15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (NIV)
14-15 …preaching the Message of God: “Time’s up! God’s kingdom is here. Change your life and believe the Message.” (The Message)
15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” (New KJV)
15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” (NRSV)
15 “The right time has come,” he said, “and the Kingdom of God is near! Turn away from your sins and believe the Good News!” (Good News Translation)
Kingdom of God
The verses above are from the Gospel of Mark 1:15. If the Gospel of Mark was the first gospel written, as is widely believed, then these are the first recorded words of Jesus. His entire message and mission is here. I think if I were running a church I would simply preach on this verse for a year, maybe longer. What is the Kingdom of God? Where is the Kingdom of God? When is the Kingdom of God? What are we supposed to do? What is the good news? Do a quick tour of the book of Revelation. Heaven is not some place “up there.” If heaven equates to the Kingdom of God, then Revelation and the Lord’s Prayer make it painfully obvious that heaven is here on earth and if it is not then the prayer asks that it be so.
And so if the Kingdom of God has come near, what does that mean? Well, Jesus said it. Jesus must have been standing next to someone when he said it. If Jesus is God and if Jesus is on earth and if the Kingdom of God has come near, then the Kingdom of God is in fact Jesus and he was here. So the coming of the Kingdom of God is not some future event, it happened some 2000 years ago. And then Jesus asked the Father and the Father sent the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit now lives in us and the Holy Spirit is God. So now where is the Kingdom of God? It is in us! And when we go and make disciples and teach them, we have the power and authority to say “Repent and believe the good news for the Kingdom of God is at hand!” Why can we say that? Because we are taking Christ, who is God, with us via the Holy Spirit and thus the Kingdom of God is everywhere you are.
So what is the good news? I no longer believe it is mainly something about atonement and paying for our sins. Yes, Jesus did that, but this verse says that we need to believe that the Kingdom of God is actually near or at hand. The good news is that Jesus came and brought the Kingdom with him. The good news now is that we have Christ in us via his resurrection and the sending of the Holy Spirit. The good news for those hearing this verse today is not some historical fact but rather that the Kingdom is near them, alive and living in you. The good news is simply that God came in the form of Jesus and that he lives on in us!
And what about repent? Is that to repent from our sins as the Good News Translation states above? Maybe. But isn’t it more that we repent and turn from our old beliefs about what heaven is and where heaven is and when heaven will be? Aren’t we being asked to turn from that and believe the good news that the Kingdom of God is here now because Jesus came and he was God and when he left the Father sent his Holy Spirit to be with us so that the Kingdom of God would remain here always?
I credit Oswald Chambers and Dallas Willard to opening my eyes and heart to these truths and like the man that was so excited when he found treasure that he bought the whole field, I needed to share this with you. May your day be filled with joy!