Gospel of the glory of the blessed God
Three Rivers Community Church is eleven years old. Our church has gone through various stages of growth. However, one thing we always do is hit the launch point where college students graduate or young couples move on to the next phase of life. This is a very gracious gift from the Lord because what is happening is that followers of Jesus are being infected with the DNA of the kingdom of God here and as they move on to the next phase of life its really more of a launching or planting of the DNA of this fellowship. We have had countless students and couples launched to the nations, transplanted in towns across the country and even just a few cities away. As they go and begin serving with kingdom of God with their lives and preaching the gospel they comment on how TRCC ruined them and they are seeking to take who we are and apply that where they are. What is it they carry with them?
Others who come to TRCC comment on the difference of being here as opposed to other places. What is it that is different? It’s the ethos created by the DNA of who we are, and it’s essential we not take it for granted.
We have a membership class on purpose. We want to make sure that those who come to be part of our family of faith in Jesus are of the same spiritual and missional DNA. Are they a follower of Jesus Christ? Are they in on the mission, strategy, and leadership structure of the church? Do they understand not only the reason we are here but also do they get the ethos and DNA present that drives the mission? These are vital questions.
We often speak of our mission and remind ourselves of that mission. In spite of membership classes and speaking often it is inevitable that the law of entropy, due to the fall, can affect us. We can’t take the kingdom DNA driving TRCC for granted. We must speak of it, live it and speak of it again.
After studying through the first three chapters of 1 Timothy, it makes sense, based on what we learned from 1 Timothy 3:14-16, to bridge between that text and 1 Timothy 4 with a reminder not only of the mission but the Kingdom of God DNA that produces that mission by dissecting the mission clearly and articulating the implications of that mission.
This is important for many reasons, but the most important reason is: We cannot lose sight of the mission by acclimating to the post-Christian southern culture that values consumerism, moralistic therapeutic deism, methods that are for keeping people rather than planting them, and a shortened vision of the scope of the gospel.
For the glory of God we will build the church both local and global by being and producing radical followers of Jesus Christ.
Four words/statements of this mission statement carry the Kingdom DNA we must not take for granted:
Glory (The gospel of the glory of the blessed God); Church; Glocal (global and local); Radical
We will take one word each week until we finish.
Glory (The gospel of the glory of the blessed God)
1 Timothy 1:9-11 (verse 11 particularly); 1 Cor. 1:17; Romans 1:16-17
“…in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.”
“For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, let the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.” – 1 Cor. 1:17
The gospel is not good deeds done to those in need. The gospel is a message. The gospel is good news. The gospel is news that must be articulated in order to be known. The gospel is good news that must be articulated to in order to be known among all nations.
The gospel is not just the historical reality of Jesus death, burial and resurrection. After all, who is Jesus? Why did Jesus have to die? Why and how was Jesus raised? What does all this mean?
The gospel is the complete story of redemptive history. The gospel answers key questions like: Who am I? Why am I here? Where did all things come from? Why do I do bad things? Why are some things bad and some good? Who decides if some things are bad and some things are good? How are bad things fixed? Am I bad? How am I fixed if I’m bad? Can I be fixed? Why do people die? What happens to people when they die? Will dead people live again? Will the earth as we know it end? How do we know things will end? Is the end the end?
These are ultimate questions and need ultimate and definitive answers. The world system that has been hijacked by the rebel answers these questions with many and varied lies. However, we believe the bible gives us the answers to these questions in the gospel, the good news.
You see the gospel is news. The gospel is news that is good. The implication of the word gospel itself means that there is some news to be known. Apparently there is some bad news, otherwise there would be no need for good news, gospel.
What is the gospel?
The gospel is best summed up in four words that help us to crystalize the gospel message but need to be expanded upon in order to have a full articulation of the message of the gospel. Those words are: creation, fall, redemption, and restoration.
Why is the gospel so important?
“For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’” – Rom. 1:16-17
The gospel is the power of God for salvation (salvation = rescued from or restored to; rescued/saved from God’s wrath at the rebellion v. 19 and restored to the kingdom of Jesus Col. 1:13-14)
Salvation means rescued from and/or restored to. Both of those meanings come into play with the gospel.
The gospel rescues us from God’s wrath
The bad news is that God is angry with the rebel and all of his rebellious hoards of angels and humans. The consequences of the rebellion are death and eternal and just punishment.
But the good news is that righteousness from God is available by faith. That is that the perfection of God is available to be credited to those who would receive Jesus by faith and the guilt of the person believing would be removed and the believer would then be justified and adopted into God’s family as a son or daughter.
The gospel restores us to Jesus’ kingdom
“He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Col. 1:13-14)
What is the kingdom of his beloved son? What is the kingdom of God?
“The kingdom is primarily the dynamic reign or kingly rule of God, and, derivatively, the sphere in which the rule is experienced. In biblical idiom, the kingdom is not identified with its subjects. They are the people of God’s rule who enter it, liver under it, and are governed by it. The church is the community of the kingdom but never the kingdom itself. Jesus’ disciples belong to the kingdom as the kingdom belongs to them; but they are not the kingdom. The kingdom is rule of God; the church is a society of men” (George Eldon Ladd quoted by Wayne Grudem, p. 1656 iBook’s format).
