A Timeless Message
From that time Jesus began to preach, saying,
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Grant, O Lord God, that what we have heard with our ears and sung with our lips, we may believe in our hearts and practice in our lives; for Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen
The timing and messaging of God is perfect. We are told that when the “fullness of time” had come, God sent forth his Son, so that we would be redeemed and adopted as his sons (see Gal. 4). Everything God did lined up perfectly according to his timing. John the Baptist was born about 6 months prior to Jesus, and God sent John into the wilderness to proclaim a message for all time. “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
John was sent to prepare the way for the coming of the Lord, the timeless and eternal Son of God who took on human flesh to become one of us so that we would be redeemed from the kingdom of darkness and be adopted as sons in the kingdom of light, the kingdom of heaven. John the Baptist continued to proclaim that message until the one for whom it was written showed up.
The apostle Matthew tells us the good news, that after Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan River, and God revealed to the world that the one standing in the water was his “beloved Son” and filled him with the Holy Spirit, Jesus immediately went out into the wilderness to be tested. After his testing was over, Jesus went to Galilee and began to preach a message.
What was his message? It was the same as John’s, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Repent. “Repent” is a church word, a Bible word, a word that the world knows nothing of. Yet it is a powerful word. It means “think again”, “have another mind”. It is employed throughout scripture as God’s call to sinful, broken, corrupted people to turn away from their sin, turn away from their own opinions and ideas, and turn to God for healing and to walk in his ways. Repentance is a word that describes someone once walking on the wrong path, turning around and beginning to walk on the right path. Repentance is critical because unless we turn around from the wrong way, our lives are headed for certain disaster. God warns us that there is a judgment against us because of our sinfulness that if not paid in full, will result in our eternal destruction. God’s word is like a sign along the road warning us that the bridge is out ahead of us. If we don’t turn around and go a different way, namely God’s way, our lives are forfeit. God wants us to turn toward him and his kingdom.
The Kingdom of Heaven. “The Kingdom of Heaven” is often mistaken for a place, a geographical location, a destination to which we will one day arrive. Rather the Kingdom of Heaven (or Kingdom of God) is wherever God actively rules and reigns. In other words, everywhere where God lives and moves and has his being. It is non-geographical, meaning that God’s kingdom is within me and you as believers in Christ, but his kingdom is not in someone who does not believe, even though we might be standing next to each other in the same space. The kingdom of heaven was opened by Jesus. Jesus is the way. When he died on a cross and was raised to life three days later, God’s justice was satisfied against the sin of the world. Christ paid the world’s debt in full. His perfect life as a human and as the faithful Son of God was offered to God as a ransom to redeem all sinners. We once were enemies of God, sinful and ungodly, but Christ died for us so that we might have the gift of eternal life and enter into the kingdom of God. How do we enter? God promises that by trusting in Christ we are saved. This means that we believe and have confidence in Christ, that his person, his work, his righteousness, and his sacrificial death was sufficient to cover our sin and truly reconciles us to God. Because of his work, we now are restored in our relationship with the God who created us; because our offenses have been removed by Jesus. By faith we turn to God’s way and take hold of his gift to us.
Is at hand. John and Jesus both tell us that God’s kingdom is at hand. We can reach out and touch it, grab it, take hold of it. Why? Because God is present everywhere inviting us now to allow him to be with us, be present in us, and to do His work through us. The moment you hear God’s message and believe the good news of what Jesus did for you, that gift is yours, you receive the kingdom of God, you cross over from death into life, you become a child of God. Baptism seals the deal and allows you to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit as Jesus did. God’s Holy Spirit transforms you and begins to lead and guide you into a whole new life. You become a new creation; a restored human being. The old has gone, the new has come.
“Repent! The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” is the same message we proclaim today. The message is timeless. God’s timing is perfect. For today you have been called by God to return to Him. Will you respond to his call? Your acceptance or rejections will make the difference whether you experience life or death that extends beyond time.
If God is tugging on your heart today, I invite you to stop what you are doing and pray to him right now:
Dear Father in heaven, thank you for giving us the gift of your Son, Jesus. Thank you for paying for our sins in full and opening the door to heaven for us. I confess that I have not lived my life in your way, but have lived my way. Forgive me for the sake of Christ. Turn my heart away from my sin, away from the world and its corrupt values, away from every power of evil, and give me Jesus. Thank you for his sacrifice to forgive my sins. Send your Holy Spirit to me that I may live and be set free to serve you with all my heart. I pray this in the precious name of Jesus who gave his life for me. Amen
In the service of Jesus,
Pastor Langdon Reinke
P.S. I would love to talk with you more if this connected with you in some way. Please let me know how I may speak with you and encourage you in Christ. Do you have questions? My door is always open.