A Voice in the
"How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of him proclaiming good news [the gospel], making peace heard, bearing tidings of good, making salvation heard..." (Is52:7a)
"Then, indeed, the ones who had been scattered passed through, preaching the gospel, the Word." (Acts8:4)
"Then Philip opened his mouth and began at the same Scripture and preached the gospel of Jesus to him.." (Acts8:35)
"And brothers, I declare to you the gospel which I preach to you, which also you have received, and in which you stand...that Christ died for our sins...that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.." (~1Cor15:1-4)
"The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God draws near. Repent, and believe the gospel." (Mk1:15)
Whenever Believers proclaim the need for "Repentance to Life" (Acts11:18), there is a certain body of people who become quite militantly upset with such a notion. They say that the entire Gospel of John never once mentions the word "repent". And when Paul is reviewing the "gospel [he] preached" (1Cor15:1), that he says nothing of "repentance". That, all people need to do is "believe the gospel".
So, what gives? Is the problem in the word "repentance"? Or is it in a proper understanding of the word "gospel"? Since we have addressed Repentance so many times, it is right to also understand the Gospel.
What is "gospel"? There are two words in the Greek from which the N.T. "gospel" comes. "euaggelion" and "euaggelizo" The first of these means "good news" or "glad tidings", and usually is connected with just the word "gospel". The second is "to bring good news" or "announce glad tidings", and is often connected in the sentence with "PROCLAIMING or PREACHING the gospel". A related word is "euaggelistes" from which the word "evangelist" comes... the -PERSON- who brings glad tidings.
The relationship between Repentance and the Gospel might best be described by the Scripture: "The people who walk in darkness have seen a great light. The ones who dwell in the land of the shadow of death, light has shone on them." (Is9:2) Jesus said, "I am the Light of the world. The one following Me will in no way walk in the darkness, but will have the light of life." (Jn8:12)
The problem with humanity is that sin has blinded the eyes. Sin yields "works of darkness" (Eph5:11) "..men loved darkness rather than the Light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light, lest his deeds should be exposed." (Jn3:19-20) This darkness of the "shadow of death" is because the "wages of sin is death". (Rom6:23) "..the soul that sins, it shall die." (Eze18:4)
The problem is that mankind is groping around in the darkness. He tries to better himself if he thinks in those terms. But the sin nature has bound him down. There is no way out of the "horrible pit". We are stuck in the "miry clay". (Ps40:2) We are "without ability" (Rom5:6) to save ourselves. We are eternally doomed. And so, if a person is seeing the predicament he is in, he longs for rescue. But he is all alone, without any hope, without God. (Eph2:12)
When that opening passage says, "..gospel, the Word" (Ac8:4) we understand this because we know that "Faith [salvation]" comes about through the hearing of the "Word of God". (Rom10:17) The Word of God, the Scriptures -IS- the Gospel. The Gospel is summed up in the -person- of Jesus Christ, "..the Word was God". (Jn1:1) From "in the beginning God" (Gen1:1) to "behold I come quickly" (Rev22:20), the Scriptures are about the Lord Jesus Christ. It explains how sin came upon the human race, and how God provided salvation from its consequence, death. This is why it says that Philip was proclaiming the "gospel of Jesus" (Ac8:35) to the Ethiopian. Jesus -IS- the Gospel. Jesus -IS- Salvation. "And there is salvation in no other One" than "Jesus Christ of Nazareth" (Ac4:12,10)
Is it any wonder then, that the Gospel of John, which is solely devoted to the premise, "..that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you might have life in His name" (Jn20:31), does not mention "repentance"? It is not -about- repentance. It is -about- Jesus Christ, the Son of God. It is about "[receiving] Him" and "[becoming] children of God, to those who believe in His name." (Jn1:12)
Is it any wonder that 1Cor15:1-4 doesn't mention "repentance" as Paul proclaims the "gospel"? It speaks of -WHAT- Jesus -DID- to provide salvation. He died, was buried, and rose again. That is what PROVIDES SALVATION. When I could not save myself, GOOD NEWS - GLAD TIDINGS!! Jesus did it; and 'this' is -how- He did it!
