Repent the Kingdom of Heaven Is at Hand :: by Sean Gooding

Matthew 3:1-6

“In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, and saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.’

And the same John had his raiment of camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey. Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and the entire region round about Jordan, and were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.”

Last time I wrote about the importance of obedience, and that there can be no greater lead into this article than the idea of obedience.Anyone who has children understands the need for obedience. There are life and death situations that demand immediate obedience; crossing the street, playing in a pool and a myriad of situations where your kids need to simply obey.

I parent a couple of teenagers and my wife and I find that we have to explain ourselves to these kids who simply do not have the experience to know better.God is much like that with us. He always has out best interest at heart and His love drives Him to establish rules and boundaries.His love mandates that He tell us of both the benefits of obedience and the consequences of disobedience.

God is a God of discipline, in Hebrews 12:5-6:

“And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.”

Being corrected is a sign of being loved.My son has asked that I not love him so much.Sometimes we don’t want God to love us so much either.In today’s lesson we will look at the importance of knowing the truth and preaching the truth in obedience to the Lord and subsequently the importance of obeying the truth once we hear it.

The Message, Matthew 3:1-2

John the Baptist was the preacher, the last of the Old Testament prophets calling the nation of Israel to repentance.His message was simple and to the point: “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” John the Baptist was a rough looking fellow, not a “smooth man” and his words were quite abrupt.He spoke to the religious leaders without fear at all as we see in verse 7.

He was not interested in earthly praise and answered to God only.Oh, that we had more preachers like this today, men who were solely sold out to the Lord and did not worry about Man’s praise, Man’s opinion or Man’s money.

John fulfilled a prophecy found in the writings of Isaiah, chapter 40:3.This was a common occurrence in those days.A king who planned to make a friendly visit to a neighboring kingdom would send an envoy or a herald ahead to let the other king know.The king who was going to be visited would then set about making as straight a path as possible for this dignitary to travel.Roads would be smoothed, hills flattened and ditches filled in to make sure that the coming king had a smooth and event free passage as he visited. This was the kind of imagery that Isaiah uses when talking about John the Baptist, he was a herald; one sent to warn the earthly kingdom that the heavenly King was coming and that they should prepare for his entrance.

Today we are to be preaching the same message, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Jesus is coming again. He is not coming as a humbled Savior ready to forgive and be offered as a sacrifice on our behalf. No!This time He is the conquering King of kings.Make ready He is coming whether or not you are ready.

But in His love for us and the whole world, the Lord has graciously sent us heralds; we have everything from the completed Bible to signs in the skies, to the fulfillment of hundreds of prophecies, to the resurrection of Israel and then the most important sign of all, the empty tomb.

We have been warned and warned and warned and sadly many have grown callous to the warning.Even born-again people have grown weary of the message and have begun to live as if Jesus is not coming to call us to account. Let us be busy making straight the paths for the Lord, Hebrews 12:1:

“Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us.”

Jesus is coming, are you ready to meet Him?

Confession of Sin, Matthew 3: 5-6

I daresay that this is a sticky topic among many “evangelicals” today; the idea of the confession of sin. A week or so ago I was watching a popular minister on the Daystar Canada network and he was giving an “invitation” to receive Jesus.He talked about the “emptiness” within, and it is true that there is an emptiness in all of us that only the Lord God can fill.

But the speaker never got to the idea that the lost person is a sinner, one who has transgressed God’s law and is worthy of death.He never explained that it was our sin, my sin, your sin, his sin that required Jesus’ death.There was no call to repentance and certainly no admission of sin before asking Jesus to fill the emptiness inside.

I would dare to say that thousands if not millions have heard this man over the years and may have prayed a prayer with him for God to fill the emptiness inside yet there was no confession of sin. Sadly these persons are not saved; someone other than God would have filled their emptiness.

The people who came to see John the Baptist preaching heard his cry and the Holy Spirit moved on them and they confessed their sins.They agreed with God that they were sinners.Jesus did not die to pay for our mistakes, He died for our sins.

We, like John the Baptist are to call people to repentance.We are to call people to admit and confess, to agree with God that they are sinners living sinful lifestyles unable to do enough good things in and of themselves to please a Holy God and to avert His wrath.

The pundits will tell you that this message is not effective; it is too harsh and offends rather than draws people to Christ.The Bible tells us differently, we see in verses 5-6 that the people from the regions around came to hear this message and to see this rough and rugged preacher preach a straight forward message of truth.

We are sinners, God is holy but He loves us and has given us the way to have friendship and fellowship with Him. Jesus is the way.Make straight a path for the Lord, humble yourself, confess your sins and repent.The message, the Way and the results are the same today as they were back then.

Jesus is ready to save are you ready to confess and repent?Jesus is coming again, how will you meet Him, as a sinner saved by grace or as a sinner lost in and without hope?

“But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

Sean Gooding
Mississauga Missionary Baptist Church
Mississauga, ON Canada