READY TO GIVE AN ANSWER (IMPENITENCE)
Passages that will help you respond when people say…
Our conversations around God’s Word vary. Sometimes witnessing to the truth of God’s Word is new instruction. Sometimes it is correction, and at other times it is offering a new insight or application. Our witness to someone who is impenitent takes a rather different shape even while the truth remains unchanged.
If someone refuses to acknowledge his sin and repent of it, he risks everlasting condemnation. This is what gives such urgency to God’s exhortation that those who are spiritual are to correct such a one (Galatians 6:1) and regain a brother (Matthew 18:15-20). Using God’s Word to bring someone to repentance is the spiritual equivalent of rescuing him from death row. It is something over which the angels in heaven rejoice
Repentance is a change of mind and heart that recognizes sin, genuinely sorrows over it, and trusts Jesus for the forgiveness of sins. Turning away from sin and living for Christ are the fruit this repentance bears. The Word of God is the only tool that can effect such repentance in the heart of a sinner.
We are commissioned by our Savior to “preach the Gospel,” but the impenitent heart is not ready for the Gospel. An impenitent heart needs to hear God’s Law to understand sin and its consequence. As Jesus said, “go and tell him his fault.” (Matthew 18:15)
Once the Law has revealed sin and the sinner sorrows over it, the Gospel salves the wound opened by the Law. Jesus told the Emmaus disciples that “repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations.” (Luke 24:47)
If you are speaking to someone who is impenitent, begin with prayer—even if it’s just a quick internal prayer in the middle of an outward conversation. Use God’s Law to identify sin and rebuke it, to show the reality and consequence of sin, and to explain God’s seriousness about sin. Then also be ready with the Gospel to lift up the broken-hearted.
Different words from God can be used to directly
rebuke specific sins, but the following passages are a general place to start in prayerfully leading a fellow sinner to godly sorrow producing repentance leading to salvation
(2 Corinthians 7:10).
1 John 1:8— “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”
Scripture abounds with passages that reveal the sin and natural depravity every one of us shares (for example, Romans 3:10ff, Psalm 51:5). There is no escape from that harsh reality.
If anyone believes his sinful rationalization and suggests that he has no sin—or that whatever sin he may have doesn’t rise to the degree necessary for judgment—then that soul is deceived, is a liar, and makes God a liar too (1 John 1:10). (When it’s time for the Gospel, the very next verses, 1 John 2:1-2, provide the means to dry a convicted soul’s penitential tears.)
Ezekiel 18:30-32— “Repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit For why should you die . . . turn and live!”
The words “ruin” and “die” impress upon us the seriousness of each sin. Salvation by grace does not diminish the seriousness of sin. No one can say, “My sin was serious, but Jesus forgives me.” Sin is always a serious affront to God and worthy of death (Exodus 20:5, Romans 6:23). The Gospel message is not that sin was diminished, but rather that the Son of God paid the full penalty of sin.
Each of us is a sinner. Therefore, day by day and as we seek to lead the impenitent to repentance, we also pray, “Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions.” (Psalm 51:1)
Wayne Eichstadt is pastor of Gethsemane Lutheran Church in Spokane Valley, Washington.