I said that I will talk today about the kingdom of God. We read in Mathew chapter 4.23 that the Lord was preaching in the synagogues and was teaching the gospel of the kingdom, healing and delivering people from all kind of things. You see the Son of God came into the nation of Israel that was meant to be a really theocratic nation, having God as their King. God brought them out of Egypt, He bare them on eagles wings and brought them to Himself, He wanted them to obey Him and be a peculiar treasure unto Him, above all people, to be unto Him a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. He gave them, laws and commandments and He showed them the way He wanted them to live and be different from all other nations. He was to be their God and they were to be His people, under His protection and provision; in return He wanted them to love him and obey Him and worship him. By the time Jesus came preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, they had already gone astray; they rejected and hardened their hearts against Him, being characterized with pride and hypocrisy, putting all emphasis on the outward instead of the inward, keeping the formalities of a dead religion, following legalistic traditions and ordinances and observing meaningless religious feasts. No one nation, neither any individual can reject God and not reap the bitter fruits of apostasy. Israel, refused the scepter of righteousness , they rejected God from being their king, so now they were under the dominion of another cruel master, unrighteous Rome. Of course their pride prevented them from accepting the fact, but never the less it was so, they were the slaves of Rome outwardly, but worse than that, inwardly they were the slaves of sin.
Now we must understand that what was true for Israel, is true for the human heart, for when it becomes void of God, and rejects Him as King and Lord the soul of a man becomes from within a kingdom of darkness, full of deceit and pride and unrighteousness and wickedness, and nasty habits, with Satan being the cruel task master. You see, if the Lord is not the King within the human heart, another king comes and establishes his kingdom of sin and death and fear. The human heart is made by God to be His throne, in other words we are not to live and do as we like, but we are to live and do according to God’s will. Once God is King in the heart, there is no problem in submitting with gladness to His authority of love, that seeks for us the best, further we are able to pray without fear, your will be done in my life Lord. Lack of this and the heart instead of being a fruitful garden, becomes a wilderness, instead of being the temple where God is worshiped, becomes a den of thieves. It does not matter how educated a person is, how religious, if the Lord does not have His throne in the heart, other lords and other spirits shall come and dwell there, bringing nothing less but misery and unhappiness. If the Spirit of God does not rule within, another spirit will do so, man will either have God ruling within, or Satan will do so.
So we see why Jesus came preaching and teaching the Kingdom of God. It was so, for not only Israel, but man in general was in apostasy and far from the reality of this kingdom. The massage he was preaching was that of good tidings. John His forerunner was also announcing, that the kingdom of God was near, calling people to repent. The time had come, that God was intervening to undo the works of Satan and set His people free, free from sin and his authority and power, the time has come for the souls of men to be loosened from the tyranny of their enemies, from the shackles of sin and those nasty deadly habits of unrighteousness that were keeping their poor souls in the dark dungeons of hell. The kingdom of God is near, both John and Jesus shouted and suffers violence and the violent take it by force.
The kingdoms and governments of the world, rage against God and against His anointed king, this is what Psalm 2 tells us, “Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us”. Not only Israel but also nations that once had a Christian heritage; are angry against God. They do not acknowledge his, God Almighty that created the heaven and the earth and all that there is. They they expect nothing from him and certainly they feel, they owe nothing to Him either. Even nations that were once godly nations, in these last times, have turned away from Him, have despised His covenant, rejected Christ, broke the bands and cast away the cords (laws and commandments) of God’s government. Instead they replaced His laws and statutes with the soft and slimy laws of men unto their shame and destruction. Because of this the world, has become unspeakably unclean, demonic, morally abominable, naturally polluted, the sea the air the rivers, the souls of men. In the modern societies almost anything is allowed and considered normal and acceptable, things that only a few years back were considered disgusting and abominable. This is the type of society we live in, with: millions of unborn children being murdered, thousands of couples living together unmarried, it used to be called, “living in sin” a phrase that accurately conveys the position in the sight of God; laws are passed, that allow man to marry man and woman to marry another woman which is an abomination before God almighty. All these, a direct result of man, not submitting to God and His rules, all because like the Jews of old, the unregenerate man cries out, WE will not have this man reign over us”, refusing with adamant tenacity and stubbornness to believe the Son of God, Jesus Christ the Lord and be saved. These once heathen nations, converted to God through godly men that laid their lives in order to bring them the gospel, are now back in their abominable idolatries, without moral standards, have returned like a dog to his own vomit and like a sow to her wallowing mire. These are those that say again and again, “we will not have this humble Nazarene be our King”. What they mean is, we will not have God rule over us, we will live as we are pleased, we will not have Him tell us what to do, how to live, so let us break their bands asunder, cast their bonds from us, let us make our own rules, build our own Babylons. My beloved this is original Sin, and it is the root of all sins, all sins I repeat. This is Satan’s sin and it is what he sowed in man, His rebellion and apostasy; it is the stubborn position of the heart against God and comes right out of Hell. It is because of this, that the announcement of the gospel of the kingdom by John and Jesus and later the apostles was accompanied by the call for repentance.
Prepare the way of the Lord.
