Will prostitutes, women who have sex with any man as long as he has enough money to pay for it, and tax collectors, greedy, corrupt, selfish and rich (city bankers?) enter the Kingdom of God? Jesus says that some will and, in Matthew 21, he explains how. There are four attitudes of the heart which are necessary to enter God’s Kingdom. If prostitutes and tax collectors can make it to glory, so can you and I. Here’s how, according to Jesus:
Faith that moves mountains (Matthew 21:21)
I don’t know anyone who has moved a physical mountain but I know that Jesus can do anything and my faith is in him to act in power.
Recognition of the authority of Christ (Matthew 21:23)
The chief priests and temple elders refused to acknowledge the authority of Jesus, the Son of God. Like a soldier to his Sargent, Christians are to salute Christ as we take our orders from him.
Repentance (Matthew 21:28-29)
The owner of a vineyard told his son to go to work, the son rebelled against his dad’s authority but later changed his mind. Repentance is submission to authority which brings about a change of mind, or heart, a willingness to do what is asked of me, to obey commands.
Belief (Matthew 21:32)
Repentance produces guilt, real guilt and felt guilt or shame, the lad who changed his mind will have felt guilty for being rude to his dad. We need a Saviour. Belief and repentance are two sides of the same coin. I need to believe that Jesus died for my sins of disobedience and rebellion, that his death removes my guilt and with it my punishment, that without guilt I am now right with God, my Father.
1. Feeble faith
I know that God exists and can do all things but my life is not affected by this knowledge.
2. Inauthentic attitude to authority
I know that Jesus commands us to do stuff, but I can’t be bothered to do anything about it.
3. Rubbish repentance
I know my life needs to change but thinking it only induces guilt. Besides, I have neither the strength nor the will to change.
4. Basic belief
I know that Jesus died for my sins which makes me happy but I go on with life as normal.
5. Humble transformation.
I know I do bad things and need to change. I know I don’t deserve the Lord’s love but he loved me and died for me. I’ll go on refining my character in the light of the cross.
6. Confident transformation
I know that Jesus can do all things and that life is about transformation. I’ll work tirelessly for the transformation of my life and my culture in the power of prayer.
7. Confident obedience
I know Jesus can do all things and I want to do his will. I will obey him totally in the power of prayer.
8. Humble obedience
I know Jesus is my Saviour and he commands me to obey.
9. Full citizens of the Kingdom of God
Jesus is the one who can do all things and so I pray confidently in him for big things, like moving mountains. I have submitted myself to his will and keep his commandments to the best of my ability. I know I am in need of constant change and transformation, renewal is my aim, I repent of sins as soon as I commit them and seek to be refined as if through fire. I do all this because I know Christ is my Saviour. He died for all my sins and so I stand before the judgement seat of Christ, the throne of God Almighty, and I know absolutely no condemnation only total love.
I’ve noticed that my personality changes as I lose or gain one or more of the attitudes of the heart Jesus produces in us. My default is to repent and believe. When life gets hard I forget that Jesus can move mountains. When I am tired or just feeling sinful, I find myself neglecting to obey Christ and need to repent again. There are blessed seasons when I see Christ for who he is and all four come together. Bring back that day.
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