Chief among my passions for the SBC at this time is that we reinforce our identity as a gospel people, putting the gospel above all. We do not find our unity in worship styles, or in views on eschatology, or in political positions. We find our unity in the gospel. Whatever preferences we have must be secondary to this unifying standard. This June, members from Southern Baptist churches around the country will come together for our annual meeting in Dallas, Texas.
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But it seems like a lot of us are increasingly tempted to turn elsewhere for renewal and life and to give our energies to other agendas. Who has cast a spell on you? After beginning by the Spirit, are you now finishing by the flesh? We get engaged in a lot of things—important things—that end up keeping us from the one essential thing —the gospel.
Think about this: The gospel is the one thing in the New Testament, other than Jesus himself, that is referred to as the power of God.
Not contains the power of God. Not channels the power of God, but is itself the raw, unstoppable, death-defeating power of God. Most scholars say that was an overstatement; after all, his letters to the Corinthians are filled with many important instructions for the Christian life.
We should be known as a gospel people. We only have bandwidth in our communities to be known for a couple of things. I want that thing to be the gospel. So I refuse to let my views on the former prevent people from hearing me on the latter. Jesus, in fact, said there is more joy in heaven over one sinner that repents than over the 99 that are already in the flock. Thus, that has to be primary in our agenda. We rely on what we know, because the unknown is scary.
Prioritizing the gospel takes faith. And faith is scary. Faith only begins with accepting how weak we are in ourselves. Furthermore, if we put the gospel first, the world will call us fools, because all of our hope will be in the promise of a Savior who is no longer bodily present on earth. What does the church really need? Education in gospel doctrine is not the answer, because ignorance is not the problem. The problem is that we have so many things that are distracting us from the gospel, and we have lost touch with its life-transforming power.
The more we elevate these secondary issues, the less gospel power infuses our movements. And sadly, our distraction from the gospel has led to a church culture that does not adorn, but rather obscures, the gospel. We are willing to sacrifice integrity for short-term political victories.
We are insensitive to the marginalized and vulnerable outside our churches, even in our communities. We have covered up sin when we should have exposed it. We have made the house of God comfortable to insiders but inaccessible to those seeking him. What the church needs now is what the church has always needed: a return to the gospel. What I am trying to do in this book is show us that the only way to save the future is by going back to the very beginning.
Chesterton once said, if we come upon a gate across a road and are not quite sure why it is there, removing it before we know who put it up and why may not be the wisest course of action. Observing tradition can be a shortcut to wisdom, a humble response to our forefathers who learned things through trial and error and want to pass on the blessing of their wisdom to us. The danger, though, is to take these traditions and to replace the gospel with them.
Scripture makes clear that we stand condemned if we cannot—or will not—separate our cultural practices from essential gospel truths, thereby creating hindrances to the gospel. And while we should love our grandparents, we also need to love our grandchildren enough to reach them with the gospel. I have my own preferences when it comes to how we do church. I have political opinions strong ones, in fact. But I love the gospel more, and nothing should ever compete with or displace it.
What does the gospel have to say to these things? This will enable the church to achieve a unity among ethnicities that our society longs for but is unable to obtain.
When the gospel is above all, we will eagerly sacrifice our preferences for the sake of the Great Commission. When dynamite was invented in the 18th century, its name was derived from the Greek word Paul uses in Romans for power—dunamis.
It is raw, explosive power. He wanted to go fishing. I know that raises a lot of questions. As a boy, my dad may not have known about risk, but he knew something about power. Fishing sure is a lot easier when you do it with dynamite, Dad said. Toss the dynamite in the pond, wait for the BOOM, and then watch as lifeless fish float to the surface.
It is itself the power to change. This is the power the church needs. Support the work of CT. Subscribe and get one year free. The views of the blogger do not necessarily reflect those of Christianity Today.
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Gospel Revolution: Recovering the Power of Christianity (Leader Kit)
Could the gospel be lost in evangelical churches? In this book, J. Greear shows how moralism and legalism have often eclipsed the gospel, even in conservative churches. Gospel cuts through the superficiality of religion and reacquaints you with the revolutionary truth of God's gracious acceptance of us in Christ. The gospel is the power of God, and the only true source of joy, freedom, radical generosity, and audacious faith. The gospel produces in us what religion never could: a heart that desires God.
Gospel Above All
On a journey to greater understanding of the gospel, Pastor J. Though disciplined and intentional in all aspects, only when J. They will find that when they do, passion, self-control, kindness, patience, and generosity are the natural results. Marriages will change. Participants will become more self-disciplined.
Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary
Could the gospel be lost in evangelical churches? In this book, J. Greear shows how moralism and legalism have often eclipsed the gospel, even in conservative churches. Gospel cuts through the superficiality of religion and reacquaints you with the revolutionary Gospel cuts through the superficiality of religion and reacquaints you with the revolutionary truth of God's gracious acceptance of us in Christ. The gospel is the power of God, and the only true source of joy, freedom, radical generosity, and audacious faith. The gospel produces in us what religion never could: a heart that desires God.