“The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ (the Messiah), the Son of God, as it is written in Isaiah the prophet: ‘I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way—a voice of one calling in the wilderness, “Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.”’ And so John (the Baptist) came baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. And this was his message: ‘After me will come one more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water (or in water), but He will baptize you with (or in) the Holy Spirit.’” – Mark 1:1-8
What exactly is the gospel of Jesus Christ? Paul explains it best in 1 Corinthians 15:3-5, “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve.” This is the essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus died for our sins that we might have eternal life. Notice the importance of the Scriptures. Mark writes in verse 2, “as it is written in Isaiah the prophet.” God announced more than a thousand years before Christ was born that He was going to send a Savior, a Perfect Lamb, who would die for the sins of the world. Isaiah prophesied that God would send a man to announce and prepare the way for the coming of this Savior. Jesus said in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believed in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” This is the Gospel of Jesus Christ—a Savior has come into the world and died in our place so that we might receive eternal life as a gift from God through faith.
Now understand that the gospel requires a response for its activation. Notice that John the Baptist went about preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The gospel calls upon us to acknowledge (confess) that we have not only sinned, but also, we must turn away from our sins and turn to God. This is what it means to repent. In military terms repentance means, “Company halt! About face! Forward march!” Have you done this? Have you truly repented. In Acts 3:19-20, Peter preached, “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that He may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus.” Without repentance there can be no forgiveness. However, once a person has truly repented, then God wipes away all of that person’s sins, past, present and future. This explains why the word gospel literally means Good News. And what good news it is. Imagine all of our sins totally wiped away. How good is that?
Finally, when a person believes the Gospel, repents and receives forgiveness of all sins, the Holy Spirit takes up residence in that person. This is what Mark means in verse 8 when he writes, “He will baptize you with (or in) the Holy Spirit.” Paul explains this whole process in Ephesians 1:13-14. “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of the truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.” When you are indwelt by the Holy Spirit you become God’s possession—His son or daughter. You belong to Him. You have been born again. And you have received the gift of eternal life—a gift and position, in Christ, which you can never lose. Now do you understand why this is such Good News?