101 is a slang term that means “basic introduction”. Many in our society use the term, especially in academics, when designing short courses to introduce students to the basics of a given subject.
Eg. “Geometry 101, Physics 101, Chemistry 101, Biology 101, etc…”
Within Christendom, there are many evangelists, preachers and pastors who are trying their very best to present Christianity and the Bible’s primary message to a lost world and to those who have questions and are seeking to know about God. Sadly, many of these ministers have failed to accurately convey, even the simple facts of the faith. The results are half-converts, living without any sense of purpose, lacking vision, ignorant of God’s plans; they live without a spiritual compass in their life.
So I felt it necessary to give you a basic introduction to Christianity. A correctly defined introduction of Christianity is extremely vital – for it’s what is needed to bring about conversion, purpose, vision and hope moving forward in the future.
We begin with the 1st words of Jesus as he begins his ministry, post his baptism and wilderness temptations. His message was identical to that of John the Baptist. It was the message of the kingdom of God. This became the gospel that Jesus preached, wherever he went (Matt 4:23). The kingdom of God was the gospel, the good news that Jesus desired to dispense and announce to everyone who would hear his message.
The 1st question we need to ask is – why is the kingdom of God such good news?
The answer is because Jesus declared that it’s fast approaching (“…is at hand…” [v17]) and drawing near.
The 2nd question we need to ask is – what exactly is coming?
Matthew 6:9 – 10
The coming kingdom of God is the coming reign and rulership of YHWH God to the earth. It is a day and age where the whole world will be subjected to God’s government. Firstly, the kingdom of God hasn’t come – it’s coming and every Christian ought to be praying for its arrival (“…Your kingdom come…” [v10]).
Notice Jesus’ use of parallelism (“…Your kingdom come, Your will be done…” [v10]) – when the kingdom of God does come, then God’s will shall be perfectly done in all the earth! The only place where this is currently happening is in heaven (“…as it is done in heaven…” [v10]). So earth is God’s next territory to rule!
Jesus did not invent the “gospel of the kingdom” – he preached was John the Baptist preached and what the prophets foretold in the OT. One such prophet who wrote much of the coming kingdom was Isaiah…
Isaiah defined the gospel of God – its the glad tidings of the coming reign of God. To Isaiah, this was good news, for he foretold of a day and age when God will reign amongst His people – and His reign will accomplish salvation and peace (from our hostile enemies).
NOTE: how fitting that Paul quotes this in Romans 10:15 as the NT gospel!
Isaiah 2:2 – 4
Isaiah also illustrates a radical change in the world one day as a product of God’s reign on the earth – that of universal peace amongst all nations [v4]. In those days YHWH God will rule the earth by His law amongst all the nations and this will cease war and create harmony [v3]
Isaiah 24:21 – 23
Isaiah also illustrates a bleak picture of what God intends to do to earthly kingdoms that are evil. God intends on crushing their authority, ceasing their power and eradicating their government. Actually, God revealed this to Daniel regarding Nebuchadnezzar’s dream…
“…the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed…it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms and it shall stand forever…” - Dan 2:44
There is coming a day when all man-made authority will come to nothing as God begins to conquer and succeed in ruling over every nation, enforcing His laws and righteous requirements throughout the globe!
The gospel of the coming kingdom of God is rooted in Jewish OT prophecy and became the hope of every faithful Israelite. This is why Jesus was raised up and anointed – to announce to the people that the reign of God is approaching!
“…Spirit of the LORD God is upon me…has anointed me, to preach good tidings to the poor…” - Isa 61:1
How radically different is the gospel Jesus preached to what Christian ministers preach today. Jesus preached about the good news of God reigning on the earth, granting salvation and immortality in the body and living upon a renewed earth with universal righteousness and peace; yet the gospel preached today is about waiting to die, where the soul will then float to heaven and remain in eternal bliss.
With the good news announced and the people excited and hopeful of God’s promise, Jesus confronts his audience by indicating the most appropriate way to respond to the gospel: Repent!
In Mark’s gospel, it has Jesus wording it like this,
“…the time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the gospel…” - Mar 1:15
Repent means “to think about afterwards, with the intention of having a change of heart and lifestyle”
Believe means “to think to be true, to be convinced of, to trust”
To paraphrase, Jesus was saying, “you’ve heard what the prophets foretold; now I’ve come to announce that God’s reign is near and coming quickly and His rulership and salvation is on the way – with this in view, you must repent and believe the message; if you understand what you’ve heard and have come to think it true and know what’s coming, then you will start thinking about changing how you live and start preparing yourself for the new age, wherein righteousness can only dwell…”
To the writer of Hebrews, repentance was considered one of the most elementary teachings about the Christ. Repentance was one of the first and basic tenets that Jesus established when he began his ministry and that can be clearly seen from his 1st words in ministry! In other words, if a man/woman has not repented and is not believing in the gospel, they haven’t even carried out the most basic instruction from our lord.
