Recently I’ve been compelled to get back to the basics of the Red Letter Gospel. You know, the words that came directly from Jesus Himself; what He actually preached and taught. So, I guess you could say I’ve been on somewhat of a journey to simply focus on the Kyrygma (“preaching or teaching”) of Christ, or what is commonly referred to as Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount.” What was His main focus? What was His top priority when He preached? Better yet, If Jesus had only ONE MESSAGE to preach, what would it be on? I believe it may be as follows from Matthew 4:17…
From then on Jesus began to preach, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near” (NLT).
If Jesus had only one message to preach, I believe it would be a two-point message… beginning with REPENTANCE!
Repentance is a word seldom used today. To repent literally means “to change your mind.” Not superficially, but changing your basic attitudes and very lifestyle. It also means “to turn around” and go in a different direction, as in doing a complete U-Turn! In essance, you were walking one direction in life, and upon having a “life-changing” encounter with Jesus Christ… you begin to walk in a different direction.
Yet, we’ve watered the gospel down to simply inviting people to “make a decision” to follow Christ; or praying a prayer to receive Jesus as Savior; asking God to forgive us of our sins; or promoting an “easy-believe-ism, merely “adding Jesus” to an already full life! Don’t get me wrong, we need to do all of these, but I somehow get from the preaching ministry of Jesus that none of these fulfill the requirements for salvation. Now, don’t exit from this post just yet. Please allow me to explain.
I believe the Scriptural blueprint includes the following three steps:
- REPENTANCE: “But unless you repent, you too will all perish” (Luke 13:3). “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32). “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord” (Acts 3:19).
- OBEDIENCE: Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). John writes, “We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands” (1 John 2:3). And later on he adds, “This is love for God: to obey his commands” (1 John 5:3).
- COMPLETE SURRENDER: Jesus didn’t command that we have a regular time of devotions with Him each day. Rather, He tells us to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” He called this the “first and greatest commandment” (Matt. 22:37-38). The natural results are intimate prayer and study of His Word, faithful church attendance, tithing, etc… but our motivation changes from guilt to love!
Once we learn the discipline of walking in repentance and obedience… the natural outflow will be a life of complete surrender to Jesus Christ! Now, who wouldn’t want that?
Join me next time for part 2 as we look at the next phase of Jesus’ message… a call to Kingdom living.