SermonForgiving Grace Requires Repentance
An all-creatures Bible Message

Forgiving Grace Requires Repentance
 
A Sermon Delivered to
The Compassion Internet Church
 
18 March 2018
 
Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

Scripture References

Jeremiah 31:1-34
John 12:20-33

Forgiving grace requires repentance, for if it didnít, heaven would be just as corrupted as this world.
 
We might not deserve to be forgiven, because we have been disobedient to God, but if we are truly sorry for what we have done, then God is faithful to forgive us, and help us to become the peacemaking children of God that He has always desired us to be.
 
Israelís relationship with God had the ups and downs of a rollercoaster ride, for God desired them to be His children, but they kept returning to follow the corrupt ways of this world, and He would allow them to suffer the consequences of worldly living until they repented and once again received His forgiving grace.
 
This is why during this Lenten season, and really every day of our lives, we need to examine ourselves and reject any worldly ways that have crept in.
 
One of those times is recorded in Jeremiah 31:1-34, where we see that forgiving grace requires repentance.

1. "At that time," declares the LORD,
"I will be the God of all the families of Israel,
and they shall be My people."

The Lord is telling the Israelites that when their seventy years of exile is completed in Babylon, a time when He expects most of the people to truly repent of their worldly ways, He will forgive them; which is really another way of saying forgiving grace requires repentance.

2. Thus says the LORD,
"The people who survived the sword
Found grace in the wilderness-Israel,
when it went to find its rest."
 
3. The LORD appeared to him from afar, saying,
"I have loved you with an everlasting love;
Therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness.
 
4. "Again I will build you, and you shall be rebuilt,
O virgin of Israel!
Again you shall take up your tambourines,
And go forth to the dances of the merrymakers.

And again we need to remember that this kind of forgiving grace requires repentance.

5. "Again you shall plant vineyards
On the hills of Samaria;
The planters shall plant
And shall enjoy them.

This sure appears like the Lord is referring to the northern tribes that He is calling back, along with the ones that went to Babylon.
 
Additionally, we believe that it is important to note there is only mention of plant agriculture in these messages of forgiving grace, for the raising and killing of animals is outside the heavenly will of God.

6. "For there shall be a day when watchmen
On the hills of Ephraim shall call out,
'Arise, and let us go up to Zion,
To the LORD our God.' "

We know that Israel once again turned away from this forgiving grace, because they were not fully repentant of their former worldly ways, and their children followed in their footsteps, which leaves us questioning whether or not these people went up to Jerusalem because of peer pressure, or because they truly desired to be with the Lord.

7. For thus says the LORD,
"Sing aloud with gladness for Jacob,
And shout among the chiefs of the nations;
Proclaim, give praise, and say,
'O LORD, save Thy people,
The remnant of Israel.'

We have heard of a lot of ďfoxholeĒ conversions in the military, and have witnessed a lot of prison conversions during our prison ministry, but once they are free of their situations, they revert back to their former or other worldly ways.
 
Their minds may have been committed, but their hearts and souls were not fully committed to serving the Lord; they forgot that forgiving grace requires repentance.

8. "Behold, I am bringing them from the north country,
And I will gather them from the remote parts of the earth,
Among them the blind and the lame,
The woman with child and she who is in labor with child, together;
A great company, they shall return here.
 
9. "With weeping they shall come,
And by supplication I will lead them;
I will make them walk by streams of waters,
On a straight path in which they shall not stumble;
For I am a father to Israel,
And Ephraim is My first-born."

This is for those who are truly repentant, but a fatherís wish for his children is not always the way the children turn out.

10. Hear the word of the LORD, O nations,
And declare in the coastlands afar off,
And say, "He who scattered Israel will gather him,
And keep him as a shepherd keeps his flock."

As truly born again Christians, we need to remember that we are also Godís witness to the world around us, which means that we must constantly ask ourselves if what we are doing and saying is in the heavenly will of God, for if we are not, others will see the hypocrisy and very likely could doubt that Godís word is for them.

11. For the LORD has ransomed Jacob,
And redeemed him from the hand of him who was stronger than he.
 
12. "And they shall come and shout for joy on the height of Zion,
And they shall be radiant over the bounty of the LORD ó 
Over the grain, and the new wine, and the oil,
And over the young of the flock and the herd;
And their life shall be like a watered garden,
And they shall never languish again.

Here we are seeing the temptation in the midst of the joy and praise, for raising and killing animals is part of the world system, which can easily draw people away from the heavenly will of God.

13. "Then the virgin shall rejoice in the dance,
And the young men and the old, together,
For I will turn their mourning into joy,
And will comfort them, and give them joy for their sorrow.
 
14. "And I will fill the soul of the priests with abundance,
And My people shall be satisfied with My goodness," declares the LORD.

In reality, only the ones who are truly satisfied will remain in the heavenly will of the Lord; the others will drift back into the ways of this corrupt world.

