Category: Repentance

Eight – The Kingdom of God, p. 296

1 K of God ch 8

December 13

What was true for the Jewish people in Jesus’ day is also true in every generation since. We must all take note of impending hypocrisy whenever it threatens to take away our true devotion to God as the King over our lives. When identified, we must acknowledge our errant hearts, and we must all repent – we must change our way of thinking – to even be able to see and embrace the King and His Kingdom. True repentance is the crucial starting point for anyone who is intent upon discovering the wonder and happiness of the Kingdom of God. Every generation must hear the echoes of the call of John, the Baptist, and Jesus, The Christ: “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near!

surrender

John, the Baptist’s message and ministry struck a resounding chord within the hearts of the people of his day. The people came out in droves to hear him, and to consecrate their hearts to God. John’s ministry of baptism was all about repentance – and the people were serious about their renewed dedication to being God’s people.

Through John, the Baptist’s ministry, the way was prepared. The time was right. The scene was set. The long-awaited curtain was about to go up, and the true “son of David” was ready to take His place on center stage…

 

Eight – The Kingdom of God, p. 292

1 K of God ch 8

December 7

True repentance

The word used (in the original language) for “repent” literally means, “to think after.” It is centered in two intertwined concepts.

The first is that our mindset (or how we think about things) determines our actions in life. Our choices and behaviors are the result of how we think.

cerebros

The second concept is that when one’s mindset has been misguided or faulty, then that misdirected mindset must be rejected, and a new mindset must be adopted. In order for us to change how we act, we must change our way of thinking… completely. A new way of thinking must be embraced and must become our singular motivation for how we act. We must possess this new way of thinking about things and it must possess us. This new mindset must become our “filter” for how we view life – and for how we make choices in life. In short, repentance occurs when we “think after” this new mindset, and it, in turn, shapes and forms us according to its values and principles.

change thinking

This change of thinking and acting is true repentance. It is not feeling sorry for what we have done in the past, and vowing to do things differently in the future. It is not feeling guilty for what we have done wrong. It is actually making the decision to change our way of thinking that has caused us to do what we have done in the past. It is the changing of our thought processes, and realigning the basis of our thinking with markedly different values and principles.

True repentance is aimed at changing our way of thinking, not our way of acting. As our way of thinking changes, our actions will change. How we think about things influences and forms the origin for the choices we make in life. The repentance that John, the Baptist, was proclaiming was a repentance of changed thinking – the changed thinking that is necessary to produce changed actions.

mindset

But the question must be asked: why did the people of John’s day need to repent? For the most part, John was preaching to God’s people, who were already deeply immersed in the traditions and practices of the Mosaic covenant. Most of them were trying to live as righteously as they knew how – following the ordinances and customs of the Law. They were devoutly religious people. They were already committed to living righteously. Why the need for repentance?

Repentance was necessary because a whole new way of doing things was just about to burst onto the scene. John’s words announced, to the people, that the Kingdom of Heaven was very near. It was just about to be unleashed upon this planet. But his words also warned that only those who were willing to completely surrender their hearts and minds to the coming King would be able to enter and experience the fullness of His Kingdom. Complete surrender was absolutely essential…

Eight – The Kingdom of God, p. 291

1 K of God ch 8

December 6

The forerunner, preparing the way

An incredibly important person in the eminent arrival of the actual “son of David” was a man John the baptistnamed John, and called the Baptist. Every one of the gospel writers gives John, the Baptist, a prominent place in the account of the arrival of the “son of David.” Matthew records: “In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the desert of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is near.”” (Matthew 3:1-2) John, the Baptist, was important for a very significant reason. Scripture informs us that John was, “A voice of one calling in the desert, ‘prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for Him.’” (Matthew 3:3; see also Mark 1:2-4).

John came, as a forerunner, announcing the need for preparation for what God was about to do. The long-awaited “son of David” was just about to arrive on the scene, but there was a significant preparation required for His arrival. John’s ministry was based upon the message that God was about to bring about the fulfillment of the promise of the reign of His Kingdom among His people. It was John’s task to prepare the people, and to make them ready to receive this eminent Kingdom.

This message was nothing new. For quite some time, the Jewish people had been anticipating the promised Messiah. As the oppression of Roman rule lingered and intensified, the people’s expectations for the Messiah had reached significant proportions. John’s preaching brought focused hope and anticipation. Everyone who heard him, connected with the desire for the coming Messiah, and was readily willing to listen to what was necessary to “prepare the way” so that the “son of David” could come. Expectations were high. The Jewish people were enthusiastically eager to finally see their promised Messiah come and establish His reign over Israel. The Kingdom was coming. According to John, the Kingdom was very near.

J the B

But the preparation for receiving the King and His Kingdom was John’s primary concern. The preparation was all-important. To be able to experience and embrace the coming Kingdom required some crucial changes. Making the people ready for the Kingdom was a preparation of repentance. Repentance was essential. Repentance alone would “prepare the way” for the promised Messiah and His Kingdom. Repentance was John’s passionate plea.

