Let Us Return

Hosea 6:1-3

Good to remember that living parable of Hosea and Gomer and the children came first. Sets tone for remainder of Hosea’s message to God’s rebellious people. Gomer was pursuing life of flagrant sinfulness, Hosea made honest woman out of her. Gomer played the part… for while, then ran away back to former lifestyle. God’s word silent on exactly how Hosea “recovered” Gomer – did he plead with her repeatedly to return, until finally situation so desperate Hosea went and rescued her? If so, should expect God to do same with his people – pleading with them over and over to see error of their ways, come back to one who genuinely has their best interests at heart.

So much of this portion of God’s word at odds with current philosophy, both inside and outside church. Modern definition of love would abandon Gomer to destructive choices – she was born that way, we don’t have right to tell her what to do/how to think. Contemporary methods of evangelism miss mark by wide margin also. Neither “4 Spiritual Laws” or “Romans Road” give clear definition of sin, mention eternal punishment in hell, identify repentance as turning from sin, necessity of obedience. Profound irony: “Have You Heard of the Four Spiritual Laws?” written by Bill Bright speaks of “physical laws that govern the physical universe” and “spiritual laws which govern your relationship with God” but never mentions the “law of God” as expression of God’s moral character and standard for our living.

Abstract of Liberty University Senior thesis (Joshua J. Kellogg)”The Four Spiritual Laws: An Analysis of Campus Crusade’s Method of Evangelism” begins this way – “The Four Spiritual Laws is a method of evangelism that has sold over one hundred million copies and has been translated into many different languages. This shows that the Four Spiritual Laws has been effective in its presentation of the Gospel.” Wow!

Apostle Paul had different idea about evangelism:

Acts 17:30-31 “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent,because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained.”

If we are to be useful to Lord of the Church, effectively present a biblical Gospel, must be clear on certain things: alternative to heaven is not death. Life stinks, then you die is preferable to many – e.g., assisted suicide. Repentance is not faith in Christ instead of self. Like Hosea, we can / should call others to repentance: showing them necessity of it, helping understand God’s word encourages it, providing individual encouragement to do so, declaring promises of blessing upon sincere repentance.

A. repentance is necessary v.1

call to repentance – 6:1; 12:6; 14:1-2 – even though God has already promised all sorts of bad stuff, has not given up on his people

keeps calling them back… through his word, by mouth of his “prophets” – those called to that office, others he has redeemed

he has torn

is a people who once experienced God’s abundant blessing – have had it torn away from them because of willful disobedience

especially true of Israel, applies to all mankind – everyone has experienced God’s provision on some level, have failed to respond properly to him for it… risk losing it

he has stricken

they were guilty of both failure to obey and active rebellion – did not honor God, did honor others in his place

pursuing all manner of things destructive to self and others (like Gomer), trying to fix self-induced ailments with own solutions

then factor in ailments God has brought on them… to demonstrate consequences of sin, to encourage to leave off sin, to make turning to God less painful than persisting in sin

by God’s decree/design pursuit of sin leads inevitably to death and destruction – absolutely no escape except by God’s appointed means

must do all we can to impress on the lost utter hopelessness of continuing in rebellion against God, and total lack of personal resources to fix problem

even though are angry with God, afraid of God, he is only one who can deliver… means they must turn to him and no other

whether recognize it or not, root problem is spiritual – rest of “issues” stem from improper relationship with God, need to fix root cause in order to make real progress on others

B. repentance is encouraged v.1-2

God promises real benefits for repentance – not a case of “do it because I say so” even though he has that prerogative

Yahweh, God of covenant, remains faithful to his side of the covenant even when his people do not… and he keeps reminding them/encouraging to come back

same is true for “first-time comers”, new to right relationship with God – is sense in which all are “offspring of God” (Acts 17:29)

call of the Gospel, call to repentance goes out to “all men everywhere” (Acts 17:30) – all who come will enjoy benefits

he will heal Isa. 53:5

will be a “day that the LORD bandages His people’s injuries and heals the wounds He inflicted.” (Isa. 30:26)