This reality governs everything. When the gospel births us into God’s kingdom our allegiances change, our values change, our ethos shifts. We are completely new creatures forming a new and dynamic community called the church.
The kingdom of God is opposite of the domain of darkness. The value shift is monumental.
Note a few:
Arrogance Poverty of spirit
Enjoyment of sin Mourning over sin
Desire of sin Desire for righteousness
Money Love God (you cannot love God and money)
The gospel we preach serves as the keys of the kingdom of God (Matt. 16:13-20)
“Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ.”
“The keys of the kingdom of heaven represent at least the authority to preach the gospel of Christ and thus to open the door of the kingdom of heaven and allow people to enter” (Grudem, Systematic Theology, p. 1711).
The gospel reveals the kingdom is a present and fully coming reality
Pietists say the kingdom is in the heart and spiritual. Some in our tribe say the church is the kingdom. Liberal Christianity says it is in societal reform. Others say the kingdom is fully future.
The kingdom is spiritual and physical. The church is the community of the kingdom, but when Christ returns we will no longer be distinct from the rest of the world because we will be all that is in the kingdom of heaven, so the kingdom is the rule of Christ over his people in the full restoration of all things. The gospel will open doors for the kingdom to restore society, but where liberal Christians mess up is they neglect the gospel believing their works alone will change. Our work will only change when the gospel changes people to begin to value the values of the kingdom.
The kingdom’s secrets are told so that only those who want to be in the kingdom can understand them (Matt. 13:10-16). The kingdom has wheat and weeds in it, and Jesus will sort them out. The kingdom has sheep and goats in it, and Jesus will sort them out. The kingdom is like the mustard seed, smallest of seeds, but when it grows it is larger than all garden plants where men get shade and birds make nests. The kingdom is like a treasure hidden in a field. The kingdom is like the pearl of great value. The kingdom is like a net that catches fish of every kind and Jesus will have his hosts separate the good from the evil. Scribes trained for the kingdom bring out of the treasure the old and the new.
The gospel provides entry to the kingdom
Though the reign of Jesus is over all of his creation, not all mankind believes Jesus rules them. Jesus’ words are hidden from them. They rebel, but the gospel offers entry that mankind may enjoy the rule of Christ rather than one day be judged and punished under the rule of Christ.
The gospel transforms a person into a citizen of the kingdom (Matt. 5-7; Matt. 13)
The gospel is powerful. Ministries don’t change people. Societal reform will not change people. Only the good news articulated so that one can understand will snatch a person from their stupor into the sobriety of their situation and change their value system. We can’t just teach a person to stop rebelling against Jesus. Only the eye opening gospel will do that.
The gospel brings us to be in the community of the kingdom, the church
The gospel is what then binds people of the same value and ethos together. The gospel births people into the kingdom and people of the kingdom gather in the church as a subversive society of people seeking to counter act the rebellion begun in the garden.
The church then is planted throughout territory held by the rebellion begun in the garden, and because Jesus Christ reigns in us today, we can subversively begin to retake the culture with the values of Jesus’ kingdom lived out among us and among those who are walking in the domain of darkness.
Without the gospel opening the doors to the Kingdom of God there is no church, no mission and no purpose.
If God does not rule, and therefore, there is no kingdom of God that must be entered by the gospel, then the church is irrelevant and just a fad that will eventually die out in the evolution of man as a species. The naturalists are right.
But if God rules and his kingdom can be entered and regained and fully restored over all, and the gospel is truly the way into the kingdom of God, then the church has immeasurable significance, is a precious bride belonging to Jesus, you and I are members of that church and one another, and that church has a mission that must be kept and focused on. If the church has that mission then her means must match her mission.
That is exactly what this mission and the key words that define the DNA of our church in this mission are all about. The gospel is truly the way into the kingdom of God. The church is vital and truly significant. The scope of the mission has to be glocal, and the way we do this is radical life (communion, community, collision) must not be compromised.
Regardless of how other fellowships define the mission of the church and the words they use, we believe we have captured the essence of that biblical mission in how we have stated that mission. There are others on that mission with us. We are not alone and we don’t have the corner on the market. Don’t hear this wrong. This is not arrogance in trumpeting “us”. This is “us” focusing on God’s call on “us” and making sure we stay on point.
The gospel of the kingdom gives us an eternal mission, and an eternal mission given by God gives meaning and great significance to every moment of every day. An eternal mission given by God gives great significance to our worship every day and especially when we gather together.
We sing because God sings (Zeph. 3:17). Father is singing over us if we are his people and doing his work. It is only right and fitting that we join with the hosts of heaven singing praise to him for his grace to us in revealing the gospel and transforming us and for letting us be a small part of his mission for global glory. Let’s worship Father, Son and Spirit.