John the Baptist was sent to prepare the way of the Lord. He was a voice that cried in the wilderness of the human hearts of his time. All around him was dead, there was almost nothing reminding, that those people were once, the people of God, a holy nation, a peculiar people. The vineyard that the Lord planted and cared for, instead of making grapes, made wild grapes, instead of judgment, there was oppression; instead for righteousness, behold a cry. There was almost nothing left of the former glories, the truth was trodden down, God’s commandments were replaced with the traditions, the feasts of God became meaningless, any vision of God was lost and Pharisaic hypocrisy prevailed in the hearts. One day, a voice was heard, saying, ” Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it. “Isa. 40.3-5. The mission of John was to prepare the hearts of the people for the coming King, Jesus Christ the Lord; his message was a message of repentance. You know, true repentance is not that which rises in the heart, because some gain or some profit is promised in return, no it is not. True repentance comes through the conviction of sin that the holy Spirit brings and it is one that brings in the heart much pain and sorrow, because of the way we treated God and His goodness. The goodness of God brings in us repentance when it dawns on us that whilst we were yet sinners, He loved us and gave His son to die for us. Though He did no sin, God made Him sin for us, so we can be justified before Him and be saved from destruction and everlasting death. This godly sorrow, generates repentance unto salvation, not to be repented, writes Paul to the Corinthians, II Cor 7.10. It is this sorrow that makes the heart to be pierced and open and turn to God in repentance and humility, asking for His forgiveness. This breaking of the heart should be made, sooner or later, for true and lasting salvation. Man must understand that he deprived, the Righteous God, the God of love, what it was owned to him, obedience, worship, honor, thankfulness for his generosity and goodness, that he disregarded Him when He called, despised Him and did those things that He abhors, without a trace of shame. It is different when someone embraces Christianity because it is the right thing to do and it is different when one being convicted of sin, turns to God through Jesus Christ. How can the glory of the Lord, be revealed in our hearts, if at first we do not acknowledge that we have sinned before Him? How can God clothe us with the righteousness of His Son, if we do not accept that our own righteousness is as filthy garments? The heart that is in apostasy from God, is like a desert, with conditions of complete desolation, nothing good grows in it, there is neither peace nor joy nor gladness, but only the cry of sorrow of heart and the vexation of spirit. Then the voice of the preacher comes, it is a voice that cries in the wilderness, “repent”, (something we do not hear from many preachers in our day), make the crooked ways straight the rough places plain and the Lord shall come, the King shall come, His glory shall be revealed. How can the Lord come to His house? How can the King of glory come and walk in the paths of our souls, if these are not made straight? If we are not ready to turn away from our crooked ways, willing to let go of those bad habits, empty our minds from those evil thoughts, our passions and lusts, our greed, our anger, the pride and bitterness and injustice from within? How can this be done without humiliation before God, obedience, brokenness, submission, recognition of mistakes, hidden sins, and hypocrisy?
Grace belongs to God, for when we turn to Him, He comes immediately to dwell in our hearts by His Spirit and establish within us His Kingdom
. Remember what Peter said, “Repent and be baptized every one of you, in the Name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit”. What a gift! God Himself in us, establishing His Kingdom within our souls.
Submitting to the righteousness of God
The first message of the gospel is repentance from the sin of apostasy against God. Apostasy was always the reason that God withheld His blessing from His people, allowing His enemies to have an upper hand over them. We see it so, very much in the Old Testament writings. God’s call through His prophets, was return to Me and live and be saved from your enemies, ” If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it” Isaiah 1.19,20. The call of repentance must therefore be in the heart of the gospel, not so much repentance from specific sins as repentance from the sin of apostasy from God. Paul’s massage to the Jews and gentiles was that of repentance, “and strongly urging Jews and Greeks repentance toward God and faith, this to our Lord Jesus Christ “Acts. 20.21. Peter in his first sermon, made it absolutely clear to those he was preaching, “Therefore, let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ ….. Repent ‘Acts. 2.36. He said that to those, who, with pierced hearts, asked him what they should do to be saved. As we said before, repentance is the sincere recognition that we have been wrong before God, even if we thing we are right with everyone else. It is the sincere recognition, in our hearts that, we were the children of disobedience, not being subjected to his righteousness to His laws, His commandments, to His ways. It is the recognition, that we have deprived Him of what was due to Him, the glory and the honor and thanks and that we are now ready to return to Him all that we owe Him and put things right with Him. It is the acceptance that we are willing ready to be subjected to His righteousness and become obedient by believe the One He had sent with all our hearts. Our response to this great gesture of His great love (in giving His Son to die for our sins), is the only way to be freed from our powerful enemies, sin and Satan and be transferred to the Kingdom of the Son of his love. The root of all sin is apostasy, my brethren, and unless man returns with repentance to God, he will continue to reap the bitter fruits of disobedience. When someone believes in Christ, it is the undisputable proof that he is now willing to submit to the Righteousness of God. Jesus Christ is the righteousness of God. Jesus, not only fulfilled as a man all righteousness, through his unlimited, unconditional, absolute allegiance and submission to the will of His Father, but became himself the Righteousness that God imputes to all who believe, in him. It means that he is now clothed with the perfect, spotless garment of righteousness, that of Christ.