Anonymous: “What is the most expensive bed in the world? Sick bed… You can employ someone to drive the car for you, make money for you but you cannot have someone to bear the sickness for you.”

most important healing from one who did bear sickness for us – not kind the Pentecostals want us to claim but sin-sickness

may include physical healing… especially if that is means God uses to bring about repentance; yet, God chose not to heal Paul because affliction was better for him

he will bind up Isa. 61:1; Luke 4:18

Lord Jesus is one sent specifically to bind up brokenhearted – definitely an important aspect missing from modern evangelism

rest of Jesus’ message: good tidings to poor, liberty to captives, opening of prison to those who are bound

relevant only to those who recognize absolute poverty: have nothing to contribute to their own salvation

are hopelessly bound in sin, captive to desires, more confined and with less freedom than inmate in SuperMax

clear grasp of true nature of sin, its penalty, what was necessary for Substsitute to experience in order for healing results in broken heart / repentance

less than that minimizes profound nature of sinner’s need, Christ’s sacrifice – iow, it devalues the Gospel and its power

he will revive Rom. 8:11

look closely at those you strongly suspect are lost – how much real life do they show when they think no one is looking? dull eyes, blank or painted faces, quiet (or not so quiet) desperation, perhaps pain/weariness/sorrow

along with liberty comes life – God doesn’t grant repentance to dead people, gives life and liberty to follow in faith/obedience

presence of new life in Christ will be obvious in countenance, speech patterns, behaviors of the one who has repented

he will raise Eph. 2:5-6

God does not leave the one who repents wallowing in same circumstances; at same time, not magic wand presto-chango everything hunky-dory forever and ever

God will at least in part roll back consequences for sin that led to repentance – not immediately, but soon enough to encourage

note: this line a reminder to us of Jesus’ resurrection… and the incredible position/standing granted to believers by it – “raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus”

C. others need encouragement to repent v.1, 3

especially when means going outside comfort zone, “let’s go together” accomplishes way more than “you go”; besides, “us” fits the body model (1 Cor. 12) and “one another” concept in way that “you” doesn’t

let us return

need true view of need – conversion a one-time “event”, repentance is not: saved get headed in wrong direction at times

if we are sensitive to our own sinfulness, will be more effective in expressing need for repentance to others – less apt to come across as superior, more holy… iow, more genuine

let us know/acknowledge

need low view of self, result of proper view of God – another ongoing need… to acknowledge God’s greatness, our need

“we are prompted by our own ills to contemplate the good things of God; and we cannot seriously aspire to him before we begin to become displeased with ourselves….the knowledge of ourselves not only arouses us to seek God, but also, as it were, leads us by the hand to find him. Again, it is certain that man never achieves a clear knowledge of himself unless he has first looked upon God’s face, and then descends from contemplating him to scrutinize himself.” Calvin

let us pursue knowledge

need high view of Scripture to acquire genuine knowledge – “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” are hidden in Christ

our sole access to true knowledge of God is through his word the Bible as illuminated and applied by his Spirit

when we seek God where he can be found, he will surely reveal himself and his wisdom to us – is as certain as sun coming up

D. sincere repentance results in blessing v.2,3

we may live (2b)

not simply live, “live in his sight” “live before him” — in his presence, under his watchful care/direction… for remainder of this life and all of the next

genuine repentance leads to eternal life that begins at moment of conversion and never ends

he is faithful (3b)

as certainly as dawn, as surely as seasons, so God is faithful to keep his promises – whatever guarantees are included in his covenant, we can count on

he will come (3c)

God meets us when we seek after him – could remain hidden, distant, unresponsive… but he comes surely and abundantly

What should we come away with from this text? Communicate a clear Gospel. Make sure it includes clear truth about sin and need for repentance. Promise exactly what God does. Appropriate this truth for yourself. Encourage one another by it. Be quick to turn from sin and turn to Christ, striving with his help to live in his presence pleasing to him.

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