When Jesus began His ministry, He used the word "repent" in context of encouraging people to change their heart – their way of thinking – because the longing of a better way was there before them. Unfortunately, this is NOT the way the church has been encouraging people to repent but teaching repentance as a means of escaping hell and going to heaven. Even with John the Baptist's usage of the word, he is not telling the people how bad they are, but the opportunity to change their way of thinking and living is about to change.
The Kingdom of Heaven is at Hand (Part 1)
"From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matthew 4:17).
"Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as ye go, preach, saying, the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give" (Matthew 10:6-8).
Let's begin by considering this word "REPENT" and the purpose of why Jesus uses it in the same sentence saying the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. In Matthew 4:17, Jesus is repeating the same words that John the Baptist spoke in Matthew 3:2. The Greek word used in both statements is Strong's #3340 – regret accompanied by a true change of heart toward God. The regret is a change of mindset from the course pursued and resulting in a wiser view of the past and future. You may be living a comfortable life, but there would be an act of repentance towards God to move from comfortable to the full potential of what you were created for. This repentance is NOT the Greek word "metameilionai" from Strong's #3338 where repentance is about the consequence of one's actions versus truly changing their heart toward God.
When Jesus began His ministry, He used the word "repent" in context of encouraging people to change their heart – their way of thinking – because the longing of a better way was there before them. Unfortunately, this is NOT the way the church has been encouraging people to repent but teaching repentance as a means of escaping hell and going to heaven. Even with John the Baptist's usage of the word, he is not telling the people how bad they are, but the opportunity to change their way of thinking and living is about to change. "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance. but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear, He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire" (Matthew 3:11).
Jesus sent His disciples out before the cross to teach that the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand. John the Baptist released the message to the world before the ministry of Jesus that we needed to prepare ourselves for the coming of the Lord by being baptized in water – repentance – wash off your old way of thinking so you can clear your heart and mind for the best of what God wants to give you now.
The ministry of Jesus for the disciples to follow as His Apostles was built upon the foundation of the ROCK that Jesus Christ is Lord, and His Kingdom was NOW among humanity. The baptism that Jesus imparted to humanity was the Holy Ghost – the fire of God. It is the fire we carry within our flesh known as Christ in us – the resurrection power of God tabernacling within humanity (Revelation 21:3).
When Jesus died on the cross, He took upon Himself the sins of the world. "For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself" (Hebrew 9:26). He released the ministry of the Holy Spirit into the world to burn off the flesh as "repentance" takes place - turning towards the Kingdom of God while in our natural body. This is the end of the world – the end of time – as man knows with the Kingdom of Heaven invading the earth.
Peter shares this happening in each of us when he wrote, "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up" (2 Peter 3:10).
When Jesus died and rose again from death, hell, and the grave, He not only fulfilled the position of the Lamb slain on the cross, but also the position of the scape goat—ALL the sins of the people were placed upon Jesus Christ – our scape goat - and then sent into the wilderness and seen NO MORE (Hebrew 9:25). After Jesus rose from the grave, He met Mary Magdalen giving her the greatest message of Life for the world to receive – HE IS RISEN! Go tell My brothers that I will meet them in the Galilee (Matthew 28:10).
The Galilee is about a three-day journey north of Jerusalem. Between these two regions is the wilderness mountains where Jesus spent 40 days being tempted by the enemy of God. After the disciples meet with Jesus in the Galilee, He spent 40 days with them coming through the wilderness on their return to Jerusalem as the resurrection LIFE. They were not walking and talking with Jesus as the man from Galilee before the cross, but the resurrected Christ living and moving among them while they were going through the wilderness journey of temptation.
The scene and relationship had changed from before the cross. Jesus is no longer being identified as their teacher, and they as His students or disciples. He is identifying them as brothers with the same Father who is also God. He is giving them the Father's business of reconciliation that He was given, so that when they arrived back in Jerusalem, they went to the upper room to wait on their bar mitzvah ceremony of the baptism of the Holy Spirit – the Spirit of the Father saying, "This is my beloved SON in whom I am well pleased," and the Holy Spirit descending on them as tongues of fire. The Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus as a dove representing LOVE. We are in HIM, so we are in LOVE with the fire of God in us!
This is Truth – Jesus Christ - who sets us free. This is the mission of Jesus Christ that He imparted to His body, the church – not counting anyone's sins against them, but telling them who they are so they too would hear their Heavenly Father's voice. Of our own we can do nothing, but when the Holy Spirit reveals the Truth – Christ in you - to us (Col. 1:27), and that we are IN TRUTH – Christ Jesus, we then have the joint connection of His bone and His flesh as One Body with His redeeming blood flowing through our being. We live, and move, and have our being – our life journey – IN HIM as a member – a cell – of His one body in the earth today because we are God's offspring (Acts 17:28). We are in the only Begotten SON of God as One NEW MAN called CHRIST whom Jesus is the head (Ephesians 2:15, Col. 1:18, 2:19). This is the good news that the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.
There are two kingdoms in the world today functioning through the mind and hearts of humanity – the Kingdom of darkness (humanity), and the Kingdom of Heaven – Christ Jesus.
The Kingdom of Heaven is open to us now while in our natural body, but it takes an act of repentance, a change to the way we have processed life through our logic and reasoning of humanity.
The kingdom of darkness has a good side of logic and reason and an evil side, but both good and evil will end in death once time is complete for that season of logic and reason. This kingdom has a cross stuck in the ground (humanity) as it's throne where it becomes the touchstone of good and evil. This is the cross that Jesus died on taking all judgment of good and evil upon himself and destroying the effects of the cross/death upon humanity (Hebrews 9:26).
The Kingdom of Heaven is Eternal Life that is available now, not just when we leave our natural body. It functions with supernatural power and authority from the unseen realm to the visible released by the Holy Spirit in humanity as: love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. There is no law of doing something to receive good or not doing something because of the consequence of evil. This kingdom is symbolic with the banner of LOVE (Song of Solomon 2:4).
When these two kingdoms are confronted between our ears as a battle of Armageddon – it is not a battle of flesh and blood, but powers and principalities in the spirit realm (Rev. 16:16, Ephesians 6:12). Our thoughts will be tossed back and forth until we follow the Holy Spirit with the banner of LOVE in the middle of the circumstance, instead of following the familiar spirits (ego, demonic) that seek justice with the cross.
Jesus said, "And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:27). Humanity's form came from the ground. When we judge others with our thoughts and words, we must first pick that judgment up (the cross of death) and carry that judgment for ourselves, our family, and our friends. We often have opinions of right or wrong, good or bad towards other people, but don't stop to consider if that opinion would still stand if it was your child, spouse, parent, etc.
Jesus didn't take away good or bad from the Tree of Knowledge, but He removed the effects of death. When the Holy Spirit is in authority unveiling the Kingdom of God's presence, the banner of LOVE takes over.