Our last post introduced the idea of a clarifying vision for SGC. We looked at the question, "What does God want SGC to be about?" Some churches would answer this question by looking at the Great Commission (Matt. 28:16-20). Some would say it is about "knowing Jesus and making him known." Others think in terms of "upward" (worship), "outward" (service and evangelism), and "inward" (personal growth). All of these are trying in some way to summarize the New Testament vision for the church and their own sense of that vision. Here is what we said is the answer to that question:
We are a community of believers in Jesus Christ that seeks to be gospel-centered, Bible-saturated, and Spirit-empowered as we worship God, love one another, grow as disciples, serve the needy, and evangelize the lost.
In this post we want to look at the first part of the statement.
We are a community of believers in Jesus Christ who seek to be gospel-centered.
What do we mean by this? Well, when we say we are a community we express our belief that God has set apart a particular group of believers to live a shared life—that is the meaning of "community"—at SGC. This is God's church in the end, not ours. He is the one who has brought us to him and brought us together at SGC.
In amazing grace God we have become believers in Jesus Christ. We live in him and live for him. In fact, we have no life apart from him.
The central message we have to proclaim is the gospel, which is the "good news" about Jesus Christ and what it means for us. This is what we mean by being gospel-centered. Apart from his perfect obedience, sacrificial life, sacrificial death, resurrection and ascension to God's right hand, we have no salvation and no redemption. This gospel is central to what we believe, preach, sing, use in counseling, and proclaim to the lost world around us.
The gospel is not the only thing we talk about at SGC, but it is the most important thing. This means that whenever we teach or counsel or fellowship in home group, we work to see the clear lines every topic has to the gospel.
We want to be gospel centered in our church life because we believe that the Bible is gospel centered. The Old Testament prepares us for Jesus and his redemptive work, and the New Testament unpacks for us what it means to us and to the lost world around us. Being gospel centered is thus not a new idea that modern evangelicals have created; it is simply giving definition to the clear teaching of Scripture.
In thinking about God's vision for SGC, then, the gospel is a fitting place to begin. Whatever else we are about, the gospel will be part of that vision.
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures. 1 Corinthians 15:3-4
For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 1 Corinthians 2:2
But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Galatians 6:14