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“Now after John was arrested, 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’ ” (Mark 1:14,15).

THE GREEK WORD TRANSLATED “GOSPEL” IN OUR ENGLISH BIBLES WAS FAMILIAR IN THE ROMAN EMPIRE. It meant the joyful proclamation of some great event, often one having to do with Caesar, the Emperor. But in the New Testament, it refers to the greatest of all proclamations: not one concerning Caesar, but glad tidings pertaining to God Himself, the very King of the universe — God is establishing the kingdom predicted by the prophets, and He is offering the forgiveness of sins to everyone who will submit to His Son, Jesus Christ.

The time is fulfilled. In Isaiah 9:6,7, Daniel 2:44, and many other places, the Hebrew prophets had foretold the coming of a kingdom ruled over by God, something unique in the entire history of the world since Adam and Eve sinned and were exiled from Eden. In his account, Mark tells us that the coming of this kingdom is what Jesus preached. The time foretold by the prophets had arrived.

The kingdom of God is at hand. What was about to happen, according to Jesus, was that God was going to establish His kingdom. A “kingdom,” of course, is a realm where someone rules or exercises authority. But the kingdom Jesus spoke of would be nothing like any of the kingdoms of men. It would be nothing less than God’s kingdom. Its citizens would live under His rule, reverently and lovingly acknowledging His right to be their Lord.

Repent and believe in the gospel. The news of the coming kingdom required a response. Even as it approached, before its actual establishment in Acts 2, the proper response was to “repent and believe in the gospel.” If the problem was that God’s rule over His world had been rejected, admission to the new kingdom would require that people cease their rebellion and come back to the King, believing the truth of everything the King said about (1) Himself, (2) the problem of sin, and (3) the salvation He was providing. So if the gospel says the true King has returned, the question we must ask is: will we join His cause or continue to support the rebellion?

“Enemy-occupied territory — that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us all to take part in a great campaign of sabotage” (C. S. Lewis).

Gary Henry — +

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