“…the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing their way into it.” Luke 16:16b
This is a magnificent picture of what happens when the gospel of repentance and faith is preached to people. When people see Jesus and the Spirit of God speaks to their hearts, there is salvation – That is, they are rescued from being spiritually dead.
Jesus is speaking about the prevalence of The Law and the Prophets in the Old Testament. God’s law will never pass away, and God’s holy commandments stand forever sure. We can never excuse ourselves from them, or leave them aside as irrelevant. God’s Law must be kept and revered. We, in our own strength, cannot and do not keep that Law, because we are sinful- sinners by nature and born into the world as dead beings. Our souls are insensible to Christ and unaware of the life of faith and communion with God. We have great spiritual need.
We are all condemned by that holy Law. We are all law-breakers, and law-haters, dead set on our own ways and the folly of our own hearts. We have no idea about the joy in the Lord or the peace of walking in fellowship with the Lord Jesus, in the power of the Holy Spirit.
And yet, when the precious gospel is truly preached, people spring into life! They are humbled and so come to their only hope and find forgiveness and eternal life.
As Jesus himself preached and taught the people around Him, there were those who believed and were turned from their old ways and they marched forward into His way. What a glorious ministry…!
There is something lacking today. People are not coming to their Saviour and are not being revolutionised by the power of God. We try to convince them through apologetics; befriend them through love; and make the way seem attractive, but the effect is minimal. They are not convinced as they are held in blindness by the enemy; they want the friendship but definitely not Christ; they are momentarily affected by the attraction of Christ, but fall down at the challenge to repent….
What do we do now? Our churches are emptying, our basis of living is eroded away, many, if not most people reject church as irrelevant.
The key is in this verse… “The good news of the kingdom is being preached…” When people are confronted with their sinfulness, when they truly see that they are not good enough for God, or anyone else, the Spirit of God convicts their hearts and people see their need. It causes us all pain to realise this. We don’t like it. We try to scurry off to something more comforting…distracting…
We must call each other to face it.. I am guilty before God- I need to repent!! I must feel the horror of my sin, and seek the refuge of a Saviour’s love. Nothing else will do. Repentance cannot be left out of the process, and there is no forgiveness without repentance. The Spirit must work in me to feel and know my moral failure, and He must give me the desire to want to be forgiven. Without Him, there is no understanding of anything spiritual, because in myself, I am dead.
How to be forgiven? We preach the love of Christ on the cross, the holy God, who died for sinners, and paid the price of all their rottenness. The only Saviour, is JESUS – only He is able because of who He is. As soon as I see my fault, I turn to Him and ask Him to forgive me and take me in. There is no other way. There is no other salvation, apart from Christ.
The realisation and the turning to Jesus are the work of the Holy Spirit. As Christ is presented to people, and sin is identified, the Spirit shows us our need and we feel the debt we owe. The Spirit works in us so that we see the need of forgiveness and the need of a Saviour. All who will come, do come. There are those who still refuse, and cast their souls away for eternity.
This is a solemn ministry, and not to be taken on lightly. We must speak clearly and honestly, and not hide any inconvenient things we might think of as unattractive. Every soul must face their God and we dare not do so without Christ.
Maybe the days will yet come when we will have people forcing themselves in through the church door, seeking forgiveness and eternal life. We must hasten the day, and make our witness clear and show the Saviour and the salvation we all must possess.
May the good news be told out to everyone, and many will run to Christ and find their true life