We bless Jesus this morning for the opportunity to come into his presence to worship him. Today we come to the Lord’s table to dine with him and to give our tithes and offerings. We are still addressing the issue of revival and we are praying for it. My prayer is one—that at the end of this we shall all be revived. Today I want to examine one prerequisite for revival—repentance.
We shall read a very popular scripture—2 Chronicles 7.14.
It is important for us to understand that it is the Lord that sends revival. So, in the theme scripture for the whole period it says, “Will you not revive us that your people will rejoice in you?” It means it is the Lord that brings it. Habakkuk also says we have heard of the Lord’s work—it is God that brings revival, but we can create the atmosphere for him to bring it.
Three catalysts for revival from 2 Chronicles 7.14
We see three important catalysts for revival. The first one is humility—“If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves…”
Another condition is prayer—“If my people who are called by my name shall seek my face and pray.” Habakkuk also prayed for revival. In Lamentations there was prayer.
“And turn from their wicked ways.” This speaks of repentance.
These show the environment needed for revival. The Bible says when this environment is created God will respond. When they are present God will respond and restore the land or heal the land. That is what I refer to as revival. This morning my concentration is on repentance.
What repentance is not
1. Repentance is not just the feeling of guilt
It is possible to feel guilty but not have repented. Repentance goes beyond just the feeling of guilt.
2. Repentance is not just being sorry for something you have done
You can feel sorry but not actually have repented. Some people also become sorry not because they have repented but because they fear what is going to happen to them or the shame that is going to come upon them. 2 Corinthians 7.10 calls this worldly grief and says it produces death.
3. Repentance is not just being religious
Repentance goes beyond all these.
What repentance is
Repentance is a decision that results in a change of mind which in turn leads to a change of purpose and action. If I am going to Kumasi and I repent and decide to go somewhere else, I head towards that direction and move there. If I come to church late everyday and say I have repented, I change my mind and then change my purpose and behavior. That means I will come to church early. Repentance has to do with a change in mind, purpose, and behavior or action. If I was not coming for Kratos and say I have repented, I change my mind and my purpose and then I turn up here on Thursday.
Charles Finney on revival
I have discovered a friend called Charles Finney. He was a revivalist. He repeatedly spoke of repentance as an integral part of revival. On different occasions he mentioned the need for repentance as we call for revival.
He said revival is the return of the church from her backslidings and the conversion of the sinner. On another occasion he said it is a new conviction of sin and repentance followed by an intense desire to live in the obedience of God. It is the giving up of one’s will in deep humility. It is time for us to come back to him as he calls us to do so.
In the scriptures you see God repeatedly telling the people of Israel to come back to him. In Hosea 14.1 he says “Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God for you have stumbled because of your iniquity.” Other versions say because your sins have brought your own downfall. He calls you to return to love; to return to prayer and the study of the word; to return to ministry; to return to church. Some of us can go everywhere else freely but claim we cannot come to church because of covid.
Repentance is generally about repenting from sin. That is what the scripture means by turning from your wicked ways. So, you have to turn from any known sin and any sin that the Holy Ghost convicts you of. However, as I studied Revelation 2 and 3, I saw that Jesus spoke to specific churches and told them to repent. I want to discuss those churches and what Jesus told them to repent of so we draw lessons from it.
Jesus told the churches in Ephesus, Pergamum, and Sardis to repent.
The church at Ephesus was told to return to their first love
Read Revelation 2.4-5.
Jesus told this church to repent from abandoning their first love. That is the first thing we are being called to repent from. It means come back to your first love. For them to have abandoned their love means they didn’t love any longer. The love here is the love for God and the love for humanity. The Bible says to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. Do you still love the Lord like you used to? God calls us to come back to love. He wants to be the only person we love—the only object of our love. Love is both vertical and horizontal. As you love God you love your brothers and sisters. We must begin to see ourselves as one people. Love is of God. Let it be shared among us. We need each other to survive.
The second problem of the Ephesian church was that they were working for the Lord without love. Their work for the Lord was not motivated by love. It was motivated by something else the Bible did not mention. Jesus said, “I know your works, your toil, and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil.” They were even able to test those who called themselves apostles but were not. Some are working for the Lord because of fame; others for money; others because they want to catch the eye of somebody. But if you do anything for the Lord and it is not motivated by love, then I think God may not be happy with you. You must sing because you love the Lord; you must be coming for prayer meetings because you love the Lord; I must preach because I love the Lord. If I do it for any other reason I have failed. We must repent from a loveless relationship with God. The love of God must compel you to do whatever you are doing.
The church at Sardis had a reputation of being alive but were dead. They were told to repent of that
Let me mention the church at Sardis briefly. In Revelation 3.1-3 we see that their problem was their concentration on reputation and not on character or the heart. Many of us have a reputation of being alive but we are dead. You must work on your character because if your character is right it will take care of your reputation. Your character will take care of your reputation.
Reputation is how people perceive you, but your character is who you really are. Some of us have good reputations but bad characters. God rewards character but not reputation. He will reward us according to what we have done with our bodies and not according to how people see us. Reputation is what people say and write about you when you are dead. Character is what the angels say about you.
I was telling the church yesterday about a funeral where a son read the tribute of his father. He said he was good, he was that, and he was that. After that he went to the corpse and said “Papa, I have defended you here but you will go and meet Peter and the angels there.”
2 Chronicles 7.14, 2 Corinthians 7.10, Revelation 2.4-5, Revelation 3.1-3