TCC 09: Jeff Noblitt – Grace Wrought Repentance

Here are my notes from Jeff Noblitt’s first sermon at this years conference, enjoy.

Our goal in this conference is to dive into this rich doctrine of repentance by presenting an overview of this doctrine and then to have these other men to fill in the corners.

Repentance is the child of regeneration. Regeneration is the child of grace. Grace is the gift of God. If you cannot go to God with repentance you must go to God for repentance.

My topic this morning is grace wrought repentance…bear with me as I share my gleanings as I have studied other godly men, all of whom have said the same things about this topic and that is an encouragement to me.

The two great graces essential to the saint of God which are the wings by which we fly to heaven are repentance and faith. If you have repentance without faith it is not God-wrought and if you have a faith that lacks repentance that is a faith that you need to repent of.

One thing we know is that sin will be prevalent until the kingdom age and so repentance will never be out of season.

Jesus first sermon was repent.

Matthew 4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

And Jesus’ last instruction was much the same.

Luke 24:46-48 Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.

And this message of Jesus was a change from the covenant of works, which did not include repentance it was simply sin and die. Repentance comes in with the gospel, as Christ preached repent and die, for the gospel brings hope that the law did not bear. Repentance is the doctrine that is brought to us by the gospel.

But today, repentance has been wholly dummed down to become a works of the flesh, but we must remember that repentance is totally a work of grace.

Acts 5:31 God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.

Acts 11:18 And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.”

2 Timothy 2:25-26 God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may escape from the snare of the devil.

Three times this word is used and it is something that is granted by the father, it is a gift.

Repentance comes from two words, think and after. Repentance means that you think a certain way, and then an event happens and you now think a different way. When you hear the gospel empowered by the Holy Spirit you think a different way.

The word and the Spirit of God are the two agencies through which repentance is enacted in us. The Bible is a hammer to break the stony heart, it is the fire to melt the icy heart, and the Spirit is the active agent in Grace wrought repentance to bring about that change in thought,

Acts 10:44 While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word.

We must have the power of the spirit on our ministries, repent of cold intellectualism and pray that God’s Spirit will empower his preaching.

Understand brothers that we are but organ pipes and God must provide the wind or there is no music.

Zechariah 12:10 10 “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn.

Repentance is wrought by the power of the Spirit of God, how else do you explain how in one town two different men can hear the same message and one goes away repentant while the other goes away sinful.

The Spirit is the third person of the Godhead and he too is sovereign, repentance is His work and he accomplishes His purposes.

Acts 8:29 And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.”

Acts 16:14 One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.

A. Flesh wrought repentance looks like this

Augustine said that repentance damns many, and he was speaking of flesh wrought repentance.

1. Flesh wrought repentance is a worldly sorrow, of being troubled over sin.

2 Corinthians 7:10 For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.

Ahab and Judas were troubled about their sin, but it was a work of the flesh not the spirit.

Esau had tears without repentance. The sorrow is there, the regret is there and then it fades away. Those in hell are deeply troubled, but they have no grace-wrought repentance.

2. Flesh wrought repentance is a Pragmatic commitment against sin.

This is the practical self preserving motivation to stop sin, which is motivated by the pain of sin. Years ago before true reform had taken place in Grace Life Church, an evangelist came and preached about the pain in his life from drugs and alcohol, but he never spoke about his sin before a holy God, it was about the pain he had suffered while walking in sin.

He counseled many and it is interesting that even though their desire was to walk away from sin, their repentance was motivated by a desire to flea the pain of sin not the guilt of sin before a Holy God.

3. Flesh wrought repentance will include giving up some sins, which is nothing more than parting with sin apart from repentance.

This is when people see that their lifestyles are not healthy and they begin to give those things up. True repentance is not simply leaving sin behind to have a better life.

Luke 15:17 But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger!

You see a man has to see his position before a holy God before true grace wrought repentance is possible.

Sinners are veiled over with ignorance and self love and they do not see what deformed souls they have. Sin is like a blinder that is placed over our eyes until the enemy takes us where he wants us and he turns us loose to do his bidding.

