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…
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.
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.
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.