Gospel of the King
How does a person come to faith and have the assurance that the matter of their salvation is settled? And how would you answer someone who asked how they should respond to the message of the gospel? The simple answer is that we must put our hope and faith in Jesus Christ, this is the essential response, on our part, to the truth of the gospel. Paul, in his letter to the Romans, explains it like this: “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with you mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” (Romans 10: 9-10). But of course this whole matter of faith and declaration must be understood correctly. It is not a formula.
Belief, as the Bible has it, is not something we generate inside ourselves. Rather it is a natural and proper response to the gospel which is the cause of our belief. As Paul has it a few verses later “…faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.” (v17). The gospel generates faith in us. Sure we can reject the implications of the gospel in unbelief, but faith is a gift that we cannot generate. Unbelief is ignoring and resisting the truth as it works on us, but faith is essentially receiving and believing the truth we hear and letting it work on us.
The message about Christ has the capacity to generate faith because it is more the merely information. We are not ‘saved’ by believing certain facts about Jesus Christ. We are saved as we throw our lot in with Jesus and give him our allegiance and thus enter his kingdom. We trust him as the true leader, king, Lord of everything. To say no to him as king is to say no to his kingdom and remain in darkness and death.
In the culture and time that Paul wrote his letter, the concept of ‘proclaiming good news’ already existed long before the church. It was actually a political decree. When a new king was installed—either through succession or invasion— heralds would be sent out into the kingdom to announce the royal rule of the new king. Generally this would be announced with admonitions to ‘repent,’ i.e. – to change your thinking, and ‘confess,’ i.e. – swear allegiance to the new king’s rightful rulership.
The early church borrowed these words in direct contradiction to the decrees of all other kings, ideologies, philosophies, religions and principalities. The gospel of Christ is a universal announcement that Jesus is above all these other powers. It is the declaration that Jesus is God’s anointed and appointed king (and let us not forget that this is what the title ‘Christ’ actually means). The proof that underscores the veracity of this claim is the resurrection.
How should we respond to this announcement? We must confess Jesus as the true Christ, which is a public acknowledgement that our allegiance is with him. And we must believe in our hearts that Jesus has the authority to claim our allegiance because he has overcome death and has freed us from our great enemy. We cannot be free from death however, if we reject the only one who has power over death. To enjoy the benefits of God’s kingdom we obviously must acknowledge the king of that kingdom – Jesus Christ.