Community Group Study Notes
- What is our typical connotation or association with the word “repentance”? How is that similar or different from what we heard from God’s Word in Sunday’s message?
- Why is repentance necessary for the believer as well as for the unbeliever?
- What is one action step you can take with what you heard in Sunday’s message?
Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. (Revelation 3:20)
At the campus of the University of Georgia, right outside of the Tate Student Center there, there is a brick pavilion. On the backside of this brick pavilion, there is a brick face that comes up a little bit and it backs up where right across the street is the University of Georgia football stadium where everybody should go at some point. Where this particular brick pavilion is outside on the outside of the Tate Student Center, there's a stage that butts up next to this brick face behind it with the stadium in the background. On game days in Athens, Georgia, there is a lot of activity that's going on. But sometimes, on that stage there, they'll have bands or whatever, sometimes cheerleaders, anything to keep the crowd pumped up and all that kind of stuff.
But on non-game days, when students are just in school minding their own business, going to class, carrying their backpacks, coming through the outside of the student center on their way wherever they're going, there are also during the week sometimes different performances. Maybe it's a dance group, or maybe it's a band that's playing, or whatever. It's a combination of a number of different things. But sometimes in the schedule at the University of Georgia, back when I was in school there, they would have some free moments where you could schedule the stage for whatever it is that you wanted to do. It didn't cost you anything. In other words, they had free speech expression times where you could get the stage and do whatever you wanted.
Well, I remember I think it was my junior year, if I'm not mistaken, because I was new to faith and really walking with Jesus at this time. I'm 19 years old. As I was coming through the student center, there was this preacher there. He was on the stage and he was getting busy. He was yelling a lot and sweating a lot. I think it was the spring anyway. It had warmed up pretty significantly there in Georgia. He was going to town. Well, as somebody who was really, in a new way, really following Jesus and serious about it, I stopped. There had been times in the past, the previous years, where there had been preachers up there and I paid them zero attention and I just kept walking, minding my own business, probably hoping they didn't yell at me.
I stopped and I was listening because, in part, I was admiring his boldness. He was out there preaching. I was thinking to myself, "Wow, that's pretty cool. This guy's out here getting with it." I remember him saying on multiple occasions, he was saying, "Repent! You need to repent!" Then he would talk a little bit more and he would say, "Repent! You need to repent!" Eventually, some people started stopping and maybe listening. Some of them would talk back to him, not in ways that I would repeat on a college campus. He wasn't miked up, he was just out there blowing a gasket.
I still remember thinking to myself, "I do admire his boldness and that kind of thing," and as a new follower of Jesus who's really serious about this now and really wants to honor the Lord, I was paying attention to what he said but part of me started to get a little bit upside-down because he started yelling specifically at some of the people that were walking by. Saying, "You, girl! Right there in the shorts! You're dressed like a whore." Then some guy would come to her defense. I felt the same way as you did, by the way. I felt like somebody had let the air out of my balloon. I went, "Oh, man. I'm not sure that's a good idea. You don't even know her."
"You need to repent of your whoring ways!" Some guy comes up and he starts to defend her case. He's like, "Hey, you can't talk to her like that!" Then the preacher's like, "Well, you don't have anything to say to me. You need to repent! You're a whore-monger!" Okay. I'm sitting there thinking to myself, "Okay, I don't think this is how it's supposed to go. I know I'm new to the game, but I don't think this is how it's supposed to go." For many years afterwards, not a ton of years, but for a few years afterwards, every time that I heard or saw the word "repent," the visual that I had in my head was this preacher who was mean-spirited, condemning, angry, and ugly, yelling at people that were walking by that he didn't even know.
It scarred me just a little bit in reference to that word. I don't know if any of you have had maybe a similar experience, maybe in church life or maybe in a public arena or public sphere, where maybe the word or the idea of "repent" or "repentance" has taken on a mind, life of its own that when you hear it or you hear it discussed or talked about, you take a step back and go, "Oh, man, I've got some bad memories surrounding this idea." If that's you, then here's what's happened to you. Exactly what happened to me. Basically, our minds and our hearts became toxic because we had a toxic understanding of what this word really meant.
