It is without doubt that the Gospel, which means good news, is the most important and crucial message that a person can hear. After all, at the start of Mark, Jesus proclaims “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mk.1:14). Yet what precisely is this “good news” that Jesus speaks about?
It starts with the acknowledgment of God’s existence, and the understanding that He is a holy and just God. Worthy of absolute worship, and entitled to it. This God has made humanity in His image to know and worship Him. However, though originally created as good, humanity became rebellious and instead sought to seek its own ways instead of God’s, and having sinned against this holy God, alienated themselves from Him. Consequently, sin has become permeated throughout human nature, and from birth, all people are hostile to God, and subject to His wrath (Eph. 2:1-3). The Gospel thus informs us of the reality of our situation, that all of us are dead in our sins, unable to please God in whom we have rebelled against, and will suffer damnation through eternal separation from God (2 Thess. 1:9). The Gospel tells us that we will stand before God and face judgment (Rev. 20:13).
Fortunately, the Gospel is called the ‘good news’ because it addresses this serious problem that faces us all. While presenting us with the reality of our unrighteousness and our inability to change the situation, it also informs us that there is someone who did have the righteousness and bore the wrath that we were destined to bear. Jesus.
Jesus, who was fully man and fully God, lived a life of both perfect righteousness and perfect obedience to God. Jesus who choose to lay down his life and bear our sins, so that the law, justice, and righteousness of God would be satisfied. Jesus who from rising from the dead, showed that his sacrifice was acceptable to God, and that God’s wrath against us has been exhausted. Jesus who has reconciled us to God, so that we may be with Him for eternity. Jesus has done for us what we in our helpless states could never do. The Gospel therefore is the message of who Jesus is and what He did on our behalf. Jesus provided the way for man to be freed from the penalty of sin (Jn. 14:6).
But this is not effectual for all people; only those who place their faith in Him. The Bible makes it crystal clear that God has not simply waved, as RC Sproul puts it, “a wand of forgiveness over everybody” nor was the atoning death of Jesus intended so that humanity would resume its old ways. Rather, we are to repent of our old ways and place our trust and faith in Jesus (Ac. 16:31). Subsequently, the only way we can receive efficaciously benefit from the actions of Christ’s life and death is by putting our trust in Him.
This is the “good news” of Jesus. That by placing our faith and trust in Jesus and what he has accomplished, we who were dead in sin and alienated to God, were brought alive and reconciled to Him. We who were destined for eternal damnation have given eternal life. We who deserve the full wrath and punishment of God were spared. The Gospel is the understanding and acknowledgment of all this. It is the free gift given to unworthy sinners by a merciful and loving God. It is the removal of the obstacles stopping us from the all-satisfying source of Joy: eternity with God.
As Jesus proclaims at the beginning of Mark, will you “Repent and believe the good news“?