15. Thus says the LORD,
"A voice is heard in Ramah,
Lamentation and bitter weeping.
Rachel is weeping for her children;
She refuses to be comforted for her children,
Because they are no more."

This happened because the people turned away from God and chose to follow the ways of the devil, and God allowed them to suffer in the consequences of their own actions.

16. Thus says the LORD,
"Restrain your voice from weeping,
And your eyes from tears;
For your work shall be rewarded," declares the LORD,
"And they shall return from the land of the enemy.

This will only happen when the people realize that forgiving grace requires repentance.

17. "And there is hope for your future," declares the LORD,
"And your children shall return to their own territory.
 
18. "I have surely heard Ephraim grieving,
'Thou hast chastised me, and I was chastised,
Like an untrained calf;
Bring me back that I may be restored,
For Thou art the LORD my God.
 
19. 'For after I turned back, I repented;
And after I was instructed, I smote on my thigh;
I was ashamed, and also humiliated,
Because I bore the reproach of my youth.'

This is what we have been talking about; this is when people realize that forgiving grace requires repentance.

20. "Is Ephraim My dear son? Is he a delightful child?
Indeed, as often as I have spoken against him,
I certainly still remember him;
Therefore My heart yearns for him;
I will surely have mercy on him," declares the LORD.
 
21. "Set up for yourself roadmarks,
Place for yourself guideposts;
Direct your mind to the highway,
The way by which you went.
Return, O virgin of Israel,
Return to these your cities.

And God is still calling us today; are we ready to truly become His children?
 
We hope and pray we are.

22. "How long will you go here and there, O faithless daughter?
For the LORD has created a new thing in the earth-
A woman will encompass a man."

We believe that this is referring to the corrupt and evil ways of the earth, and we must stand against it to ensure that Godís heavenly will flows through us and upon the earth.

23. Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel,
"Once again they will speak this word in the land of Judah and in its cities, when I restore their fortunes,
'The LORD bless you, O abode of righteousness, O holy hill!'
 
24. "And Judah and all its cities will dwell together in it,
the farmer and they who go about with flocks.

And remember that those who go about with flocks are really following the corrupt ways of this world.

25. "For I satisfy the weary ones and refresh everyone who languishes."

And this includes the animals, too.

26. At this I awoke and looked, and my sleep was pleasant to me.
 
27. "Behold, days are coming," declares the LORD, "when I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of man and with the seed of beast.
 
28. "And it will come about that as I have watched over them to pluck up, to break down, to overthrow, to destroy, and to bring disaster, so I will watch over them to build and to plant," declares the LORD.

Remember that this wonít happen unless we are truly repentant.

29. "In those days they will not say again,
'The fathers have eaten sour grapes,
And the children's teeth are set on edge.'
 
30. "But everyone will die for his own iniquity; each man who eats the sour grapes, his teeth will be set on edge.
 
31. "Behold, days are coming," declares the LORD, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah,
 
32. not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them," declares the LORD.
 
33. "But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days," declares the LORD, "I will put My law within them, and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

This is what the Holy Spirit does for us.

34. "And they shall not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them," declares the LORD, "for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more."
NASB

This is what happens when we sincerely repent of our worldly ways, and become true children of God who live in the heavenly will of God and do everything in our power to free creation from its present corruption, for then we will be truly born again and filled with the Holy Spirit.
 
This is also why forgiving grace requires repentance, for if we are not truly repentant, we bring the worldly ways with us.
 
In John 12:20-30, we see how the word of God has spread and how the understanding of salvation, and that the understanding that forgiving grace requires repentance, have all brought others to Jesus.

20. Now there were certain Greeks among those who were going up to worship at the feast;
 
21. these therefore came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and began to ask him, saying, "Sir, we wish to see Jesus."
 
22. Philip came and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip came, and they told Jesus.
 
23. And Jesus answered them, saying, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.

Jesus knew that His primary heavenly task was to wake up the Jews to His teachings and the heavenly will of God, and that His disciples would carry His message to the rest of the world.

24. "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

Jesus is speaking about Himself and His ministry upon this earth.

25. "He who loves his life loses it; and he who hates his life in this world shall keep it to life eternal.
 
26. "If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there shall My servant also be; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.

This was a physical and spiritual calling to the people in His day upon this earth, but today this is our spiritual calling, which is one of faith.

27. "Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, 'Father, save Me from this hour'? But for this purpose I came to this hour.
 
28. "Father, glorify Thy name." There came therefore a voice out of heaven: "I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again."

And we who have truly repented of our worldly ways and have become peacemaking children of God who live in His heavenly will are also part of this ongoing glorification process.

29. The multitude therefore, who stood by and heard it, were saying that it had thundered; others were saying, "An angel has spoken to Him."
 
30. Jesus answered and said, "This voice has not come for My sake, but for your sakes.
NASB

This is what we have been talking about.
 
Have we heard God calling us?
 
Have we truly realized that forgiving grace requires repentance?
 
We hope and pray we have.
 
Amen.

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