“Fruit of repentance”

Summary of sermon by Erlo Stegen, 25 Oct 2015

Heb 6:4-8
4 It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age 6 and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.7 Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. 8 But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.

This Word makes one to fear the Lord, for there is no one like God, Who is Awesome and Fearful. Every human being should live in the fear of God. It makes one ask the question, ‘who then shall be saved?’

This is the type of Word that can make every one of us lose hope, for who of us haven’t been in the same boat? Who of us haven’t fallen into sin after being a Christian? One thinks of Esau who sought repentance with tears but could not find it. We need to carefully examine this scripture. We should never take God lightly. A person so easily falls into sexual immorality, or some other sin. And then that person confesses the sin but go back to it a few days later. Such a person is poking his finger in God’s eyes and his future is not good. What is man that you should be fearful of him? Rather fear God Who can put both soul and body in hell (Matt 10:28).

A school girl fell pregnant and hid it from her family. When the baby was born, she drowned her baby in a bucket of water and buried the child in a maize field. But God saw her. A dog came by, smelt the baby, dug it up and brought it to her front door. The family saw the baby and called the police, and the girl was arrested. Her sin found her out, as it is written, ‘there is nothing hidden that shall not be exposed’ (Luke 12:2). It doesn’t matter how clever you think you are, your sin will find you out. Even a witchdoctor who kill someone at a distance, God sees it and will bring even that sin to light.

Another girl in America went to the doctor and as she waited she picked up the Bible that was in the waiting room and opened randomly to the ten commandments in Ex 20. Her eyes fell on the words, ‘you shall not murder’ (Ex 20:13), and she started to tremble, remembering that she had fallen pregnant 16 times and had killed every one of them through abortion. That brought her to her senses and she repented.

In the Bible we read the story of Esau who sold his birth right for a pot of lentils. Esau listened only to his own appetite, his own will, and lived for instant gratification. Esau was immoral, behaved badly at home, and he only lived for his carnal desires, but God saw it and he lost everything (Heb 12:16-17). Today we speak of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, because Esau threw away his blessing. Afterwards he cried and wanted the blessing with tears, but it was too late.

God warned Noah to build an ark, for the whole world had become depraved and would be destroyed. Noah and his three sons couldn’t have built the ark alone and they most probably hired outside help. The Bible said that Noah was a preacher of righteousness, warning the people of his time (2Pet 2:5). But they helped him build the ark, and heard his daily warnings, yet they ignored it. The animals obeyed and entered the ark, but none of the people he preached to listened to Noah’s warnings. The day of the flood arrived and God locked the door, and they could not enter (Gen 7:16).

1Cor 10:1-12

For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. 2 They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. 3 They all ate the same spiritual food 4 and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.5 Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. 6 Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. 7 Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.” 8 We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did—and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. 9 We should not test Christ, as some of them did—and were killed by snakes. 10 And do not grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel. 11 These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. 12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!

These words should make each of us to tremble and fear. But there is also a comforting word in Hebrews 6. Many of us who repented, but then backslid, could ask if there’s no forgiveness. We read in verse 7, “7 Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. 8 But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.”

You who once surrendered your life to Christ and then backslid. It is true that there’s no way back, no forgiveness, as the Word says. God however says that the land that drinks in the rain that falls upon the earth and produces a crop will receive a blessing from God. That rain is God’s grace falling upon a cursed earth. If it then produces a crop, it will receive a blessing from God. But if it continues to produce thorns and thistles, it is close to being burned.

You who have accepted Christ, yet have gone back to sin, repent today. The grace of God is still available today. However, should you not repent but continue to bring forth thorns and thistles, your end is nigh to be burned. Then there will be no forgiveness anymore.

We’ve read in 1Cor 10 how that they displeased God although God’s grace was available. They were baptised, had water from the Rock, Which was Christ. But after that they still went back to their idolatry and sexual immorality, and God destroyed them. This is written for our instruction, so that the one who stands must be careful lest he falls.

Today is the day of grace. When you hear God’s Word, do not delay, but repent and bring forth fruit of repentance, and you will be accepted and receive a blessing from God.

German Translation