Twenty-Five Questions for Repentance
TWENTY-FIVE QUESTIONS FOR REPENTANCE
Adapted from “Wake Up!” – Pastor Brian’s June 21, 2020 Sermon
These twenty-five questions are designed to help us, the entire South Paris Baptist Church Family, to identify our sins and turn away from them. Don’t focus on how someone else needs to respond; focus on how you need to respond. Also consider using these questions to facilitate edifying conversation with family members and close friends. May the Lord’s grace be with you and with all of us!
1) Are you angry?
Righteous anger is a real thing – a good and necessary thing. But has your anger become corrupted and corrosive?
Scripture for reflection: Colossians 3:8-13
2) Are you anxious?
There is much that one might be anxious about – the coronavirus, what other people think about you, the economy, the upcoming elections, the prospect of encroaching socialism, among other things. Are you restless? Or are you resting in the Lord?
Scripture for reflection: Isaiah 8:11-17
3) Are you neglecting your Bible?
Pastor Garrett Kell wrote:
“One of the most dangerous things a Christian can do right now is neglect Bible reading.
Thousands of voices are attempting to convince you how to think.
Be certain, you are being shaped.
More Scripture, less social media.
More Bible, less books.
More prayer, less blog posts.”
Yes, you are being shaped – but by what? Are you being shaped by the words of men? Or by the Word of God?
Scripture for reflection: Isaiah 66:1-2
4) Are your prayers not making it higher than the ceiling?
There is a difference between praying in the Holy Spirit and merely saying prayers. Are you earnestly seeking God and pleading for mercy? Would you rather get into an argument than spend time in prayer? Would you rather watch a movie than spend time in prayer?
Scripture for reflection: Daniel 9:1-27
5) Are you assuming the worst about other believers?
We live in a time of great polarization in our country. Let’s not reflect this polarization in our church family. Honest disagreement in an atmosphere of grace and truth-seeking is healthy. But it is not healthy to assume that the believers with whom you disagree are acting out of unfaithful hearts. They might be acting out of unfaithfulness, but don’t assume that they are. Don’t assume that a person is wearing a mask because they are in the grip of anxiety. Don’t assume that a person isn’t wearing a mask because they don’t care about others. Be resolved to obey 1 Corinthians 13:7, “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:7 ESV).
Scripture for reflection: Romans 14:4-6
6) Are you a unifier or a divider?
God’s call for us to seek peace and preserve unity within the church family is crystal clear (for example, see Romans 15:5-7). Scripture presents divisiveness as high wickedness (for example, see Proverbs 5:16-19 and Titus 3:9-11). Unifiers and dividers are known by their words. Do your words build up or tear down? Dividers are self-willed loose cannons who don’t have God’s perspective – and so they stir things up in an unhealthy way. To be a unifier you must be level-headed, have a clear understanding of what is truly important, and speak graciously.
Scripture for reflection: Ephesians 4:1-3
7) Are you an accuser of the brethren? Or do you intercede for them?
Satan likes to accuse God’s people and use our sins against us. Jesus intercedes for His people and provides remedy for our sins. Who are you imitating?
Scripture for reflection: Zechariah 3:1-5; Romans 8:31-34
8) Are you more concerned about feeling comfortable than about showing solidarity with your brothers and sisters?
One of our basic Christian responsibilities is to endure discomfort in order to identify with and serve our Christian brothers and sisters. Whether it is selling property (Acts 4:34-35), visiting and meeting the needs of distressed Christians (Matthew 25:34-40), or not eating meat in order to not injure a scrupulous brother (Romans 14:21), the Christian life is fundamentally others-focused.
Scripture for reflection: Philippians 2:3-4
9) Are you refusing to address broken or strained relationships?
Our relationships are especially vulnerable right now, because we haven’t been in the habit of meeting and our lives are out of sync with each other. This is a recipe for broken relationships: if I get absorbed in my perspective and you get absorbed in yours, and if we’re not connecting and being reminded that we really are family to each other, then we can get polarized. If there are broken or strained relationships, we must seek to repair them (Matthew 5:23-24). Unaddressed anger gives the devil a foothold; abiding in bitterness grieves the Holy Spirit. We must strive to be reconciled with one another!
Scripture for reflection: Ephesians 4:25-32
10) Are you refusing to take advantage of opportunities to gather with your brothers and sisters for worship, for prayer, for mutual encouragement?
We cannot un-do the non-gathering of March 22–May 24. But now we can take steps to connect with one another. Ponder Paul’s heart in the below passage.
Scripture for reflection: 1 Thessalonians 2:17–3:11
11) Are you more concerned about being correct on a secondary issue than showing compassion?
It is in the context of a secondary issue that Paul says: “This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up.” (1 Corinthians 8:1 ESV) In a remarkable application, Paul says that a mature Christian who has the correct view on a secondary issue should not let his correctness become a source of injury to a less mature Christian whose understanding of the issue is incorrect. Ponder the whole passage below!
Scripture for reflection: 1 Corinthians 8:1-13
12) Have you elevated secondary issues to the point that you are willing to divide over them?
The burden of Romans 14:1–15:7 is to say that as a general rule, Christians should not divide over secondary issues. Instead of pressing into the rightness of our view, we should press into one another in love and we should seek to edify the entire church family.
Scripture for reflection: Romans 14:13–15:7
13) Are you more concerned about the state of our country than the state of the church?
It is good to be concerned about the state of our country, but it is better to be concerned about the state of the church. Why? Because “our citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20 ESV). We are citizens of God’s kingdom first!
Scripture for reflection: Hebrews 13:14
14) Are you more concerned about your own comfort and ease than the health of the church?
