The Gospel 1: It's Good News

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newsboy 1. Introduction
When I was a boy there was a man who would stand outside Guildford station every evening and shout continually

“First with the news – the Evening News”
The fact that I remember it is as much down to his continual repetition of the same words.

We have ended our series on the Kingdom of God and we start today a new series of teaching and preaching in the Church under the heading
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The Gospel. – A word that means Good News.

But you would be mistaken if you thought we were leaving the topic of the Kingdom behind for it is central to the Gospel.
  
2. So what is the Gospel?
 
Let’s turn then in our Bible to Mark’s Gospel
Chapter 1 verse 14 & 15
 
Before we get there lets look @ verse 1
 
Mk 1:1 The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
 
The Gospel about…
 

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Mk 1:14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. Mk 1:15 “The time has come, ”he said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!”
 
Over the coming weeks a range of gifted speakers from across our own church and from elsewhere will explore this question –
 
What is the Gospel?
 
But let me stress this is no academic study, no entertainment, no comfortable encouragement. But it is Good News.
 
We can draw the essential elements of the Gospel from this passage.
 

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1. The time has come- Jesus was speaking to an audience- He says
 
The time has come- This is for you now He was saying- listen up, whatever went before, however many prophets have been ignored, however many times you have heard this – Listen up now
 
The Gospel is relevant NOW.
We are in a mess like they were in a mess. Without God Human beings make a mess.
 
Ro 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
 
The issues of our age cry out for answers. It took a Jewish Rabbi last week to provoke us again to realize that  we are still in such a mess.
 
At a lecture in London last week the Chief Rabbi said this
 
“Everywhere, except in Europe, religion is growing – from the mega churches of America to China, where the weekly attendance at church services is far more than the membership of the Communist Party. 
 
So here, despite more than a century of atheism - from Nietzsche’s ‘God is dead’ to Matthew Arnold’s ‘melancholy, long withdrawing roar of the retreating tide of faith’ all the way to today’s angry atheists, whom I call the intellectual’s equivalent of road rage – all the way, through all of that, God is back and Europe as a whole still doesn’t get it. 
 
It is our biggest single collective cultural and intellectual blind spot. In fact - and here is an extreme example but it is an extraordinary one - some people today who are most convinced that religion is irrational and altogether outmoded, are nonetheless queuing up to get their children into faith schools. And they still don’t fully understand the contradiction. 
 
The survival of religion in the twenty-first century cuts across some of our most basic intellectual assumptions. After all, how can anyone still need religion if: to explain the universe we have science; to control the universe we have technology; to negotiate power we have politics; to achieve prosperity we have economics. If you’re ill you go to a doctor, not a priest. If you feel guilty, you go to a psycho-therapist, not to confession. If you are depressed you take Prozac and not the book of Psalms. And if you seek salvation you go to our new cathedrals, namely shopping centres, where you can buy happiness at extremely competitive prices. 
 
So why has religion survived? The answer is that homo-sapiens is the meaning-seeking animal. Alone among life forms we ask the big questions.

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  • Who am I?

  • Why am I here?

  • How then shall I live?”

 
Jesus came to the Jewish Community and said to the people of His time as He says to us now
The time has come.
 

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2. The Kingdom of God is near.
I should not have to remind you of this but Jesus was not talking to those guys then or us guys now about the sweeping away of their Roman occupation or the secular or Islamic fundamentalists of our time.
 
He was talking of The rule of God in the Human Heart. –The Kingdom is near to you close by – “If you will let it in”
 
We need the rule of God –The Lordship of Christ in us- We don’t work properly without it and the meaning that is being so desperately looked for cannot be found outside of the Lordship of Christ.
 
Twelve months of teaching on the central role of the Kingdom of God means I don’t need to pursue this one any more than that.
 
But how do I move from being in the Kingdom of the World to the Kingdom of God?
Well Jesus gives the answer with two amazing words
 

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3. Repent
The first of these words is repent
Not a particularly fashionable word and we need to be so careful about it. We will be unpacking the meaning of repentance further but for now I need to stress that It does Not mean saying sorry It does not even mean saying sorry and meaning it! What it does mean is
 
Saying sorry, meaning it, turning around and running with every fibre away from the sin towards Serving God.
Repentance is active and towards God.
 
Sin is toxic and can kill you- sin kills Christians it kills their thought life their marriages their homes their finance. – Repentance is a hard word but the alternative is worse.
 

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4. Believe
The second word Jesus uses to help us embrace the kingdom is believe trust have faith.
 
You can know that Jesus is God’s son you can understand that the purpose of His arrival on earth was to save mankind.
You can agree that His teachings are the best moral code on the planet, you can attend Church, pray do it all- ALL the stuff and still not believe.
 
Faith is not just an intellectual assent, but a commitment of action.

 

 
Alec can you read Mark 1:15 in the Amplified version please.
 
15And saying, The [appointed period of] time is fulfilled (completed), and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent ([a]have a change of mind which issues in regret for past sins and in change of conduct for the better) and believe (trust in, rely on, and adhere to) the good news (the Gospel).     
 

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5. The plan
So from this passage in Mark 1, I have drawn many of the themes of the Gospel- The Good News.
  • Sin

  • Repentance

  • Lordship

  • Faith

 
But this is not the whole story- In the weeks ahead we will see how all this works together as we explore some of the great themes of the Gospel.
 
Please do remember though that this is intended as a series to change you as well as inform and inspire.
 
Each week including this week I will ask us to spend time praying for one another and challenging us to receive the Lordship of Christ, whether for the first time or as a recommitment.
 
What you will see from this plan is that we will be finished in three months using almost every Sunday to work through rather than spreading it over a longer period.
 

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Date
Topic
Heading
Who
8 Nov
The Gospel
It’s Good News
Tim
15 Nov
Submission, service & sacrifice
Counting the cost – Everything
Sam
22 Nov
Eternal Life with God or without Him
It’s a long time so let’s start the right way now
Ben
29 Nov
 
 
Don Silber
6 Dec
Advent
Family Service
Keith & Barbara
13 Dec
Sin & repentance
We make a mess.   Let’s own up to it and move on.
Sue B
20 Dec
Christmas
Family Service
Tim, Sam & Hilary
27 Dec
Lordship
Who’s in charge – NO really who is?
Tim
3 Jan
Prayer
Family Service
Barbara
10 Jan
Forgiveness & atonement
It’s enough to make a grown man cry.
Brian
17 Jan
Peace with God.   Reconciliation
Not just a fringe benefit
Pete G
24 Jan
Faith
I believe!
Ben
31 Jan
Fellowship
With saints & sinners
Chrissie
7 Feb
 
Family Service
 
14 Feb
Abundant Life
It’s life Jim, but not as we know it.
Keith
 
 
 
 
 
Let me finish by reading a quote from William Barclay
 
“The Good news that Christianity brings is that we do not worship a dead hero, but we live with a living presence. We are not left with only a pattern to copy, an example to follow, we are left with a constant companion on our way. Our faith is not a faith in a figure in a book, who lived and died, but in one who rose from death and is alive forever more.”
William Barclay “A New Testament wordbook” (SCM 1955)
 

Its Good News

Tim Blake, 19/01/2010