The Kingdom of God: Repentance

“Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent…‘” (Acts 2:38)

Jesus emphatically states that one must be “born again” if he is to see the Kingdom of God.  God is Spirit (John 4:24) and His Kingdom is of the spiritual realm.  Jesus describes His Kingdom as not “being of this world” (John 18:36).  This tells us that the kingdom of God is not a physical place in the physical realm.  It is not a place that one can travel to, not a destination, it doesn’t have a current address.  The Kingdom is of the spiritual realm or the invisible realm around us.  The physical realm we experience with our five senses but the spiritual realm requires a spiritual re-birth in order to experience.

Humans are born into a natural fallen selfish and sinful condition that is generally incapable of spiritual insight.  Paul writes, “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” ( I Corinthians 2:14)  In order to see into the spiritual realm, one needs the Sprit of God living inside of them.  The only way to receive the Spirit of God is through the remission of sin.   God is Holy and cannot live in the presence of sin.  Therefore, sin must be atoned for in order for the presence of God to take up residence and remain.  The only way to atone for sin is through the shedding of blood. (Leviticus 17:11)  Hence, a sacrifice is required.  A sacrifice that is powerful enough to change the inner man to allow humans to become the dwelling place of God.  There is no greater love for a human than for one person to lay down their life for another.  Consequently, the willful sacrifice of Jesus qualifies to minister the Spirit of God unto us.   Upon the belief that Jesus was fully God and fully man, that he died for ones sins and that He has risen from the grave, a person may begin to sow into the spiritual Kingdom.  With this faith, in the person and work of Jesus, confession of sin can be made and the supernatural work of repentance begin inside of the soul.  The Spirit of God invades the persons heart and takes up residence making them a “new creation”.  Once this happens, we have entered into and can now see, the Kingdom of God.  The invasion of the Holy Spirit causes this “born again” experience.  We have become sons and daughters of the Royal Family and our now heirs with Christ.

The pre-requisite to receiving the Holy Spirit, is a conviction of sin that leads to a heart change with a subsequent impact on lifestyle.  This change is called repentance.  The word repent, in Greek, is actually a combination of words that mean “after” and “to think”.  Repentance is a decision that results in a change of mind which in turn leads to a change of purpose and action.(1).  Repentance is the ultimate act of humility.  It is admitting to oneself and God that my thinking and my lifestyle have been in error and I recognize this and desire to change it.  It’s the admission that my mind, thoughts and opinions are not great sources of edification but actually are a source of stumbling.  It is both a supernatural act (One that is driven by the Spirit) and an act of the will.  .  Benny Hinn writes, “Repentance is a daily experience.  And it‘s supernatural experience, not something you can humanly accomplish by yourself.  It‘s a gift of the Holy Spirit…That‘s the true meaning–not only confessing, but also forsaking.  Have nothing to do with it anymore.  You get on you knees and you say, ‘Lord, never again‘ and you don‘t walk out until the thing is dealt with.” (2)  Having a repentant heart is essential for growth in the kingdom.  Jesus says, “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.” (Matt. 4:17)

The degree to which we have a repentant heart, is the degree that we move into the deeper things of God.  Frank Bartleman of the Azusa Street revival writes, “the depth of revival will be determined exactly by the depth of the spirit of repentance.” (3)  Christians will continue to go deeper into the kingdom so long as we are willing to have the Spirit show us and remove areas of sin from our character.  Any revival, either corporate or individual, will cease growth when the repentance of the heart ceases.

Endnotes

1.  Hayford, Jack, The Spirit-filled Life Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN page 1407.

2.  Hinn, Benny, “The Anointing”, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN, 1992, page 130.

3.  Bartlemann, Frank, “Azusa Street”, Whitaker House, New Kensington, PA, 1982,  page 19.

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