The Gospel Jesus Preached

Mark 1:14-15

14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming 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.”

If we wish to have the gospel, the good news of God, correct, it would be wise for us to know that we are preaching the same gospel Jesus preached. Here in the beginning of mark’s telling of the gospel, we see it. I would argue that this is simple, lovely, and not necessarily what you hear in every church out there.

When Jesus began to preach, he began by telling people that the time was fulfilled. That is not a throw-away line. The time that God had set from eternity past for his fulfillment of his promise to bring about the salvation of his people was finally at hand. That the time could be fulfilled tells us the time had been set. That the time had been set tells us that the plan had been made long beforehand. The gospel is the outworking of God’s eternal plan that has been and still is being perfectly fulfilled.

Jesus tells the people that God’s kingdom is at hand. This too is glorious. God reigns as king over the universe. God holds all authority over the earth. And God is building a kingdom, bringing his king, accomplishing his will. If you know your Old Testament, you know that God has promised and promised and promised a savior who will be a king. Everything about Adam in the garden indicated a man who was to reign over the world as a regent under God. The Lord promised Abraham that kings would spring from his line. God promised David that a king from his line will rule the world forever. So the idea of the kingdom of God being at hand tells us that what Jesus is about to do, what is contained in the gospel, includes God bringing about the rule he has been promising since the beginning. There is no way to have this part of the message of Jesus right while unhitching from the Old Testament.

Then Jesus tells the people to repent and believe the gospel. This is a bit more familiar, though many fail to call people to repent. Repenting involves a change in your thinking, your emotion, and your action. For a person who is outside of God’s family, repenting means realizing that you are lost and need God’s forgiveness. It means realizing that you cannot be lord of your own life and have God as your king. It means letting go of your supposed right to be in charge of yourself, yielding yourself to God, and bowing to him as Lord, Master, King. Repenting means turning from a willful embrace of sin, letting go of that which God forbids and embracing that which God commands. There is no salvation without repentance.

The call to believe is the flip side of the repentance coin. If I cannot rule myself, trust myself, own myself, or save myself, I must rely on someone else. Believing includes a mental acceptance that Jesus is who he claims to be. Jesus is God’s son and our only hope for salvation. Jesus lived the perfect obedience God requires and fulfilled all the requirements of God’s holy standard. Jesus died as the only sacrifice that can actually take away our sins. Jesus rose from the dead, proving he is exactly what he claimed to be. Jesus ascended into heaven where he offered his blood in the heavenly holy of holies once for all who will be saved. And Jesus receives to himself all who will repent and entrust themselves to his care.

Do you preach the gospel Jesus preached? Is it tied to the eternal decree of God? Does it involve the kingdom of God? Do you include a call to repent? Is belief, faith alone in Christ alone, central? I hope so, as the gospel Jesus preached is the only gospel that saves.