That's why Mark makes a distinction between the two separate aspects: 1) Repent, and 2) Believe the Gospel.(Mk1:15) Paul says, "1) repentance toward God and 2) faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 20:21) As we have noted on another occasion:
Mk1:15 Acts20:21 -Repent == repentance toward God -Believe == faith -Gospel == toward Jesus ChristNotice that "faith" is not a blind faith. A nebulous "faith in your heart", as Oprah might proclaim. If you just have -enough- faith, and "pray" -real-hard-. No. Salvation does not come about BECAUSE OF -our- "faith". But because of the OBJECT OF faith... Jesus Christ. The Gospel. The Faith which saves us is the "faith -OF- Jesus Christ" (Rom3:22) We are not even capable of -enough- faith. As the man cried out, "Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief!" (Mk9:24) Even our faith comes -from- Jesus Christ.
Shortly before He left to go back to the Father, Jesus commanded the message to be proclaimed. The Gospel is that "Christ suffer and to rise from the dead the third day".(Lk24:46) But notice that "remission of sins" (which Jesus provides) is connected to "repentance". (vs47) The good news is that Salvation is 'available' to "whoever believes in Him". (Jn3:16) Salvation is not 'limited' to certain select few. It was not God's "purpose" that "any" should perish. (2Pt3:9) God did not create mankind with the desire to punish some of them. (Eze33:11) But since man rebelled, neither can God's Salvation just automatically be imputed to all, without us turning from our state of rebellion. A person can "believe" -that- Jesus provides salvation, but continue walking away from God, refusing to seek His face. Such "belief" -of- Salvation does not save. Satan also has such a "faith". (Jas2:19) A person must "turn" (repent) from facing away from God, and "look" -to- Christ hanging on the cross.
Israel had a case of rebellion where God sent fiery serpents to bite the people, and they started dying. Moses, at God's instruction, made a bronze serpent and put it on a pole. The instruction to those bitten was simply to "look" at the bronze serpent, and whoever -looked- would live. (Numbers 21) Thus the words of the old hymn, "Look to Jesus, now, and live...it's recorded in His Word, Hallelujah, it is only that you look and live.."
This word "look" is synonymous in meaning to Scriptural "repentance". It is not a "work". I expect there might have been some Israelites, dying in the desert who were at death's door, too weak to move their bodies, and may have even asked a neighbor to help prop them up, or carry them out of the tent, so they could look at the bronze serpent. The thief next to Jesus did not have fancy words, as he was suffocating and wheezing on his own cross. He merely asked the Lord, "Remember me when You come into your kingdom" (Lk23:42) The cleansing Isaiah received was not Isaiah 'going' and 'getting' the coal, but the seraph flew to the altar, and then to Isaiah and touched his lips. (Is6:6)
So many people are confused, due to the error of many preachers who have neglected this vital doctrine. They think Repentance is "difficult". How would one know when they had repented "enough"? How can a person possibly remember "every sin" to repent of it? And many confuse "repentance" with catholicism's "penance"... paying for and "working off" the sins with commensurate "good works"; as though to try to tip the scales of the balance so that a person has -more- good works than bad.
The only difficult thing about repentance is 'self'. Pride. In order to repent, one must acknowledge one's own utter worth-LESS-ness. That is contrary to worldly man who is busy building SELF-worth, and SELF-esteem... "validation". It is really contrary to self to admit, "I was wrong. I am sinful. I am a sinner. I am no good. I am detestible in God's sight." This is why James speaks of "Be humbled before the Lord, and He will lift you up." (Jas4:10) As babies and children we innately learn, "Me, Meeee, Mine, Mine, Look at Meeeeee!!!" And when instructed to behave a certain way, "NO!!!" Repentance is the opposite of all those things.
