Last night when I went to bed, I was thinking about the story of the prodigal son. I was also thinking how Jesus went about preaching the Gospel, which is the “Good news!” This Gospel he preached was about the Kingdom of God. Jesus gave many illustrations of what the Kingdom of God is like. This Gospel Jesus preached for 3 ½ years before he was crucified. The disciples (along with seventy others) preached this Gospel before Jesus went to the cross, so the Gospel is more than about the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus (this is important just as well).
John preached to “repent and believe the Gospel” and Jesus said, “Repent! For the kingdom of Heaven has drawn near.”
“Repent” is not just about “sin management” by threatening hell over the heads of sinners if they don’t stop sinning and then that’s it. It came along with preaching of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, the Good News! Where is the “Good news” preached today?
“Repent” is to “Change your mindset and life-direction.” Why? We have to give people a ‘reason’ to repent, because, as Jesus said, “the Kingdom of Heaven is now very near.” We have to prepare for this Kingdom of God where Jesus will rule this earth (and we reign with him) where we will be given a life of immortality (2Ti 1:10) that is through this Gospel, where death is no more of a threat – to live as it was in God’s plan from the very beginning when He created Adam, on this earth, to have fellowship with Him.
Concerning the word “repent” and its meaning stated above, I thought about the story of the prodigal son. Here was a son who had everything – a home, a family, no financial pressure, etc.. But he decided he wanted his inheritance and he left his father and spent this inheritance on a wasteful sinful life. Then came the time his resources were exhausted, which left him in a state of hunger. He persuades one of the citizens of the country he was in to hire him. No one gave him anything to eat and even though he was hired to feed some pigs, he was not even allowed to eat their slop. He was dying from hunger. Then he came to his senses and thought about his father! He was willing to be hired as a servant, for the servants had more food then they needed and this was better than dying from hunger.
As the story goes, he returned to his father who welcomed him with open arms as the son confessed how he had sinned against heaven and his father. My point is, the prodigal son is a classic example of what it means to” repent,” to change one’s mindset and life-direction, not to an “angry Father,” but to a “compassionate Father” who is waiting for people to return to Him. This is what Jesus wants us to do – to be reconciled with the Father and to prepare to live in His Kingdom.
There are many “lost coins” and “lost sheep” (parables in the same chapter of Luke) out there. And as Jesus says, “In the same way, I’m telling you, there’s joy in the presence of God’s angels over one sinner who has a change of mindset and life-direction.” (Luke 15:10)
Until a person can grasp the Gospel (Good News!) of the Kingdom of God, there will be no “sin management” no matter how many names one is labeled with or the threat of hell hanging over their heads from preachers in the pulpits to the streets.
As Jesus said in the parable where it concerned the lost sheep, “In the same way, I’m telling you that there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who has a change of mindset and life-direction than over ninety-nine who have already turned to God and who have no need of such a change.” (Luke 15:7 KGV)
The Gospel of the Kingdom of God is not a threat, but rather the Good News!