* The beginning of Jesus’ ministry
“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15).
– The kingdom has come. We need not create it in the present, and it is not merely in the future.
– It is good news – “the gospel of the kingdom” (Matthew 4:17).
– The gospel calls for a response – repentance and faith. This is no empty ‘faith’, which makes no difference to our way of living. There is to be a real change of mind and heart. Christ is King as well as Saviour.
* The development of Jesus’ ministry
“I came not to to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17). If there is to be a true response of faith, involving real repentance, there must be a real conviction of sin. There needs to be both conviction and conversion. Without conviction of sin, there is no real conversion to Christ.
* Two incidents from Jesus’ ministry
(a) “the rich young ruler” (Mark 10:17-31) – This man did not humble himself to receive salvation. He refused to commit himself to a life of discipleship.
(b) the man who was so near and yet so far from the kingdom (Mark 12:28-34)
(a) The rich young ruler
(i) Man cannot be praised because of his righteousness. He can only be convicted of his sin.
(ii) Man’s goodness is not enough. “There was no other good enough to pay the price of sin. He (Jesus) only could unlock the gate of heaven and let us in.”
(iii) Salvation cannot be bought. It can only be received as a gift.
How are you and I to enter the kingdom? Entering the kingdom – this must be, for us, the most important thing. Every obstacle be set to one side and our eyes must be fixed on Jesus – “the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6). Jesus is the way into the kingdom. As we look to him, we see that the cross stands between sinful man and the holy God.
* The cross stands at the heart of the way of salvation.
* The cross stands at the heart of the way of discipleship.
From the cross, Jesus speaks to us concerning salvation and discipleship.
– It is through his death on the cross that we are saved. Jesus says to us, ‘It is through my death on the cross that you are saved.’ Jesus says to us, ‘You see me dying on the cross for you. If you are to be my disciple, you must take up your cross daily and follow me.’
(b) the man who was so near and yet so far from the kingdom
To understand salvation as the beginning of a life of discipleship, we must understand what salvation and discipleship are not. This will help us to understand what it means to be saved and to set out on the life of discipleship.
* “You are not far from the kingdom” (Mark 12:34). He was on the way, but he was still outside of the kingdom. He had not repented.He did not believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. He was so near and yet so far. There’s no point in saying, ‘ I was nearer than him, when both of you are outside of the kingdom.
If you’re standing at a bus stop and the man in front of you and you don’t (because the bus is full), the fact that you were next in line means nothing. The bus has gone, and you have been left behind.
Do you know that you are in the kingdom of God? God wants you to be sure. Believe in Christ, and, in him, be sure of your salvation (1 John 5:13).
This man asked “Which commandment is first of all” (Matthew 12:28), but he did not ask, “What must I do to be saved?” We are not saved by the law. We are saved by Christ.