June 21, 2018

Matthew 4-17… From that time, Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

            When Jesus came to earth, he introduced a new world order. It was inaugurated by mercy and forgiveness and perpetuated by love and truth.

The only way in was by believing in Jesus and receiving the covering of His sacrifice. In order to do that, it was necessary to repent of former ways. In the kingdom of heaven, former ways are not allowed. That is not just limited to evil ways; it includes religious ways that were replaced by God’s way. People trying to earn their way into God’s world by good deeds must also repent. Jesus’ strongest opposition came from that group. They served God according to their knowledge and were unwilling to repent. I guess they figured God would work with them and give them a gate into His kingdom that included all they had done. Jesus stood at the only gate and did not allow any good deeds to pass through. No wonder the religious people didn’t like Him. Jesus’ words apply today as they did then. Are you trying to get near Him by good deeds? He is not impressed. One variation is trying to please God by obedience. Please don’t run with that sentence. “Jim said, it’s not necessary to be obedient.” That is most definitely not what I am saying. God looks on our hearts. Why are you obedient? Is it because you believe all that He said and you know you want to obey Him” Or is it to show him you are serious. He already knows whether or not we are serious about living in His Kingdom. We don’t prove our seriousness by obedience; we obey because we believe. Jesus instructed us to repent. A quick definition of repent is “turn around.” But it is more than just a change of direction. It includes a change of heart. It is not enough to walk through the only gate, if you do it begrudgingly. One must listen to Jesus and respond, “I want to be near God; if this is the only way, then I want to go this way.” I will let go of everything that I heretofore considered necessary. Repentance is more than quitting a pesky bad habit. It is letting go of everything… like education. You cannot hold on to your Bible College degree and take it into God’s kingdom with you. The way in, without explanation, is repentance. Have you done that?