TRUE AND FALSE REPENTANCE

SERMON BY CHARLES FINNEY

TEXT.--For godly sorrow worketh repentance into[unto] salvation, not to be repented of; but the sorrow of the world worketh death.--2 CORINTHIANS vii. 10.

IN this chapter the apostle refers to another epistle, which he had formerly written to the church at Corinth, on a certain subject, in which they were greatly to blame. He speaks here of the effect that it had, in bringing them to true repentance. They sorrowed after a godly sort. This was the evidence that their repentance was genuine.

"For behold this self-same thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter."

In the verse which I have taken for my text, he speaks of two kinds of sorrow for sin, one working repentance unto salvation, the other working death. He alludes to what is generally understood by two kinds of repentance. And this is the subject of discourse to-night.

TRUE AND FALSE REPENTANCE.

In discoursing on the subject, I design to show

I. What true repentance is:

II. How it may be known:

III. What is false and spurious repentance:

IV. How it may be known:

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The Comfort of His Arms

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NKJV)

When God’s love is in us, God provides such comfort and love when we go through tests. We are then able to comfort others when they are going through their own trials and tribulations. Going through the tests of life are so uncomfortable. I know -- I’m going through one that is stretching me beyond belief. The only thing getting me through is knowing that God doesn’t give you more than you can handle and He doesn’t leave you in the middle of your situation. Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins so that we could have a chance at eternal life. As Christ suffered for our sins, so we must suffer. From the day we are born we know that trouble is a part of this Christian walk. The Apostle Paul had to suffer discomforts and go through difficult times to bring forth the gospel. Paul explained that when you are comforted, it makes you able to withstand those times when you go through personal struggles. Also when we see someone struggling with a problem we recently over came, then our testimony to them on how we came out of it will provide comfort to them. If you are struggling, remember that the tests of life are designed to get us to a point where we realize that the only one who can help us is God. It’s similar to having a savings account for a rainy day. You know the rainy day is going to come and when it does, you pull out the extra money saved. I believe this is what the Apostle Paul was saying, that when he is comforted, he is able to give encouraging words to others in times of trouble. The more troubles we face the more comfort God gives. We may be the ones that others look to for comfort during their “rainy” days.

Dear Heavenly Father, please wrap your comforting arms around us. Help us to know that when we need comfort, we have to look no further than your loving arms. Amen.

By Kimberly (New Jersey, USA)

AFFLICTIONS OF THE RIGHTEOUS AND THE WICKED CONTRASTED.

SERMON BY CHARLES FINNEY

 

 

"For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory."--2 Cor. 4:17. Read also Psalm 73.

 

Few things are more interesting than to contemplate the contrast every where drawn in the Bible between the righteous and the wicked. No man can thoroughly study this contrast without being greatly affected by it. Throughout the Bible we find this contrast drawn in the strongest colors respecting their character, their afflictions, their joys, their entire earthly course, and their final destiny. It is my design in this discourse to notice some particulars.

Our text from St. Paul's Epistle to the Corinthians speaks of the righteous. It affirms that their afflictions are light, are transient, and productive of augmented glory. We have another passage of similar import which asserts that "all things work together for good to them that love God."

The Bible throughout holds language directly opposite to this respecting the wicked.

But I am first to give a few particulars respecting the case of the righteous.

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Empty Your Pockets

Bible Verse:
Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, and make Holiness perfect in the fear of God." 2 Cor. 7:1 (The New American Standard Bible)

Text:
I was putting some clothes in the washing machine last night and a thought crossed my mind. Over the years I've learned many lessons from my mother who went home to be with the Lord several years ago. As I think back on them now with a parental perspective, I realize many of the lessons were taught in a timely fashion with strong reinforcement also at appropriate times. For example, I was still in High School when she gave me detailed instructions in the Laundry Arts and Sciences. The step by step manual of instruction was always prefaced with a clear admonition to "empty your pockets" before putting clothing in the washing machine. Ball point pens, paper products, chewing gum (still wrapped), lint and dirt, rock samples and other sundry items were all emptied on a table for closer inspection and then transferred to their appropriate locations (often other pockets). The reasons for this preliminary step to cleanliness are obvious, especially if you've run through the various wash and spin cycles your favorite L. L. Bean shirt with a Flexgrip fine ball point pen in the left breast pocket. No doubt the Apostle Paul didn't have L.L. Bean shirts to worry about, much less gum wrappers, ball point pens and automatic wash and dry cycles. He seems to be addressing the need to empty all pockets regularly when he urged the members of the church at Corinth to be cleansed of every defilement of body and spirit, and to make Holiness perfect in the fear of the Lord. So when is the last time you emptied your pockets? For some it may be a difficult task just sorting through the piles of clothes and other stuff that accumulate in our lives, much more to empty the pockets of stuff that impede our fellowship with Him and our brothers and sisters in Christ. Nevertheless – "As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, 'You shall be Holy for I am Holy.'" (1 Peter 1:14-15)

Ending Prayer:
Father, prompt us often to empty our pockets of those things that will hinder our fellowship, worship and praise of you. Amen.

