Already this week we have looked at the framework within which the gospel (“good news”) of Jesus Christ comes to us, and the actual good news itself. This third post is about the response that the good news of Jesus calls us to.
The good news of Jesus isn’t just any good news. It demands a response. If I read a news story that is “good” for one reason or another, I really don’t have to do anything about it. It can be good without any involvement from me. But the good news of Jesus is different. When I hear the good news of Jesus, it calls me to respond, because as a sinner who is disconnected from the God in whose image I was created, I have no other option for living how I was designed to live. God set in motion the events that we call the good news in order to build a bridge back to himself for sinful people. So, if you have ever sinned even once in your life, the good news calls you to a response.
The good news of Jesus is a fact. However, it is only good news for you if you respond to it by receiving it.
So if the good news is that God is making tremendous grace available through Jesus Christ, the question is, “How can I receive this grace?”
In the Gospel of Mark, the very first words recorded of Jesus as he began his ministry were “The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
To “repent” means to “turn around.” When we repent, we change our mind about who will be God in our lives. We confess that we have personally rejected God’s plan for our lives (the Kingdom), and that we are guilty of sin and rebellion against God. In repenting, we turn away from that self-serving life, and surrender to God.
To “believe” in the gospel is to live for God, trusting that Jesus is the only way to God. We put our “faith” in Jesus, meaning we believe and obey his message about the Kingdom and trust his death is sufficient for our acceptance before God. Faith in Jesus isn’t simply intellectual acceptance of the reality of the good news about him. Faith is reliance upon him and the good news he accomplished, to bring us back to God.
All who humbly repent and believe receive God’s tremendous grace! God forgives us our sinful record and applies Jesus’ perfect record to our lives. This has been called “The Great Exchange.” He also gives us the Holy Spirit to empower us to follow Jesus’ example of living in the Kingdom. Last, we are incorporated into the community of God’s people. All of this is done in order that we can live life the way we were created to live: In relationship with God, and for God, to His glory.