Thank you to all who joined us for our very first ROOTED: A Study of Church Basics study. Below is a summary of the questions posed and the main points of our discussion. We hope you will all be able to join us next month when we will be taking up the topic of Baptism!
Part 1: What the Gospel is, and is not
Relevant Readings: Luke 24:44-49, Romans 1-8, 1 Corinthians 15:1-28, 2 Timothy 3:1-4:5, Galatians 1:6-12, 1 John 4:1-6
1. What are the necessary tenets (principles) of the true Gospel?
- The Gospel is God’s plan to rescue humanity from the consequence of their sin (eternal punishment)
- …for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23)
- And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience (Ephesians 2:1-2)
- …for the wages of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom. 6:23)
- Jesus, who was fully God and man, lived a sinless life and willingly died in order to pay the penalty of humanity’s sins against God
- For in him all the fulness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (Colossians 1:19-20)
- For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the Spirit.” (1 Peter 3:18)
- For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:3-4)
- And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with Him, having forgiven all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. (Col. 2:13-14)
- Jesus conquered death and sin when he came back to life
- Gospel accounts (Matt. 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, John 20)
- But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15:20-22)
- God offers salvation through the work of Christ as a free gift
- For the wages of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom. 6:23)
- For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is a gift of God (Eph. 2:8)
- For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly (Rom. 5:6)
- An individual receives salvation through faith and repentance, and is then justified by God (forgiven of all sin and declared righteous) and given eternal life
- Because, 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. (Rom. 10:9)
- But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God (John 1:12-13)
- But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. (Rom. 3:21-22)
- The Gospel will produce fruit in whoever accepts it
- For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (Eph. 2:10)
- Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me. (John 14:23-24)
“God doesn’t need to know them by their fruit, he knows them by their heart”
2. What distortions of the Gospel are prominent in our society today?
- Prosperity Gospel – the belief that material blessing is guaranteed to those who come to Christ
- Affirmation Gospel – belief that kindness and acceptance are the ultimate goal of the Gospel (rather than repentance)
- Works-based Salvation – belief that favour with God and admission to Heaven can be earned by good deeds (these ideas can also cause doubt in Christians who have accepted salvation by grace, but fear that they need to be “re-saved” each time they sin)
- Transactional/Formulaic Salvation – belief that a one-time prayer or statement has guaranteed your entry to Heaven without requiring repentance of sin
3. How do we respond Biblically to each of the distortions mentioned above?
- Prosperity Gospel
- Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. (John 15:20)
- Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted (2 Timothy 3:12)
- Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance… (Romans 5:3)
- Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ…that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death (Philippians 3:8&10)
- Affirmation Gospel
- I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. (2 Timothy 4:1-5)
- “We cannot presume to be more gracious than God himself”
- Works-based Salvation
- For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
- If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:8-9)
- Transactional/Formulaic Salvation
- What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” (James 2:14-17)
- For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. (Romans 8:5-8)
Part 2: Why we share it
Relevant Readings: Mark 16:14-20, Romans 10:13-17, Philippians 1:15-18, 1 Corinthians 4:1-5
1. How important is our motive when it comes to sharing the Gospel?
- Bad motives cannot prevent God from using a Gospel effort for His glory.
- Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. (Philippians 1:15-18)
- John answered, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us.” But Jesus said to him, “Do not stop him, for the one who is not against you is for you.” (Luke 9:49-50)
- Bad motives do have consequences for the person who harbours them.
- Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name? And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” (Matthew 7:21-23)
- Work done with a God-honouring heart will result in reward.
- Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God. (1 Corinthians 4:5)
2. What are some examples of negative motives that might be behind our sharing of the Gospel? (Which are you most susceptible to?)
- Pride – to build a reputation before others as an eloquent preacher, to appear to others as a “good Christian”, to assert your knowledge of the Bible above someone else
- Guilt – trying to appease other people, to earn favour with God, operating out of necessity rather than desire
- What can prevent us from sharing the Gospel?
