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On your Mark

The main things

“The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15, NIV)

When I was a young pastor an older minister advised me, “George, the main things in Scripture are the plain things; and the plain things are the main things.”

That’s certainly the case with Jesus. He never bothered to talk about a Bible code as a means of discerning hidden things in Scripture. In fact, none of the things we really need to know are hidden at all — God’s Word completely reveals them.

Jesus began His ministry in the synagogues of Galilee by focusing on the main things and the plain things. He evidently repeated the same message everywhere He went, because when Mark writes his Gospel 30 years later Jesus’ four-point outline is still remembered.

First, the time has come. While others were looking for the Messiah to bring a political kingdom, Jesus instead brings a kingdom in the present age that is internal rather than external. His kingdom is voluntarily received and not imposed from without. Do you know that on this very day God desires to insert a piece of the future age — an age of unbounded love, joy and peace — into your life? His kingdom is within you!

Second, the kingdom of God is near. How near?

Perhaps you are passing through a difficult season in your life. You wish you could either get it over with or go on to be with the Lord. But, Jesus is telling you that His kingdom is present with you this day. It is near, not far. It is at hand.

His rule enters this present moment. While you may long for His kingdom in the age to come, He longs for His kingdom to rule in you today — that you turn your thoughts, emotions, moods and relationships over to Him. He desires to be Lord in you!

The first two main points of Jesus’ sermon in the synagogues of Galilee deal with God’s activity — the time has come and the Kingdom is at hand. The last two points deal with our response — (1) repent and (2) believe the good news.

Repent is from the Greek word that means change your mind. How so? Our thoughts and way of life need to conform to Jesus’. As His followers, we know that forgiveness of sin, salvation and eternal life reside only in Him. There is no other way to God. Education, religion, philosophy or material wealth will not save us. Repentance means we throw away our false ideas of relating to God and embrace the life of Jesus.

Repent has sometimes been called the first word of the Gospel because it’s where John the Baptist, Jesus, Peter (Acts 2:38), and Paul (Acts 26:20) all begin. It’s the starting point of the Christian life.

Finally, we are to believe the good news, THE gospel. The good news is that God sent His Son to planet Earth to teach us how to live and to pardon our sins through His death on the cross so we might have eternal life. The good news is that defeat, despair and death never have the last word because through His resurrection from the dead, Jesus is Victor!

GEORGE O. WOOD is general superintendent of the Assemblies of God.

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