Friday, January 7, 2011

The Reason for Repentance

I found the following comments on Matthew 3:1 in a 50 year old work by R. C. H. Lenski entitled The Interpretation of St. Matthew's Gospel.  I found it as I was studying in preparation to preach this Sunday, and I found it extremely inspirational.  Imagine--every believer a king or queen alongside Jesus, the King of All.
The reason for repentance is: “for the kingdom of the heavens has come near”... it has been drawing near and is thus now at hand. Matthew alone writes ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν [the kingdom of the heavens], and he does so at least 32 times; the others write ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ Θεοῦ [the kingdom of God], which is found only a few times in Matthew’s Gospel. The distinction is merely formal; one and the same kingdom is referred to.

[Both "the Kingdom of the heavens" and 'the Kingdom of God" have the idea of belonging:] the kingdom which belongs to the heavens, belongs to God. But it is difficult to keep the qualitative idea out of the former: the kingdom whose very nature is that of heaven; and the subjective idea out of the latter: the kingdom that God rules... We may very well think of Daniel 2:44, and 7:14, to gain a proper conception of what the Baptist had in mind.

This grand Biblical concept cannot be defined by generalizing from conditions obtaining in the kingdoms of the earth. These are only imperfect shadows of God’s kingdom. God makes his own kingdom, and only where he is with his power and his grace his kingdom is found; earthly kingdoms, which are many and various, make their kings, often also unmake them, and their kings are nothing apart from what their kingdoms may make them.

So also we are not really subjects in God’s kingdom but partakers of it
, i.e., of God’s rule and kingship; earthly kingdoms have only subjects. In God’s kingdom we already now bear the title “kings unto God,” [as both men and women who believe in Jesus] and eventually the kingdom, raised to the nth degree, shall consist of nothing but kings in glorious array, each with his crown, and Christ thus “the King of kings,” a kingdom made up entirely of kings with no subjects at all.

This divine kingdom goes back to the beginning and rules the world and shall so rule until the consummation at the end of time. All that is in the world, even every hostile force, is subservient to the plans of God. The children and sons of God, as heirs of the kingdom, in whom God’s grace is displayed, constitute the kingdom in its specific sense. The kingdom is in them...

This kingdom is [especially marked] by the coming of Christ, the King, in the flesh to effect the redemption of grace by which this specific kingdom is really established among men. Hence we have the kingdom before Christ, looking toward his coming, and the kingdom after Christ, looking back to his coming—the promise and the fulfillment to be followed by the consummation [Christ's coming again]—the kingdom as it was in Israel, as it now is in the Christian Church, the Una Sancta in all the world, and as it will be at the end forever.
With this understanding of the kingdom, that where the King is and rules with his power and his grace there the kingdom is to be found, we see what the John the Baptist means when he says, “the kingdom has come near.” Jesus was approaching, and by the revelation of himself with power and grace as the Messiah and by the completion of his redemptive work he would stand forth as the King of salvation from heaven and would by faith enter into the hearts of men [and women], making them partakers of his kingdom. ...

Since the kingdom is so near in Christ, the King, all men [and women] should long to receive this kingdom. The one and only way to do this is to repent, to turn from sin, self-righteousness, and worldly security by the power of grace ... to the King and his kingdom with its pardon, peace, and joy.
This promise of God makes me sing!  Hallelujah!  Praise the Lord!

Repent!, for the Kingdom of Heaven has come near! 

This is God's Word for you now! 

Now, at this moment, you may turn from your own ways and join the kingdom of God now!

Don't delay!  This could be the first day, the first moment of your new life! 

O God, I pray this may be so for many who read this, in Jesus' name.

No comments:

Post a Comment