What response should people make to the gospel? The way you answer that question reveals what you think the gospel is.
According to Jesus, the gospel is the good news of the kingdom of God (Matthew 4:23; 9:35; 24:14; Mark 1:15; Luke 4:43; 8:1; 16:16). It’s the good news of God restoring his kingship to his troubled and conflicted world, through his anointed (Christ/Messiah). The appropriate response is therefore to recognize Jesus’ kingship, for he is the hope of the world.
Jesus knew the rulers of this world would kill him to keep their power, yet he confronted them unarmed — refusing to do evil to become king, because he trusted God. They crucified the one God had appointed to restore his reign on earth. God overruled the powers that executed him, giving us back the one he had chosen.
The good news is that Jesus reigns! He became king not by taking the lives of his enemies, but by giving his life. What a king — the only ruler worthy of the name!
So we ask people to recognize his kingship, to turn away from the rebellion and give allegiance to our divinely anointed king, to agree with God’s appointment by acknowledging Jesus as Lord!
When you confess Jesus as Lord, all the other things we think of as responses to the gospel follow too:
- Faith is giving allegiance to the God who raised Jesus from the dead, trusting him to complete the task of cleansing injustice and evil from his earthly realm.
- Repentance is switching sides, leaving the rebellion and submitting to our true king.
- Baptism identifies you with God’s anointed Messiah, the one who entered our death and imparts his resurrection life to his kingdom.
- Community, as we share in the life of our king, doing life together as the community (kingdom) of King Jesus in the midst of a broken world.
Jesus is the good news. Responding to the good news is responding to Jesus, acknowledging our divinely appointed ruler.
This isn’t something you do on your own: you’re part of the community under his kingship, with all the joys and struggles that implies. Your baptism is a citizenship ceremony, celebrating joining his kingdom. Switching sides is a political and public act. Your faith is a very public loyalty to the one you recognize as earth’s king.
Kingdom is communal. The gospel of the kingdom is good news of community under Jesus’ kingship. That’s why Scripture doesn’t use the individualistic language we use — language such as a personal relationship with God, making a personal decision, inviting Jesus into my heart to be my personal Saviour. Can we dump the language of private religion, and call people to life under Jesus’ kingship instead?
After all, acknowledging Jesus as our king can’t be a private thing:
Matthew 10:32–33 (NIV)
32 Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.