What is the Gospel? Part 5

[Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash]

As I stated in my first post, the gospel is fundamentally what God has done in Jesus, supremely in his death and resurrection. In Jesus we see the true human who embodies, brings, inaugurates, and fulfills the kingdom promises.[1]   The story of the Bible is the story of God in search for a righteous steward for his kingdom. Adam failed, Abraham failed, Israel failed, David failed. But Christ was victorious. The Gospel is the story of Jesus restoring God’s reign on earth in and through the power of the Holy Spirit.[2]

But where does this leave us? It is appropriate for us to again consider Mark 1:15,

Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God,  and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

Movement 4—The Kingdom Response

Fundamental to the gospel—the good news of what God has done—is the reality that this coming reign of God is not a suggestion, but a call—a call to recognise that God is claiming what is his. Yes, his kingdom is righteous, holy, mercy and grace. Yes his kingdom comes to save sinners, but in order for the kingdom to establish and uphold righteousness, it must necessarily divide the righteous from the unrighteous, the good from the evil.

You see, the gospel is the powerful announcement that the world has a new lord, and therefore all people—no matter what ethnicity, no matter how old, whether male or female, rich or poor, powerful and powerless—all people are summoned to give God believing and trusting allegiance.[3]

To think that there are any neutral citizens of this earth, who are neither in the kingdom of God or the kingdom of Satan, is to be severely wrong. There’s only two ways to live. And Jesus tells us that entrance into this kingdom is only on one basis: through repentance and belief. The good news of the reign of God is not a neutral news report, as if to say the Kaizer Chiefs are better than the Orlando Pirates; or that chocolate cake is better than vanilla.

As we saw at the beginning, the triune-God is the rightful owner and king, and so his reign naturally lays a claim to our lives.

Again, D. A. Carson is helpful here,

What God has done in Christ Jesus has an intrinsic demand built into it. If in God’s mercy Christ has come to bear the sins of his people and risen in vindicated glory to call together a new covenant people and usher in the consummated kingdom, intrinsic to God’s work in Christ is an appeal for the ends of earth to turn to him and be saved. Their actual turning is not the gospel; their transformed living is not the gospel, however much it is the fruit of the gospel.[4]

Faith

Repent and believe. Two key, key words to knowing the Gospel as good news for us. Friends, it is because of the cross that all people can come to the King and benefit from his righteous rule.

But we can only do that by faith. Faith is the way to enter the kingdom. All who have faith in the Messiah will be made right with God. Faith in the King is the access code to this community.[5] It’s not our money that can change us and bring us into the kingdom of God. It is not our power, how much we know, how much we do, how good of a parent we are, or how great a citizen we are.

Biblically speaking, faith—as described by the Bible—is reliance, it is a living and breathing trust in God’s promises. It is not wishful thinking. It is not about closing our eyes and hoping for the best. Faith holds onto concrete realities—the promises of God—and trusts them as if our lives depend on them, and our lives do depend on them.

What matters most about our faith is not how much or big or strong it is, but in what we’re trusting, where our faith is aimed at. For entrance into the kingdom, it must be a faith directed at the revelation of God in Christ, in the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.


Faith holds onto concrete realities—the promises of God—and trusts them as if our lives depend on them, and our lives do depend on them.


It’s a faith that claims no righteousness in ourselves, but trusts that the justification we need is the one Christ supplies—that he, as our King, goes before and will lead us into victory. It is through this kind of trust and faith that we are told that we are united with Christ, that we become heirs with him, that we in fact die and are hidden in Christ, that he now lives in us!

Repentance

If faith is turning to Jesus and relying on him for salvation, then repentance is the other side of that same coin. Repentance is turning away from our sin, turning away from the idols that led us astray and enslaved us.

It is in this repentance, in this turning from the death that awaits idolatry, that we enjoy life. Jesus’ death has secured repentance for sinners to finally be stripped of the power of sin and evil; the strong man has been bound (Marl 3:27). Now we can turn and be restored to our original image-bearing roles given in the Garden.

The Christian life, as Martin Luther said, is one of continual repentance. Repentance is not merely a one time act, but one that should define Christians. There are only two types of people in this world, friends: sinners and repenting sinners. Those whose ultimate allegiance is to another god, and those who have bowed the knee to Jesus.

My prayer for you today is that you would consider this gospel—this good news. If you’re not a Christian, won’t you consider dropping your weapons—you know the empty promises of sin, of the worship of all things created—they don’t offer much in the end. But Jesus, the king, he offers true, lasting life, pleasure forever more and fullness of joy.

Whether you realize it or not, everyone will one day bow to this king. For us, today, the question is whether or not we will do it in this life, or in the next.

In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he bursts into a beautiful hymn about Jesus’ humility and exaltation, and he closes with these words,

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

(Phil. 2:9-11)

Friend, will you bow now, turn from your sins and turn to God? He is willing and oh so able to save you from his wrath. As the hymn writer Joseph Hart so wonderfully puts it in his hymn ‘Come, Ye Sinners’,

Come, ye sinners, poor and needy,

Weak and wounded, sick and sore;

Jesus, ready, stands to save you,

Full of pity, love and power.

Will you come to him and embrace the true king who died for you? This gospel not only saves, friends, but also transforms us so that we begin to look more and more like Jesus himself, the true image of God, he who is the radiance of the glory of God—he who upholds the universe by the word of his power.

At the point of repentance and faith, we receive the very Spirit of God who seals us and prepares us for the coming consummation of Christ’s kingdom, the great day when we will be resurrected to inherit the earth. There, in that place, God will again dwell with his people. This is the good news of the kingdom of God. This is the Gospel.


[1] Patrick Schreiner, The Kingdom of God and the Glory of the Cross (Crossway, 2018), 26.

[2] Jonathan Pennington, Reading the Gospels Wisely: A Narrative and Theological Introduction (Baker Academic, 2012), 143–144.

[3] Wright, The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’ Crucifixion (HarperCollins, 2016), 391.

[4] D. A. Carson, “What is the Gospel?—Revisited”, For the Fame of God’s Name: Essays in Honor of John Piper (Crossway, 2010), 162.

[5] Schreiner, 112.

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