The word "kingdom" is used 51 times in the book of Matthew. It's a major theme in Matthew's gospel. In fact, Matthew wrote that Jesus began his earthly ministry by preaching,
"Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
Throughout each of the gospels, Jesus preaches a gospel of repentance and forgiveness of sins and that the kingdom of heaven is closer than the people realize. He even tells the disciples as he sends them out to "proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal" (Luke 9:2). Jesus came to call sinners to repentance and to forgive sins, but he also came to make Jews and Gentiles aware of the coming of God's kingdom through Jesus Christ. Entrance into this coming kingdom is based solely on repentance from sins.
Now you might be asking, "What is repentance?" Theologian and pastor Charles Spurgeon once shared the lyrics of this children's hymn in a sermon to define the term,
"Repentance is to leave
The sins we loved before,
And show that we in earnest grieve
By doing so no more."
Repentance is the key to God's kingdom, and repentance only comes from understanding the gravity of our sins, turning away from them, and seeking forgiveness from God. The Bible says,
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins
and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:9
Repentance is the beginning to seeking and being a part of God's kingdom. Therefore, that is where we will start in this series.
The first time I repented from my sins was the night I watched The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader in an encounter that I shared about in yesterday's post. Before watching this film, I knew about heaven and I wanted to go to heaven when I died, but I didn't realize that heaven is part of God's Kingdom and those that go there want to be with God and want Him to be their king.
I heard about heaven my entire life, but I had never thought about how heaven is part of God's kingdom. For the first time in my life, I desperately wanted to be with God in eternity and I wanted to be a part of His kingdom. At the same time, God showed me the gravity of my sins and how my sins divided me from a holy God. I knew that I couldn't save myself. The only thing that I could do was confess my sins, believe in Christ as my Savior, and repent.
Just as the book of Matthew focuses on God's Kingdom being made manifest through Jesus Christ, the book of John focuses on eternal life promised through Christ. Jesus says,
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
What more can we say? Repentance of sins leads to becoming a part of God's Kingdom, which leads to eternal life.
As we embark on this journey of seeking glimpses of God's Kingdom over the next 29 days and growing in our understanding of the kingdom, this is where we begin. We begin where Jesus began, with repentance.
Here are some questions to consider as we begin this series.
Take some time to think about these questions, and if you're feeling particularly brave, feel free to share your answers or thoughts in the comments section below. Community makes this series more fun, and I love hearing from those that are reading!
This post is part of a 31 day series.
You can read more posts from the series Seeking The Kingdom here.
Shalom! I'm Madi, a laughter-loving, movie-going, spontaneous-dancing, follower of Christ. Join me as I seek glimpses of God's grace in the ordinary and everyday.
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She Laughs Without Fear