(14) Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, (15) and saying, “THE TIME IS FULFILLED, and the KINGDOM OF GOD IS AT HAND; REPENT AND BELIEVE IN THE GOSPEL.”
I think what’s going on here should be telling us something. And it is quite a rebuke to our modern evangelistic methodology.
If we would rewrite this verse, based on what we see in the modern evangelical community, it would probably sound like something like this:
Jesus saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand; Who would like to ask Me into their heart?”
Not only the words changed also the authority changed.
Where the chance to get right with God was first by Jesus spoken with authority, like a command, it now, as done by many pastors, has no authority at all left, and they stand almost begging on the pulpit for the people to please come to Christ. And that in a manner that is not correct either.
This manner in which people today are invited to get right with God, is not used in the New Testament. And is not okay
At the invitation we hear the pastor say: “Who wants to say this prayer after me? – I see a few hands – are there a few more? – Now stand up and repeat after me – ….”
Nowhere in the Bible we see this.
What we do see is repent, and follow Jesus!
But these days, what it comes down to is: Pray this prayer – ask him into your heart, and if you’ve done that sincerely, you can stand on the fact that you are been born again now.
That is serious folks!
Like in groups where they didn’t want to hear the word “repent“, I’ve also been in churches where they had problems with it too.
And knowing I would hammer on repentance and starting a new life with Christ, they would take over the service at the end and do the “invitation” themselves, or not invite me again.
“We are used to do it all in a much softer way. You don’t have to do it like that do you?” – Well Jesus did it, and in His message we hear “Repent and believe!” And in church history we hear “Repent and believe!”
Only in recent decennia it was changed to “accept Jesus into your heart” and don’t we hear anything about repentance and following Jesus in faith anymore.
So if we want to follow Jesus’s example…
This change is serious!
They would rather have me get people to raise their hands come forward pray a prayer and then let them go, then discipling them into a life with Jesus.
In meantime you hear pastors also complaining about people who are walking in the frontdoor of the church, and leaving at the backdoor.
They are coming in, give their heart to Jesus and then after a few weeks they are gone again.
The reason that they are not staying, is that they are not made to disciples, but church visitors. And this on its turn is happening because of a weak pulpit.
The reason why there are just as many people going out of the church as there are coming into the church is because the gospel that is preached is not the Gospel, its a truncated version of the gospel, and the invitation we give can sound nice but doesn’t make them to repenting followers of the Christ.
The people who left and went out from us could do so, because they were not really one of us in the first place. They were not truly converted.
The invitation from the Christ as you noticed comes in the form of a demand. Today’s invitation does not come in the form of a demand “Repent and believe”, it comes as a request. “Will you please pray with me?”
Many new converts will get not even 5 minutes of attention from the elders, and church members sometimes even less. Still they wonder why the church is in such a bad shape. What do you expect when you can’t even give a Biblical invitation?
Besides this there are plenty that don’t even have the gospel right.
We only have to look at this one text, and it is clear there is something very wrong. Jesus preached the Kingdom of God, and so should we.
The Kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe – Both of these commands are in present tense imperative and I believe that there’s an issue here.
Repent and believe now, and spend the rest of your life repenting and believing.
The moment I believed He justified me, but he continued saving me from the power of sin in the present. And one day in the future when His work in me is completed, the evidence that He has justified me will be clearly visible to all.
You will say now to me: “But what about those mega churches? They do it in the same way, you say they shouldn’t. They don’t preach repentance and they are still growing.
That is because they don’t preach the gospel but just what people like to hear; promising a luxurious life, plenty of money, and whatever people like to have. That gospel brings people closer to themselves and to the lusts of their heart.
Remember what I wrote a few days ago. The way to destruction is wide, and the way to life is narrow. They are preachers who belong to the wide road, telling people what they like to hear, this is why those preachers lead mega churches.
But the true Gospel will not do fake promises, turn things around to make it a bit softer and easier to digest. Listening to the true Gospel may sometimes even hurt, but it will always bring you closer to God and in a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ.