CALLING SINNERS TO REPENTANCE

Pastor James J. Barker

Text: MATTHEW 9:9-13




INTRODUCTION:


  1. In the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 9, our Lord crossed back over the sea of Galilee, and came to Capernaum, His adopted home town.
  2. Our Lord said in Matthew 11:23 that He had done "mighty works"
    in Capernaum, and we see that here in Matthew 9 (cf. 9:1-8).
  3. It was in Capernaum that our Lord met Matthew, the author of the first book of the New Testament (9:9).  Matthew was a publican, a despised tax collector for the Roman government.
  4. Tax collectors were known for being deceitful and dishonest.  But rather than being glad that our Lord was saving dishonest and disreputable tax collectors, the religious leaders complained (9:10-13).
  5. As followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, we must try and reach sinners with the Gospel -- the good news that Jesus saves.
  6. Spurgeon prayed, "Lord, grant that if ever I am found in the company of sinners, it may be with the design of healing them, and may I never become myself infected with their disease! (The Gospel of Matthew).

 

I. MOST RELIGIOUS PEOPLE DO NOT UNDERSTAND THE GOSPEL.

  1. The Gospel is "good news" and a clear definition is given in I Corinthians 15:1-4.
  2. In the four Gospels, we see that the religious leaders were very critical of our Lord's ministry (cf. Matthew 9:1-4, 10, 11).
  3. This fierce opposition eventually led to His crucifixion.
  4. But it did not end there.  The same religious leaders who crucified Jesus, persecuted His followers (Acts 4:1-4).
  5. Stephen was killed by an angry mob, who had been misled and stirred up by the religious leaders (Acts 6:8-15; 7:51-60).
  6. Things have not changed much, and today most religious people do not understand the simplicity of the Gospel.
  7. According to II Corinthians 11:3 and 4, the devil deceives people and confuses their minds about the Gospel.
  8. "But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ" (II Cor. 11:3).
  9. Some churches and some religious teachers try and confuse people and attempt to make the Gospel complicated, when it is quite simple: man is a sinner, and Jesus died for sinners.
  10. The Pharisees saw our Lord sitting down to eat with publicans and sinners, and "they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?" (Matthew 9:11).
  11. Sinners are the people who need to get saved (9:12, 13)!
  12. Physicians treat sick people, not people who are healthy!
  13. Our Lord said to the Pharisees, "But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance" (Matthew 9:13).
  14. Our Lord was quoting Hosea 6:6.  "For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings."
  15. When Jesus said, "But go ye and learn what that meaneth," He was telling them they needed to learn what Hosea meant.
  16. Mercy is more important than sacrifice and burnt offerings (ritual).
  17. Titus 3:5 says, "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost."
  18. If you are saved today it is only by the grace and mercy of God.  Not by your good works or your religious ritual or your church membership, etc.
  19. Jesus said, "But go ye and learn what that meaneth" (Matthew 9:13). There are many religious leaders who do not understand the Bible (cf. Matthew 12:7).
  20. Religion without the Gospel is worthless.
  21. Christianity without soulwinning is dead.
  22. Christianity without compassion for lost souls is worthless!
  23. Most religious people are lost and have no spiritual discernment.
  24. Our Lord met the number one religious leader in Israel, and their conversation is recorded in John 3.  Our Lord called Nicodemus, "a master of Israel" (John 3:10).
  25. And to this master of Israel, our Lord said, "Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again" (John 3:7).

 

II. REPENTANCE IS ESSENTIAL FOR SALVATION (9:12, 13).

  1. "But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick" (Matthew 9:12).  To go to a physician you first have to acknowledge that you are sick.
  2. What would a doctor think if a sick man showed up in his office and insisted he was not sick?   And yet that is precisely the problem with sinners.  They refuse to admit they are sick with sin (cf. Romans 3:10-15).
  3. Man has a deadly sin virus and it has corrupted him from the top of his head to the soles of his feet.
  4. Isaiah 1:6 says, "From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment."
  5. Our Lord said, "I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance" (Matthew 9:13).   By the way, all of the modern translations (with the exception of the NKJV) omit the words, "to repentance."  Beware of these modern translations!
  6. Charles Haddon Spurgeon said in true repentance, "We repent of sin itself as being an insult to God. Anything short of this is a mere surface repentance, and not a repentance which reaches to the bottom of the mischief. Repentance of the evil act, and not of the evil heart, is like men pumping water out of a leaky vessel, but forgetting to stop the leak. Some would dam up the stream, but leave the fountain still flowing; they would remove the eruption from the skin, but leave the disease in the flesh."
  7. John the Baptist said, "And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire" (Matthew 3:10).
  8. John the Baptist said, "Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance" (Matthew 3:8).
  9. Repentance calls for drastic action.  Our Lord said, "And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched" (Mark 9:43).
  10. What we see in many cases is half-hearted repentance, surface repentance, and insincere repentance.
  11. In other words -- false repentance.
  12. Charles Finney gave ten marks of what he called "false or spurious repentance":
  1. It leaves the feelings unchanged.

    It leaves unbroken and unsubdued the disposition to sin in the heart...the individual still feels a desire for sin. His repentance is transient and temporary.

  2. It works death.

    He who has only false repentance, resorts to excuses and lying to cover his sins, and is ashamed of his repentance. He tries to smooth them (his sins) over...You see a constant disposition to cover up his sin. This repentance leads to death. It makes him commit one sin to cover up another.

