Core Values Study: Gospel Centrality

In his article The Centrality of the Gospel Tim Keller explains from Galatians 2:14, “…the Christian life is a process of renewing every dimension of our life– spiritual, psychological, corporate, social–by thinking, hoping, and living out the “lines” or ramifications of the gospel. The gospel is to be applied to every area of thinking, feeling, relating, working, and behaving. The implications and applications of [life in-line with the Gospel] are vast.”

This, I believe, is a major fault of many American Christians and churches. The gospel has been misunderstood and misplaced. I am afraid (and hope I am wrong) that the concept of the gospel as being central in many churches is a more of a mirage. Here’s some reasons why I believe this…

1. Ask church goers to explain the gospel and many will stumble for words, or generalize the gospel into incomplete terms. This is why I believe it became popular to teach Christians a memorized “presentation” of the gospel. Their understanding of the gospel is absent.

2. The word “Gospel” has been trivialized or generalized. In much the same way the term “Christian” has come to be used to describe social identification, “gospel” has come to be minimized as a subculture identifier as in, for example, the field of music. Many may think they go to a gospel-centered church because they sing gospel music, for example.

3. Many are convinced that being evangelistic or seeker-sensitive means they are gospel-centered. Some preachers think that because they invite people at the end of a message to come forward and accept Jesus that they are preaching the Gospel. As a result, this has contributed to the problem.

These are not difficult traps to fall into. I have no intention to demonizing Christians and churches who fit these labels. I too have and am liable to slide into this category, but by the grace of God. Nevertheless, the consequences of these falsehoods are devastating.

So, what is the gospel? John Piper gives his explanation in this 6-minute clip.

The word “gospel” comes from a Greek word that means good news. It is the message of good news that God has sent Jesus Christ, His Son, as the only sufficient and sinless One to be punished for our sins so that by grace through faith (and only faith) in Him, we are forgiven, saved from eternal punishment, and given an eternal inheritance fit only for a child of God.”

To fully understand the Gospel, you must have an understanding of God, Humanity, Sin, and Jesus Christ:

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What is God’s Purpose in the World He Created?

The question “What is God’s purpose in the world he created?” is intimidating. God is an infinite being and our knowledge of Him is not exhaustive. However, the Bible emphasizes the declaration of God’s glory above all else as His purpose in the world.

The purpose of God in the world is to bring glory to Himself, and rightfully so. He created the heavens and the earth (Gen. 1) and they tell of His glory (Ps. 19:1). He created humanity in His image (Gen. 1:26), so that in our original created state, humans could bring Him glory.

However, humanity has not remained in our original created state. The First and Second Commandments state that God requires each of us to please Him first, “for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God” (Ex. 20:5).

By examining ourselves in view of the Third through Tenth Commandments (each explaining the various ways we have sinned against God), we then can see ourselves in our present sinful state the way God see us.

Therefore, because we are in our present sinful state, God seeks to save us by grace through faith in His Son Jesus (Luke 19:10; Eph. 2:8), so that He can re-create us into the image of His Son (Rom. 8:29). He does this by working in His redeemed “both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13).

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Core Values Study: Cultural Engagement

This is the sixth of seven core values we have studied as a group in the planning of Providence Church. So far we’ve looked at Sent Living, Family Focused, Bible Sufficiency, Kingdom Priority, and Authentic Community. Now lets look at the value of Cultural Engagement.

The New Testament reveals the counter-cultural essence of the Church as a gathering of believers living together in Gospel-centered community, while outwardly living a gospel-saturated life. The Church’s togetherness is coupled with the fact that we are also people called out to influence and impact the world with the gospel.

The word in the Greek New Testament translated “church” or “gathering” is ekklesia, which is a combination of the words “out” and “called.” Believers in the Church are changed by the Gospel and called by Christ to be a people “together” different from the world, and yet, always going out into the world with the Gospel.

What is sad in our day is that we have some Christians that are so “churched,” they’ve left this world long ago. Yet other Christians live severed from the body of Christ, and therefore, they not only live entirely in the world, but also, “of” the world. Her is the tension. New Testament Christians must pursue the balance between living together in the counter-cultural gospel community called the church, while living the called-out life of gospel living within culture.

Christians (and churches) are not called to retreat to their perspective bubbles in the world. The believer’s goal in life is not to seek a culture that makes life easier to live their convictions. The church’s objective is not simply to seek a sub-culture that promises to be better in order that they might try to convince people to retreat with them.

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Providence Church: East Lee Planting Update 1

Hudson Taylor (1832-1905), a longtime missionary to China, once said, “There are no shortcuts to planting the church. And suffering, self-sacrifice, and a servant spirit will be prerequisite to faithfulness and success in any setting.” The very term “planting” used by the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 3:6 (referring to gospel ministry resulting in the start of new churches) implies the need for time and seasons.

Steady, faithful, persevering and prayerful planting describes the work of ministry we have been involved in these past 6 months. The Apostle Paul and Hudson’s words were just some words that have brought encouragement to us.

If I have learned anything planting Everglades Baptist, it’s that church planting is more often like cooking with an oven than a microwave. Some church planters see results fast, most do not. Please pray often for this work. Kingdom work is definitely dependent on the King. But King Jesus Himself prayed for (John 17) and requested prayer for the work of the Kingdom (Luke 10:2). We are needing people who will partner with us to pray daily for this work. I share the following as a request for prayer and an update for those who have already been praying:

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