“…The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Jesus, Mark 1:15)
Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. (Jesus, Matthew 24:42-44)
In our law enforcement world, we routinely run “Code” — lights and siren. In fact, we literally live with that urgency — the kind of urgency that very often makes a “life and death” difference. That same “Code 3” sense of urgency is also a constant in our Christian faith as well. Jesus Himself was emphatic about this in both passages I shared above (and many others as well). What does this mean in practical terms and how would God have us apply it in our Christian walk? Let’s break it down.
I probably share Mark 1:15–some of our Lord’s very first recorded words of His earthly ministry–more than any other passage. The two words are literally two sides of the same coin. One can’t have a genuine, saving faith (belief) without repentance. And, perhaps most importantly to this message, the context Jesus shared it with was and is one of URGENCY (as in, “the kingdom of God is at hand” — meaning, “Do it now!” and “hurry before it is too late.”
So, what does this passage mean? In brief, the gospel message intentionally includes a sense of urgency–a “Code 3” sense of urgency– especially with Jesus live and in-person among those He taught. They are no longer to look forward to a future fulfillment of the Messianic prophecies; Jesus is now on the scene fulfilling God’s words among God’s people (Galatians 4:4). Bible scholars number hundreds of prophecies in the Old Testament about the coming of Israel’s Savior. Despite this, the Jews had a very inaccurate idea of what the Kingdom of God was and what the Messiah would do for them. They believed the Messiah would lead them into political independence, civil peace, expel their Roman occupiers and bring about personal prosperity. Instead of a military champion, Jesus came as a lamb to be sacrificed in our place; not to remove Israel’s enemies but rather to remove the sin barrier between all of humanity and God Himself.
John the Baptist’s urgent message (talk about “running Code”) was to repent and believe that Jesus coming was imminent (and it was). Jesus’ equally urgent message is to repent and believe in the salvation that is now here and found only in Him (John 14:6, Acts 4:12). To repent, from the Greek metanoeo, is to change one’s mind and agree that one’s sins are abhorrent to a righteous and holy God. It is not only remorse for sin but also a changed attitude that chooses to live for God. To believe, from the Greek pisteuo, means to be fully convinced, so surrender all in faith. To “believe” and to “repent” go hand in hand. It is impossible to fully believe in Jesus’ message of salvation and not turn away from our sins (1 John 3:4–6). Christians will never be perfect on this earth, but our inclination to live a sinful life changes into a desire to live for God.
Now let’s quickly look at our second passage. In Matthew 24:42-44, Jesus (our King, Savior and yes, mighty Warrior) again speaks with a “Code 3” sense of urgency. First, understand that He is in fact speaking about His coming arrest, trials (illegal ones, mind you), torture and death (at the hands of 1st century “cops”, no less). But He is also sharing this message as an urgent warning. He will very soon be gone physically from the “officers” He is “field training” for future service. Moreover, He is seeking to impress on us that nobody can know when that He will return, and we must be ready. And the only way to be ready for His return is to be in a constant state of preparedness (Matthew 24:43). Jesus’ desire is that we live each day as if He will appear at any moment (in short, running Code for Him and for the lost).
As I’ve shared so often here, law enforcement is a true mission field. Despite our biblical roots and calling, only a very small percentage of officers have a genuine, saving faith in Christ (a “Christian” as God alone gets to define it). Tragically, a great many instead continue to falsely believe that our service in law enforcement “earns” us a “get out of jail” (ultimately a very real place called hell) card while also mandating or demanding that God let us into heaven (a “dead wrong” lie from the very pit of hell). And thus must be our (believers) “Code 3” sense of urgency to share the Gospel (the word just means “Good News”) and plan of salvation with our lost brothers and sisters while they can still “repent and believe” (again, after death, there are no “second chances” — Hebrews 9:27). Despite our biblical roots and calling, only a very small percentage of officers have a genuine, saving faith in Christ. Click To Tweet
Accordingly, and in closing, please know that we’re here “running Code” for YOU. To my fellow Christian officers who are struggling, I’m here for you. More importantly, our Lord is here for you now and always. Turn to Him. Cry out to Him. Open your Bible and find what He has to say to you through it. Get planed in a solid, Bible-teaching church and a FCPO chapter. And if you are one of those reading this who has never placed their trust in Christ alone for their salvation, it is also with a “Code 3” sense of urgency that I beg you to repent and surrender all to Him in faith today. If you’ve yet to surrender in faith and say “yes” in repentance and faith to Christ as Lord and Savior.