By Don (Maine)

 

Heaven - The Real World

Edward blinked several times and stared at the doctor. His mind was searching, grasping as his emotions churned inside of him. "How should I feel?" Edward thought to himself as a variety of emotions caused him to shift several times in his chair?

The doctor continued, "I have seen cancer like this and honestly I don’t think that you can expect to live more than several months. I’m sorry."

At this moment Edward found out a very real truth about our existence on earth; it is fragile. The idea that we have the ability to control circumstances is more an illusion than a reality. As Edward just found out, there are many things that are not within our ability to control more than we care to admit. If we do not accept this fact, we are in for a lot of disillusionment and pain.

If life defies our finest efforts to control it, if life is bigger than us, how can we make sense of our existence and bring some order and predictability to it? I believe that it has a great deal to due with our perspective of life. We must have a big enough picture to allow us to make sense of the many situations and issues we will face. If our focus doesn’t go beyond today, we may become discouraged, disoriented or be unable to deal well with unexpected problems that come our way. Take Edward for instance, his routine problems paled in comparison to his unexpected, approaching death. If his model of life was too small to handle the impact of his approaching death, he would have to scramble to enlarge it or sink into despair.

When we talk about perspective (our focus), we are talking about how we view life in our own unique way. It is the way we think about life, the way we see life. The way we think about things is similar to the beam of a spotlight shining in the clear night air. On a dark night, a spotlight will illuminate a small circle of light while the rest of the night remains wrapped in darkness. Everything outside the beam of light is beyond our field of vision.
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Healing Will Come

Heal me, O Lord, and I will be healed…” Jeremiah 17:14 (NIV)
Further Reading:  2 Corinthians 4:7-5:9

 
My uncle was in the Intensive Care Unit on oxygen and feeding tubes from a mini stroke, and my Aunt was talking to my 4 year old daughter telling her that Uncle Jim was very sick. “But Aunt Edie, Jesus is strong. He made me better. He can make Uncle Jim better too.” My heart was moved. Such hope and trust came from those little girl’s words. However, I knew that he would not make it. Then the thought came to me: there will be healing either way, here on earth or if he goes home.

Our loved ones might not be healed here on earth, but they will be healed in the presence of the Great Physician. For those of us in God’s family, we have a hope that those we love are healed and that we will see them again. He is a God that heals. I know my uncle is enjoying the fellowship with His Father face to face, and I wouldn’t wish to take that away from him.

Loving Father, we thank you for the peace and comfort you give to us in knowing our loved ones are healed and in your presence. Amen.

Cover Ministry Gifts with the Blood of Jesus

For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds. 2 Corinthians 10:4 (KJV)
 
Nearly 10 years ago, I was involved in my church's publications ministry. It was in that experience that I learned writing can be a gift.
 
It was also there that I learned of the spiritual warfare involved. From personal relationships to health issues, we were challenged. We dug in our heels and fought in prayer. However, the battling took its toll. Things happened within the church that prompted me to leave, and after several situations and also the busy-ness of life, my writing was tucked to the side.
 
Recently, using the writing gift as it is intended beckoned me gently back. I've enjoyed digging out journals and going through scads of notes, and what a thrill in seeking the Lord in the stories He wants told.
 
Yet I am not ignorant of  the spiritual warfare involved, and am proceeding with caution and prayer.

During a recent Christian writer's conference, I was a bit disappointed that during the five days, the topic of the importance of prayer covering was only addressed once by a presenter. I believe it is crucial for believers, no matter what area of ministry they are in, to be aware of the wiles of the enemy, and to be "prayed up."
 
No, we are not to be afraid, but at the very least, believers should pray and ask the Lord's guidance, and seek His protection as we go forward in His work. To not do that, and to not instruct others to do so, is naive and potentially harmful.
 
Precious Father, thank You for ministry gifts. You tell us in Your word that to whom much is given, much is required. May we be mindful that we are all engaged in battle, and we are to pray without ceasing. We will go forth without fear because we are Yours, and we shall emerge victorious! Use us for Your service, and may we bring glory to Your name. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Dirty Job

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)
 
One of my favorite TV shows is “Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe”. Mike and his film crew find the filthiest occupations and demonstrate how these jobs are accomplished. Past episodes included: removing chewing gum from New York City streets, cockroach and rat extermination, and gathering snakes for research. My favorite episode was learning how they dispose of tons of food and drinks leftover from restaurants in LasVegas. This food waste was reprocessed and fed to pigs in a mega-pig farm. One of Mike’s jobs was to reach into the putrid-looking mess and grab out bones, bottles, and paper products which could cause harm to the hogs. I’m sure it reeked!
 
Another time, Mike and crew gutted a home ravaged by Hurricane Katrina the year before. The home’s brick exterior looked good but they hauled out a mountain of moldy furniture, decayed food, rodents, and ruined wall-board from inside. They removed a ceiling fan whose blades had wilted from moisture. The crew sprayed mold killer throughout the structure before starting the remodeling. This house promised to become a beautiful renovation.
 