In the days of the prophet Haggai, the Israelites were concerned about their own houses but they were not concerned about the Lord’s house. There attentiveness to their own physical houses and their inattentiveness to the physical temple, revealed their priorities. In the New Testament framework, we understand that we are the Lord’s house – not the physical building, but the people who belong to the Lord. We are the Lord’s house! Are you only concerned about the bubble of your own life? Or are truly burdened for the church family and for each other?
Scripture for reflection: Haggai 1:7-11, 1 Corinthians 3:16-17
15) Are you sitting on the sidelines until the rest of us figure it out?
There is an unhealthy mindset that says: ‘In the face of these challenges that our church family faces, I’ll let the rest of the church family figure it out. Then, after they have figured it out, I’ll size things up and figure out where I stand.’ This is an unhealthy and unfaithful mindset. Why? Because if you are part of the church family, then you should be ‘with us’ as we seek to discern the way forward. We are one body and we ought to function as one body as we seek our renewal.
Scripture for reflection: Romans 12:3-8
16) Do you regard gathering with your church family as something essential or as something that you can easily walk away from?
What have the 10 weeks of non-gathering and the initial weeks of re-gathering revealed about your heart?
Scripture for reflection: Acts 2:42-47
17) Do you assume that Romans 13 gives the government a blank check to restrict the church’s obedience to a hundred other commands of Scripture?
This is a huge issue. Lord-willing, we will address it in a couple of sermons in the near future. For now, just ponder the nature, extent, and limitations of the government’s authority.
Scripture for reflection: Romans 13:1-7
18) Are you more concerned about what evil men can do to you or say about you, than what a holy God can do to you?
“I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.” (Luke 12:4-7 ESV)
Do not fear men; fear God. Do not fear the state; fear God. Do not fear public opinion; fear God. And if you fear God, there is nothing else to fear!
Scripture for reflection: Luke 12:4-7 (quote above)
19) Are you willing to suffer physically, legally, financially, or reputationally, so that others might live spiritually and so that Christ’s church might flourish?
The Bible teaches us that it is costly to follow Christ in a broken world. Are you ready to share in Christ’s sufferings?
Scripture for reflection: 2 Timothy 2:8-13
20) Do you assume that physical health is so important that it practically trumps spiritual, relational, emotional, mental, vocational, and economic health?
The world has become preoccupied with preserving physical health in view of the coronavirus. As Christians, we affirm the value of physical life and physical health. But we are not naturalists! We believe in God and in God’s design for human flourishing. Something is very wrongheaded about a world that is pursuing a highly-controlled physical environment, through the use of science and technology, under the direction of God-denying bureaucrats – all to the neglect of the full-orbed beauty of our God-given humanity. Have you fallen for their game?
Scripture for reflection: Luke 12:22-34
21) Are you afraid to celebrate and proclaim the moral, social, and political implications of the gospel?
This question certainly speaks to me. I have long endeavored to be apolitical. Being apolitical is partly a good thing, because God’s kingdom must never be confused with a worldly political agenda. However, the gospel-centered Scriptures are full of moral, social, and political implications – and we must celebrate and proclaim and live them! As our society is plunging deeper into darkness, I realize that I must be forthright about speaking the whole truth and confronting the idols of our age.
Scripture for reflection: Acts 20:26-27
22) Do you have the courage to smash idols, demolish strongholds, and confront lies, or is that simply unthinkable in your mind?
It would be easy to convene an assembly and pass a resolution that condemns the slavery of 200 years ago or condemns the Holocaust of 80 years ago. This is easy because the history is settled and there is broad agreement on those evils. It is much more difficult to confront today’s evils, today’s idols, today’s lies. Why? Because many people are blind and don’t see today’s evils as evil and don’t see today’s idols as idolatrous and don’t see today’s lies as the lies that they are. So it is risky to confront the deceits of our present time. It takes courage. We will be met with resistance. But ponder this question: what will people say about us in the year 2030? Will they look back and say: ‘During the Great Trial of 2020, South Paris Baptist Church folded and fragmented, and they’ve never been the same.’ Or will they say: ‘During the Great Trial of 2020, South Paris Baptist Church – by God’s grace – got their act together and set a course of more faithful obedience.’ Today’s history isn’t settled yet – we’ve got to make good history by living faithfully today!
Scripture for reflection: 2 Corinthians 10:1-6
23) Have you settled for cluelessness about what to do? Or does your heart desire to be like the men from Issachar “who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do” (1 Chronicles 12:32 ESV)?
As the wider culture is disintegrating and as the church is in distress, do we sit down in despair – as if God is far away and unwilling to help? Have we resigned ourselves to a position of ignorance and inaction? Or do we understand – like King Asa in 2 Chronicles 15 – that the Lord is with us as we seek His face and do the work that He has set before us?
Scripture for reflection: Ephesians 5:15-17
24) Are you distressed about the idols and the sins that stand between us and God-pleasing worship?
When the apostle Paul saw the many idols in the city of Athens, “his spirit was provoked with him” (Acts 17:16 ESV) – and that motivated him to preach the gospel! When King Asa came to grips with all the idols that polluted the land of the covenant community, “he took courage and put [them] away” (2 Chronicles 15:8 ESV). After he tore down the idols, King Asa “repaired the altar” (2 Chronicles 15:8 ESV) and gathered the people for worship. Then the people worshiped God and renewed their commitment to follow the Lord. Will we follow Asa’s example?
Scripture for reflection: 2 Chronicles 15:1-15
25) Do you assume that while all of these questions might possibly have been relevant and helpful to someone else, they most certainly do not apply to you?
It is good and right to help your brothers and sisters get the speck out of their eyes. But make sure you “first take the log out of your own eye” (Luke 6:42 ESV).
Scripture for reflection: Luke 6:39-42; 1 John 1:5-10