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.
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.