The On-Going Power of Repentance



The word, “Repentance” conjures up for present-day society images of hypocrisy. We see images from Sinclair Lewis’ novel of expose, religious hypocrisy and social protest, “Elmer Gantry.” We see. . .

Sweaty, hoarse voiced evangelists calling people to leave their tent-meeting seats and walk down sawdust strewn aisles to sit at wooden plank “mourner’s benches,” wailing over their sins, both real and imagined.

When literal, heart-felt repentance occurred in my life I was 29 years of age. I read a testimony book in 1969 by Pat Boone, “A New Song.” After reading the book and being much affected by Pat Boone’s sincerity and deep levels of self-disclosure, I was struck by the convicting power of the Holy Spirit. The only to describe the effect of God’s power on my personal life is by analogy.

Have you ever awakened in the night with a stomach ache? You knew the only remedy you had was to kneel before the ceramic throne in the bathroom and “give it your all.” But the process of emptying out is discomforting, humiliating and painful. The process is called “catharsis:” the purging or emptying out of something that offends.

Well, this particular experience of catharsis involved a need to purge myself spiritually. I wasn’t sure I knew how to accomplish this, and I didn’t trust religious rituals to help me with this task. I discovered in a practical way the power of 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He (God) is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  I decided in a determined and disciplined way to confess to God just what was offending me.

The process of repentance I entered into took me more than 30 months and resulted in an experience with God that forever changed my life. This sermon explores in a deep way the on-going power of repentance and its power over guilt, sin and death.

February 18, 2007, Sheepfold Ministries

Rev. Phil Roland

The On-Going Power of Repentance

Luke 3:1-17

"True, heart-felt repentance is not a one-time event: it is a continuing part of the lives of those who would walk with Jesus."                                Pastor Phil Roland

“Except you repent, you shall all likewise perish.” Luke 13:3-5; esp. v.3

GREEK = metagnoia  = META-GNOIA = “With Another Mind”

                             “Changed thinking that results in changed actions”



“And he went into all the region around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. . .”

 “So the people asked him, saying, "What shall we do then?"

            A. Repentance is a Divine Command – We Hear and Obey

                        1. We Acknowledge our own Sin

                        2. We take Responsibility for our own Actions

            B. Embrace Pain and Guilt and Make it your Teacher


“So the people asked him, saying, "What shall we do then?"

            A. Repentance at Peter’s Pentecost Sermon – Acts 2:37

            “Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the

rest of the apostles, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?"

B. Paul and Silas with the Philippian Jailer - Acts 16:30,31

And he brought them out and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"

So they said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and

your household."

            1. “What shall I do. . .?”

            2. “What shall WE do. . .?”


            A. John’s baptism is not the point: Kingdom Principle

                        1. Spiritual Revelation Demands Physical Response

                        2. Inward Change Must be Evidenced by Outward Action/Response

            B. Believer’s Baptism by Conversion


A. Repentance is like Coffee Perking: It Always Precipitates Downward

B. Four Paradigm Shifts needed: Four Responses

                        1. Jews must cease relying on Racial Heritage – v. 8

2. Materialists must share their wealth

                        3. Tax Collectors must stop their cheating

                        4. Soldiers must stop false accusations, intimidation and be content

            C. Blaming/Shaming Blocks Repentance – Own it! Be Responsible!


The On-Going Power of Repentance, Texts:

Luke 3:1-17

Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene,

2  while Annas and Caiaphas were high priests, the word of God came to John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.

3  And he went into all the region around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins,

4  as it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, saying: "The voice of one crying in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the LORD; Make His paths straight.

5  Every valley shall be filled And every mountain and hill brought low; The crooked places shall be made straight And the rough ways smooth;

6  And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.'"

7  Then he said to the multitudes that came out to be baptized by him, "Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

8  "Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.

9  "And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire."

10  So the people asked him, saying, "What shall we do then?"

11  He answered and said to them, "He who has two tunics, let him give to him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise."

12  Then tax collectors also came to be baptized, and said to him, "Teacher, what shall we do?"

13  And he said to them, "Collect no more than what is appointed for you."

14  Likewise the soldiers asked him, saying, "And what shall we do?" So he said to them, "Do not intimidate anyone or accuse falsely, and be content with your wages."

15  Now as the people were in expectation, and all reasoned in their hearts about John, whether he was the Christ or not,

16  John answered, saying to all, "I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

17  "His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather the wheat into His barn; but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire."
















Alternate Narrative


It was not uncommon in 18th century England for a boy to spend several boring months in a boarding school and then head out to sea. That happened to the young man I’m telling you about this morning. When he was a boy of 11, his father, a ship master, took him on board. That early training was helpful for when two years later he was impressed into the British Navy. Yet, the young fellow never learned discipline. He was arrested for desertion, flogged publicly and demoted to the rank of a common sailor.

As a teenager he received permission to sail with the H.M.S. HARWICH, bound for the African coast. The young man had become by now the rotten apple among his peers.  Mocking authority, the youth chose poor friends and “sank into the depths of vice.” In Africa he fell into even more trouble in the service of a slave dealer. He was fascinated with the slave trade, but before he knew it, he found himself laboring alongside the slave dealer’s slaves.

At twenty-one the young man managed to escape. He hopped an outbound ship called the “Greyhound,” and quickly returned to the depravity of his teen years. He associated with the lowest of the crew members. He ridiculed religion of any form.

One night the Greyhound was headed out to sea into a storm. Our young man awakened to discover his cabin was filled with seawater. The Greyhound’s side had caved in and she was going down. The ship held a very buoyant cargo that preserved her from damage that would ordinarily have sent her to the bottom o f the sea. After nine continuous hours at the pumps, the young fellow cried out,

“If this will not do, the Lord have mercy on us!”

Unwittingly, our young reprobate had uttered his first prayer! The Greyhound did not go down, and the young man never forgot God’s answer to his prayer of repentance. He left the ship’s gangplank to never again travel the seas in search of adventure. Our “bad boy” turned “good boy” and became a minister and writer of Christian hymns.

He remembered his distant past with the now immortal words,

“A-mazing Grace!  How sweet the sound!

That saved a wretch like me!

I once was lost, but now am found,

Was blind, but now I see!”

Our young man who learned about the ON GOING POWER OF REPENTANCE was JOHN NEWTON!



































The On-Going Power of Repentance


This excerpt is from Russian Novelist and writer, Leo Tolstoy in his book, MY CONVERSION:

“Five years ago my faith came to me: I believed in Jesus Christ , and all my life suddenly changed. I ceased to desire that which previously I desired, and on the other hand, I took to desiring what I had never desired before. That which formerly used to appear good in my eyes, appeared evil, and that which used to appear evil, appeared good.”

Before his conversion, Tolstoy had acquired fame and fortune through his great writings, but he was unsatisfied.

          “I fought duels,” he wrote,

          “I gambled, I wasted my substance wrung from the sweat of peasants and deceived men. Lying, robbery, adultery of all kinds, and drunkenness was my life.”

Tolstoy’s conversion was one of the most dramatic of modern times. Tolstoy is a modern conversion person. Read about Augustine’s conversion in the 4th century. The pages of history are filled with the experiences of those who found their faith through crisis, hardship and pain. Repentance is the foundation of regeneration and the new life in Christ. There is no other way.

What about you?

Have you ever felt the stinging rebuke of the Holy Spirit concerning your own sins and personally gone to God and asked for His cleansing, forgiving power in your life? This season of the year is a good time for self-examination, repentance and life-long change.

I urge you to get involved with the On-going Power of Repentance and give Christ the control in your life.