Saturday, January 21, 2012

Epiphany 3

"And after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel."(NASB)

Jesus came preaching, but what did He preach – law or gospel, or both? Mark gives us a summary of Jesus’ preaching. Since we honor and respect Jesus above all preachers, we would like to know the content of His preaching. What does Jesus have to say to us today? Our text gives us the answer…

Jesus preached the gospel of God

1. The time – "the time is fulfilled" – v. 15
Jesus began to preach in Galilee after John was put in prison. When John had finished his testimony, then Jesus began His public ministry. Notice what is happening here. The silencing of Christ's ministers shall not be the suppressing of Christ's gospel. John is imprisoned but the Gospel cannot be silenced. If some are laid aside, others shall be raised up. John’s imprisonment is the beginning of Jesus’ preaching. It is the signal for Jesus to carry on the same work that John had stated. Now Jesus is to begin with His message. And what is that message? Look at the second phrase of our verse for this morning.

2. The fact – "the kingdom of God is at hand" – v. 15
This is the message of what Jesus preached; "The gospel of the kingdom of God is at hand!" Christ came to set up the kingdom of God among us, that we might be brought into it, and that we might obtain salvation in His kingdom. He set up His kingdom by the preaching of His gospel, which brought about a power that has brought salvation and life.

Transition: The great truths Christ preached are found in our verse for this day. The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. This time refers to the Old Testament, in which the kingdom of the Messiah was promised. A time was fixed for the introducing of God’s coming into this world. Jesus’ hearers on that day were not so well versed in those prophecies, nor did they observe the signs of the times, as to understand it themselves. Therefore Christ gives them His official notice; "The time once fixed in the past is now at hand. Glorious discoveries of divine light, life, and love, are now to be made; a new direction far more spiritual and heavenly than that, which you had been under, is now to commence."

3. The response"repent and believe" –v.15
Notice how God keeps time. When the time is fulfilled, the kingdom of God is at hand. Christ gave His hearers back then as well as us today the ability to understand the times that they might know what they ought to do. Christ tells us that that the kingdom is approaching. They must repent, and believe the gospel. They had broken the moral law, and could not be saved by their own good works for the hearers then as well as us today are condemned under guilt. They must therefore take the benefit of a covenant of grace, they must submit to a remedial law, and this is the evidence that God’s kingdom truly has come---there must be repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ.

By repentance, we must lament and forsake our sins, and by faith, we must receive the forgiveness of our sins. By repentance, we must give glory to our Creator whom we have offended; by faith, we must give glory to our Redeemer who came to save us from our sins. Both of these; repentance and faith must go together.

We must not think that reforming our lives will save us without trusting in the righteousness and grace of Christ. Nor can we say that trusting in Christ will save us without the reformation of our hearts and lives. Christ has joined these two together, repentance as well as faith. And let no one think to put these two away. They will mutually assist and befriend each other. Repentance will quicken faith, and faith will make repentance evangelical; so that the sincerity of both together will be evidenced by a diligent conscientious obedience to all of God's commandments.

Thus with the arrest of John the preaching of the gospel by Jesus has begun, and thus it continues to this very. Still the call remains, repent, and believe; we are called upon to live a life of repentance and live a life of faith. That is the basis of the gospel message. That is our high Christian calling to this very day.

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