darkness, economic darkness, and spiritual darkness; yet they repented not (9:18-21).
4. The Lord sent desolation after desolation upon Israel and reasoned with them; yet they repented not (10:1-4).
Four times we are told, “For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still” (9:12, 17, 21; 10:4). Why was God’s wrath set against Israel? Why did that nation perish? The prophet tells us, “For the people turneth not unto him that smitteth them, neither do they seek the Lord of hosts” (9:13).
As I read this chapter I could not avoid seeing a parallel between this and Revelation 16:8-11 and 21. Turn to that passage and read those verses with me.
Here John describes the terrible judgments of God upon men and women, by which he warns all of wrath to come. Here are men and women scorched with great heat, gnawing their tongues for pain, suffering the consequences of a drought more horrible than tongue can describe, and at last multitudes are beaten to death with hail stones weighing over a hundred pounds each! Surely, men and women who suffer such terrible acts of judgment from God’s almighty hand will be humbled, broken, and seek mercy. Surely, no heart could remain hard and unmoved before such evident acts of God! That would seem reasonable. Don’t you think so? But that is not the case. When those men and women were scorched with fire from heaven “they blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues.” As they gnawed their tongues in pain “they blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores.” When great hail stones fell out of heaven, crushing them to death, “men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail.” And though God displayed his power and wrath, warning sinners of judgment to come, “they repented not of their deeds” (v. 11). “They repented not to give him glory” (v. 9).
In the light of these two passages of scripture, I have a question I want you to consider. What Will It Take To Make You Repent? What will it take to break a sinner’s heart? What will it take to make a rebel surrender to Christ? What will it take to produce true repentance in the heart of a stubborn, hardened, self-willed sinner?
Proposition: The scriptures we have read tonight make one thing evident. The judgments of God do not produce repentance in the hearts of sinners.
Divisions: Tonight, if the Spirit of God will enable me, I want to give you some plain instruction about the matter of repentance. May God be pleased to use this message to lead some of you to Christ in repentance. Here are four things clearly taught in the Word of God about repentance.
1. Divine Judgment Will Never Produce Repentance.
2. That Repentance Which Is Sometimes Produced By Acts of Judgment Needs To Be Repented Of.
3. Only the Revelation Of Christ In the Heart Can Produce True Repentance.
4. True, Gospel Repentance Glorifies God.
I. DIVINE JUDGMENT ALONE WILL NEVER PRODUCE
We must be careful here. We must not make hasty generalizations which are contrary to Holy Scripture. I don’t say that God does not use acts of providential judgment to arouse, impress, subdue, and humble his elect and bring them to repentance. He does (Ps. 107:1-31).
Illus: The Prodigal - (Luke 15:11-20).
But I am saying this: Divine judgment, in and of itself, will never produce repentance in the heart.
Satan, after being under the wrath of God for thousands of years, has not mellowed or repented in any way. Many who live in poverty, with sickness and disease, and suffer earthly hardships of every kind, are hardened against God rather than helped to repentance by the judgments of providence which they suffer. The heart of man is so obstinately proud and hard that even the torments of the damned in hell will never cause them to repent.
A. There is no repentance in hell!
Go, if you dare, to the pit of woe, and see if there is any repentance in hell. There are the lost multitudes, scorched with heat and burned with fire under the indescribable wrath of God. Yet, they blaspheme God’s name still, and repent not to give him glory. They curse God for their pain, but repent not of their deeds. True repentance arises from faith and hope. But in hell there is neither faith nor hope, only endless torment. So there is no repentance. In hell there is much sorrow for pain, but no sorrow for sin. There is no repentance in hell! None can be saved but by the blood of the Lamb. But there is not blood to be found in hell. In that awful place of torment “the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.” The worm of conscience gnaws upon the souls of the damned forever, ever bringing to mind the cause of hell’s torments - willful unbelief and obstinate impenitence! How often they were invited to heaven! How easily they might have escaped hell! But they would not trust the Son of God. They must forever weep over the loss of heaven’s bliss and over the portion of their cup. They shall forever weep for their pain. But they will never shed a single tear over their sin, the cause of their pain. The damned in hell suffer and blaspheme God. But they do not repent. There is no repentance in hell!
B. If there is no
repentance in hell, where God’s greatest judgments are executed, the lesser
judgments of providence certainly will not change a sinner’s heart and produce
Someone said, “Affliction makes good men better and bad men worse.” And I suppose that is true. But afflictions will never make good men bad, or bad men good. Wrath converts no one. It is grace that saves. Judgment does not soften the sinner’s heart. It hardens it. The men and women we have read about tonight were led by judgment to blaspheme God, but ‘they repented not.” “The people turneth not unto him that smitteth them.” The consequences of often neglected warnings is irreversible hardness of heart and eternal ruin (Pro. 1:23-33).
C. The time for
repentance is now!
Let those who are not yet hardened by the judgments of God and the terror of his wrath repent now, while God still grants you space for repentance. “Today, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” You may not be able to repent tomorrow.
The longsuffering, goodness, and forbearance of God should lead you to repentance and salvation (Rom. 2:4-5; II Pet. 3:15). But if you despise God’s goodness and harden your heart in the day of his goodness, you will find it impossible to repent in the day of his wrath and judgment (Heb. 12:17).
Illus: Noah’s Generation
Dixie - “My God, Preacher, I can’t repent!”
II. Secondly, I want you to see THAT THE
REPENTANCE WHICH IS SOMETIMES PRODUCED BY ACTS OF JUDGMENT IS A FALSE
REPENTANCE, WHICH NEEDS TO BE REPENTED OF (Ps. 78:31-37).
Many by providential acts of divine judgment (sickness, bereavement, economic hardship, domestic trouble, and personal tragedy) are brought to repentance after a fashion. They turn to God, perhaps even reform their lives, and hope to ease their consciences. But repentance that is caused only by judgment and legal fear is always false repentance. You can mark it down as a matter of certainty: “That which is born in the storm will die in the calm.”
A. Carnal repentance, caused by the fear of punishment, is a false
repentance - (Cain - Gen. 4:13).
B. Temporary repentance, which subsides when the judgment is over, is a false repentance - (Pharoah - Ex. 9:27).
C. Fearful sorrow, that does not change the heart or affect the life is a false repentance - (Herod - Matt. 14:9-10).
D. Despairing remorse, which does not convert, is a false repentance - (Judas - Matt. 27:4-5).
Cain, Pharoah, Herod, and Judas all repented of the evil they had done, because they saw the judgment of God upon them. But they were not saved. They all repented after a fashion. But their repentance was false. They all repented in fear. But “they repented not to give God glory.”
E. Such repentance as these men experienced only hardens the heart and
usually keeps sinners from true repentance.
It is the devil’s substitute for Holy Spirit conviction and true repentance. False repentance mocks God, seeks to deceive him, and gives the sinner a false refuge, a refuge of lies, in which he seeks and finds a false, but assured sense of security from the wrath of God.
Thomas Boston described this false repentance in these words: “Trees may blossom fairly in the spring, on which no fruit is to be found in the harvest; and some have sharp soul exercises which are nothing but foretastes of hell.”
III. Now, in the
third place, I want you to see that ONLY THE REVELATION OF CHRIST IN THE HEART
CAN PRODUCE TRUE REPENTANCE.
No one will ever truly repent of his sins and turn to God in true repentance and genuine conversion until he sees Christ crucified as his only sin-atoning, all-sufficient Substitute (Zech. 12:10). Repentance is the tear that drops from the eye of faith (Job 39:4-5; 42:5-6).
A. Repentance is the gift of God the Holy Spirit (John 16:8-11).
B. Repentance is the result of converting grace and gospel instruction (Jer. 31:19).
C. Repentance is the response of faith to the promise of God in the gospel (Isa. 55:7; Jer. 3:11-13).
D. Repentance arises not from the dread of punishment and fear of wrath, but from the love, mercy, and grace of God in Christ (Luke 7:37-38, 47; 22:61-62).
Judgment hardens the sinner’s heart. The law of God terrifies the heart. But one look at Christ, crucified in my place, melts my hard heart in repentance toward God. Kneeling at the foot of the cross, looking upon Christ the sinner’s Substitute, I now repent before God…
· Of my sin!
· Of my sins!
· Of my righteousness!
IV. Fourthly, I
want you to see that TRUE, GOSPEL REPENTANCE GLORIFIES GOD.
We read in Revelation 16:9 of men and women who “repented not to give God glory.” But those who do truly repent do, by their repentance, give him glory - (Ps. 32:1-5; Ps 51:1-5). They turn “unto him that smitteth them” and “seek the Lord of hosts,” giving God the glory due unto his name.
A. True repentance recognizes, reverences, and adores God’s omniscience
B. True repentance acknowledges the righteousness of God’s law and the evil of sin (Rom. 7:9).
C. True repentance glorifies the justice of God in the punishment of sin (Ps. 51:4).
Eli - “It is the Lord, let him do what seemeth him good.”
D. True repentance
glorifies God’s sovereignty in the exercise of His mercy.
Illus: The Leper (Matt. 8:2).
The Canaanite Woman (Matt. 15:21-28).
E. True repentance sees and acknowledges that there is but one way by
which God can be just and yet justify the ungodly (Rom. 3:24-26; Pro. 16:6).
F. True repentance glorifies God by constantly pleading the blood and righteousness of Christ alone as the only ground of acceptance with God (I Cor. 15:10).
G. True repentance glorifies God by taking Him at His word and receiving the atonement by faith in Christ (Rom. 5:11).
Application: Isaiah tells us of a people who “turneth not unto him that smitteth them, neither do they seek the Lord of hosts.” Therefore the Lord cut them off and I tell you that “Except ye repent, ye shall likewise perish.” Repent now and live forever. God help you to repent (I John 1:9).