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The House of Mourning: On Revival and Repentance

by Daniel LaLond Jr.

Wisdom lifts up her voice. Do we hear her: “Many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.” She is greater than fine diamonds. Have we desired her: “He brings low the mighty and exalts the lowly.” By her judges rule and kings reign. Have we discovered her: “He must increase, but I must decrease.” Consider wisdom:

It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting. Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth Eccl 7:2-4

Wisdom? A heart is improved by the sadness of the countenance? The house of mourning is more desirable than the house of feasting? But isn’t Christian salvation all about this wonderful, happy plan that God has for our lives? Why all this sadness, sorrow and mourning? Doesn’t the writer understand the ways of God? Surely he’s misguided – or is he? Is it possible that it is us moderns who are misguided regarding the ways of God?

Solomon understood this little known truth: “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit” (John 12:24). He knew that “weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning.” Solomon was convinced that without crucifixion there is no resurrection. Reader, is the contemporary Christian church greater than its Master?

Consider a baker meticulously mixing water, sugar, salt, yeast and flour. He mixes and punches; he rolls and kneads until the dough is perfect. His guests are screaming for the bread, but he knows he must be patient – the rising cannot be rushed. “Leave out the yeast!” cries a famished guest. “After all, the other ingredients are there.” But the wise baker knows that even though such a yeast-free concoction might taste similar to bread it would not really be bread at all.

From instant oatmeal to gourmet microwave dinners, if you want faster and easier, you’ve got it. Drive-through banks, drive-through restaurants, seeker friendly churches – it’s OK, leave the yeast out! We want fortune without work and Christian conversion without contrition – it takes too long to rise! Contrition? Contrition is the yeast in the bread of conversion. Contrition is the house of mourning. It is the sadness of the countenance. Contrition is the death of the seed – the weeping in the night. Contrition is the crucifixion of self-righteousness, self-sufficiency, excuses and arrogance. Contrition is the sackcloth and ashes of the heart.

Without contrition genuine gospel salvation and revival are impossible. Please, don’t misunderstand. We can still play church (even mega-church) without contrition. We might have thousands at our crusades (and probably will) without contrition. Sinners can even recite rote prayers without contrition. We cannot, however, get one self-obsessed soul to repent and be genuinely saved without contrition.

Your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before God…and because you humbled yourself before Me, tore your clothes, and wept before Me, I truly have heard you,” declares the LORD (2 Chron 34:27-28).

The sacrifice of a rent garment is useless without the sacrifice of a broken and contrite heart. Likewise, the sacrifices of church attendance, giving, and other spiritual activities are useless without a contrite heart. Without this inner contrition the Lord doesn’t hear. We can hire professional singers and professional preachers heralding revival, but without contrition – God does not hear and revival will not come. Without the yeast the bread won’t rise.

Now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death (2 Cor 7:10).

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