But what I'm hoping today is that I'm hoping today that we'll repaint that picture, that today what will happen in your life and in your mind and in your heart is instead of hearing the word "repent" or "repentance" as mean or unloving or condemning, you're actually gonna hear it for what it is. It's beautiful. It's beautiful. I promise you, if you'll stay with me, I might be able to today talk to you about this idea maybe in a way that you haven't thought about before, maybe in a way that you haven't grappled with before. I'm not suggesting that'll be the case for everybody, but if you'll stay with me. People ask me all the time, "Jerry, do you have any favorite messages that you've ever preached?" They're never whatever you say they are to me. They never are.
I have favorite messages that maybe just have to do with my own place, my own journey, where I'm at, all that kind of stuff, and you'll have your favorite messages because God speaks to you right in that moment. Then they'll come up, "That's the best message ever. Don't even tell me anything else. That's the best message you've ever preached, Jerry." In my mind, I'm going, "It didn't even make the top 100 for me." But if it did for you, thank God. That's what it's all about. But I'll tell you this. This message is one of my favorites that I'm about to share with you today. It's one of my favorites. I've only preached it once and that was at 9:00. Now I'm giving it to you at 11:00. I don't normally reference the times and all that kind of stuff because our campuses are online or whatever, but Lockport's on with us today at 11:00, as well.
I'm here to talk to you about something that I think is hugely important, this idea of repentance. I'm hoping that our minds begin to shift and that we see it as beautiful instead of ugly and mean and condemning. You're gonna see it a different way if you'll stay with me and pay attention. Here's what I'm gonna ask you to do. Don't get up. Don't lose focus. Stay with me. This has the opportunity to change your world. It can change your world. Now, if you didn't know this already, this concept was actually really important to Jesus. In fact, when the Gospel writer, Mark, began to unpack his gospel, and that's not where we're gonna be. We're gonna eventually land in Revelation. That's where we're gonna camp out in just a little bit, in the book of Revelation in chapter number three.
But it's gonna take me a few minutes to get there. But in Mark's gospel, which is really Peter communicating to Mark about what happens, Peter the Apostle is communicating through Mark what happened, do you know that the first words assigned out of Jesus' mouth in Mark's gospel when Jesus is starting His ministry, the first words He says have to do with repentance? Very first. Listen to what He says in Mark, chapter one. "After John the Baptist was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 'The time has come,' Jesus said. 'The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news.'" You see, Jesus was bringing the good news of the kingdom, that the kingdom had come and the king of the kingdom was here, was among you, that now that the kingdom had broken through, "You as a people now, I want you to repent and believe the good news that God is making reconciliation with the world through me, the King of the Kingdom."
Jesus knew what that would mean, that it would mean He would go to a cross. He would die for the sins of humanity and that when we put our faith and trust in Him as the resurrected, not dead Son of God, that we could be now restored to relationship with God and the Kingdom of God could be revealed among us. Jesus was saying, "I want you to repent and believe the good news." Now, the word "repent" in the Greek language, "μετανοώ," I'm not gonna do that again, that word, "μετανοώ," that's what you heard it as, right? (gibberish). In the Greek language, that word, it means literally "to change your mind." What Jesus was saying is that He's saying to all of these people, "I want you to change your mind about your outlook on life. I want you to change your mind about your outlook on the Kingdom. The kind of kingdom you're thinking about is not the kind of kingdom necessarily that I'm bringing, and I want you to change you mind 'cause the King of the Kingdom has come."
This was a really important concept to Jesus. Mark actually represents that when He started His ministry, this is how He launched out, by communicating this very thing, "Repent and believe the good news." In fact, this has been so important in church history that by the time that we got to the reformers, the people like John Calvin, Martin Luther, those kind of folks, Martin Luther felt that this was such an important principle when he was talking about how the church of that day needed to reform and get back to the truth of the Scripture, that Martin drew up what he called his 95 Theses and he wrote them all down. There's 95 of these and he wrote them down and he nailed them to the castle church door in Wittenburg, Germany. Do you know what the very first thesis was of the 95 that he wrote down? Here's what it said.
"When our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, said 'Repent," He willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance." It was that serious to the reformers. When Jesus Christ said "Repent," He willed that the entire life of the believer be one of repentance. Now, here's what Martin Luther did, fairly, by the way. He conflated both sides of the idea of repentance. I want you to stay with me here. Most of the time when you think of hearing, "Repent," you might think about the preacher on the stage who's yelling at people that are passing by who maybe aren't believers that need to become believers, right? That's repentance unto salvation. There is no question that that is talked about in the Scripture.
