Repentance is the Message of the
Matthew 4:17; Luke 3:7-14; Romans 6:1-17; Hebrews 12:22-29
How often has your misperception prevented
your understanding? Have you ever looked for an item shopping, and
you think you have a good mental picture of what you are looking for. But
your perception of what you are looking for is all wrong. So you go up and
down the store aisle seeking to find the item you have formed a mental
picture of in your mind. But you can’t find it. After exhausting your
desire to continue your search without any help from anyone, you ask a
store clerk. He reaches over and points out the item you’ve been looking
for, and you have walked by it a dozen times. It has been right there in
Religious and non-religious people ate and
drank with Jesus without realizing who he was. It was extremely
difficult for Jesus to get across to them who he was. He did not fit their
perception of the Messiah.
An angel spoke to Mary about the birth of
Christ. “The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are
highly favored! The Lord is with you." Mary was greatly troubled at his
words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said
to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You
will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the
name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.
The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will
reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end."
(Luke 1:28-33 NIV).
The angel’s prophecy was in keeping with
all the Jewish Scriptures. If you could walk into the Jewish world
of the first century, you would probably hear daily conversations about
the coming of the Messiah. Their conversations would reveal an earthly
vision of a Messianic kingdom. They believed the Messiah would deliver
them from the oppressive hand of the Roman government. He would relieve
them of paying taxes to Rome. You remember one question they asked Jesus
was “Should we pay taxes to Caesar?
The non-Jewish world saw a Jewish Messiah
as a threat. The magi came to Herod asking, “Where is he that is
born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come
to worship him” (Matthew 2:2). Herod saw a Jewish Messiah as a threat to
his domain. He set out to destroy the one born king of the Jews. He had
all the children less than two years slaughtered to prevent the coming of
a Jewish Messiah.
The Jews believed the Messiah would reign
from the throne of David over the entire world. It was their
perception of the Messianic king that prompted Herod to kill any baby
under two years old. All Herod knew about the Jewish Messiah was what he
had heard from the Jews. There was no way he was going to be threatened by
a Jewish king uprooting his domain.
Try to imagine, the confusion caused by
those to whom God entrusted the Scriptures. They had every
advantage. They had the Scriptures that explained the Messiah’s coming.
Paul writes of the Jews, “What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew,
or what value is there in circumcision? Much in every way! First of all,
they have been entrusted with the very words of God” (Romans 3:1-2). But
they were blind to the presence of their Messiah.
The confusion among the Jews about the
kingdom can be attributed to the fact that it was a mystery. They
knew the Messianic king was coming, but they didn’t have a clear picture
of the type of kingdom he was to establish. Their only experience of
kingdom life was what their forefathers had experienced as their kings
ruled on earth. When you spoke of a kingdom—they naturally thought of king
Solomon’s glorious reign. They expected the Messiah to reign like Solomon.
They were to wait patiently until God revealed himself.
42 The Queen of
the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it;
for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon's wisdom, and
now one greater than Solomon is here.
43 "When an evil
spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and
does not find it. 44 Then it says, 'I will return to the house I left.'
When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in
order. 45 Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked
than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of
that man is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked
More startling is our confusion about the
kingdom of God. There are many waiting for Christ to return to
earth to establish his kingdom on earth. Some believe it doesn’t matter
whether you understand Christ’s kingdom has come or you believe it is yet
Jesus preached the kingdom of God after
1:1 In my former
book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach 2
until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through
the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. 3 After his suffering, he
showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was
alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the
kingdom of God. NIV
Jesus spent forty days with his disciples
after his resurrection to explain the kingdom of God.
44 He said to
them, "This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must
be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets
and the Psalms."
45 Then he opened
their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them,
"This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on
the third day, 47 and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached
in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses
of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised;
but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high."
Previous to this the kingdom of God was
largely a mystery. Yes, they believed in the coming of the
Messianic kingdom, but they never recognized the Messiah. However, the
apostle says, “And he made known to us the mystery of his will according
to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ . . .”
3 Praise be to
the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the
heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us
in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his
sight. In love 5 he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus
Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will- 6 to the praise of his
glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him
we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in
accordance with the riches of God's grace 8 that he lavished on us with
all wisdom and understanding. 9 And he made known to us the mystery
of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in
Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times will have reached their
fulfillment-to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one
head, even Christ. NIV
What is the Message of the Kingdom?
What is the message of the kingdom?
