Chewing on something this morning that I know I’ve read many times before but somehow feel like I’m only noticing for the first time.
When Jesus came, according to Mark, He came preaching “the gospel of God” (Mk. 1:14). Matthew says that He proclaimed “the gospel of the kingdom” (Mt. 4:23). Which is it? Is it the gospel of God or the gospel of the kingdom? Yes. It’s both. That the gospel is multifaceted good news is evident.
It is the gospel of Christ who has come, as well as the gospel of the Christ who will come again in glory. It is the gospel of peace, the gospel of our salvation, and, as such, good news of great joy. Yup, all that is pretty familiar.
But this morning I’m chewing on the reminder that it is also the gospel of this Life.
But the high priest rose up, and all who were with him (that is, the party of the Sadducees), and filled with jealousy they arrested the apostles and put them in the public prison. But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said, “Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life.” And when they heard this, they entered the temple at daybreak and began to teach.
(Acts 5:17-21a ESV)
The apostles are on a tear. Preaching up a storm, doing signs and wonders at will, so that even if their shadow fell on the sick, they were all healed (Acts 5:12-16). The result? “More than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women” (5:14). And it choked the ruling religious party. So, they threw them in jail.
But, as Paul would declare at the end of his ministry, “the word of God is not bound” (2Tim. 2:9). An angel conducts a jailbreak and tells the boys to get back out there and keep sharing the good news. But notice how the Holy Spirit records that injunction. Here, while we understand the apostles are to continue preaching the gospel, it’s identified as all the words of this Life.
So, what life is this Life we’re talking about? The life of Jesus? New life in Christ? Everlasting life? Yup, that’s what I’m thinking.
Jesus is the Author of Life (Acts 3:15). He came to seek and save the lost so that they might “have life and have it abundantly” (Jn. 10:10). Those who believe and obey have been buried with Him in baptism so that they “too might walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4). What’s more, He has given us freely His Spirit so that “the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life” (Gal. 6:8). And so, we’re exhorted to “fight the good fight of faith” and take hold of “that which is truly life” (1Tim. 6:12, 19).
How much does the good news of this Life emphasize that the gospel isn’t just a “Get Out of Hell Free” card we get to stuff in our back pockets and then present at the pearly gates? How much does it remind us that we’re not talking a dictated religion for Sunday but a divinely oriented and empowered regime for everyday of the week? This Life should be the life we live as believers.
The gospel, among so many other things, is the good news of this Life. Isn’t it? I’m thinkin’ . . .
This Life of God’s giving. This Life so worth living.
By His grace. For His glory.