Silence: Take a moment to get still and ask God to center your heart on him.
Scripture: 15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”
Devotional: The last few days we’ve looked at the centerpiece of Advent – our Savior Jesus, the Messiah. We looked at Jesus the forgiver of sins and the seeker of the lost. The question we must answer now is that when we realize Jesus forgives sin and has found us in our lostness, what do we do next?
The answer lies in the first thing Jesus himself said when he started his ministry. After his baptism and time of testing in the wilderness he said these words, “The time has come. The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news.” What did he mean?
“The time has come. The kingdom of God has come near” meant that the time the Jews had been waiting for, the time where the Messiah would establish the rule of God on earth had come through him. This was the beginning of God’s kingdom on earth. It would look different than the Jews thought and it would come in waves. The first wave of the kingdom would be Jesus dying as a sacrifice and the second would be him coming back as a king to restore all things in the future.
Second, he says “Repent and believe the good news!” In the Greek the word for “repentance” is metanoeó, which means to “change ones mind.” It means a change in what a person believes so that their lives and actions are changed as a result.
Jesus wants us to “change our minds” about thinking we can find God through our good works or thinking we can find fulfillment by seeking things of this world. He wants us to change our mind to believe, in faith, the good news.
The good news is that Jesus was perfect on our behalf, died for our sins, gave us his righteousness, was resurrected on the third day and ascended to heaven to sit at the right hand of God.
Our first “repentance” leads to an understanding of our sin, how it grieves the heart of God, recognizing that Jesus died for us, asking for forgiveness for our sins and then living more like Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Yet, repentance isn’t just a one time thing, it’s an all the time thing. Whenever we continue to sin we are called to repent of our sin and ask for forgiveness from God. Martin Luther, the great reformer, once wrote, “Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ…willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.” Not a one time thing, but an all the time thing!
This may sound a little depressing, but what Luther meant is that as we grow in our love for God we should not want to hurt his heart and we should want to start to look more like Jesus with our lives. I understand this because the more I fall more in love with my wife Chelsea, the less I want to disappoint her and the more I want to be a better husband. God wants the same for us.
So no matter if you haven’t believed in Jesus but want to or you’ve believed in Jesus for a long time, we can all listen to his words that he speaks to us.
“The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”
Question: Have you come to believe in Jesus through repentance and faith? If you do believe in Jesus is there any sin you need to repent of?
Action: If you haven’t ever believed in Jesus, but want to, read here or connect with me here. If you believe in Jesus, I can not recommend Dr. Tim Keller’s paper on repentance more highly. Read it here.
Prayer: God, thank you so much for sending Jesus to bring your kingdom, the call to repentance and the good news! I pray that you would convict me of my sin, move me to repentance and then into the freedom of believing the good news of the gospel. Amen.