Listen to Jesus, “Then he opened their minds so they could understand
the Scriptures. He told them, "This is what is written: The Christ will
suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and
forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning
at Jerusalem” (Luke 24:45-47). On Pentecost Peter commands repentance
The message of the kingdom of God is
3:1 In those days
John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea 2 and saying, "Repent,
for the kingdom of heaven is near."
4 And so John
came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance
for the forgiveness of sins. NIV
7 John said to
the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, "You brood of vipers! Who
warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Produce fruit in keeping with
repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our
father.' For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children
for Abraham. 9 The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree
that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the
10 "What should
we do then?" the crowd asked.
11 John answered,
"The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one
who has food should do the same."
12 Tax collectors
also came to be baptized. "Teacher," they asked, "what should we do?"
13 "Don't collect
any more than you are required to," he told them.
14 Then some
soldiers asked him, "And what should we do?"
"Don't extort money and don't accuse people falsely-be content with your
It is evident that when John preached
repentance his hearers were brought face to face with their need to adjust
the moral direction of their lives.
Truth divorced from life is not truth in its
biblical sense, but something else and something less. Theology is a set
of facts concerning God, man, and the world. However the Bible is more
than a book of facts about God, man and the universe. Its teaching goes
beyond the facts as it exhorts us to alter our ways and bring our lives
into harmony with the will of God. (A. W. Tozer, Exposition Meaningless
without Application, via Pulpit Helps, May 2004).
Theological truth is useless until it is
obeyed. The purpose behind biblical truth is moral action. Truth
set forth in the Bible is moral truth; it goes beyond intellectual to the
will. Truth is addressed to the whole man. Its obligations cannot be
discharged by grasping it mentally. Divine truth as revealed in the Bible
isn’t satisfied until it rules our lives (A. W. Tozer, Exposition
Meaningless without Application, via Pulpit Helps, May 2004).
Our wills must be surrendered to the sword
of truth (Hebrews 4:12). Biblical teaching without moral
application raises no opposition. It is only when we realize truth is in
conflict with our hearts that resistance sets in (A. W. Tozer, Exposition
Meaningless without Application, via Pulpit Helps, May 2004).
Truth may be taught with complete
faithfulness to the text without making the hearer one whit better.
Truth is often taught so as to leave the hearers without a sense of moral
obligation (A. W. Tozer, Exposition Meaningless without Application, via
Pulpit Helps, May 2004).
Repentance brings us to the crossroads of
life. Jesus began his preaching with a clarion call, “Repent for
the kingdom of God is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). This call was echoed by the
30 In the past
God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere
to repent. 31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with
justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men
by raising him from the dead." NIV
What is repentance? We would like
to hear some theological discussion concerning repentance. Let’s make it
real simple. Let’s listen to Jesus call us to repentance. Jesus’ sermon on
the mountainside marks the beginning of his ministry. Matthew informs us
that Jesus began preaching repent for the kingdom of God is at hand, then
he calls his disciples. Matthew reveals Jesus’ sermon on the mountain as
introduction to the kingdom. The sermon itself is a call to repentance. We
are taught not to do our righteousness before men. In the example prayer
we are taught to seek God’s will on earth as it is in heaven. This is the
message of repentance. We are to go the second mile. Treat others like we
want to be treated.
Repentance was taught throughout Jesus’
ministry. He told those desiring to be served by others, to render
a life of service to others. He instructed those desiring to be great to
become least, for the least is the greatest. Jesus taught that we should
love our neighbor as ourselves. Repentance is a change in behavior.
Christ’s baptism is a baptism of
repentance. It’s not any different than John’s baptism of
repentance. Listen to Paul explain the purpose behind baptism.
6:1 What shall we
say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no
means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3 Or don't you
know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into
his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death
in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory
of the Father, we too may live a new life.
5 If we have been
united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united
with him in his resurrection. 6 For we know that our old self was
crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that
we should no longer be slaves to sin- 7 because anyone who has died has
been freed from sin.
8 Now if we died
with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 For we know
that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no
longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for
all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.
11 In the same
way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12
Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its
evil desires. 13 Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as
instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those
who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body
to him as instruments of righteousness. 14 For sin shall not be your
master, because you are not under law, but under grace. NIV
Do you know why there is so much confusion
about the kingdom of God today? We are not experiencing God’s
reign in our own hearts. We’ve turned God’s kingdom into a church—into a
church doctrine? We are looking for a church to attend, but we are not
seeking the kingdom of God—God’s rule in our personal lives.
