Practical Theology Series: the Gospel in the church (Part 4)
The Apostle Paul warned the Colossians not to shift their hope away from the Gospel (1:23). He did this because he knew that Christians and Christian churches should never leave the Gospel in favor of something else. As many have said, the Gospel is not the ABC’s of Christianity but the A to Z. At Hickory Grove, we believe the Gospel is fundamental to everything we do as a church. Here’s why:
The Gospel fuels our Worship
Purchased by His blood and redeemed by His grace, we lift up our voices to the one who was lifted up on the cross. We rise to worship on Sunday because Jesus rose from the grave on a Sunday. We pray corporately as a reminder that Jesus shed His blood to make us one. The Lord’s Supper is a powerful reminder of our commitment to Jesus and to each other. So too is baptism. We go under the water because Jesus went under God’s judgment for us. We rise from the water because Jesus rose from the dead so we could walk in newness of life. We worship the Father in spirit and truth because we’ve been sealed with the Spirit and now walk in the truth. Therefore, our praise on earth is a foreshadow of the praise to be offered in heaven. ¹
The Gospel Informs our Discipleship
The Gospel makes us humble, reminding us that we are sinners in need of the grace of discipleship and training. Discipleship helps us to grow up in every way in Christ. Our marriages should reflect the Gospel (Eph 5:22-33), our parenting should communicate the Gospel (2 Tim 3:15, Eph 6:4), our work ethic should illustrate the Gospel (Col 4:23-24), and our lives should be marked by the Gospel (Gal 2:20). All of this requires our discipleship to be infused with the Gospel.
The Gospel ClarifiES our Mission
Jesus came to seek and to save the lost. The Gospel reminds us that sin is the enemy, the cross is the remedy, and the world is our mission field. Therefore, the Gospel is both our motivation and our message. It is a message for all people and therefore we go to all people, prioritizing those with little to no access to the Gospel (1 Cor 15:20). Scripture teaches that God sent Jesus to live among the people He wanted to save. In a similar way, we are sent local and abroad to live among the people we want God to save. For Jesus, this involved leaving the comforts of heaven to live in less than ideal situations. So too, our mission may involve leaving the comforts of the familiar to live in the confines of the inconvenient. The incarnation of Jesus calls us to go by faith and once we go, it reminds us to stay by faith too.
At Hickory Grove, the Gospel fuels our worship, informs our discipleship, and clarifies our mission.
¹ Mark Dever, The Church: The Gospel Made Visible (Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2012), 71.