The kingdom of God is the Spirit, and the place of final rest in the Spirit is heaven. But note, the unrighteous do not inherit the kingdom of God, i.e., the Spirit or heaven! Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. Also note, we have all sinned and remain unrighteous unless we repent as discussed below. For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Romans 3:23.
Jesus said, I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. Luke 5:32; See also, Matthew 9:13 and Mark 2:17. Not surprisingly then, we know the Word is and always has been God; a statement of the Father’s will. The New Testament is His “last will and testament” for mankind. Therefore, those that desire the will of God are the “called”, and those that do the will of God are the “chosen”. Those that desire the will of God but don’t do it, remain the called and are in danger of being left behind even if they profess to be a Christian. So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen. Matthew 20:16; see also Matthew 22:14.
With the simple alternative being death, i.e., perishing, life from above comes after repentance. For example, we know the spirit/will of Jesus is the Word, and He said to repent or perish. …Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Luke 13:2-5 (Emphasis added).
“Repentance” means confession of sin and/or transgression followed by “works” (action), such as an amendment of lifestyle to avoid the unrighteous conduct. By definition, there is a basic difference between “confession” and “repentance”, but the Bible often uses the single word “confession” to cover both confession and repentance. For example: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9. God is after the sincerity of our heart, and He knows the sincerity or insincerity of it. He also knows those who fear Him, who desire His will, and who He has drawn to Jesus as explained previously. Thus, the biblical combination of confession and repentance into a single term “confession” (or “repentance”) makes perfect sense because why would anyone confess their sin to God if there is no sincere regret of heart to stop the sinful conduct that produced it? Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. Galatians 6:7.
Repentance can be thought of as a bridge from this life to an eternal life. God made a really big deal about laying the foundation in the Old Testament for getting His will known in this regard. For example, even before the atonement sacrifice could take place, all of the priests had to be cleansed with pure water. The significance of their cleansing helps establish the basis for being “born of water” and the “baptism of water” for repentance, prior to receiving the Holy Ghost needed for sanctification (i.e., to be considered “saved” under the New Covenant).
Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter. 2 Corinthians 7:9-11 (Emphasis added).
The “revenge” against sin (2 Corinthians 7:11 above) is a by-product of our “first works”, and our first works include repentance as an action of faith required of each of us who would be “saved”. So beware, knowing God is love, and we receive God first by desiring His will as the Word by which we come to know the Father, God said: Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. Revelation 2:4-5 (Emphasis added).
By way of comparison, the devil and his followers believe Jesus is the Word, the Christ, and the Holy One of God. See, Matthew 4:3-10, Mark 1:23-24, See also, Luke 4:33-34. While the devil believes Jesus is the Christ and the Word, the devil does not DO the will of God. Moreover, as the god of this world, the followers of the ways of this world are the followers of the devil, thereby rendering his followers his children. The devil and his children will not be saved as they merely profess to Jesus is the Christ, but lack a penitent heart. This is precisely why the children of the devil today are called the “children of disobedience” as all of the saved once were. Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Ephesians 2:2. Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Ephesians 5:6. The term “disobedience” in each of the immediately preceding verses (Ephesians 2:2 and 5:6) is properly and correctly rendered “unbelief” in the King James Bible.
We can, therefore, cleanse ourselves through confession and a heart of repentance. Even so, although we may cleanse ourselves, we are NOT able to make ourselves righteous. But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: 2 Corinthians 1:9. Only Christ can make us the righteous of God IF we live in Him! For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. 2 Corinthians 5:21. For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) Romans 5:17.
In short, we cannot make ourselves righteous, but we can repent to cleanse ourselves in belief, and do God’s will in Him according to the Word enabled by the Spirit! And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. Romans 8:10. Please note, we must have a belief in Christ Jesus as the savior and the Word (John 1:1 & 1:14), with a willingness of heart to do God’s will in order to receive the kingdom now and in the end.
Consider the baptism ministry of the one called “John the Baptist” or “John the Baptizer” unto a “remission” of sins the Bible speaks of. John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. Mark 1:4. John’s baptism related to the Old Testament cleansing practices of the Jews and his message were part of the bridge of transition between the Old Covenant deeds of the flesh as works for salvation and the New Covenant of faith by works. John’s testimony was a testimony of the coming “light” (Spirit as in the will of God) for all mankind. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. John 1:6-8. Again, “remission of sins” means the sins are forgiven and forgotten as if they never existed.