Some believe the kingdom came on Pentecost. Some
believe it is yet to come. The important aspect of God’s kingdom we miss
is that it must come afresh in every generation. That’s why we must
continue to pray, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in
heaven.” This is the kingdom of God—God’s will being done on earth.
Receive the Kingdom
22 But you have
come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem,
the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of
angels in joyful assembly, 23 to the church of the firstborn, whose names
are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the
spirits of righteous men made perfect, 24 to Jesus the mediator of a new
covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the
blood of Abel.
25 See to it that
you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused
him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from
him who warns us from heaven? 26 At that time his voice shook the earth,
but now he has promised, "Once more I will shake not only the earth but
also the heavens." 27 The words "once more" indicate the removing of what
can be shaken-that is, created things-so that what cannot be shaken may
since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be
thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29 for our
"God is a consuming fire." NIV
The Hebrew writer spoke of a time when God
shook the earth at Mt. Sinai at the giving of the Ten Commandments.
He shook the world for forty years as he led the Hebrews out of Egypt
through the wilderness. Listen to Rahab’s conversation with the spies just
before Jericho was overthrown by God. She recognized God as the one who
was shaking her world to its very foundation, but must remember her trust
in God made her personal world unshakable.
8 Before the
spies lay down for the night, she went up on the roof 9 and said to them,
"I know that the LORD has given this land to you and that a great fear of
you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in
fear because of you. 10 We have heard how the LORD dried up the water of
the Red Sea for you when you came out of
Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites
east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed. 11 When we heard of
it, our hearts melted and everyone's courage failed because of you, for
the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below. 12 Now
then, please swear to me by the LORD that you will show kindness to my
family, because I have shown kindness to you. Give me a sure sign 13 that
you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters,
and all who belong to them, and that you will save us from death."
14 "Our lives for
your lives!" the men assured her. "If you don't tell what we are doing, we
will treat you kindly and faithfully when the LORD gives us the land."
15 So she let
them down by a rope through the window, for the house she lived in was
part of the city wall. 16 Now she had said to them, "Go to the hills so
the pursuers will not find you. Hide yourselves there three days until
they return, and then go on your way." NIV
God shakes the world to bring us to
repentance. God is shaking up the world order of things today. Do
you know what God is saying? Take inventory of your life.
What shall we do as we live in a shaking world?
Listen to God speak and obey Him. Receive grace day by day to serve Him
"with reverence and godly fear." Do not be distracted or frightened by the
tremendous changes going on around you. Keep running the race with
endurance. Keep looking to Jesus Christ. Remember that your Father loves
you. And draw on God's enabling grace.
Notice the Hebrew writer indicates, “. . .
we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken . . .” Notice the
present tense “we are receiving.” It is not past tense. It is not future
tense. “We are receiving the kingdom of God.” How is this? We receive the
kingdom daily as we receive God’s rule in our daily decisions.
Do you know what happens when you receive
God’s kingdom afresh in your life daily? Your life becomes
unshakable. God is shaking the world order of things, but those who choose
his rule live unshakable lives. John’s vision given to him by Christ
revealed God’s unshakable order as he shakes the world to bring it to
You have probably gigantic statue of Atlas
straining with all his strength as he holds the world on his shoulders.
That is the way some of us go through life we carry all our problems upon
our own shoulders. Imagine a statue of Jesus as a twelve year old child
with his hand outstretched palm facing upwards upholding the world in the
palm of his hand with no effort at all. He does have the whole world in
We have a choice. We can carry the world on our
shoulders, or we can say I give up, Lord; here’s my life. I give you my
world, the whole world. This is what we must do when we come to God in
6 Your throne, O
God, will last for ever and ever;
a scepter of
justice will be the scepter of your kingdom.
19 The LORD has
established his throne in heaven,
and his kingdom
rules over all. NIV
1 They will tell
of the glory of your kingdom
and speak of your
12 so that all
men may know of your mighty acts
and the glorious
splendor of your kingdom.
13 Your kingdom
is an everlasting kingdom,
and your dominion
endures through all generations. NIV
You must follow Christ to receive his
24 Then Jesus
said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny
himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save
his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. 26
What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits
his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? 27 For the Son
of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels, and then he
will reward each person according to what he has done. 28 I tell you the
truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the
Son of Man coming in his kingdom." NIV
Do you see Christ’s kingdom coming in your
life. Will it come before you die? Jesus threatens our rule over