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What Jesus Preached

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Matthew 4:17 – “From that time Jesus began to preach saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (ESV)

The Kingdom of Heaven (or “The Realm of God” as it is referred to in inclusive circles) is a theme woven throughout the teachings of Jesus, particularly in the synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus begins his ministry by proclaiming, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”, signaling the inauguration of God’s reign on earth.

Jesus preached, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” This was his central message, mission, and mandate. It fully embodied his three years of ministry while on earth. It dictated where he went, what he did, who he talked to, and every miracle he performed. It disrupted established orders and disturbed those in political and religious positions of power and authority who sought to keep the masses oppressed.

Jesus’ message, assignment, passion, and purpose on earth were not to establish a religion, ritual, and rules. Jesus’ purpose was to reintroduce the Kingdom. His prayers, teachings, and miracles were all focused on the Kingdom (Realm) of God. Jesus was preoccupied with the Kingdom (Realm). It was His top priority and his heavenly mandate.

So, what is “The Kingdom of Heaven” and why is it important for us to understand its implications on humanity? Dr. Myles Munroe notes that: “The Kingdom of Heaven is not merely a geographical or political entity but rather the dynamic rule and reign of God over all creation. Jesus uses parables such as the mustard seed (Matthew 13:31-32) and the leaven (Matthew 13:33) to illustrate the gradual yet transformative expansion of God’s kingdom in the world.”

Now that we have defined the Kingdom, let’s explore why we must “repent.” First, we need to understand that repenting is more than just saying “God, I’m sorry.”  To repent is to change one’s mind for the better. Secondly, to repent is to heartily amend with abhorrence of one’s past sins. Repentance (metanoia, ‘change of mind’) involves a turning with contrition from sin to God. The repentant sinner is in the proper condition to accept the divine forgiveness. This is crucial because God can forgive our sin and we can consciously or subconsciously reject God’s forgiveness.

To repent is to have what my dear friend and colleague Dr. Dwight Holland, a licensed therapist and prolific pastor and mental health giant in our community calls a “cognitive shift” in our mindset and behavior. Holland expounded on this therapeutic principle by saying, “A cognitive shift may occur after a therapist identifies an underlying fear or response mechanism and assists the client with developing remedial actions.” These “remedial actions” are known according to Holland as “therapeutic solutions.”

In essence, Jesus was being therapeutic by preaching the following as His central message: with the inauguration of the Kingdom (Realm) here on earth, a new way of thinking has arrived! Humanity is no longer unjustly defined by rules, regulations, religious boundaries, and reformations. Humanity can choose to repent of her ills (sins), turn back to God, and experience a new way of thinking, and living. Humanity can truly be free from the sins that so easily beset us.

Choose to repent (change your way of thinking). Whatever has you bound, blocked, or caused you to blunder in life no longer must control you. Embrace the central message of Jesus and “Repent, for the Kingdom (Realm) of Heaven is at hand.

Dr. Preston T. Adams, III

Founding and Senior Pastor, Amazing Grace Christian Church (Indianapolis)

Twitter: @DrPrestonTAdams

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