B. Truly Grace wrought repentance

The root of repentance is sorrow for sin. Sorrow for sin is the beginning point and it is the result of God’s work in our hearts in regeneration. God is at work and he grants a sorrow for sin, remember Zechariah 12:10 that said that when the Spirit is poured out…they will mourn. There is not true repentance without sorrow.

One of the things I need to say to you now is be careful of taking this message and making it a law to you people. You must look for the spirit or the seeds of these realities in the souls of the truly saved man. No matter how long you progress, you will at times fall back into flesh wrought repentance. So look for the seeds, and don’t make this a strict legalistic test.

Luke 7:38 and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment.

I abhor emotionalism but there is a true emotion to grace wrought repentance in believers. Thomas Watson calls this a holy agony and a breaking of the heart.

Psalm 51:17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

1. This is a sorrow of the heart.

It is inward, let us beware of putting on the outward show (Matthew 6:16). Sometimes in season of brokenness we simply fall and weep and people see this, but it is often that the deep inward humility is balanced with an outward joy and rest.

Beware of the outward show; Ahab rent his garment but not his heart. False repentance is a cut that bleeds on the outside while true repentance is a sorrow in the heart.

2. This sorrow is Godward.

This is a sorrow for the offense rather than the punishment. How many times during the day are we slain by the arrogance of the old man? A real convert laments heart’s sin and the heart’s condition because the heart is against God.

I’m slain in my soul because I’ve sinned against a beautiful and holy God and there is nothing in us naturally that will get us there. This must be wrought of God’s grace.

3. This is sorrow accompanied by faith.

Thomas Watson, “Weeping is not good without the eyes of faith.” Brokenness and sorrow must be balanced by a lifting of faith in Christ. Aren’t’ we glad God doesn’t give us one side of the coin? Look for brokenness and the rising of faith. As sin is ever before us, so faith is ever before us.

4. This is a great sorrow a deep sorrow. Luke 18:10-13

Not all people sorrow to the same degree, we must be careful getting our standard counseling manual out and making every one fit it. It is not always an outward show, but it will always be a deep sorrow.

5. This is a sorrow that is abiding.

It is not like a spring shower where the rain falls and then is gone. Sin is chronic and keeps returning and therefore repentance must continue to return.

Romans 7:18-19 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.

Now I know there is much debate over whether this was Paul prior to conversion, but this looks a lot like me today. Then I have to remember, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted (Matt 5:4)”

6. It is a sorrow that embraces Christ and views Christ as precious.

We sow in tears but we reap joy. Grace wrought repentance brings forgiveness and forgiveness brings rest (Matt 11:28-29). If it is grace wrought it brings us to embrace Christ.

C. The fruits of repentance that is grace wrought.

The fruits are not the essence of repentance but they are connected to repentance.

1. Confession is the first fruit (Neh 9:2, Hos 5:15, 1 John 1:9).

Confession means self accusing before God and this removes Satan’s accusing. It means we judge ourselves and say about our sin what God has said.

The true repenter knows he is the chief of sinners and he confesses it. True confession rides the tide of regeneration, and there is a genuine desire not to walk in the same sin again. We must never stop striving and repenting and confessing.

2. Hatred for sin as an abomination before God.

This is beyond leaving sin, this is when you abhor the treasures you are turning from and it is a process. We are never more precious in God’s eyes than when we are lepers in our own, because it declares God’s justice.

This is a hatred of sin itself because it is so anti-God and thus we hate it. It is not that you hate the snake because of the poison, it is a hatred for the snake. Psalm 101:7 loving sin is worse than committing sin.

3. Turning from sin.

This is difficult to measure so don’t be a Pharisee and measure others by your standard, but there should be a turning from sin (Ezek 14:6. Isaiah 55:7, Job 11:14). Where there is not fruit there is no root.

The one with a new soul wants a new life. This is a turning because of the love of God. Too many today are half turned, and their lives remain unchanged. True grace wrought repentance produces a turning that is obvious, not perfect but obvious.


About Justin Wheeler

Justin Wheeler is the preaching pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Wylie, TX. He is married to Leigh and has three children.
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