Our mission statements reads that “we exist to reach every street with the good news of Jesus Christ.” We’ve put in a place a collective strategy to gather, grow, and go so that we will experience this reality. However, as we worked at gathering effectively, I’ve assumed growth. Specifically, I’ve assumed that gathering would naturally lead to growing then going and repeat.In doing this, I’ve assumed the gospel. I’ve assumed that we are personally and collectively saturated with the good news of Jesus Christ.
So, for 2018, we need more gospel in our lives. As a result of this realization, I want to begin with one, life-changing reason why we need more gospel this year:
The Gospel Gives Us God Directly (3a)
How do we get God directly?
As Paul relays the message he received, we find that it begins with the “Christ.” To us, we’ve just associated this title as the full name for Jesus —Jesus Christ. “Christ” is so common today that it’s even included with “Jesus” as curse word. However, even though “Christ” may be familiar to us, I’m not sure we understand the significance of this title. “Christ,” technically refers to the fulfiller of Israelite expectation of a deliverer, the Anointed One, the Messiah (BDAG).
We see this written by Luke in Luke 2:26—And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.
We see this affirmed by Peter in Matthew 16:16—Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
We see this preached by Peter in Acts 2:36—Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”
We see this forecasted by John in Revelation 11:15—Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.”
These texts not only demonstrate that Jesus is the Messiah but also reveal God’s intention to give us Himself directly. The very title provided for Jesus, “Christ,” reflects the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14 as confirmed in Matthew 1:2: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).
Let’s pause for a moment to consider the possibilities of have access to God directly
When I think of a picture of what would this look like, I think about how my son Nolan lives. He carries himself like he’s got power to dictate his circumstances. Matter of fact, he loves Star Wars so much, that he even thinks he possesses the power to use the force. Even though Nolan’s power to live independently is limited, he possesses (at least for him) a great resource: direct access to Megan and me. Listen to what this direct access provides him: food and drink whenever he wants it, medicine when he’s sick, a home to rest in, toys to enjoy, clothes for his body, his blanky, and most of all, parents who would do anything for him. Do you think it’s a coincidence that God is called our Father?! Through the Gospel, we have access to God directly.However, through the gospel, we also get access to God eternally
The Gospel Gives Us God Eternally (3b-8)
How do we get God eternally?
Notice that immediately following the title “Christ,” Paul describes what Christ has done. Paul identifies how the Christ…
- Died for our sins (3b)—died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures
- Rose from the grave (4)—that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures
- Appeared to witnesses (5-8)—5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.
Why is the gospel—the dying, rising, and appearing of Jesus—so critical to accessing God eternally?
You see, The gospel IS our pathway to eternal life
The Person of the Gospel
John 14:6—Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
Jesus is the center of the gospel. Access to God comes by Him. Hence, Jesus gives a prescription for this direct, eternal access…
The Prescription of the Gospel
John 5:24—Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.
We are believing in the words and ways of God. Meaning, the content of our belief is so important. We don’t experience eternal access to God through a mere acknowledgment of deity. We gain access to God eternally by believing in Jesus as the only way, our Lord, and our Savior. That Jesus is the only one who can forgive us of our sins as we turn to Him exclusively to save us.
Then, we will ultimately enjoy…
The Promise of the Gospel
Romans 10:9-13—if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
What are appropriate responses now to a benefit that we will enjoy fully in the future?
- Anticipation for the future: Ephesians 2:5-7–5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
- Dedication in the present: Acts 5:42—And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.
How does a future promise alter our present state?
We live in this tension all the time
- The Weekend—I can handle the nonsense of Monday because I know Friday’s comings
- Wedding Day Diet—I can say no to this sweet because I know I need to look good in that dress
- Financial Incentives @ Work—I can make all these cold calls because I know there’s a financial incentive if I do
- Timeshare Promos—I can sit through this drawn-out sales pitch because I know there’s a Disney ticket or a 3 day/2 night stay for free
There’s one common thread in all of these scenarios: the promise in the future affects the outlook in the present. Consider this with me: The gospel provides you with access to God directly and eternally. If you are Christian, you are promised now direct, enteral access to God forever. YOU GET GOD! This is a benefit exclusive to Christians yet available to all. How deeply, richly are you taking advantage of getting God directly and eternally?
For the start of 2018, I want to lead us collectively in a plan to take advantage of direct access to God. I want us to grow by having more gospel in our lives.
You see, God has a plan. Notice back in 1 Corinthians 15 how these actions of Jesus were all “in accordance with Scripture.” God set forth a plan before the world created (Ephesians 1:4) that lead to Jesus dying, rising, and appearing. For us to access God, He created a plan.
Thus, I also believe for us to access God, We need a plan as well. Also, if we don’t have a plant to grow than we certainly won’t have a desire to “go.” We can’t saturate the area with the gospel if we aren’t saturated ourselves.
So what is our plan to give your more gospel in 2018?
Our Plan For More Gospel in 2018
Our plan for more gospel to start 2018 involves three steps:
To celebrate how God is working (in our church, in our cities, and around the world)
What does this look like:
- Creating and sharing content inspired by our worship gatherings
- Establishing partnerships with like-minded churches and organizations, local and globally
- Praying for their health
- Working for the Kingdom
To develop resources and groups
What does this look like:
- Offering Bible Reading Plans
- Weekly and monthly opportunities
- Accessible online
- Planning New Growth Groups
- A scope designed to equip you (meaningful)
- A sequence designed to engage you (accessible)
- Empowered City Groups
- Using our regular gatherings for “us”
- Creating regular opportunities to “go”
- Park Initiatives
- Adopting Classes
- Specific Group Opportunities
To expect growth from God
What does this look like:
- Highlighting the power of the gospel in our teaching series (Romans 1:16)
- Gospel Identity and Gospel Activity (Ephesians Series)
- Gospel Fruit (Messages based on Galatians 5 “Fruit of the Spirit”)
- Gospel Culture (Messages based on our four core values)
- Accessing the power of the gospel through prayer
- Prayer Season
- Prayer Initiatives
Prayer of Paul—Ephesians 1:16-19
16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might
As we celebrate how God is working, develop new resources and groups, and expect growth from God, I believe we will grow. These collective initiatives will be rolled out over the next few weeks.
For now, here’s how you can join in:
- Sign up for one of our Bible reading plans
- Serve at our gatherings (for “all” of us to enjoy the gospel more, we need “more” people to serve)
- Join a City Group or an upcoming Growth Group
- Begin Praying