From the Pastor

Following Jesus Together - July 20, 2022

Gospel Renewal & Outreach

 As we keep repeating, the GRO (Gospel Renewal & Outreach) committee is planning a major event in the life of our church. We will be spending a weekend together, October 21-23rd, meditating on God’s mission in the world. For those who don’t know, here are the members of that committee who are actively working to serve you:

 Ruling Elder Brandon Perkins and his wife, Leslie

Bill and Hellen Challener

John and Sharon Milne

Bethany Thompson

David and Rae Whitehead

 In preparation for our gathering in the Fall, I want to meditate with you on the Biblical portrait of gospel renewal. What is it? Why do we need it? How does it happen? What is the connection between Gospel renewal and our participation in God’s mission to make Jesus known and worshipped and enjoyed by every tribe, tongue and nation?

 

 What is gospel renewal?

 The gospel is an announcement of good news.  It’s news, not a do-better list. ““A gospel” was news of a great historical event that changed the listeners’ condition and required response (such as a victory in war or the ascension of a new king).”1

 What historical event took place? Jesus. (see 1 Corinthians 15:1-9)

 Jesus Christ, God’s King, is now ruling and reigning in power through his crucifixion, resurrection and ascension to God’s right hand. God is right now, subduing and reconciling all things and all people through Christ. (Colossians 1:15-23)

 We, who believe are now included in God’s plan to renew all things through Jesus. Our condition changes. We are now friends, not enemies. Adopted as sons, not orphans. Justified, not condemned. Sanctified, not rejected. Holy, not unclean. We now have God on our side forever (Psalm 110:4).

 The appropriate response required, according to Jesus is this: “Repent and believe the gospel.” (Mark 1:15) We start our journey with Jesus and continue our journey with Jesus, regularly needing to repent and believe the gospel again and again.

 Gospel renewal is something that happens when we engage and believe the promises of the gospel in greater depth and sincerity. We find our hearts being transformed by the same Jesus who loved us first.

 Consider these passages:

 Psalm 19:7 – The law of the Lord revives the soul.  The law – God’s instruction – which includes His promise to send a Messiah – reorients and renews and restores our soul. We get turned in the wrong direction and need revived!

Psalm 42 – Why are you cast down, O my soul?  - Sometimes God feels far away…so we have to preach the gospel to our heart again. “Soul, Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him, my salvation and my God.

 Psalm 51:12 - Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. We can find ourselves, like David, crying out for help to enjoy God and needing the gift  of being made willing.             

One of my favorite prayers is Ephesians 3 – In the first two chapters, Paul lays out the good news of God’s love, the abundance of His mercy, and the never ending riches of His grace. This is all given us through the gift of faith in Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension. Then in Ephesians 3:14-21, Paul prays that Christians would know the love of Christ!

We want to say, “Paul, you already told us about the love of Christ.”

Paul to Christians: “The love of Christ surpasses knowledge. It’s as far as the east is from the west, stretching from the highest heights and lowest depths. There’s more!”

               Paul is praying for gospel renewal for Christians, for hearts that grasp God’s love in Christ – again and again and again.

 I’ll work through the other questions in August. Do you see that gospel renewal is part of the ordinary life of the Christian? Can you relate to these saints of old, thirsty, needing to go back to the well of Christ’s mercy?

If so, you’ll hear what Paul Tripp is getting at, when he describes a church where Jesus changes people:

 "The church is not a theological classroom. It is a conversion, confession, repentance, reconciliation, forgiveness and sanctification center, where flawed people place their faith in Christ, gather to know and love him better, and learn to love others as he designed.” 1

 Every time we gather as the church, we ought to expect God to renew and revive our hearts as we see Jesus, God’s gospel with the eyes of faith. Then the gospel becomes the best news you’ve ever heard and can’t wait to tell someone else!

 See you Sunday!

