We believe that the Gospel separates Christianity from any and every other religion.
On one hand, the Gospel teaches us that we are so bad Jesus had to die for us. It absolutely humbles us because it teaches that our sin is offensive to a holy and just God – and our sin is worse than we know or would ever dare admit. On the other hand, the Gospel lifts us up and causes us to rejoice because it says that we are so loved by God that Jesus delighted to die for us. It was God’s plan to rescue us by sacrificing his own Son, and in doing so God brings us great joy and himself great glory.
As Christians, we want to remember, rejoice in, and live out of what God has done for us in Jesus.
This means both a growing awareness of our sinfulness (leading to deeper humility) and a growing awareness of how good and gracious God is toward us (leading to greater confidence).
We don’t ever move past the Gospel.
Where we begin is where we stay. True Christianity always springs from growing Gospel-centeredness in our lives. We are to grow in grace each day, to more fully work the reality of what God has done for us – the Gospel – into the everyday parts of our lives. Christianity is fundamentally about learning how to live as a new person in Christ, where your heart is set on Jesus Christ and your life is the overflow of your joy in God. As one author has said, it’s about “doing everyday things with Gospel intentionality.”
The Church is designed to be a Family
Many people think of church as a service you attend, a building with a steeple, or an organization within the community. Church is something you do some of the time. You “go” to church. But the biblical understanding of the church is very different. You don’t “go” to church, you “are” the church if you are a child of God by faith in Jesus. Church isn’t a service, a building, or an organization. It is a family. It is a community that shares life throughout the week in relationship with God as Father and one another as brothers and sisters. Consider the frequent use of familial language in the New Testament to describe the church:
- The Church is a family with God as Father (1 Thessalonians 1:1-3, 3:11-13, 2 Thessalonians 1:1-2, 2:16)
- The Church is the “household of God” (1 Timothy 3:15, 1 Peter 4:17, Hebrews 3:3-6)
- Christians are God’s children (Romans 8:16-17, Galatians 4:4-6)
- Christians are brothers and sisters with Jesus (Mark 3:31-35, 10:28-31, Luke 9:60)
- Christians are brothers and sisters with one another (Matthew 23:8-9)
Would you know how to be the church without a building, Sunday event, or paid staff? The emphasis we place on community is based on our new identity as Family in the gospel. To live out and teach others to follow Jesus' command to love one another (and the myriad other "one anothers"), we need lots of life together. As children of God we love one another as brothers and sisters. Jesus said this is the way the world will know that we are his disciples – by our love for one another. The primary means by which we show the world what God is like and give tangible proof of the Gospel’s power to save is through our love for one another.
All Jesus' disciples are missionaries!
Before Jesus left his disciples, he gave them a mission and purpose: to go make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything Jesus had showed them about life in the kingdom of God (Matthew 28.16-20). For the disciples, to hear “make disciples” would have immediately made them think of what Jesus had been doing with them for the last 3 years! “Make disciples” would have been heard as “replicate our life together:” reach others by proclaiming the gospel, and then teach others to be Jesus’ disciples, just as they did with Him. Jesus told his disciples at the start: follow me, and I will make you fishers of men, and now he is sending them together to catch men, wrap them into gospel-centered community, and learn to walk in Jesus’ ways together.
The picture Jesus paints is simple but profound: every single disciple of Jesus is called to follow Jesus and is sent by Him into full-time ministry as disciple maker! As a Christian, life has a whole new purpose, under which everything falls - you are a disciple sent on a mission to make disciples! God’s people are missionaries - and not just the ones who go to foreign countries. All God’s people are sent. If we think of a missionary as someone who is on a mission from God, then all Christians are missionaries in the places they reside. Key to living out our God-given purpose in life is embracing our identity as Missionaries.