One of the aspects of that idea of repentance unto salvation, in other words, changing your mind that you can save yourself, changing your mind that you can somehow purge yourself of your sin, changing your mind that you can somehow present yourself as holy to God when you cannot, changing your mind to understand that only God can do that in and through His Son, Jesus Christ, on our behalf and it is through faith in Him that we can be reconciled to God. In other words, we have to change our mind to agree with God unto salvation. But do you know what? That in and of itself, this idea of repentance unto salvation, it's a gift. Did you know that? That this is a gift of a generous, gracious God? In fact, when Paul was talking to his protégé, Timothy, Timothy was facing some opposition. Notice what he said.
He said, "The Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome, but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents," in other words, opponents of the Gospel, "must be gently instructed in the hope that God will grant them repentance, leading them to a knowledge of the truth." That God will grant them repentance. Here's what you need to understand. God gives repentance as a gift so that we might be able to be saved. This is a beautiful reminder that God is the initiator in salvation. In fact, when you read about it in the book of Jonah, it says, "Salvation is of the Lord." God is the initiator of salvation. Here's what I wanna remind you of, ladies and gentlemen, just so you understand this. You cannot get saved anytime you want to.
It is only when, the Scripture says, John, chapter six, and other places, when the Father draws you. But here's the beautiful thing. Jesus actually said a few chapters later in John that when the Son of Man, He said, "If even I be lifted up, I will draw all people to myself." He is drawing through the death and resurrection of His Son so that we might be made new. This is repentance unto salvation and it's a beautiful thing, that God is the gracious initiator of this. But do you know what? In the New Testament, do you know that the vast majority of times that we talk about the word "repent" or "repentance," do you know that it's referencing believers? It's about believers.
Now, you say, "Well, that's confusing. What is that all about? I'm not sure if I really understand what's being said there." Well, let me pause for just a second. When somebody who is an unbeliever sins, listen to this, they are cooperating with their own nature. That's what sinful people do who have a sinful nature. Before I knew Jesus, whenever I sinned, I was cooperating with my corrupt, sinful nature. Therefore, when I ultimately repented, I changed my mind about my state, that I can't save myself, that only in Jesus can that happen. That was a gift of God to me that I had the opportunity to be able to do that in His graciousness. That was under repentance. When a believer sins, a believer is sinning against their nature. The Bible says that if any are in Christ, they are a new creation. The old is gone. All things have become new.
When we sin, we are actually sinning against our new nature that has been granted to us. In fact, listen to how Paul said this in Romans 6:1. "What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning as believers that grace may increase? By no means. We are those who have died to sin. How can we live in it any longer?" In other words, we've been given a new nature. We have died to sin. We've been made alive in Jesus Christ. When we sin, we are actually sinning against our nature. Therefore, as believers, when we repent, listen to this, when we repent we are actually agreeing with God about places in our life that we don't agree with God about. We are acknowledging that. We are turning from it and we are saying yes to Jesus and no to our corrupt way of thinking or our broken way of behaving.
In so doing, do you know what this is a part of the process of? Big word for you. Sanctification. This is a part of the process of us being- Here's what the sanctification means. It means being set apart from sin so that we can be set apart to God. That's what sanctification means. It means we are being formed more in the image of Jesus. That's why repentance for a believer is so important to the fundamental nature of who you and I are, because it's a beautiful concept because we're being shaped more and more into the image of Jesus. Now, before I take you down, and I'm not going to, but before I accidentally slip and fall into a theological wormhole and you start going, "Dude, I am not tracking with you now," and before I start using hyper-theological and hyper-technical language to describe all of this, I'm gonna back away from the cliff and I'm taking you with me.
We're all backing away from the wormhole. We're not gonna dive down it. What I'm going to do is I'm gonna show us a picture in the Scripture that maybe we can begin to understand a little bit better and that will change the way that we view this idea of repentance. In fact, one of the best places that I could think about would be if there was a place in the Bible where Jesus talked to a church about repentance. You know what? That's what I'm doing today. I'm talking to a church about repentance. You know what would be really helpful? If there was a place in the Bible where Jesus was talking to a church about repentance. We are so in luck because that does exist. When we get to the very last book in the Bible, the book of Revelation, the first chapter opens in this rapturous, glorious vision of Jesus where we see the resurrected Christ through this apocalyptic vision that has been given to John as he's exiled on the island of Patmos.
