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.”
Have you figured out the Christian life yet? I know you’re trying to. We all are. How much time do we need to spend praying or reading scripture? What spiritual disciplines are needed? What’s the formula for spiritual growth? What things do I need to be doing to maintain my relationship with God?
Just tell me what to do.
Sadly, this is how many of us (or all of us at times) see our Christian faith. Like every other religion, we want someone to give us a list of do’s and don’ts for behavior management so that we can figure out how to be “good Christians.”
But Jesus didn’t come to put us under the bondage of a new religion. He doesn’t declare a “to do” list of good behaviors or spiritual practices. He doesn’t go up on a mountain and chisel out commandments 11-20. He’s not making promises from some political platform. He’s not initiating a great social experiment and looking for volunteers. He’s not even offering simple good advice to follow.
Jesus is proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom of God.
The coming of Jesus Christ into the world is a gospel. An evangelion. A joyful declaration that God’s kingdom has come. In Jesus’ day the word evangelion was a common political word. The people were very familiar with “the gospel of Caesar Augustus.” His ascension to the throne was “good news” for the people. Caesar was their earthly savior bringing peace to his subjects, ironically through his authoritarian rule over them. Augustus was even seen as the “son of God” sent to save the world.
This is what makes Jesus’ message so radical. He’s declaring a new kingdom. Another gospel other than Caesar’s. Is he trying to start an insurrection? Is he launching a rebellion? Is he creating a competing kingdom?
Yes. But not an insurrection against Rome. Not a rebellion against Augustus. Christ’s kingdom is the reality of God’s heavenly kingdom come to earth to compete, not with Rome, but with the kingdom of darkness (Col. 1:13). When Jesus refused to bow to Satan in the wilderness (see day 122), he was declaring war against the spiritual kingdom of evil over which Satan rules. The kingdom of selfishness and self-righteousness that we have each allowed the devil to force upon us.
This is why in Mark’s gospel when Jesus proclaims the kingdom of God come to earth he cries out, repent and believe in the gospel.
You see the kingdom of God is a spiritual kingdom that is received through repentance and faith. It is not achieved through military might, political strategy, or social reform. It is a kingdom that cannot be achieved. Why? Because the kingdom of God already IS. It already is the ultimate reality. Jesus wasn’t asking for help building his kingdom, he was declaring that he IS the kingdom.
Repent. Believe. Enter.
Have you repented? I mean really repented. Have you made the conscious decision to reject all your self-salvation schemes? Have you turned from the idea that you sit on the throne of your own kingdom? That you can pay off your sin debt? Have you made Jesus an “add-on” to what you’re already doing to achieve perfection? Or have you admitted that you will never ever save yourself? That you bring nothing to the table? That even your greatest works are grossly insufficient compared to your desperate need and debt before a holy God?
Have you believed the gospel? Are you truly trusting in the finished work of Jesus? Do you believe that he not only DID die on the cross, but that he HAD TO die on the cross, or else we would all be doomed to live apart from God? Have you embraced a salvation founded upon simple faith alone in grace alone through Christ alone? Have you walked through the wide open gate into the kingdom of God with nothing in your hands, no payments, no penance, no appeasement, no self-righteous offerings or oblations?
“To live is Christ” is life in the kingdom of God that only comes through repentance and belief. And that is good news! No more trying to figure out the Christian life. No more “just tell me what to do.” Instead, just tell me what Christ has already done. That’s all we need to know.
Are you still trying to figure out what to do in order to be a good Christian?
You in Christ
How does repentance and belief in the gospel place us into Christ? Can you explain this?
Christ in you
How does being in Christ allow you to continually repent and believe the gospel each day?
Playlist: songs of repentance and faith.