131. The beginning of the Gospel.
'The beginning of the Gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.' (Mark 1:1) The Gospel according to Mark is a good place to start reading the new testament. It puts the Gospel in context for a new reader. He straightaway mentions that the Gospel is about Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The Gospel is about a person and not a philosophy. The Gospel has got a face and it is of Jesus of Nazareth, the son of God. He alone is the Christ. Why is it so important to say that in these endtimes? "For many will come in my name claiming, "I am the Christ" and will deceive many ... For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect - if that were possible." (Matthew 24:24) So it is imperative that we know the identity of Christ because those who don't know will fall for the deception. John himself didn't know who Christ was, though being his relative. He was told what to look out for. "I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, 'The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.' I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God." (John 1:33-34) The one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit, is the Lord. He puts his seal of ownership in us by imparting his Spirit. 'Having believed you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance...' (Ephesians 1:14) But 'if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.' (Romans 8:9) It is the Holy Spirit who bears witness about the identity of Jesus. 'And it is the Spirit that testifies, because the Spirit is the truth ...' (1 John 5:6) The threefold testimony of the Spirit about Jesus is that he is the Son of God, the Christ and Lord. It is not enough that we have heard the testimony of men but we need to have the testimony of God in our hearts . 'We accept man's testimony, but God's testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he gave about his Son. Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart.'(vs 9-10) And our confession of this testimony will cause us to overcome our accuser, the devil. (Revelation 12:11)
However, the beginning of the Gospel didn't start with Jesus but with John the Baptist proclaiming the baptism of repentance. That is why Mark began his narrative with the ministry of John in the desert. 'And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.' (Mark 1:4) 'From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing and forceful men lay hold of it. For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John.' (Matthew 11:12-13) We too have forced our way into the kingdom, having repented on hearing the gospel. But those who haven't, must hurry up because the door is going to shut soon! Welcome to the Kingdom of God.