While preaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God, Jesus Christ encouraged people to “believe in the gospel.” What does this belief really entail?
As Jesus traveled the countryside of Judea, He taught people about the coming Kingdom of God. His message included two action steps to take in response to His gospel. The first step was to repent—the subject of the previous article in this series. We now come to the second step Jesus gave: “Believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15).
As we consider Jesus’ admonition, we need to understand that there are different levels of belief. We also need to know the level to which Christ was referring when He gave this instruction.
The lowest level of belief occurs when we come to understand something without letting it affect how we live. The demons have this kind of belief. They believe God exists but will not turn from their unrighteous conduct (James 2:19).
The kind of belief Jesus urges us to have is a commitment that is clearly demonstrated by the way we live. Jesus was asking the people of the first
century—and us today—to comprehend His message, trust it and act accordingly.
John the Baptist, the one prophesied to prepare the way for Christ’s ministry, “came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light [Jesus], that all through him might believe” (John 1:7, emphasis added throughout). The kind of belief that John the Baptist preached was marked by repentance
—changing one’s way of thinking and conduct (Matthew 3:2, 8). Furthermore, the expectation was that after someone repented, his or her belief would compel him or her to continue living righteously.
To “believe in the gospel,” as Jesus instructed us to do, includes having the knowledge that He is the prophesied Messiah, repenting of our sins and then continuing to live in obedience to God’s law. The belief Jesus advocated was not only a matter of knowledge.
Believing the gospel: an all-in commitment
While all four of the Gospel writers emphasize the importance of believing in Jesus Christ and the message He brought, Mark has an interesting way of emphasizing the magnitude of this act. Showing the all-encompassing nature of the required response, Mark recorded Jesus’ statement: “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it” (Mark 8:35).
The point is that when we truly believe the gospel Jesus preached, our entire lives are devoted to this cause. Our purpose in this human life becomes one of preparing for our future life in God’s family and Kingdom.
In discussing the hardships disciples will experience when they fully commit their lives to God, Jesus explained, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life” (Mark 10:29-30).
The key concept we must note is that believing in the gospel is an all-in commitment. Our daily prayers should include praying for God’s Kingdom to come (Matthew 6:10). Even though we may experience hardship and difficulties in obeying God, our entire lives—our hearts, minds and deeds—must be focused on responding to Him. As Christ so clearly stated, we must “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33).
When seeking God’s Kingdom and living righteously become our priorities, God promises to provide our physical necessities. As Christ added: “And all these things shall be added to you” (verse 33). For further study, see the articles “How to Pray” and “Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God.”
“Conveyed” into the Kingdom now
When we truly believe in the gospel Jesus preached, our destiny to be part of God’s Kingdom is assured, assuming that we remain faithful to the calling we have been given. Inspired by God, who “calls those things which do not exist as though they did” (Romans 4:17), Paul wrote that “He [God, the Father] has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love” (Colossians 1:13).
Other translations of the Greek word for “conveyed” in this passage include “translated” (King James Version) and “transferred” (English Standard Version). The meaning is that when we commit our lives to God and begin living as He instructs, our citizenship is transferred from a kingdom of this world to the Kingdom of God.
Even though we have not yet been changed from flesh and blood to spirit and must remain faithful to God’s instructions in order to have our mortal bodies transformed, God already considers us members of His future family and Kingdom because we are voluntarily living by the laws of His Kingdom. From this perspective, “our citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20); and like Paul and Timothy, we function as “ambassadors for Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:20).
Your response to the Messiah’s message
In this series of articles on the Messiah’s message, we have now reviewed each of the four components that Jesus emphasized in preaching the gospel of the Kingdom: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). You must now decide whether you will respond to Jesus’ life-changing call.
Your Savior wants you to heed the invitation you have been given. God loves you. He loves the world and wants all to be saved (John 3:16; 1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9). God will not force you to respond, but He surely hopes that you will. This is the great purpose for your life and is the only path that leads to a fulfilling, joyful life forever.
It is critically important to fully respond to Christ’s teaching. We can’t just believe in Christ as the Messiah and not believe in living in accordance with God’s laws. As Christ stated: “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word” (John 14:23).
If you respond to Christ’s call, your life will change for the better (1 Timothy 4:8). (For more on responding to God’s call, study our free booklet Change Your Life!) You can become part of the Body of Christ, which has the commission of teaching “all things” that Jesus commanded (Matthew 28:19-20).
Heeding the Messiah’s message—the true, original, complete message of the Kingdom of God that Jesus preached—is vitally important to each of us. As John noted, “Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine [teaching] of Christ does not have God” (2 John 1:9).
It is also important to note that Jesus said: “This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14). This gospel will be preached by those who respond to Jesus’ timeless call.
God’s purpose and plan will be fulfilled. The question for each of us is this: Will I truly, fully and completely believe in the gospel of the Kingdom?
We encourage you to believe Christ and to join us as we proclaim the same gospel of the Kingdom that our Messiah began preaching some 2,000 years ago. Remember Jesus’ sobering reminder: “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16).
Sidebar: “Believe” as Used in the Book of John
The importance of believing in the Messiah and the message He preached is a key theme in John’s account of Jesus’ ministry. The word believe is found more often in this Gospel than the other three Gospels—Matthew, Mark and Luke—combined. In the New King James Version of the Bible, the word believe appears 60 times in the book of John compared to eight times in the book of Matthew, 14 times in Mark and nine times in Luke.
John begins with an explanation that John the Baptist’s ministry was to bear witness of the coming Messiah so people would “believe” in Him and become children of God (John 1:7, 12). John then cites numerous occasions when Jesus spoke of the necessity of believing in Him in order to receive “everlasting life” (John 3:36; also note 6:29; 8:24; 11:26).
In the concluding verses of his Gospel, John summarized his purpose for writing: “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:30-31).