- Pessimism about the outcome of our efforts (assuming the conversation will go badly or that the Gospel will be rejected)
- Lack of conviction/desire
3. How do we cultivate a genuine and God-honouring heart for the Gospel?
- Combat pride
- Reflect on how humbled we were by God’s grace and our need at the time of our conversion
- Confess our own sins to remind ourselves that we are still in desperate, daily need of Jesus
- Cultivate a heart of gratitude toward God for the abilities that you have to share the Gospel and His willingness to use you
- In all things, give glory to God rather than yourself
- Pray for help
- Cultivate desire
- Reflect on the joy and peace brought about by our own salvation
- Deepen our understanding of the heart of God for lost souls that is revealed in the Bible, so that the Spirit can deepen our own love and heart for the same
- Aspire to better understand the promises of Heaven so that we have enthusiasm to bring others along with us (it’s hard to interest people in a place that we aren’t excited to go to ourselves)
- Pray for help
Part 3: How we share it
Relevant Readings: Romans 10:13-17, 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 & 9:19-23, Philippians 1:27-30, 1 Thessalonians 1:2-10
1. Which verses are you most likely to share in a conversation about the Gospel?
- John 17:3
- Matthew 11:28
- Hebrews 11:6
- 1 Peter 3:18
Thank you to Ray Hanna for forwarding us the following list:
Romans 3:20 “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”
Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;”
Galatians 3:10 “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.”
Acts 3:19 “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.”
Mark 1:15 “And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.”
1 Corinthians 15:1-4 “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:”
John 3:16-18 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
Isaiah 9:6 “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”
Isaiah 43:11 “I, even I, am the Lord, and beside me there is no saviour.”
Isaiah 1:18 “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”
Acts 17:30 “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:”
Mark 1:15 “And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.”
Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Romans 3:25 “Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;”
Colossians 1:20 “And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.”
1 Corinthians 15:3,4 “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:”
John 20:31 “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.”
Acts 4:12 “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”
John 14:6 “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
1 Timothy 2:5 “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;”
2 Corinthians 5:21 “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
Ephesians 2:8,9 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
Romans 4:5 “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”
Romans 10:13 “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
John 3:36 “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”
Hebrews 9:27 “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:”
Matthew 10:28 “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”
Romans 10:9,10 “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
Romans 5:1 “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:”
John 3:3 “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
John 11:25,26 “Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?”
Romans 8:11 “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.”
2 Corinthians 9:15 “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.”
Titus 2:13 “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;”
2. Would the verses that you share be different depending on the person that you are sharing with? Why or why not?
Yes! We discussed the importance of listening (making a concerted effort to understand the perspective of the person you’re speaking with), as well as being sensitive to the tone of the conversation. We cannot know what to share if we don’t first understand the need; one person may really benefit from a discussion that wakes them up to the reality of Hell, and another may need to hear that Jesus is rest to the weary. No matter the situation, we must rely on both the Word of God and the Holy Spirit to convict sinners of their need for Jesus.
3. What is the most effective method of sharing the Gospel? Is there only one?
- Different methods are effective for reaching different people in different contexts. Here are some methods we discussed:
- Tract distribution to homes, at bus stops, on the street, etc.
- Gospel preaching in a church context – an opportunity for people to be regularly and repeatedly exposed to the Gospel
- Investing in one-on-one relationships with coworkers/classmates that you can discuss your faith with
- Hospitality to neighbours – not being afraid to discuss your faith or open the Bible when company is over
- Social media platforms – sharing resources, Scripture, and general encouragement
- No matter our approach, it is extremely important for us to explain the Gospel verbally, and to uphold a solid testimony.
- Without explaining the Gospel (which some advocate for with sayings like, “preach the Gospel and, when necessary, use words”), it is possible for onlookers to attribute our love or good deeds to our own character rather than the transforming work of Christ. The Gospel cannot be received if it is not understood (Rom. 10:13-17)
- If we are not allowing the Gospel to affect our lives, we will be perceived to be hypocrites, and can be an obstacle to a person coming to Christ. A solid testimony, however, speaks volumes to those who do not yet know the power of God (Philippians 1:27-30, 1 Thessalonians 1:2-10)
- A healthy Assembly will embrace multiple methods of Gospel outreach.
- Each Assembly is composed of diverse people with various God-given gifts and natural abilities. Some are gifted Gospel preachers, others have ambition to organize community outreaches, others thrive in hospitality or working the Gospel into conversations with strangers. Working together, encouraging one another to use their strengths and exhorting each other in our areas of weakness, we can reach far more people than we ever could as individuals.