“Repent and believe in the Gospel”
We usually hear that the Gospel is “Jesus died on the cross for our sins” but here we see Jesus command belief in the gospel at least 3 years prior to His death, burial, and resurrection. Is He demanding a future looking faith? Is He calling people to believe that He will die on the cross? Or is He properly defining the term Gospel for us? It would seem to be more of the latter. The Gospel here is an announcement, that the “good news” has arrived. This gospel, or good news, is none other than Christ Himself. Jesus is commanding repentance and belief in Him. Repentance is more than simply turning from sin. There must be a hatred of it, a rejection of past ways. But repentance must be connected with faith, for to turn from sin without setting one’s gaze on Christ is pointless. Repentance and faith can only be commanded in conjunction with the Gospel. The Gospel must be announced, it must be preached (Romans 10:14). Jesus is commanding repentance and belief in His Gospel, i.e. the very person that He is as the Son of God.
Some have tried to separate the necessity of faith from repentance resulting in easy believism. Others have so over emphasized repentance that it would appear faith takes a backseat. On some level, a logical order might seem to apply to these demands, i.e. faith first and then repentance. But no such distinction is necessary because they are two sides of the same coin and to separate one from the other violates both. Instead, a far more sane approach to understanding how repentance and faith are ordered is to view it as believing repentance and repentant faith. Spurgeon comments:
“The repentance which is here commanded is the result of faith; it is born at the same time with faith—they are twins, and to say which is the elder-born passes my knowledge. It is a great mystery; faith is before repentance in some of its acts, and repentance before faith in another view of it; the fact being that they come into the soul together.”
(Read the whole article on: Voice of Truth...) See also: Gospel Tracts - Evangeliums-Flyer