Keys to the Kingdom: Repentance

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Repentance is the key to get in and stay in the Kingdom of God

We can be tempted to think of Jesus as the caricature that is sometimes presented in our culture. A chilled out, homeless, teacher that hands our bread, fish and healing along with pithy sayings that can mean whatever we need or want them to mean.

The Biblical account of Jesus shows a different picture. Take, for example, the accounts of the first brief “sermons” that Jesus preached involve some direct language:

  • Matthew 4:17 “…Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
  • Mark 1:15 “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
  • John 3:3 “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

The Gospel of Jesus is full of compassion, mercy, grace and change. In fact, to receive the Gospel is to change in the most fundamental way. We are born again and our lives are no longer our own but they are bought with a price, the price that was paid at the cross. That change, what Jesus called repentance, is the key to getting in and staying in His Kingdom.

Jesus said something to a group of Sadducees that was compelling as He answered a rather complex and nuanced question in Mark 12. Jesus concluded his answer with a simple yet powerful statement saying to them in verse 27 “You are quite wrong.”

Upon hearing this, a Scribe that had been observing approached Jesus and asked Him a question that Jesus easily and rightly answered. The Scribe wholeheartedly agreed with Jesus and said so to which Jesus replied “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.”

The idea of repentance can be explained as simply agreeing with Jesus. When we agree with the Lord we are made more like him and His grace is poured out as we make the journey of going from darkness to light. Repentance is more than simply a decision. It begins there but it moves past the theoretical, mental understanding of right and wrong and into a heart change that births new life.

Repentance is a process

  • Conviction / Godly sorrow for sin – Second Corinthians 7:9-11
  • Confession of sin – Psalms 32:1-5, First John 1:9
  • Forsaking of sin – Proverbs 28:13
  • Hatred of sin – Revelation 2:6
  • Restitution where possible – Luke 19:8, Leviticus 6:1-7

Repentance a voluntary turning from sin and to God that is motivated by conviction and carried out by God’s grace alone. It is a vital element in the life of a disciple a change of heart. Repentance means that our thinking will change as Godly sorrow will come enters our hearts. It means that our life’s purpose will change as our hearts are set to fulfill that purpose.

As important as it is to understand what repentance is, it is also critical to understand what it is not. Repentance is not conviction with no action. Nor is it mere sorrow or condemnation, a feeling of guilt with no way out.

It is more than simply performing a religious action or turning over a new leaf with the power of will.

Repentance is a gift from God that He offers His people as the way back to a right relationship with God through faith in His Son, Jesus. Repentance is God drawing us close, not driving us away.

 

 

 

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