— By LOU TISCIONE
When Jesus began His public ministry He said, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15)
In writing to believers, the Apostle Paul declared that the gospel is the power of God for salvation. (Romans 1:16) He also told the believers in Corinth that those who were being saved stood in the gospel. (1 Corinthians 15:1)
Those who profess Christ are called by God to preach the gospel to themselves on a regular basis. Christians know that all life is in Christ through repentance and faith in Jesus as He is offered in the gospel.
Salvation is not only God’s guarantee of heaven. Salvation is deliverance. God’s people are saved by God from God. When God breaks into a man’s life, He frees him from the bondage of sin. Those in Christ are set free to love God! Salvation begins when God declares a sinner right with Him. It continues throughout life and is consummated in glory. All of what God has done for us is in and through the gospel. The death burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the revealed power of God!
Jesus gave two reasons for obeying His dual command in Mark 1:15. The first was the “time is fulfilled.” The second, “the kingdom of God is at hand.”
The first was a reference to Daniel’s prophecy in Daniel 9:25. It was confirmed by the Apostle Paul in Galatians 4:4. This time of fulfillment was in fact the time set in eternity by God for the Messiah’s arrival on Earth. Jesus read Isaiah 61:1-2a in the synagogue. (Luke 4:18-21)
Jesus said He was the one prophesied who would proclaim the “year of the Lord’s favor.” In other words, Jesus declared that at His coming, God was commanding men and women to call upon Him and be saved. The Apostle Peter boldly told the religious leaders in Jerusalem, “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
The second reason given by Jesus was not separate and distinct from the first. The Kingdom of God, namely the rule of God was at hand. Jesus the King and Lord, the one who rules all things, was physically in the midst of His hearers. The King who rules all men and has absolute authority. Matthew 28:18 commanded repentance and faith in the gospel, the power of God!
Jesus’ command was very specific. It centered on God’s rule and the gospel. Christians believe in the gospel. Why? The answer is simple and clear. “The gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes …” (Romans 1:16b)
The gospel is the only means God has given for men and women to know Christ and have eternal life.
The word “gospel” means good news. The good news is: “Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures.” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)
This is truly good news because we all deserve to go to hell. But, God who is “rich in mercy,” (Ephesians 2:4), chose some for heaven. The only way to heaven is through Jesus as He is offered in the gospel. God’s power revealed in the gospel causes men and women to rely upon the only begotten one, Jesus, not born but eternally proceeding from the Father. Those destined for heaven rely upon Jesus’ perfect life and His perfect sacrifice for sins. This reliance is not by our strength and power. It is by the power of the Holy Spirit working in us. The gospel is good news because God applies it to those whom He has chosen. The gospel is God’s power to save!
Therefore, may he who has ears to hear the Savior’s command, repent and believe in the gospel. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8)
Those who hear and believe know and live in the power of God revealed in the gospel.
The Rev. Lou Tiscione is pastor of Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA).