Repentance

When someone comes forward

I think there are times when someone comes forward after a sermon that we think: “Oh he must be a sinner, he must have done something bad.”

Let me remind you that there are sinners who go forward … and there are sinners (that would be the rest of us) who do not.

In reality, who responds to the Gospel call? The spiritually sensitive, the soft- hearted, the ones who deeply desire to serve God better. Who does not come forward? Often the proud, the ones who fail to look in their own hearts, the ones who think they never make mistakes.

God bless the courageous one who comes forward seeking mercy and the prayers of the church!

In our day, the tax collector would have come forward begging God to be merciful to him, a sinner (Luke 18:13). The Pharisee would not have.

In our day the prodigal would come forward declaring he had sinned against heaven and his brethren (Luke 15:18); the older brother would not have.

In our day King David would have come forward declaring that he knew his “transgressions, and his sin was ever before him” (Psalm 51:3); King Saul would not have.

The preacher has just poured his heart out. He has taken a Bible text, squeezed its essence out like sweet orange juice, and had ended with a call for the congregation to do something.

A sermon always has a call to action.

Repent, forgive, re-dedicate yourself. If we were listening, we would respond, whether publically or privately.

Someone who responds to a sermon has not prolonged the worship service; likely he has prolonged his spiritual life. The most natural thing in the world is to respond to God’s call; to stonily refuse to do so is unnatural. So this Sunday, when someone comes forward, ask yourself not, “What did he do?” but, “now that he has come back to the Lord, what marvelous things will he do?

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Stan Mitchell

Stan has preached since 1976, in Zimbabwe, California, Texas and Tennessee. He serves as preacher for the Red Walnut Church of Christ in Bath Springs, TN. He is currently Professor of Bible at Freed-Hardeman University. He is married to the former Marjorie McCarthy, and has one daughter, Tracy Watts. He is the author of four books: The Wise Get Wiser, the Foolish More Foolish: The Book of Proverbs, Give the Winds a Mighty Voice: Our Worship in Song, and Equipping the Saints for Ministry. He has recently published another book, "Will Our Faith Have Children: Developing Leadership in the Church for the Next Generation.

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