He sees the resurrected and ascended and glorified Christ. He falls down like he's dead, which you and I would both do the same thing. For crying out loud, if we saw an angel in our presence, we would fall down like we were dead. Imagine if it was the Creator of angels. John falls on his face like he's dead and then Jesus says, "I want you to get up. Here's what I wanna do. I wanna give you a prophetic word." He literally talks about this idea of prophecy. "A prophetic word for seven representative churches in Asia Minor." Now, of these seven churches, there's not only seven churches in Asia Minor, there were more planted than that, but He gives seven. He talked about a number of them, Pergamon and Smyrna and Ephesus and Thyatira, all these other places. But the one He gets to last is Laodicea.
Now, the way that this was played out is probably that John is going to be be distributing these along basically roadways and traveling corridors. That's how these seven, they're representative because they'll be able to go to all places. Laodicea is the last one of those that He gets to in Revelation, chapter 3. Now, you need to know a thing or two about Laodicea or, when we read this, it doesn't makes sense or we miss the point of what He's trying to say. Stay with me here. I don't do this just for my health. I don't give you background and context just because I think it's cool. I do it because it helps us read the Bible rightly. You'll see how important that is in just a second because you may very well have a misunderstanding of what's been traditionally said in this passage that you might go, "Oh. I didn't know that." Some of you do, some of you may not.
Here's the deal with Laodicea. Laodicea was famous in Asia Minor and here's why. Laodicea was super wealthy. They had all of the various financial and worldly resources that you could want. They were known for their banks or their financial institutions. You can read some of the historians of that time and they actually talk about going to Laodicea to do various financial transactions. They were known by this. Lots of people in the known world at that time came into that part of the Roman Empire to do their financial work. They were also what I would call the boutique of Asia Minor. In other words, they were fashion forward in this sense. They actually grew and developed and farmed these sheep that had black wool and they would take that black wool and they would sell these black wool tunics. It was known if you were walking around in a black wool tunic, you know, "Oh, they've been to Laodicea!" They had been to Laodicea, check it out! Just like you'd like think you'd been to somewhere in New York City or something.
They were known for that. They were also known for their medical innovation because they had an eye salve that was helping with vision impairment and they had some stuff that they also treated hearing loss with at the time. Again, they were very innovative in this way. This was an extraordinary place. This place was built on a roadway when normally in the ancient world you would build by natural resources. In other words, by water and places where you could farm and shelter and all that kind of stuff. That's not where Laodicea was built. It was built on a natural, manmade thoroughfare because they did a lot of business and all that kind of stuff. Now, why is that important? Even though they were super wealthy, and by the way, just an aside, when you look in history there was a huge earthquake in 60 AD. It affected so many places in Asia Minor and a number of the cities in Asia Minor just were basically laid waste. They were in rubble. Do you know the only one of those cities in that portion of the Roman Empire in Asia Minor that rebuilt itself without the help of Rome was Laodicea?
That's how wealthy they were. They didn't even need Rome's help to rebuild. They've got all of this self-sufficient, enormous wealth. But they had one problem. Because they were built on a manmade roadway and they weren't built in a place with natural resource, they had a water access problem. Now, near them was a town called Hierapolis. The reason it was called "Hierapolis" is because it was "higher opolis" than them. It was higher. In fact, it was up on this 300-foot escarpment that was not far from Laodicea. But where they were in Hierapolis, they were know for their hot freshwater springs. They were useful because people would bathe in them like saunas. They would feel better. It's almost like they were doing rehab. If they had an injury, they would get in those and they would be helpful for them.
We had one down there. Was it called the Myakka Springs, Edie, down in south Florida when we lived there? You're on the spot right now. She's looking at me like, "Don't ever do that. We're gonna have a discussion when we get home. You're not getting lunch. It's that simple. Don't ever put me on the spot." Sorry. She didn't look at me like that. There was this place, I think it was called the Myakka Hot Springs or something, whatever it was. The mineral springs, that's what they're called. They were super hot and we went over there one time and it was gross. I'm never going back. Kidding. If you live there, they're awesome. Frequent it. I'm sorry. The Chamber of Commerce just fired me from south Florida.
