A sermon preached at New Hope Lutheran Church, West Melbourne, FL on November 28, 2010 by Pastor Dale Raether Repent! Isaiah 2:1-5Which would you prefer - going through an airport scanner or getting patted down? I don’t like either, but if you want to fly these days, those are your choices. Now, as embarrassing as it is to go through airport security, how do you feel about going through God’s security to get to heaven’s gate? His scans reveal everything – what’s in our heart, every thought we’ve ever, and it’s not pretty. God even sees those things we weren’t aware of or don’t remember anymore. But unless our scan shows we are clean of sin root and all, He cannot let us through. But that is not His will for us. Today is the First Sunday in Advent. Advent means coming. We are looking forward to celebrating Jesus’ first coming. And so, yeah, we’re going to be busy the next couple of weeks with Christmas decorations, shopping, parties, and so on. However the best celebration of Jesus’ first coming is getting ready for His second. But how do we get ready? In one word REPENT! In our text this morning we not only get to see God’s scan of us, but He will let us see a scan of Himself and what He’s thinking and feeling about us. As a result we are going to know 1. What it means to repent. 2. How we get repentance. 3. How repentance shows in our life.Old Testament Israel needed to repent. Militarily things were going well. They had more armies and territories than they had ever had before or would have. Economically things were going well too. Even the middle classes had plenty of time and money for riding around in their chariots, building big houses for themselves, and partying. As you might guess, morally, things were not so well. There were a lot of broken homes, the killing of unwanted babies, homosexuality, and corruption at every level of government. Also, the church wasn’t speaking out against these things. Instead preachers would say what people wanted to hear, and so their worship was nothing more than going through the motions so they could feel good about themselves without having to repent. So, how long can God be patient with such a country? In the verses before our text, God’s patience with His people was about up. We read, “When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you; even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening.” Is God seeing anything on your scan that would cause Him to not answer your prayers? A point Isaiah makes very clearly throughout his book is that true repentance is more than just acknowledging that something is a sin and then not doing that anymore. For example if a drunk stops drinking, if he hasn’t changed his heart, he’s just a dry drunk. Or, in the October issue of Forward in Christ, there was an excellent article on pornography addiction. The person, who gets caught by his spouse and so stops looking at that stuff, if he hasn’t changed his heart, will be just as focused on himself as ever. But we might say, “I’ve never been involved with any of those things.” Good! But God says in Romans, “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things – Romans 2:1.” Remember it’s thought, word, and deed in regards to every kind of sin. And so, true repentance is acknowledging the sinfulness that’s in us too. And while we might be wearing very nice spiritual clothes, God sees our heart. And because of what He sees, there is no way He can let us through to heaven. Yet there is a way! Again we read in verses before our text, “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool – Isaiah 1:18.” The first part of repentance is that we face our sinfulness. The second part of repentance is that we trust in Jesus. He gives us a clean scan. He lived a perfect life in our place and paid for our every sin. Therefore repent means not only that turn that we turn away from sin. It also means that we let Jesus be our Savior, 100% - not 90% by what He did for us and 10% by how hard we try or even by how sorry we are, but 100% Jesus, Jesus, only Jesus. But now how do we get repentance, so that there is a real change in our heart? We read in our text, “In the last days the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and all nations will stream to it – Isaiah 2:2.” In the lasts days… the New Testament identifies this as the time period from Pentecost to Jesus’ return in glory. We are in the last days. The mountain of the Lord’s temple is not that building that once stood in Jerusalem. The mountain in picture language for Golgotha and the Lord’s temple is Jesus himself. This mountain, God lifted up to be the only way to heaven, and every other “truth” or religion or philosophy will fail. Also as we look to the Lord’s temple, we are seeing a scan of how God really feels about us. Furthermore as we continue to look into the heart of God, the Holy Spirit draws us to Jesus to put our trust in Him, so that by faith His merits are credited to us as righteousness. In other words through Christ, there is absolutely nothing in us or on us that could keep us out of heaven, but only all that Jesus has done for us. We read on in our text, “Many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the temple of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.” The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem – Isaiah 2:3.” Zion and Jerusalem represent the Holy Christian Church. God teaches us His ways through His pastors and through His people; and this is what repentant people want. They want encouragement against laziness. They want their lives to be in true conformity to God’s will. They want their beliefs to be in line with everything God tells us in Word. On the other hand if a person doesn’t want any of these things, He’s still got more repenting to do. If this includes you a little bit, the good news is Isaiah tells us that God will purify our faith as in a refiner’s fire. Do you understand that picture? Gold is purified by heating it up to its melting point and then scrapping off the scum. Our faith is more precious than gold, but unfortunately it still has plenty of scum on it. The way God purifies our faith is by melting it in the fires of suffering, so that we let go of everything we hold more precious than Jesus, and then stand in amazement that Jesus is holding on to us. This realization causes our faith to shine with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. I don’t know about you, but when I turn God’s scanner on myself, these qualities are not shining in me like they should. Instead like Paul I have to keep confessing that the good I want to, I don’t; and the sin I don’t want, I do. However, having a sinful nature isn’t an excuse, and I have more repenting to do. But this brings me back and I pray it brings you back too to how God gives us repentance. Through the Law He shows us our hearts. Through the Gospel He shows us His heart. And so through the WORD, God keeps working repentance in us, until even unbelievers have to admit there’s something different about us – in a good way. But what if our growth in the Word is week? What if we say we don’t have time or we don’t have the strength to follow through and actually open up or Bible or come to Bible Class and then pray about it? God would describe all of that with one word – scum. But pray, if you dare, that He purify your faith and make you more faithful to His Word every day.We read on in our text, “He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore – Isaiah 2:4.” It’s frightening to ask God to purify our faith, because what if we don’t like how He does it? These words are for our comfort. They describe the New Testament church and how repentance leads people who can’t get along to get along. This makes sense, because whoever believes He’s saved by grace cannot look down on another, but he will freely forgive and gladly do good to all, even those who sin against him. However, this verse extends beyond this life. It’s also a picture of the peace that we’ll enjoy with each other in heaven. And so, it’s good that as we look to Jesus, we also look to all of His blessings and promises, because that is how God strengthens us for our refining. And more refining is coming! However, this is not a bad thing, because repentant hearts want to be pure before God. Furthermore in His time, Jesus does renew our strength. He does lift us up and give us every good thing just like parents love to give good things to their children on Christmas morning. Still, the best present of all that God wants to give us is a repentant heart. Today we have begun a sermon series on the Book of Isaiah. Now through Christmas and into Epiphany Isaiah is going to getting us ready for Christ’s return. If we believe we need a repentant heart, if we believe God gives us a repentant heart through His Word, this Advent Season, let’s get serious about being in the Word. Let’s also get serious about inviting others and managing God’s resources, so that many more may be given a repentant heart! However all this takes commitment and follow through, doesn’t it. In fact not having commitment and follow through is like getting out boxes of Christmas decorations and leaving them in the box. And so, we are going to have an opportunity to renew our commitment to God. After God has prepared our hearts during Advent, and after He has revealed His heart at Christmas, we will have a special rededication at Epiphany to start our New Year off right. We will say with the wise men, “Come, let us worship Him; let us bring Him our gifts, and let us walk in His light.” God bless us this month, that we may ever have repentant hearts and that it shows in our lives. Amen.

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