Word for Word

by Steve and Robin Oden

Jesus taught us to pray, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” It is essential for us, then, to know His will so His Kingdom can come forth.
Jesus Christ went about teaching, preaching and demonstrating the good news of the gospel of the Kingdom everywhere He went. This gospel encompasses many facets of truth, but today our focus is the message of the cross. Concisely put, Christ came to die for sinners. Many can quote the familiar verse from John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Christ shed His blood and gave His life on the cross as the ultimate sacrifice for all of mankind’s sin. But that does not mean that every person born is automatically saved from their sins.
Jesus’ first public message was not to believe, but to repent. Repent is a verb, an action word that means to change one’s mind about something and then act accordingly. Jesus was basically telling people that they needed to come into agreement with God about the gravity of the evil of their sin and sinful condition, turn from them, and follow Him as their Savior and Lord. Yes, we need to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, but you cannot have genuine belief without first having genuine repentance. We cannot save ourselves from the penalty of our sin, which is eternal separation from God (or hell). Left to our own devices, we tend toward self-centeredness and chaos, but coming to God in humble repentance opens up a way for peace and reconciliation.
Jesus said a couple of interesting things pertaining to this. Since Jesus is a King, He has a Kingdom. And that Kingdom’s government operates upon laws and principles just like earthly ones do. Just a few verses before John 3:16, Jesus spoke to a religious leader and said this to him. (John 3:1-7—paraphrased) “To see the Kingdom of God, you must be born again (born from above).” And again He said to him, “to enter the Kingdom of God you must be born again.” Jesus often used familiar things to teach kingdom truths, and this born again concept derived from a Hebrew teaching that as the new moon - which is no moon - starts to reappear, it is being born anew or born again. So we too, being born into the darkness of our sinful condition, can come out of that darkness and into His light of salvation and new life. Therefore, there is no birth into the kingdom without hearing the call to salvation, renouncing one’s sin and turning from sin toward faith in Christ the Savior.
Acts 4:12 boldly states that “neither is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under Heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” The name of Jesus is the only name by which a person can be saved from their sins. This is the good news of the gospel of the Kingdom, the message of the cross. Have you truly repented from your sins?  Have you truly been born again?
The apostle Paul (one who previously persecuted Christians, was born again to become the writer of the majority of our New Testament) boldly declared, “I’m not ashamed of the gospel of Christ for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes. The gospel of Jesus Christ has the power to change your life and your circumstances. This message is for you - whoever you are and whatever condition you may find yourself in today. Jesus loves you and will not turn you away.”