As part of the transition from the old to the new, Jesus asked John to baptize Him in the Jordan River. While John was understandably reluctant at first, he acquiesced to Jesus’ request and baptized Him in the water of the Jordan river. Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him. Matthew 3:13-15 (Emphasis added). After Jesus was baptized for repentance and remission of sins He did not commit, He received the Holy Ghost as mentioned previously. Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened, And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased. Luke 3:21-22. (The Holy Ghost is the spirit of the Father that gives power to the mortal body to do the Father’s will as a son.)
But wait, why was Jesus baptized in water for repentance and remission of sins when He had no sin from which to repent? Much like His death on the cross later, the baptism of Jesus in water was in signification for, and the benefit of, all people everywhere. He taught us repentance is required! Recall, He said: repent or perish! Luke 13:3 and 5. Please note, because of the baptism of Jesus, people today may repent anywhere, at any time, and be “cleansed” without the need or use of water (H2O) to effectuate the “cleansing”!
When Jesus was crucified, His cross was positioned between the crosses of two criminals. One of the criminals berated Jesus, and the other verbalized his belief in Him as the very Christ–the Messiah sent by God. And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. Luke 23:39-41 (Emphasis added). Having confessed his sin, the penitent man then called Him Lord. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. Luke 23:42. In response, Jesus said: Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise. Luke 23:43.
How can we be sure the sin confessing criminal was sincere, i.e., had a penitent heart? In the presence of God, there is no opportunity to lie to Him. See, Acts 5:1-11; see also James 2:19. At the time of Christ, Jesus was “God with us” by virtue of the Spirit dwelling in Him. If the man was not sincere in his confession or in his belief that Jesus was the Savior, the man would have been a liar, an unbeliever, and Jesus would have never said, “Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.”
By his confession from a penitent heart, the penitent man was “born again” and “saved” by the Word. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. Romans 10:10. More specifically, however, because the Christ Jesus had NOT yet been raised from the dead, the penitent man was “born of the Spirit” by the pure Word alone, because the penitent man did not receive the Holy Ghost under the New Covenant. Recall, He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.) John 7:38-39. (Here again, we must know the term “holy Spirit” may not mean the Holy Ghost and can mean the Word by itself.)
The penitent criminal was “born of water” as a “washing” unto regeneration according to the Word of Jesus promising salvation to the penitent. Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration,… Titus 3:5. More specifically, the penitent believer was considered “born again” of the Spirit by his belief in the Word, i.e., in Him. While Jesus was here, people had the benefit of His presence on earth as “God with us”. At that time, Jesus was the servant to do the Father’s works, and the Holy Ghost in Jesus was the witness to the Word and the quickening Spirit in Him unto obedience including miracles. When Jesus said, “Today shalt thou be with me in paradise” to the penitent criminal, Jesus “declared” the presence of the Father and truth of His Word according to the Father’s will (discussed in more detail in the next module).
Like the penitent man on the cross next to Jesus, God is not moved by lip service of indignant self-righteous people that confess their belief by mouth, while lacking a penitent heart sufficient to do the will of God, i.e., obey the Word. Jesus said: This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. Matthew 15:5. Moreover, He is not moved by the self-righteous stuff that is highly esteemed among men. And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God. Luke 16:15.
Therefore, let us not make ourselves a liar when we say to God we are sorrowful for our sins and transgressions but are not sorry at heart sufficient for repentance. What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid…. Romans 6:1-2. True “Godly” sorrow is from the sincerity of heart which overcomes the flesh and leads us to a penitent lifestyle whenever we sin, or discover sinful disobedience in our lives. Is there any wonder why people say the Word in the Bible must be wrong in order to avoid it? “Godly” sorrow brings about confession followed by an amendment of lifestyle as a form of penitent revenge against sinfulness and transgressions.
Thus, we shall not inherit the kingdom of God unless we repent. The effectiveness of our repentance is conditioned on receiving Him as the pure Word and seeking God's will for ourselves individually while continually cooperating with the Holy Ghost for guidance. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: John 1:12. Accordingly, the most basic prerequisite for salvation has not been met when there is no “pure” penitent heart of belief in His words to do God’s will requiring repentance as the “first works” (actions) of faith unto salvation. Accordingly, PLEASE do not be duped by man’s doctrines, religion, or “cheap grace” theology into thinking there is “no cost” (i.e., “no works”) at all for salvation. ...And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. Matthew 24:4-5; see also Mark 13:5-6 and John 5:43-47.
After His resurrection, Paul (the chosen vessel of Christ) asked:...Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. Acts 19:3-6. Being “born of water” unto repentance for remission of sins is a prerequisite to receiving that Spirit–the Holy Ghost just as Jesus taught us. After receiving the Holy Ghost, we continue living a penitent lifestyle by diligently examining ourselves with the Word and God's will to detect any sinfulness. Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Acts 2:38.
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