  3. False repentance produces only a partial reformation of conduct.

    The heart is not changed. You will see him avoid only those cardinal sins, about which he has been much exercised...If he is deceived, you will find that there is only a partial change in his conduct. He is reformed in certain things, but there are many things which are wrong that he continues to practice.

  4. Ordinarily, the reformation produced by false sorrow is temporary even in those things which are reformed.

    The individual is continually relapsing into his old sins. The reason is, the disposition to sin is not gone...you see him gradually wearing back, and presently returning to his old sins...They always loved sin, and when the occasion offered, they returned to it, as the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire, because she was always a sow...The fountain of sin was not broken up. They have not purged out iniquity from their heart, but they regarded iniquity in their heart all the time.

  5. It is a forced reformation.

    The reformation produced by a false repentance is not only a partial reformation, and a temporary reformation, but it is also forced and constrained...The reason is, they love their sins, and if there is not some express command of God which they dare not fly in the face of, they will practice them. Not so with true repentance. If a thing seems contrary to the great law of love, the person who has true repentance will abhor it, and avoid it of course, whether he has an express command of God for it or not.

  6. This spurious repentance leads to self-righteousness.

    The individual who has this repentance may know that Jesus Christ is the only Savior of sinners, and may profess to believe on him and to rely on him alone for salvation, but after all, he is actually placing ten times more reliance on his reformation than on Jesus Christ for his salvation.

  7. It leads to false security.

    The individual supposes the worldly sorrow he has had to be true repentance, and he trusts to it. It is a curious fact, that so far as I have been able to get at the state of mind of this class of persons, they seem to take it for granted that Christ will save them because they have had sorrow on account of their sins, although they are not conscious that they have ever felt any resting in Christ.

  8. It hardens the heart.

    The individual who has this kind of sorrow becomes harder in heart, in proportion to the number of times that he exercises such sorrow. If he has strong emotions of conviction, and his heart does not break up and flow out, the fountains of feeling are more and more dried up, and his heart more and more difficult to be reached.

  9. It sears the conscience.

    Such persons are liable at first to be thrown into distress, whenever the truth is flashed upon their mind...Sorrow, which does not lead to hearty renunciation of sin, leaves the heart harder than before, and by and by sears the conscience as with a hot iron. This sorrow worketh death.

  10. It rejects Jesus Christ as the ground of hope.

    Depending on reformation and sorrow, or any thing else, it leads to no such reliance on Jesus Christ, that the love of Christ will constrain him to labor all his days for Christ.

  1. There are many examples in the Bible of insincere repentance.  Judas Iscariot is the most famous example. "Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that.  And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself" (Matthew 27:3-5).
  2. Another notable example is Pharaoh. Exodus 9:27 says, "And Pharaoh sent, and called for Moses and Aaron, and said unto them, I have sinned this time: the LORD is righteous, and I and my people are wicked."
  3. This sounds like genuine repentance but it wasn't (cf. Exodus 9:34, 35).
  4. Then again in Exodus 10:16 we read, "Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron in haste; and he said, I have sinned against the LORD your God, and against you."
  5. But later on in this same chapter we read, "And Pharaoh said unto him, Get thee from me, take heed to thyself, see my face no more; for in that day thou seest my face thou shalt die" (Ex. 10:28).
  6. "And Moses said, Thou hast spoken well, I will see thy face again no more" (Ex. 10:29).
  7. Another example is King Saul. First Samuel 15:24 says, "And Saul said unto Samuel, I have sinned: for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD, and thy words: because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice."
  8. And again in I Samuel 15:30 King Saul said to Samuel, "I have sinned: yet honour me now, I pray thee, before the elders of my people, and before Israel."
  9. Then later on, in I Samuel 26:21, Saul said to David, "I have sinned...I have played the fool, and have erred exceedingly."
  10. But Saul was not sincere, and David knew it.  David said in I Samuel 27:1, "I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul: there is nothing better for me than that I should speedily escape into the land of the Philistines."
  11. More importantly, not only did David know that Saul's repentance was not real, so did God!
  12. If there is some impenitent sinner here today, let me beseech you to repent and get right with God. Jesus said in Luke 15:7, "I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance."

 

III. SALVATION IS BY GOD'S GRACE

  1. The message here in Matthew 9:12 and 13 is no one is "good enough" to be saved.
  2. We often meet people who say they are "not ready" to be saved because their life is a mess.  But Jesus said, "They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick" (Matthew 9:12).
  3. The Bible is very clear: God saves guilty sin-sick souls.
  4. God saves people who cannot save themselves.
  5. The Pharisees thought they were good, and that is why they would not come to Jesus (cf. Luke 18:9-14; Matthew 21:28-32).
  6. So on the one hand there are people like the Pharisees who think they are too good to be saved.   Then on the other hand there are people who think they're not good enough!
  7. The apostle Paul said, "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief" (I Timothy 1:15).  If God has already saved the chief of sinners He can save you!

 

CONCLUSION:


  1. I liked Bro. Barber's illustration the other night.  He said saying that you have to get your life straightened out before you can get saved would be like a sick man calling up a doctor to make an appointment, only to have the doctor say, "Get rid of your sickness first, then come and see me."
  2. Come to Jesus as you are and He will forgive you and clean you up and save your soul.
  3. God can do a better job of cleaning you up than you can do yourself!


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