REPENT FOR THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN
TEXT: MATTHEW 3:2
The writer says: two thousand years ago, the Lord said, “Repent for tor the kingdom of heaven is at hand” “(Matthew 3”17). What is the true meaning of these words? What is true repentance at hand? How can the true repentance and enter the kingdom of heaven? Let us fellowship and explore them together.
A. WHAT THE TRUE MEANING OF THE WORDS REPENT
The Lord Jesus said, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at home”. These words clearly tell us that the standard for entering the kingdom of heaven is to achieve true repentance. That is to say, only by truly repenting can we enter the kingdom of heaven. Some people think that as long as believers in the Lord admit that they are sinners, and confess before the Lord through prayer and ask for His forgiveness once they commit sins, then this is true repentance.
Some other people think that practicing patience and tolerance in accordance with the Lord’s words, suffering and bearing a cross, doing many good deeds, and preaching and working for the Lord is true repentance, and that they will definitely enter the kingdom of heaven by doing so. Are these really the correct viewpoints? What did the Lord Jesus really mean when He said: “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17)? Let us search for answers in God’s words. God says: “You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy” (Leviticus 11:45). “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like to it, you shall love your neighbour as yourself” (Matthew 22:37–39). The Book of Revelation also prophesies: “Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city” (Revelation 22:14).
These verses show us that God is holy and that when God asks mankind to repent, He is referring to us being cleansed of our sins and no longer sinning to resist God. That is, only when our inner sinful natures have been cleansed, and we can practice and live by God’s words, no longer disobey or resist God, can rely on our love for God to expend ourselves for Him without the intention to make a deal, and do everything only to obey God and repay God’s love loving God with all of our heart, mind and soul, can we become those who have true repentance and enter the kingdom of heaven. Among us believers in the Lord, who has attained true repentance? No matter whether we confess and repent in word or work hard for the Lord, who has escaped the bondage of sin and no longer sin to resist God? There is not a single person. For example, the Lord taught us to be honest people and we know this requirement clearly, but in real life we often tell lies and cheat others for the sake of personal profit. Though we pray to the Lord, confess and repent, afterward the same problems occur; we lie without restraint as soon as we open our mouths once our own interests are affected. We live out nothing at all of the likeness of honest people. Besides, when God’s work doesn’t conform to our notions or when natural disasters and man-made calamities occur, we begin to speak words of blame, misunderstanding, rebellion and resistance, and use our suffering as capital to argue with God. Is this genuine repentance? The Lord required us to love God with all our hearts, minds and souls, but we labour and work for the Lord solely to gain blessings and enter the kingdom and get a reward.
Though many people have worked and preached for many years, they never exalt and bear witness to God and instead do their utmost to make a show of how much work they’ve done and how much they’ve suffered to make people worship and follow them; they even form cliques, split the church and set their own independent kingdom. Is their labour considered loving and obeying God? Have they truly repented? Obviously, no matter how many good deeds we appear to do, and no matter how many years we’ve worked hard, this simply doesn’t mean that we have genuine repentance.
The Lord Jesus asked us to repent for the kingdom of God is at hand, which is to say, He required us to cast off the bondage of sin, no longer rebel against or resist God, but completely obey and fear God. Only such people can enter the kingdom of heaven. Because the kingdom of heaven is God’s kingdom where God reigns, those who always sin, and rebel against and resist God are certainly unworthy of entering the kingdom of heaven.
B. HOW TO ACHIEVE TRUE REPENTANCE
So then, how can we be totally free of the shackles of sin and achieve true repentance to enter God’s kingdom? The Lord Jesus prophesied long ago: “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will show you things to come” (John 16:12–13). “He that rejects Me, and receives not My words, has one that judges him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:48). “Sanctify them through Your truth: Your word is truth” (John 17:17). And 1 Peter 4:17 says: “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God.” From these prophecies, we can see that when the Lord returns, He will do a stage of work of judgment and express the way of judgment to judge and purify mankind, and guide us into all truths so that we may be cleansed of our sins, truly repent and enter God’s kingdom. Therefore, accepting the Lord’s work of judgment when He returns in the last days is the only way to achieve true repentance and enter God’s kingdom.