What was vitally important in John’s day is just as important now. To truly receive the “Son of David,” and the wonder and power of His Kingdom, the way to our own hearts must be properly prepared. That proper preparation is repentance. Without a true repentance there cannot be a lasting embrace of the Kingdom of God. Repentance is what enables us to receive the King and His Kingdom. Without it, the Kingdom of God will always be near us, but never within us. True repentance is essential to fully experiencing the King, and His Kingdom, in a personal and powerful way…

Two – Understanding Jesus – pg. 68

March 10

According to Jesus, entering the Kingdom of God requires two essential things. One must repent. And one must believe.

Repentance, in the Scriptures, does not mean to change your ways. Repentance, from the original language, literally means to change your thinking… or more properly, your way of thinking. How we think is just as important as what we think. What God is seeking in His people is a thought process that begins and ends with the King’s thoughts (this is what it truly means to seek His Kingdom first; Matthew 6:33)! God has granted something amazing to His people in the New Covenant – He has granted that His people would have His Own way of thinking! These are the words of the inspired apostle…

mind of Christ

God’s ways of thinking about things are often diametrically opposed to the way human beings think about things. True Christianity is all about lining up our way of thinking, with what God thinks and with how God thinks. This is a choice of those redeemed by the sacrifice of The Christ. Again, the apostle Paul writes, “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace…” (Romans 8:5-6) God’s provision is a new way of thinking provided by The Spirit of God living within His people. It is God within us, informing and transforming our minds, to conform to the Mind of The Christ.

True repentance comes with a changed way of thinking.

strongest thoughts

To enter into the Kingdom of God, we not only need to repent, we must also believe. Scriptural “believing” is aligning our actions in response to our new way of thinking. It is doing something in response to what we now hold to be true. Belief is not just accepting the facts about something; it is acting upon those facts.

For example, if I were deserted on an island, I might concentrate my energies on trying to find a way off of the island. One way might be to collect the materials to assemble a raft for the purpose of facilitating my departure and rescue. Now I might accept the facts that a raft will allow me to sail back to where I belong, and I might even build such a raft, but I do not really believe in that raft’s ability to save me until I actually get on it and sail away from the relative safety of the island. True Biblical belief is getting on the raft and sailing away.

raft

It has been my experience that many “island dwellers” think that rafts are a good idea (they might even have built a few) but very few “island folks” have ever really set sail on one. Disciples of Jesus have heard the message of Jesus and have set sail upon Him – truly trusting (believing) in Him for their own lives… and their safety.

Jesus came to this earth to preach a message. That message was about the Kingdom of God and was aimed at all the “poor captive prisoners” who needed to know freedom, life, meaning, purpose, and hope. Jesus was the source and provision of that message. He came and demonstrated the power of that message with His Own life and ministry. He came and preached the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.

preaching the kingdom

Two – Understanding Jesus – pg. 65

March 7

Jesus came to bring Conviction and Repentance

“Let us go… to the nearby villages – so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” (Jesus – Mark 1:38; see also Luke 4:43)

Jesus came to this earth with a message on His heart. Part of His purpose was to proclaim that message. In the Scripture quoted above, we discover that Jesus is abundantly clear that He was sent to this earth to preach.

This should come as no surprise. The prophet of old informed us that this would be a vital part of The Messiah’s ministry. Isaiah was inspired to declare:

teaching_in_the_synagogue

Jesus connected this passage with Himself, in Luke 4:18-19. Jesus’ connection with this passage confirms that He is the long-awaited Messiah of God’s people and declares that a crucial part of The Messiah’s ministry would be one of preaching God’s good news of the Kingdom of God.

The term “preach” means to openly proclaim a message to an audience. Jesus spent a great deal of time walking this earth and talking to the people He encountered along His path. Sometimes He taught them, and sometimes He preached to them (see Matthew 4:23). Isaiah tells us that the Messiah came to declare “good news.” This good news would be centered in something called “the year of the LORD’s favor.”

Jesus came to proclaim a particular kind of help to those who found themselves confined to a particular kind of situation. This audience was comprised of those who were trapped in a deep, overwhelming sense of need – without any hope of escaping their condition. The prophet describes them as “the poor,” “the captives” and “the prisoners.”

“The poor” were not just those who didn’t have much money – they were impoverished in both ability and hope. They were helpless to help themselves in their condition. They needed someone to come along and make an investment in their lives. They were desperate for someone to grant them some manner of provision in their miserable circumstances. The Greek word for “poor” carries the connotation of someone that is forced into the life of a beggar. They are those who must rely on others for their very survival.

beggar

The proper understanding of “the poor” is reinforced through the words of Jesus in the Beatitudes: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3 The “poor in spirit” are those who have purposely placed themselves in a position of utter dependence on God. This gives us the concept of “poor” that Jesus was talking about.

The “poor” must rely on the kindness and generosity of others. Because they cannot meet their own needs – they are forced to rely on outside sources to provide whatever they may need. Jesus came to preach specifically to the “poor” and to proclaim a message of God’s plentiful provision.