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   Text : Mark 1:14-39

Proposition:  Jesus preached a gospel, the heart of it was made up of four parts that essentially speak to time, purpose, choice and belief.

Introduction:  “I’ve got some really bad news for you,” a lawyer once told his client, “forensic scientists found your blood all over the crime scene. But the good news is that they discovered your cholesterol is down to 130.”  I think that good news is not only in high demand but also holds a great hope. The term good always points to some aspect of future gain. It’s kind of like the scene where the doctor comes walking briskly towards you saying,  “I have some really good news for you, there is a corrective surgery that we can do but it needs to be taken care of immediately and there is a 100% rate of success for this procedure.” If that were you that is being addressed there are likely four things that flash across your mind: 1.Time- this needs to happen right away, 2. Purpose- without this I’m in trouble, 3. Choice- it’s my choice, the doctor won’t move until I agree, 4. Belief – I have to believe that surgery is what I need and that I’ll live because of it, unless I believe I won’t even take the first step, I have to have my eye on the good news of the future. In the purest sense this is what the word ‘Gospel’ means, it means good news, it points you to future gain and it has the elements of time, purpose, choice and belief woven into it. Let’s have a look at this in Mark 1:14-39.

I. The Gospel Makes You Aware of the Time.                                                          The gospel that Jesus was preaching in these first pages of Mark referred to the fact that much of what the Law, the Prophets and the Writings pointed to and promised  was now being achieved. When David wrote about sacrifice and offering not being what God ultimately desired in Psalm 40, he wrote about Jesus. When Isaiah spoke about a suffering servant, about how the Lord has laid the iniquity of us all on Him, it was Jesus he referred to. Abraham, Job, Daniel, Ruth, Esther, Jeremiah… they all pointed to Jesus. So now the gospel begins by saying that all that has taken place in the past God has used to come to this particular point in order to bring a good change to the future, particularly the future of Israel as a nation and incidentally to the future of all mankind. In the simplest of terms what this means is that God keeps track of time, God knows the hours and minutes, the days and months and years that make up what we call time. When the gospel begins with the emphasis of time, it is speaking about the fact that now is the operative moment, not yesterday, nor the fact that you think you might have lots of tomorrows... Now!  Hebrews 4 quotes Psalm 95 saying that “Today if you hear His voice do not harden your hearts…”, a warning not to miss the significance of the moment called ‘Now’. God has in each of our lives brought opportunity and evidence to our attention. He has influenced you many, many times to prepare you for this moment. God wastes nothing… not the pain, not even the mistakes you’ve made. He uses it all for the next step in your life with Him. This is exactly what happens as Jesus calls Peter and Andrew and James and John ,to come follow Him. Perhaps it was a year earlier when Andrew and Peter first met Jesus as John the Baptist was preaching in the Jordan River. They had heard Jesus speak of how He was the One whom the prophets spoke of. They were aware of Jesus name, fame and claim. How much more did they need to know before being able to say, Yes’ To Jesus?  God prepares us, informs us and then in His perfect moment, He calls us to follow. In less than an hour Jesus called four disciples, men who spent the rest of their lives in His service. The gospel calls us to know the time, not just the times of the world we live in but particularly the time of this moment that God is using to call you to Himself. This moment is where God invites you to stop, look and listen to the good news He is setting right before you. Don’t miss the moment for you may not be able to see it again as your heart gets more cluttered and deception has its way!

II. The Gospel Invites You To See the Purpose Behind Rescue.                             The term nitrogen narcosis refers to the point when a person’s blood has become saturated with nitrogen while scuba diving. The effect is like being drunk and the disorientation that occurs often lures a diver to swim downwards rather than to the surface. At this point rescue is extremely difficult because the intoxication blocks any sense of need for rescue and they will actually fight against being saved so the rescuer will need to overcome the resistance in order to save them. Sin and Satan work much like this in each of us, causing a captivity that is deadly. In the account before us Jesus begins a rescue mission by coming in authority directly against these enslaving forces. In one case the enslavement was the power of empty religion that seeks to hold captive a people for political and personal gain. In the other case it was the demonic possession of a human being, multiple demons having taken over control of the mind and body. When Jesus preached that the kingdom of God was at hand He was saying that now was the time when lasting and true freedom was coming, for these are the boundary points of the kingdom of God. Outside these points there is conflict and captivity but inside is the freedom of the kingdom of God. It is now at hand because Jesus Christ is on the face of the earth as our Redeemer and Rescuer. He has come to overcome the narcosis of sin and Satan. This is good news, this is the gospel that Christ preached and He said that Now is when it can be entered into.

III. The Gospel Holds Out Grace and Then Choice as the Starting Point.          I think that sometimes Jesus shows us clearly the difference between truth and deception, between right and wrong and then He invites us to follow Him across the line from false to true. He speaks with authority and the people begin to turn, he casts out demons and the man convulses and is set free, He heals Peter’s mother in law and strengthens her and she begins to serve, He speaks truth and people begin to come to Him for healing. He creates an action that causes a reaction in us. That reaction in us comes from the place of our will, it is choice that makes us not only able to move but also responsible for how we move. Grace allows you to see, choice is where you put your foot because of what you have seen. The gospel of Jesus Christ invites us to see that the moment of action is now, the purpose is that I would be set free into the kingdom of God but the choice is not only completely within my will and ability it is something I am forever responsible for. If I choose against the evidence of grace and do not repent from making my own version reality then that will be my undoing and like a narcosis it will kill me in more ways than I could imagine. If I will respond to grace then this becomes a starting point, it is an opening of the eye to see that there is so much more to God than I had ever known and there is so much more to the impairment of sin than I had ever known and now God has sent Jesus to me that for the first time in my life I can be free in Christ. The starting point of grace that invites choice, this is the gospel.

IV. The Gospel Calls the Soul to Life Through Belief.                                            The most amazing news that the gospel carries is that there is a part of us that we are completely unaware of. We know our bodies and we know our thoughts and we tend to think that that is all there is to us, body and mind. What the good news of the gospel proclaims is that there is yet a third dimension to humanity, it is the part in which the body and mind reside, the body and mind are in the soul. Ultimately it is the soul that best describes who we are, it is in this place that our identity ultimately resides. Lose your body or lose your mind and it’s clear that is not where your identity resides, it’s deeper, in the soul. The soul is the place where we are spiritually existent, hence you can say that every person has a soul and thus every person exists spiritually and eternally. The soul cannot be extinguished, it exists beyond the issues of air and earth, it exists for the purpose of knowing and being in unity with the ultimate Spirit of God. Here’s the catch, because of sin, the soul in mankind is dead, unable to sense it’s own existence. Just ask people on the street about their souls and what you find is that they think the soul is the mind, perhaps even the body. They are unaware of its existence. The gospel is the good news that your soul can come out of being dead to being alive by faith in Jesus. Romans 10:9, says, “…if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Jesus from the dead, you will be saved.” To be saved means that your soul is now alive to God, sensitive to His will and forgiveness has been given not only to your body and mind but also to your soul and eternity in God’s kingdom rather than apart from it in hell is where you, body, mind and soul, will be. The good news of the gospel, that pictures a wonderful future, says that the awakening of your soul to belief in Jesus, an action that follows repentance, is your good news.   The gospel is: Time, Purpose, Choice and Belief ,the good news that they all point to is our eternal future with God in the unimaginable riches of His kingdom because of the grace and gift of Jesus.         

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