While repentance is such a 'simple' thing, man's pride asserts itself. Man may know there is darkness 'inside' himself, so he tries to acquire satisfaction with the world's allurments. He knows he doesn't have happiness and peace, so he attempts to amass 'things' to satisfy. When he is told he needs to "repent", it is not that he doesn't understand. No. His pride keeps him from it. To repent means that all his efforts are a waste. To repent means that he must look to The Most High, instead of within himself, where satan has convinced him that he is already "like God". (Gen3:5) To repent means he must lay aside his -religion- that says conversely on one hand, that he must 'work' his way by his own efforts; and on the other hand, that he is not responsible for his destiny.
This latter notion is more deceptive because it places the blame upon God. If one distorts the idea of "predestination", one can either blame God if one is not saved; or rest in a false hope because God saved him "irresistibly". He didn't have to make a choice as to whether he was going to receive God or reject Him. And so, if his pride has convinced himself that he is saved, that God "chose" him... he has absolved himself of any responsibility in facing his sin and condemnation. All he has to do is "believe". "Sola Fide" And he calls it the "gospel". The reformation doctrine of "irresistible grace" is a cop-out! God -just- "reached down and saved me". Zap! And now I'm "eternally securely" lah-dee-da'ing my way to Heaven. No humility. No choices. No confrontations. No accountability. No responsibilities.
As though to say... God just reached down and saved me...and next thing I knew...I was saved. One minute I was lost, next minute I was saved. His 'presence' came over me, and at that instance I "knew" I was saved. Not all that different from charismania's being "spirit-filled". Perhaps that's why so many charismatics also hold to so many Reformed Calvinist doctrines? They never talk about repenting, but suddenly they "feel" God's forgiveness. Forgiven without having been sorry. That's not how people came to Jesus in the Scriptural accounts. That is NOT the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
When Scripture says, "But as many as received Him.." (Jn1:12) it is in the context that there are also many who choose to "..not come to the light" (Jn3:20) There are those who believe, and there are those who do not believe. (Jn3:18) It doesn't say that God "sent His Son" in order to "reach down" and "irresistibly" save them. It says, "whoever believes.." (Jn3:16) Jesus invites, "Come to Me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." (Mt11:28) The person who is thus, heavy-laden, must turn [repent] and "look" to Jesus, and receive His rest. (Rev14:13)
Mankind is faced with two choices. Obey God, or rebel. Eve chose to disobey. Most of mankind chooses to rebel, "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, each one to his own way.." (Is53:6a) Even when they know they are dying of the 'snake bite', they harden their hearts and refuse to "look" to the cross. They are like the little child who throws the tantrum with, "NO!! I WON'T I WON'T I WON'T!!! I want -MY- way!!!" And so, God says, OK...feel free to spend eternity in the Lake of Fire.
The other choice is to be as Isaiah, "Woe is me! I am undone; for I am a man of unclean lips" (Is6:5) "God, be merciful to me, the sinner" (Lk18:13) Turning to the Most High, pleading for pardon. "I can't do it myself". Unlike the Calvinists whom God "chose"; rather... "why would God even WANT TO choose me?" The Gospel is the realization that "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief."(1Tm1:15)
But this latter choice is not the popular one. It's not the one where all the "in people" are. It's not the "sexy" option, and full of wealth, fame and status. That's one reason why most people reject it. They want the approval and praise of men, more than the glory of God. (Jn12:43) People of the world love the pleasures (Heb11:25b) of their "darkness" too much. And those in the "church" love the status of their deception; pretending to have the "keys of the kingdom" (Mt16:19) and lording it over their flocks, and having people call them "rabbi"... "pastor, reverend, father". (Mt23:5-10)
When a person "abhors self" (Job42:6, Is6:5), and cries out to God for "mercy" (Lk18:13), the GOOD NEWS (Gospel) is Jesus Who hung on the cross and rose again from the dead. Repentance is the moment where a person stops running away from God, and turns to look at the crucified and risen Christ. And the Gospel is, that Jesus' blood, then, saves the person. The person knows he cannot save himself by "works" (Eph2:9). He "receives" the Gospel, that Jesus saves. (Jn1:12)
So, back to Lk24:47... When a person repents, they receive "remission of sins" which is provided in/by the "name of Jesus". (Acts4:12) The "Name of Jesus", and everything that Name represents, -IS- the Gospel.