1 Quoted in “Gospel Christianity” Lesson 1 from www.gospelinlife.com

Following Jesus Together - August 8, 2022

Why Do We Need Gospel Renewal?

We are taking the month of August, in preparation for our missions conference, to meditate on gospel renewal” What is it? Why do we need it? How does God renew us? How does it connect to our participation in God’s mission to make Jesus seen, known, trusted in and followed?

 So why do we as a church need gospel renewal?

1 – Gospel Amnesia – It’s quite simple. We forget that our sins have been forgiven. In the words of Peter, whoever lacks the qualities of love, brotherly affection, self-control, steadfastness, virtue, is near-sighted and blind, having forgotten they were cleansed from their former sins. (2 Peter 1)

 It’s like we get spiritual cataracts. Jesus appears dimmer and less exciting. The effect is noticeable. We find ourselves easily distracted, easily irritated, and overly anxious. We lose interest in loving other Christians. They can be annoying. They are sinners after all! And then we start to wonder what the point of church attendance is. And those who once loved being apart of Christ’s body, amputate and isolate themselves.

 Then we can add the reality of ‘backsliding’ from the Westminster Confession of Faith. This is from chapter 17, on the perseverance of the saints:

"This endurance of the saints does not depend on their own free will but on God’s unchangeable decree of election, flowing from his voluntary, unchangeable love…

 Nevertheless, the temptations of Satan, the world, and their old carnal nature, along with neglect of the means of their preservation, may lead believers to commit serious sins and to continue in them for a time. They consequently displease God and grieve his Holy Spirit, have some of the fruit of God’s grace and his comforts taken away from them, have their hearts hardened and their consciences wounded, hurt and offend others, and bring temporal judgments on themselves."

 In other words, real Christians experience Gospel amnesia. We get distracted by politics and the culture wars. The church may be focusing on forming theological experts who praise God with their lips, but discover that their hearts are far from Him. We fall back into the sinful habits we had before coming to faith. And gradually, we lose touch with the love of God as selfishness creeps in and pollutes our faith. We become 'luke-warm.' (

 It’s the very opposite of the Jesus life. Listen to the wisdom of Richard Lovelace:

 “The goal of authentic spirituality is a life which escapes from the closed circle of spiritual self-indulgence, or even self-improvement, to become absorbed in the love of God and other persons. For the essence of spiritual renewal is 'the love of God...poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit. (Romans 5:5)…God’s love sweeps us away from our self-preoccupation into a delight in His unlimited beauty…It moves us to obey Him and to cherish the gifts and graces of others.” (Renewal as a Way of Life, p. 18)

 It takes a renewed experience with the costly love of God to wake us up. Look again at Jesus’ death and resurrection!

               2 – Gospel Amnesia forms Ingrown Churches

You may know the pain of an ingrown toe-nail. It’s not natural. It cuts into the flesh. It hurts. That seems to be an apt description of an ingrown church, Christ’s body.

 Christ’s church is designed to a gathered community who together are experiencing the immeasurable love of God. And that love of God flows through ordinary people outward towards our neighbors. But over time, gospel amnesia creeps in. Churches become ingrown. That’s when the pain starts. Rather than being awe of God, we complain about our needs not being met. We turn inward.

 The church, which is supposed to be an embassy of heaven on earth, God’s demonstration home, showing off what life with Jesus looks like, morphs into a social club. Or we mindlessly go through the options.

Historically, the longer a church exists, the harder it is to maintain the balance of believing the gospel of Jesus and being launched willingly into the world to love and serve our neighbors.

Where do you think Hope Church is at right now?

Where are you?

COVID has forced us inward. The gospel is calling us outward. Therefore we need gospel renewal.

 Heavenly Father,

Pour out Your Spirit of love on us, that we might be renewed the grace and knowledge of Jesus. Send us out, with hearts overflowing with gratitude and a willingness to serve.

 In Christ’s name, we ask.  Amen.

Posted by Nate Thompson with

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