What Does It Mean to Be the Church in Culture: Gospel

We have journeyed over the last month looking at the church in culture and making the gospel relevant to a post-modern, post-Christian generation.  I have waited until the very end to lay out my thoughts and perspective on this topic.  I would love to get your thoughts, perspectives, and feedback also.  I will spend the next three days diving into what I believe are three essential elements of the church being a light and making an eternal impact on the culture.

The first element of the church’s cultural impact is the most essential element – the gospel.  Jesus did not just come to be a good teacher or moral philosopher with a system of suggestions on making your life better.  He came with the gospel which is not some theological presuppositions but is Himself and the mission that the Father had given Him.  I think that the tendency has been for churches and movements which are seeking to redefine Christianity to lose the gospel in the midst of making the church more culturally and seeker friendly.  Paul reminds to the church at Corinth in his letter that they are to “hold on to the word I preached to you” (1 Corinthians 15Open Link in New Window: 2 ESV).  Paul then goes on to preach the gospel which is the very message that he is encouraging the Corinthian believers to not lose sight of.  I think that we have a tendency to lose sight of the very gospel which Paul was encouraging the church not to miss.  It is so easy for us to lose the heart of the gospel in the midst of postmodernizing the message to make it relevant to the culture.

In light of this, I want to lay out the gospel straight from the Word of God which is the basis of our theology which we will see in the next few days will fuel us on our mission and lead us to embrace each other in biblical community.  The following is an outline of the biblical elements of the gospel as defined in scripture (the outline was compiled by Dr. David Platt at the Church at Brook Hills and the comments are mine):

  • The Character of God
    • He is Our Creator/Owner (Genesis 1Open Link in New Window: 26-28, Acts 17Open Link in New Window: 24-28)- God is the creator and owner of everything.  We are handcrafted in His image and specifically designed to live in an intimate relationship with Him.
    • He is Our Judge (Psalms 96Open Link in New Window: 10-13, Hebrews 9:27Open Link in New Window)- God stands in His rightful place as Judge over His creation.  God has set standards for His creation and will rightly judge His creation.
    • He is Our Savior (Zephaniah 3Open Link in New Window: 17, Jude 1Open Link in New Window: 25)- God is the Mighty Savior of His people.  He is the only One who is worthy to save.
  • The Depravity of Man
    • We Have Rebelled Against a Holy God (Psalms 51Open Link in New Window: 4-5)-All sin is an offense to God.  He is holy and cannot tolerate sin. All sin committed is committed not just against the individuals involved but against God.  We have also all be born into sin and have a sin nature that seeks after sin rather than God and holiness.
    • We Are Dead in Sin (Ephesians 2Open Link in New Window: 1-10)- We are not coping with our sin and managing it well.  We are dead and lifeless because of our sin. We are captive to the passions, desires, and appetites of our sinful nature.  The only hope that we have for freedom is through the grace of Jesus Christ and Him taking our place and punishment for sin on the cross.  We can have victory over our sin natures only through the power of His Holy Spirit at work within us.
    • We Are Unable to Save Ourselves (Romans 3Open Link in New Window: 9-20)-No person is righteous or a “good person.”  No one seeks after God.  All people are in constant pursuit of their own pleasures and selfish desires.  We cannot keep God’s law and be holy on our own.  We are desperate sinners in need of a Savior.
  • The Sufficiency of Christ
    • The Gospel Includes Both the Person and Work of Christ:
    • The Person of Christ (Philippians 2Open Link in New Window: 5-11)- Jesus was willing to become a man and to humble Himself to save us from our sins.
      • He is God. – Jesus is God who came down from heaven to save us from our sins.
      • He is man.– Jesus lived a life on earth fully man.  He set aside His place as God and humbled Himself to become one of us and bear our sins.  He came to a world full of hurt and pain to bear indescribable hurt and pain for our sin on the cross.
      • He is Savior. – Jesus died for our sins in order to save us.
      • He is Lord. – Jesus reigns as Lord and Judge.
    • The Work of Christ (1 Corinthians 15Open Link in New Window: 1-5)- Jesus Christ came to earth and died for our sins, was buried in a grave because He was really dead, rose from the dead, and appeared to eyewitnesses.
      • His Life (Romans 5Open Link in New Window: 18-19)- Just like the sin of one man Adam led to sin and death for all, the obedience of Jesus through living a sinless life and dying on the cross for sin leads to righteousness for many.
      • His Death.
        • Justification (Romans 3Open Link in New Window: 24)- We have been made just and our resume has been wiped clean by the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. We now appear sinless before a holy God due to Christ taking our place.
        • Redemption (Romans 3Open Link in New Window: 24)- Jesus Christ has set us free from our sin and the penalty of death that we all justly deserved by His death on the cross.
        • Propitiation (Romans 3Open Link in New Window: 25)- Jesus has satisfied the penalty of death that was the due punishment of our sin by His death on the cross.
      • His Resurrection (Romans 6Open Link in New Window: 1-14)- Jesus’ resurrection proved that He was God like He had said, but it also gives Christians victory from sin through the power of the Holy Spirit.
  • The Necessity of Faith.
    • We Are Saved by Grace ALONE through Faith ALONE in Christ ALONE (Ephesians 2Open Link in New Window: 8)- We are saved through utter dependence on Jesus through faith in Him and Him taking our place.  We are saved not because we are good people and deserve it, but rather because Jesus is gracious and has shown His grace to us. 

This is a brief summary of the gospel.  There are many theological issues and discussions that can flow out of this outline.  These are issues that divide the church of Jesus Christ as men and women attempt to be able to explain a God who’s ways are higher than ours.  This outline, I think, does a good job of portraying the essentials of the gospel.  This is what we must never compromise preaching and speaking until Jesus returns.  May God keep us from losing site of this message!