We would get it in. But it was warm, it was hot, it was pretty cool. Well, people in Hierapolis, that's what they did. They got in those hot springs and people would come from various places to be able to participate in that. That was super cool. But then, past Laodicea, there was a place called Colossae. You've heard of the book of Colossians. That's where it was written to, the city of Colossae. What Colossae was known for was their pure cold water that they had there as a natural resource. Here you've got pure, really cold, great water to use and in Hierapolis you've got this really hot springs that are natural hot springs. Then what happens is that water would come over this 300-foot escarpment and travel and make its way down to Laodicea.
But if you saw that escarpment, it was white and the reason is because it was basically full of calcium carbonate. This whole thing was calcified, basically. But the problem was is that when the water would go over it and would travel for so long and then make its way down to Laodicea, it was carrying now what we would call toxins, alums and various things that would get into the water. You've got all this carbonate that's getting into the water and other things that get into the water and it makes it toxic. It's not supposed to be drunk. By the time it gets to Laodicea, it's not even hot anymore. It's lukewarm. If you're a guest to Laodicea and you're just showing up in town and you're coming by to get you a fresh cup of water from your travel, you're gonna do this. "Oh, boy, this tastes like metal." You're gonna spew it out.
Why? It's basically toxic. It's not useful for being drunk. That helps us to understand what Jesus is saying to this church. I don't want you to miss it. Listen to what it says. Revelation 3:14. "To the angel of the church in Laodicea, write, 'These are the words of the amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God's creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other. So because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, "I am not rich. I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing," but you don't realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire so that you can become rich and white clothes to wear so you can cover your shameful nakedness and salve to put on your eyes so you can see.'"
You see, Jesus was actually talking to them in a context that was completely understandable to them. First of all, He introduces Himself. "I am the amen. I am the last word. I'm the faithful and true witness. Everything I say at every time, always, is going to be true and lead you in the way of righteousness. I am the ruler of God's creation. Everything that ever has been, it is by me and through me and for me have all things been made. I am overseeing all of them." Then here's what He says to them. "I know your works. I know your works. I'm the ruler of God's creation. I am the resurrected, glorified Creator of everything. I know your works."
He says, "You are neither hot nor cold. I wish you were one or the other." You see, where many people have made a mistake in reading this passage and not understanding the context and not understanding what Jesus was trying to say is that here's what you've done in your head. Hot is good, cold is bad, and lukewarm is somewhere in the middle and that's gross. Well, you got the middle part kind of right and you might have gotten the hot part right. But you didn't get the cold part right. Jesus here is not talking about hot is good, cold is bad. Jesus is doing something in an illustration by saying to us this. "I wish you were one or the other." Do you know any other time where Jesus, in all of Scripture, says, "I want you to be coldhearted to me?" "Here's my great prayer for you as my Bride. I want you to be coldhearted."
He's not saying that, so stop making Him say something He's not saying. Here's what He is saying. It's really simple once you understand the context. You're already figuring it out. Jesus is basically saying this to the church at Laodicea. "You know like Hierapolis' water? It's useful. People can get in it. They can be helped medicinally. It's useful. Hey, you know Colossae's water? It's really cold. It's useful. It's refreshing. It can help people. You know your water? Useless. It's useless." Jesus is saying, "I wish you were useful hot! I wish you were useful cold! But instead you are useless because you are lukewarm and you're toxic. Why? You think you've got everything that you need. You say that you're wealthy, but you can't see what I see. You're actually poor. You think you've got it all styled out because you're walking around in your black wool tunic from Laodicea and your outward image looks well."
Jesus says, "No, here's the problem. You're actually naked. You don't even know it. You know why you're naked? You're blind. Even though you're so innovative with all of your medical stuff and you've got this eye salve to help people's vision, you have not been able to see from my perspective what's going on inside of you and inside of the church. You've become useless." Are you seeing this? Is that a yes?
