By Tim Wildmon
“From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” – Matthew 4:17
I recently heard a very popular Christian speaker talk to a large audience for an hour. He said nothing heretical. He said nothing controversial. He just focused on the “unconditional” love of God. Again, nothing wrong with what he did say, but it is what he did not say that bothered me. He said nothing about repentance of sin. There is a reason Jesus said what he said in the above bible verse. And there is a reason John the Baptist introduced Jesus to the world with the exact same proclamation in Matthew 3:2: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
There is a popular trend going on in the American Christian church. The trend is to talk of the love of God without talking about the justice of God. But if you read the Bible, it is clear, there exists both the grace of God and the wrath of God, and Jesus Christ spoke of both.
Many Christians around the world have been celebrating Holy Week this week culminating today with Easter Sunday or what some churches call Resurrection Sunday. It is to commemorate the victory of Jesus over Satan, sin, death and hell. This is good news! And “good news” is the meaning of the word “gospel.”
It is true that God’s love for mankind is “unconditional.” However, in order for man to be in right relationship with God, man must conform his life to match with God’s requirement of man. And God does not force this decision on man. God draws a person to himself, but it is the free will of the individual to decide if he or she will obey God’s requirements for a right relationship or not.
Jesus called this experience being “born again.” In other words, a person (every human) must understand that he or she has violated God’s laws and is forever separated from God spiritually unless he or she repents of their sin and trust in the shed blood of Jesus on the cross for forgiveness of that sin in order to be counted among those who have been redeemed. Redeemed from the consequences of unrepentant sin which is death and hell. What I am writing here in not popular in modern day America and where we want to live our own life without interference from God. It’s our natural tendency to live for ourselves instead of obey the commands of God. That is the eternal struggle between flesh and the spirit.
In order to prove our love for Christ, he says we must deny ourselves, pick up our cross daily, and follow him. Our “cross” is a challenge to wake up daily and try our best to live like Jesus. The way we learn to live like Jesus is to study the Bible, take time to pray and fellowship with other believers (followers) which we call “church.” God knows we will fail at this precisely because we are human. Sometimes we are tempted by sin and we give in to it. But the Bible also says that if we are willing to confess our sins to God, He is willing to forgive us. That also is great news!
No one is compelled to believe this. You may read this and call it foolishness. That is your right. But if that is your view, I at least encourage you to read one book in the Bible, the gospel of John, and consider the claims of the Bible and Christ before you dismiss Christianity. To my fellow Christians, I say, “He is Risen!”
Community columnist TIM WILDMON is a Lee County resident. He is president of the American Family Association, but the column represents his personal opinion unless otherwise noted. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.