In the second and third sessions of the Greenhouse Church Planter’s CoOp, we (1) set forth the gospel by tracing the four major plot movements in Christian Scripture: Creation, Fall, Redemption, and New Creation; and (2) talked about the gospel’s implications for humanity, the church, and the city. The CoOp had assigned those attending to read portions of Tim Keller’s Church Planting Manual, so we used some of Keller’s material, modifying it a bit and adapting it to the focus of this particular session. Here are the six talking points:
The Gospel: The gospel is the good news that through Jesus Christ, God’s kingdom has entered history. Through Christ we may be saved from our sin, have union with God and his church, and be set free to live a gospel-powered life. When we believe upon and rely on Jesus’ person and work (rather than ours) for our relationship to God, that kingdom power comes upon us and begins to work through us. May we never cease to revel in the power, beauty, and profundity of Christ and his gospel. This was Peter’s point when he said that the gospel sent from heaven is something into which angels long to look (1 Pet 1:12). Even the angels, whose lifespan is far longer than ours, are endlessly interested in Christ’s gospel. This gospel is simple enough to be understood by a child, and deep enough to be everlastingly contemplated by the wisest of men or angels.
Humanity: The gospel is the power of God to salvation. It changes us from the inside out, giving us a radically new identity, freeing us from both self-righteousness and self-condemnation. He liberates us, breaking the bondage of idols we once worshipped. One result of this inner change is that we now overflow with grace and love toward our fellow image-bearers, including those who do not share our beliefs.
The Church: The gospel creates a new community which is a sign of God’s kingdom. This community proclaims and embodies the gospel. In the church, we see diverse types of people loving one another who could not have done so without the healing power of the gospel: the gospel overcomes racial, social, and economic barriers. In the church, we also see sex, money, and power used in God-honoring, life-giving, and non-destructive ways: the gospel breaks the power of idols.
Service: We joyfully invite every person to faith in Jesus, but at the same time we are committed to serving our neighbors sacrificially whether they believe as we do or not. We do this by using our gifts and resources for the needs of others, especially the poor and powerless.
The City: Nothing promotes the health, peace, and joy of a city like the spread of the gospel. It renews not only individual lives but also whole neighborhoods and even cities. Only the gospel can motivate us to humbly love and live with all of the diverse people of the city.
The Culture: The gospel has a deep, profound, and healthy impact on all dimensions of human culture: the arts, the sciences, government, media, business, and the academy. Therefore, we are committed to engaging all dimensions of our socio-cultural context, especially by supporting believers as they fulfill their vocations/professions with faithfulness, excellence, and distinctiveness.