Okay. Now listen. Then Jesus says it. He says our word then. Notice what He says in verse 19. "Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline, so be earnest and," what? "Repent." Isn't it amazing that after Jesus tells them about their functional uselessness now, that he tells them that He loves them? It's the first thing that He says to them. "Those that I love I rebuke and I discipline, so be earnest." That word, "earnest," in the Greek language means "to be zealous for," to have a burning zeal for, to exert your energy towards something. He said, "I want you to have a burning zeal." To do what? To repent. To change your mind about the circumstance that you find yourself in because you think that this is useful. You think that loading up for yourself on all of your stuff is useful but it's not. You're being useless for the kingdom of God and I want you to change your mind.
Then what Jesus does right after saying that, He tells them to repent and then He gives them this picture, this metaphor. Here's what I've done. Inside of that metaphor there's four ways that we can see Jesus really clearly in four different pictures within this one metaphor. I've given each of them a name that I want you to see. It's really important that you see Jesus here. That's what's going to shape our understanding of repentance. Here's the first picture that we see of Jesus, that He's Lord of All. In fact, here's what I wanna show you. The very beginning words of Revelation 3:20 say this. Jesus says, "Here I am." You know what's really hard to miss there are the second two words. "I am."
You can't help but see that when you've read through the whole Revelation of who Jesus is and you see the words "I am." You understand that Jesus is the one who was, who is, and who is to come. He's the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the one without beginning and the one without end. He is the great I AM. Do you you know what He reminds us of right out of the gate? He is Lord of All because He is the great I AM. He says to them, "Here I am. I'm the ruler of God's creation. I see everything that's going on. You need to know that from the outset." But then notice the second picture that we see of Jesus, that He's a lenient landlord. You're going, "What in the world does that mean?" I'm gonna show you and I want you not to miss it.
Notice what it goes on to say in verse number 20. Jesus says, "Here I am." Listen to this. "I stand at the door and knock." Now, the picture that He's giving is this, is that Laodicea, because they have chosen their own self-sufficiency and their own wealth and their own resources and all of that stuff over Jesus, Jesus has given them a picture as if He has been kicked out, so to speak, of the church. He stands on the outside knocking. Now, you could picture this in a number of different ways. It's like He's on the outside of the church, but they didn't have church buildings back in that day. They were meeting in homes. That's what they did, functionally. You could picture it as Jesus on the outside of the home knocking on the door.
You could picture it as Jesus on the outside of the heart, so to speak, knocking on the door, even though as a believer Jesus never leaves the heart of a believer. He's just giving us this picture to show that He's not in the center of the activity of the church, but instead is on the outside. Do you know what's so astonishing about that? He's the owner. The owner is standing outside knocking. He owns the church. He owns the house. He owns the heart. This gracious gentleman, this incredibly humble landlord, is on the outside knocking. That's an astonishing picture. But you then go on to see Him as a loving family member. You see, even though He's a lenient landlord, He's the owner and yet He's on the outside knocking. I don't know too many people that own the place who spend their time outside knocking.
If someone wants to run me out of my house, I'm not knocking. I'm coming on in. Then I'm kicking tail and taking names. That's what's going down right there. Some of you are going, "For real?" Yes. No. Maybe. Depends. I wouldn't feel really good if somebody kicked me out of my own house. I'm not knocking on the door. I'm coming in. It's my house. I own it! But Jesus stands outside and He knocks. But now you've got this picture of a loving family member. Watch what happens. "Here I am. I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my knock?" No. "If anyone hears my voice and opens the door." Think about it this way. You've got a child. Let's say they're an adult child at this point. Maybe you're younger and this doesn't appeal to you, but whatever. Let's say they're an adult child at this point.
They live on their own somewhere. Maybe it's an apartment that you've helped them to buy. They've gotten themselves upside-down in a particular situation. Life has gone a little bit south for them. They've made some choices that aren't really good. You wanna go over there. You go and the first thing you do, you knock on the door. You get no response. Nothing. You knock on the door, nothing. Then what do you start doing? You open your mouth. "Honey? It's your mom. Hey, buddy. It's your dad. Open the door. Man, I love you. I wanna help. Open the door." It goes from knocking like a lenient landlord to an expression of love. He says, "If anyone hears my voice," not just my knock. It's almost an assumption, by the way, that you're gonna continue to wallow in your own stuff as I knock. "I wanna make sure that you hear my voice. It's me. It's Jesus. You know me, the one who bought you with my blood. The one who loves you with an everlasting love, so much so that I went to a cross and took your sin upon myself because I love you that much."
"It's me, the one who's the faithful and true witness who always tells you the truth, who never leads you in the wrong direction. It's me, Jesus." He's a loving family member. But then look at the last picture in this text. He's longing for intimate relationship. He's longing for intimate relationship. Look what the verse ends by saying. "Here I am. I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person and they with me." Listen to this. Keep that up there for just a second. Keep it up there for just a second. Here's what it says. "I will come in and beat the dog out of them. I will come in and belittle them because they've locked me out of their world." No. He says, "I will come in and eat with them."
Do you know that eating in the ancient world was one of the biggest forms of intimacy that you could embrace? That to share a meal with somebody was such an incredible form of intimacy in the ancient world? Here's what Jesus says. He says, "I'm knocking on the door. I'm calling your name. I'm telling you who I am. Here's why, because I wanna come in and I wanna bludgeon you." No. "I wanna come in and I wanna belittle you." No. "I wanna come in and I wanna pull up a chair and I wanna sit across a meal with you. I want you to see me. I want you to see where you're not thinking right. What your thinking is doing is leading to death instead of life and I want you to see that because I love you." Let me ask you something. Does that picture of repentance sound mean and ugly and harsh and condemning, or does it sound like I promised you it would? Beautiful. Do you know why repentance is beautiful? Jesus is beautiful.
This is why. At the end of the day, what does He ask the church to do? Please stay with me here. Stay with me for the last few minutes, even if I go a couple minutes over. It's worth your time. What did He ask the church to do? Open the door. The one thing He said, He said, "I want you to repent," and then He gives this picture. "Here I am. I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with them." This is the picture. Opens the door. What's the door? That's your question, right? That's the $80 million question. What's the door? Some of you are going, "Well, the door is my sin." No, it's not. You can't deal with your own sin. You think you can deal with your own sin? That's not it.
You know what the door is? Belief. It's belief in Jesus. It's belief that if we actually, ladies and gentlemen, believe that Jesus is the final word, we'll let Him in. If we actually believe that He is the faithful and true witness no matter what's going on in our life, we'll let Him in. If we believe that He's the ruler of God's creation, we will let Him in. Let me give you a definition of repentance that is so non-technical, that is simple for us to understand based right out of this passage of Scripture. Here you go. Repentance is letting Jesus in your life through the door of belief. Repentance is letting Jesus in your life through the door of belief. Let me ask you a couple of questions. Where in your life are you not opening the door of belief to Jesus if you're a believer? Where in your life is that happening?
Maybe you have gotten into a place like Laodicea has, where you're trusting in your own self-sufficiency, your own resources. You've got everything you need, so you don't really need Jesus. I want you to understand that even when you think that you have everything you need, you could end up actually being pitiful, poor, blind, wretched, and naked, just like Laodicea. Just because life is good doesn't mean you don't need Jesus. You only let Him in when things are bad. "Come fix this for me, Jesus." What you're saying is you want Jesus to be a part of your life and Jesus says, "I want to be your life." Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life." He is life. Maybe for some of us, we've been more concerned about what's on the outside, like in Laodicea, keeping up appearances.
They've got the black wool tunics. Things seem to be good on the outside, and they've paid no attention to what's going on inside here. They've locked Him out because they're too busy with their image. Maybe that has to do with, you know, your latest haircut or the clothes that you wear or your body and all of the stuff associated with that, and that's your fixation. You've let this go. Maybe it's just your image management on social media, that you want everybody to see this face and this person on Instagram and you're more consumed with image management of the outside than you are about letting Jesus into the inside. What you need to do, listen to me, is you need to repent. Here's what that means. Let Jesus in. He wants you to see this a different way completely. He wants to lead you away from the things that lead to darkness and bring you into the places that are places of light.
Maybe for you it's the secret stuff, the things that you think nobody else sees. The pornography addiction. The unfaithfulness to the spouse that you think nobody's paying attention to and that you've gotten away with. Jesus says, "Here I am. Here I am, Lord of all creation. I know your works. You're not fooling me. We need to get it right." Maybe it's your gambling addiction or your opioid addiction or your alcoholism that you feel like you're managing and you're keeping away from everybody, but here's what Jesus says. "I want you to let me into that." This is what repentance looks like. "Let me into that. Let's bring this into the midst of the light and see what I can do with that." Maybe you've just given up on people around you that you maybe thought about sharing your faith with and you've given up on it.
