Summary: Jesus came into this earthly domain, ruled by the powers of darkness, and offered to all who were willing to receive - the benefits of His world.
Living in the Kingdom
Text: Matthew 3:1-8
Introduction: Think about this: "Most Christians repent enough to get forgiven, but not enough to see the Kingdom." Now think about what John was saying: "Repent, because the kingdom of heaven has come near!" A modern translation puts it: "Turn to God and change the way you think and act, because the kingdom of heaven is near." To the Jew of the time, a kingdom of their own was a much sought after dream. Having had their kingdom taken from them and having been under the rulership of foreign nations for hundreds of years, their main desire was to be free - free to rule themselves.
John came as an initiator - one who was sent to herald the arrival of the Kingdom of God. He came with a message much different than the world anticipated. His attire, his ways were so different. He proclaimed the arrival of this most momentous event in such a different way. Yet, something about him attracted the multitudes to him. His message, though different had meaning; his presence, though different had authority. His message of repentance and the Kingdom of God attracted multitudes unto him.
Let’s take a moment and gain a better understanding of what this word "Kingdom" means. King-dom = King’s domain = implies authority & lordship. Basically, Jesus came into this earthly domain, ruled by the powers of darkness, and offered to all who were willing to receive - the benefits of His world. The Kingdom refers to the realm of God’s domain - a realm of all sufficiency! Jesus illustrated the benefits of that Kingdom through His works of forgiveness, deliverance and healing.
Israel expected a Messiah. Prophets of old had predicted the coming of this One who would deliver them. Their expectation, though, was a King who would come, deliver them from their enemies and then rule over their nation as David and Solomon had done. They expected One who would rule with a rod of iron and avenge them for the suffering and persecution they had endured. What they failed to recognize was that their need, as well as ours, was not vengence upon their physical enemies but rather he enemies of the soul such as sin, the devil and his works, and the self-righteous attitudes of the religious.
The Messiah came but so did many surprises. His purpose was not according to their plan. His ways were not what they desired. His message of repentance caught them completely off-guard. In fact, He brought His world with Him!
John’s message contained two main points: repentance and the coming of God’s Kingdom. Let’s look at these two main points for a few moments and in so doing, experience within ourselves the arrival of God’s Kingdom.
In introducing the Kingdom of God to his listeners, John began by proclaiming that:
1. Kingdom Living Requires True Repentance
- v. 2 - "Repent...."
A. The Message Bible translates this very literally: "Change your life."
B. What is repentance?
1. We understand that "Most Christians repent enough to get forgiven, but not enough to see the Kingdom."
2. Repentance comes from a Greek word - metanoeo - which literally means to think differently.
3. Paul gives us a clearer understanding in Romans 12:2 where he uses two specific words to define this repentant attitude: conformed & transformed - "do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."
a. conformed means fashioned after - don’t be fashioned after this world’s ways & thinking
b. transformed means complete change (metamorphosis) - comes about by a complete renewal of one’s pattern of thinking
C. Repentance means much more than simply crying over our sin, or even turning from those sins to follow God.
1. Turning from sin to God is more the result of true repentance than it is the actual act.
2. Repentance means you change your way of thinking.
3. Only those who truly repent will discover the true focus of Jesus’ ministry - the Kingdom.
D. Repentance could be described as doing an about-face in life.
1. One day I was going one direction in life and I all of a sudden I changed in order to pursue another.
2. Perhaps the thing that cripples the Church more than anything else today is hidden sin.
a. Hidden sin keeps us from the purity that is necessary for us to have boldness and great faith.
b. Hidden sin hobbles the Church.
3. We repent to a certain extent but continue with the sin we feel nobody else knows about.
4. Remember what I said: "Most Christians repent enough to get forgiven, but not enought to see the Kingdom!"
5. Repentance is incomplete until it envisions His Kingdom.
6. The focus of repentance is to change or transform our way of thinking until the presence of His Kingdom fills our consciousness.