How vastly different from today’s Christian ministers who organize altar calls and say, “say a sinners prayer, invite Jesus into your heart, just believe, repeat after me, etc…” Perhaps we have undoubtedly created multitudes of churches that house scores of congregants who have failed to obey the first and basic instruction from the gospel message itself.
Matthew 3:7 – 10
One of the most common reasons why many fail to repent is because of their trust in religion and ethnic culture. Many Jews of Jesus’ time had the same problem. John the Baptist recognized the deeply religious were not willing to respond to the gospel, yet they needed it the most [v7 - 8]. They were branded as snakes and were commanded to truly repent, not play religion or hide behind national identity [v9]
How many “so-called” Christians today are failing to repent, yet still believe they’re OK before God? How many are hiding behind “manufactured” religion, dead and bankrupt churches, tradition and ethnic pride? How many of these are really opposite to any Bible like, very hypocritical, snake like?
To John the Baptist, the gospel may be good news, but carries with it dreadful consequences when you reject it – imminent destruction [v10]. If perhaps the goodness, mercy, grace of God cannot move one to repentance, then perhaps the terror and dread of God should!
Luke 13:1 – 5
Another common reason why many fail to repent is because their life is easy-going, filled with happiness, joy and blessings and interpret that as being in a right standing before God. These then look upon the misfortunes of others and conclude their sinful and they ONLY need to repent.
This is how many perceived righteousness in Jesus’ day. Apparently there had been some national tragedies that had everyone talking: Galilean’s who were slain by Pilate [v1]; 18 dead in Siloam when a tower collapsed onto them [v4]. These tragedies were seen as God’s judgement upon exceedingly wicked people. Jesus challenged this thinking [v2, 4] – were they worse sinners than everyone else?
How true for our culture today. Our society and now our churches are saying that if you’re prospering, if you’re being blessed, if you’re full of happiness and joy – you must be right before God. Otherwise, if you’re suffering, if you’ve experienced misfortune and tragedy – you’re being judged. There’s hidden sin in your life.
Jesus did not care about whether one prospers or suffers loss, whether one is blessed or endures tragedy – according to him, everyone are sinners and everyone must repent [v3, 5]. In other words, Jesus commanded that we first take a look at ourselves before we look at others and that every aspect of our life, whether in word or deed, be filtered through the lens of the gospel (of the coming kingdom) – and it’s this gospel that will drive people to repent.
A failure to repent carried a terrible fate – if you do not change, you will be destroyed one day! How many are failing to repent and don’t even know that their flirting with imminent destruction!
“…but because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God…” - Rom 2:5
Acts 17:30 – 31
Paul was faithful in continuing to preach the gospel of the coming kingdom of God. Paul, after informing them of the one true God, were no longer ignorant [v30]. Knowledge of God illuminates His will for our lives – and it’s here we find ourselves undone, having committed sin before Him – and the pressing need to repent [v30]. The command to repent is because we’ve all sinned and because the reign of God is coming fast to earth, through the hand of His chosen administrator, Jesus [v31]. This man will judge the world according to God’s standard.
How many today are repenting because the perceive the nearness of God’s rulership coming through the hand of Jesus who will execute God’s divine law throughout the globe and in desperate urgency, move to start changing? How many today though are casually attending altar calls, reciting sinners prayers, attending evangelistic crusades, alpha courses – sitting on the fence, flirting with sin, consumed by their lusts, worries, stresses – and living carnal lives?
Revelation 19:11 – 16; 20:4
John gives us a picture of the end, of everything that was foretold and preached regarding the coming kingdom of God. God’s reign will come to the earth through the return of Jesus Christ. He will be the greatest human king [v12, 16], will conquer all the nations [v11, 14] and judge them according to God’s standard [v15]. It will be a terrible day for the rebellious, for those found rejecting the gospel!
Yet, after this terrible day, will dawn an new era, the kingdom era, where Jesus and his saints will reign throughout the globe for a 1000 years [v4]. Notice how everyone desires to be part of the millennium, yet not all will be there. Why? Because there are still many people who participating in evil and devilish things (“…worshiped the beast or his image…received his mark on their foreheads…”)
One does not need to wait around till eschatological prophecy comes to pass, but many today can be paying homage, respect to Satan’s devices, being caught up in the course of this world, that’s influenced by the god of this world. The saints of the millennium were living repented lives [v4]
The reign of God is coming. When it comes, it will subdue the whole world. God’s will shall be done. God will take control of every nation, culture and society. Every person will come under it’s authority – He will rid evil, corruption, wickedness, war. He will make peace, righteousness, harmony and purity.
“…the kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever…” - Rev 11:15
Are you looking forward to monumental event?
Do you want to be a part of it?
You must repent!
This Christianity 101.