"Oh, they're not paying any attention." You need to open the door of belief and let Jesus back in. You forget that He is sovereign over all and that He is the initiator and you don't know when, you don't know how, you don't know where. The Spirit blows where it will. It's like the wind. You don't know where it comes from and where it's going, but you see its effects. You need to open the door of belief and let Him back in. I don't know what it may be for you, but all of us as believers need to live lives, listen to this, of repentance and repentance is a beautiful thing. We're not trying in repenting to gain our salvation, because that's already been graced to us by our faith in Jesus, that God has granted that to us. We are repenting as believers because we wanna agree with God about where we don't agree with God so that our lives can be transformed more and more into the image of Jesus, because that's what the world needs to see, Jesus in us.
The reason repentance is so beautiful is because Jesus is so beautiful and that's who we want the world to see. I hope that God, by His Spirit, is reorganizing this whole idea in your head right now. Here's what I want you to do. I want you to take a moment and think about that. Would you bow your head for just a moment? Here's what I wanna ask you to do. I'm gonna ask you out of kindness here in this room in the East Worship Center, with your heads bowed, your eyes closed for just a moment, out of respect to the people around you. If you'd say, "Jerry, you know what? Even while you were talking, God was showing me some things in my own heart that I need to let Him in on, that for whatever reason, maybe my pride, maybe my shame, whatever it is, I've not let Him in. But I know I need to do that. I want you to pray for me even while you're praying for yourself. I want you to pray for me."
Nobody looking around, please. I'm asking out of courtesy, out of kindness, to the people around you, out of respect for them. But if that's you, and it could be anything, but God's shown you something along that line that you need to let Jesus in on, would you just put your hand up in the air for a moment, just acknowledging that before Him? All over the room, just acknowledge that before Him. I do wanna pray for you even as you pray for yourself. You need to do business with Him. You can put your hands down, thanks. I'm gonna pray for you in just a moment. I wanna remind you, as well, that if you're here and you've never come a place where you've put your faith and trust in Jesus, where you've turned from your sin and embraced Jesus as Savior, your need is repentance unto salvation, that you stop believing that you can be the master of your own destiny, that you can somehow save yourself, that your good works are somehow gonna force God's hand.
None of those things are true. They're lies of the enemy to keep you from God. You need to understand that it's only by grace that we are saved through faith, and this is not of ourselves. It is a gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. If that's your need, when we dismiss in just a moment, I hope you'll come by the Fireside Room and you'll let one of our pastors, prayer partners, talk to you for just a moment. Father, for every single need, you've seen it because you see our hearts. You are the Lord of the church. You're the owner of everything. You're the Lord of All. There's nothing in our minds, nothing in our hearts, nothing that we've done that is secret to you. Even if we've pulled the shades over some people's eyes around us, God, you see it all.
But even in the midst of that, you say to us that you love us and you knock on the door even when we continue to act like we don't hear it. But then we hear you call our name. "Jerry, it's Jesus. The one who loves you more than anybody loves you. Open the door. Let me in. I want you to see what life really looks like. I wanna show you how your mind can change so that the direction of your life can change." Father, whatever the issue may be in any of the hearts of people that have acknowledged it or those that haven't, I pray that by faith and surrender in this wonderful cooperation with your Spirit that you would grant them this opportunity, God, to open the door of belief and let you in and that they would begin to unpack that in their own hearts and that they would do works consistent with people who are saying no to things that are inconsistent with your heart.
Jesus, we trust you to do this. By the power of your Spirit, you can break every chain. We pray you'll do that in our hearts, God, as we cooperate with your Spirit. In Jesus' name. Look at me for a second before you leave. I wanna remind you of something that Oswald Chambers said. He said, "The entrance into the Kingdom of God is through the sharp, sudden pains of repentance colliding with man's respectable goodness. Then the Holy Spirit, who produces these struggles, begins the formation of the Son of God in the person's life. This new life will reveal itself in conscious repentance followed by unconscious holiness. Never the other way around. The foundation of Christianity is repentance."
Ladies and gentlemen, repentance in the life of a believer is beautiful because Jesus is beautiful. He's good. Let Him into every part, every place, every secret because He wants to form in us His own life. That's what the world needs to see. They need to see Jesus in us. Know that I love you. Change your mind.