Year 2 Day 37
Read - Mark 1:14-15
Message - Alan Burke
Have you got a piece of paper handy, if so I’m going to give you four words and write them down then put beside them a definition of what they mean. The four words are, ‘gospel’, ‘kingdom’, ‘repent’ and ‘believe’. Now that you have done that we are going to think about them and what they mean as Jesus came proclaiming the gospel the good news, “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the gospel (good news)!”. These four words, are so important for us to understand and what they mean for our lives, we will think what ‘gospel’, ‘kingdom’ means today and on Friday ‘repent’ and ‘believe’.
Let’s start with Gospel as Jesus was proclaiming the gospel. The gospel literally means good news, we thought about it a few weeks ago. There are the gospels Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and we can use the word to speak of these but there is also two further senses in which we can understand what the Gospel is. There is a narrow sense; the gospel is the saving work of Christ for sinners, it is a victory announcement. Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 explains to us this narrow sense he preached in terms of the death and resurrection of Christ, the gospel is the good news of Jesus death and resurrection. But there is also a broader sense of what gospel means, for the “The gospel must be accepted, believed and obeyed” (1 Pet 4:17 also see 2 Thes 1:8).
We are to believe and obey the gospel. The gospel is what has been done for us through Jesus Christ but the gospel also includes a response, the outworking of the gospel should be seen in our obedience, in how we live. Think of the words of Jesus in the Great Commission (Matt 28:18–20), where he commands his disciples to be disciple makers: here the gospel is first, in the narrow sense of calling men and women to believe in Jesus, but then he speaks in the broad sense of teaching these disciples to obey everything Jesus has commanded. That is what Mark has in mind here as he opens his account, is the gospel both in the narrow sense as well as the broad sense, for the gospel is the person and work of Jesus Christ but it is also the response to the gospel which means that we accept, believe and obey it.
Next; Kingdom. As Jesus declared, “the time has come, the kingdom of God is near”, his proclamation was that God was decisively acting on behalf of his people bringing about the Kingdom in the person and work of himself Jesus Christ in this age. And this kingdom is both now and not yet, it is present and future. Here’s what I mean by that, that the kingdom is present because God’s kingdom consists of God’s rule over his people, he has given his King, Jesus and by his Spirit he gives to his people life. It means that we who are Christ’s who have responded to the gospel are citizens of heaven, we have heavenly citizenship by the fact that we have received Christ, this kingdom is here. And in the not yet, future sense, it is because we remain sojourners and exiles, we are awaiting the return of the King Christ to judge the living and the dead.
It is our task as we respond to the gospel that means we accept, believe and obey it as John Calvin said to make the ‘invisible kingdom visible’. We do that by living in such a way that we bear witness to the reality of the kingship of Christ in our jobs, our families, our schools, and even our wallets, purses even apps, because God in Christ is King over every one of these spheres of life. The way the kingdom of God is going to be manifest in this world before Christ comes is as we manifest it by the way we live as citizens of heaven and subjects of the King, accepting, believing, and obeying the gospel.
Q48 What are we specially taught by these words [before me] in the first commandment?
These words [before me] in the first commandment teach us, That God, who seeth all things, taketh notice of, and is much displeased with, the sin of having any other God. (Ezek. 8:5–6, Ps. 44:20–21)