Did you know that God does the same thing to our hearts? As humans, we don’t realize how putrid our sin is to God. Little sins or big sins – all sin separates us from God. We may look good on the outside, but we need cleansed hearts, as only God can do. When we ask Him to forgive us, He cleanses our filth and shame and makes us into new creatures. God remembers our sins no more. We feel clean after a relaxing bath, but how much more so, when God cleans our hearts.
 
Lord, please cleanse my heart and help me turn from my sinful ways. Amen.

Living Truth

We renounce secret and shameful ways, we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. 2 Corinthians 4:2 (NIV)

It began with a few lies and with not telling the whole truth to my husband. Over the years the lying became a lifestyle. I was in so deep on the little lies that making the jump to the big ones wasn’t even a stretch. What possibly started out as “white” ended up in a muddy mess.

I had a relationship with God, but it wasn’t based on honesty either. I reached a place where it seemed there was no truth in my life whatsoever. I asked God why I couldn’t be closer to Him, why my marriage was so complicated and unfulfilling. I thought He was silent, but now I know that I refused to believe God’s truth. 

Hitting bottom with my deception led me to Scripture. With a small study of the Bible, I learned that by not telling the whole truth, I was actually being deceptive and was distorting God’s word. I knew it was time for a change.

My new life began with telling little truths and progressed to being completely honest in every situation. My husband and I were so encouraged when the “mud” started to clear. Now, when my relationships seem cloudy, I find it helpful to check if I am telling little lies or distorting the word of God by deceiving others.

Thank you God for rescuing me and for transforming my life into an authentic, truthful way of living. Amen.

Trouble is Temporary, God is Eternal

We are pressed on every side, yet not crushed; perplexed, yet not to despair; pursued, yet not forsaken; struck down, yet not destroyed; always carrying in the body the putting to death of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. II Corinthians 4:8-10 (KJV)

What a day!! This hasn’t been one of my best days! It seems like everything that could go wrong, did. I ran from one problem to the next. Everything went wrong! Worse yet, I am replaying all of the bad points of my day over and over again in my mind, reliving the disappointment, the accidents, the mistakes, the sins, and all the misery that came with it. 

However, there’s good news! If you look at all the things that Paul outlines in 2nd Corinthian, they pretty much mirror how our bad days go. But all those things are temporary! Paul looks to define what is temporary, versus what is permanent. We may be pressed, which is temporary, but not crushed, which would be permanent. We are perplexed but for a minute, but not doomed to permanent despair. We are pursued, it seems, on all sides by evil people looking to do evil things for no good reason. But we are never forsaken or abandoned by God. We are struck down, but never destroyed. 

I do not attempt to make light of trouble. When we are in the storm, it is hard to see anything but the storm. When we feel beat up, it’s hard to look to, look forward to, brighter days. But they are coming! If we could only look to the weather forecast, it would show us that sunny skies are in the future forecast. We the faithful still have hope, and our hope is in nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. 

While in your storm, stay prayerful, stay encouraged, stay faithful, and stay on the battlefield. God is there with you, and He is still bigger than any storm.

Father, in the name of Jesus, I thank you for being by my side. I pray that you would continue to guide me and bless me through good and bad. Thank you for being God all by yourself. In Jesus name: Amen.

The Joy of Creation

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)

During one of my morning walks down our little country road in Amish Country, the day was particularly bright and fresh. The colors, the smells, the abundance of living, growing things were almost more than my eyes and spirit could take in. Dozens of bluebirds perched on a weathered pasture fence singing, watching, flitting, fluffing, fluttering. Wild flowers in many colors of blues, purples, yellows, pinks, and reds lined both sides of the road and provided dramatic contour in all different shapes, sizes and heights. Growing hay was rich in the newness of life as it reached for the sky. Fat round tomatoes bursting with juicy meat showed red against green vines. New colts with clean shiny black and brown coats played together as they learned to run, kick and chase. Four tiny Amish children went by in a wagon pulled by a brown and white pony who tossed his head to and fro. The boys had on clean pressed clothes, straw hats, suspenders and were barefoot. The girls wore bonnets with hair pulled up tight and had on starched white aprons. Cherubic faces turned to me in greeting.

As the breeze softly began to kiss the leaves in the trees, the trees ruffled their contentment at just being alive. My feelings were unexpected. I felt sure I would burst from the sheer joy of discovery of each and every color, sound, shape, and event. Divine creation surrounded me. The love of my Father filled my soul.

The Bible says when we believe, we are a new creation in Christ. Touched by the Maker’s hands we become a marvelous new creature, fearfully and wonderfully made. Gone is the shadow of this world, bursting with the life of His Spirit we emerge.

Heavenly Father, thank you for creating me. Thank you for my life. Help me to see, each and every day, the wonders of your hands that surround me. Amen.