What Will RHC Be About?

February 19, 2012 Speaker: Phil Baker Series: Stand Alone

Topic: Topical Sermon Passage: John 4:19–4:24

As a church, we are going to keep the gospel at the center of our worship, preaching, discipleship, and church planting. Our church will be all about the gospel.

What is the gospel?

The gospel is the good news of what the Creator God has done to reconcile lost sinners to Himself through repentance and faith in the atoning work; the life, the death, and the resurrection, of His only begotten Son and sent Messiah, Jesus Christ.

According the Bible, the good news, the gospel, is the message and ministry of the church. There are many-many Scriptures that back this and I’ve got a couple.

Mark 1:14 says:

“Jesus came proclaiming the gospel of God.”

The gospel was Jesus’ message.

And what about the ministry of the church?

Ephesians 4:12-13 says:

Jesus appointed apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of the ministry of the gospel, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.

The ministry of the church is to equip the saints for the ministry of the gospel.

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Critical Error

One of the critical errors made by the church today is that it has adopted a reduced view of the gospel that has led to many errors and problems. Today, most pastors and churches see the gospel as…

A mere invitation into new life.

Or as a doorway into the church.

Or as the diving board into the pool of Christianity.

Or as the A, B, C’s of Christianity.

All of these views fail to fully represent what the gospel truly is.

The gospel is more than an invitation into new life, it is the life itself.

“The gospel isn’t merely the door that you must step through; it is the life you must walk in.” –Jeff Vandersteldt

“The gospel isn’t the diving board into the pool of Christianity, it is the pool itself.” –J.D. Greear

“The gospel isn’t the A, B, C’s of Christianity; it is the A-Z.” -Tim Keller

The gospel is deeper, broader and on-going. Ephesians 3:6-8 says that Christ and His gospel contain “unsearchable riches”.

Timothy Keller

The gospel has been described as a pool in which a toddler can wade and yet an elephant can swim. It is both simple enough to tell to a child and profound enough for the greatest minds to explore. Indeed, even angels never tire of looking into it (1 Peter 1:12).

The gospel is simple and yet deeply profound. Think about some of the doctrines of salvation for a moment.

Doctrine of GraceDoctrine of PredestinationDoctrine of Substitutionary AtonementDoctrine of PropitiationDoctrine of Imputation

These doctrines have been the subjects of hundreds upon hundreds of years of study, commentary, and conversation, and yet their still being discussed today.

Since the gospel has a depth to it, this means that it is not ‘only’ for non-believers as some would believe and teach.

Michael Horton

“The gospel is for Christians too. We need to be evangelized every week. It is not by following Christ's example but by actually being inserted into Christ, clothed with Christ, united to Christ---as the Spirit creates faith through the gospel---that we are not only justified but sanctified as well.”

So the gospel is more than an invitation to have a restored relationship with the Creator God; it is the foundation by which one must daily stand and it is the truth by which one must daily reflect on while in relationship with the Creator God.

These truths about the gospel, this holistic view of it, must shape, form, and guide every aspect of who we are as a church. Everything we do must be centered on the gospel; our worship, teaching, discipleship, and church planting.

Let’s talk about these 4 things for a moment. The first thing RHC will be about is…

1. Gospel centered worship.

Gospel centered worship means to ascribe God worth, glory, and value with an inflamed heart and an informed mind. This is what Jesus taught the Samaritan woman at the well in Sychar.

John 4:19-24

19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

People basically have two dispositions.

Some have an intellectual disposition. You’ve got Scriptural knowledge, doctrinal knowledge and good beefy theology. You believe that we must cast away with our emotions and worship God from an intellectual position. Your worship tends to be cold and calculated.

Others have an emotional disposition. You’re the kind that’s all heart. You believe that things like the intellect and doctrine get in the way of true worship and that holding hands and weeping are better.

Jesus taught the woman at the well that both dispositions must be present in a person in order to worship God properly.

Jesus said,

23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.

Worshiping God in spirit means to worship God emotionally. It means to praise God with inflamed hearts that are bursting with love, passion, and great gratitude.

Worshiping God in truth means to worship God intellectually. It means to utter up praises to God with informed minds. Minds that are filled with the truth of who God is, what He’s done through Christ Jesus, and what He’s going to do in the future as revealed in Scripture.

Gospel centered worship is represented by both an inflamed heart and the informed mind. That is the kind of worship that is pleasing and acceptable to God. Church must never become an information center that has no heart. And it must never become an emotional center that has no truth. It must be characterized by both heart and truth. That is God’s design.

The second thing RHC will be about is…

2. Gospel centered teaching.

Gospel centered teaching is teaching that proclaims who God is, what He’s done in Christ Jesus, and what He will do in the future. Gospel centered teaching aims to magnify and exalt God, not man. Gospel centered teaching works to ground people in finished work of Christ for the purpose of setting them free from the default mode of works-righteousness so that they can be secure and focused on the ministry of the gospel.

Gospel centered teaching is determined to “declare the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). This means that gospel centered teaching is expositional, exegetical, and systematic. Gospel centered teachers teach through books of the Bible. This usually means that sermons are longer but way more edifying. It also means that the Holy Spirit is the leader, not the teacher.

Gospel centered teaching aims to unfold the great doctrines and deeper truths of Scripture. We will not skim over or avoid these things as they arise but do our very best to present them in a way that reflects God’s character and the themes of Scripture.

Listen to what Paul wrote to the Roman Christians in Romans 12:2:

2 Do not be conformed to this world,but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Focus on the phrase, “Be transformed by the renewal of your mind”.

The mind produces and governs the desires and will of a person. One of the functions of the mind is that it will always choose what it perceives to be most advantageous to the person. In its natural state there really aren’t any limits as to how far the mind will go to protect its own interests, satisfy its own desires, and to gratify the illicit longings of the flesh. The natural mind is at war with God (Rom 8:7).

When the Spirit of God regenerates the mind through the gospel the mind is initially renewed and given the ability to comprehend the commands and precepts of God. The mind radically shifts from self-preservation to self-mortification. After regeneration sanctification begins. Sanctification is the on-going process of renewal that transforms the individual into the likeness of Jesus. Sanctification is synergistic which means that it requires dual effort from both the individual and the Holy Spirit. Paul knew these things and this is why he exhorts the Roman Christians to do their part in having their minds renewed.

Here’s the million dollar question:

What we’re they to do? How are minds renewed?

They are renewed by consistent exposure to gospel centered teaching. They are renewed by personal Bible reading, memorization, study, and application.

Every time we engage in the word of God, the Holy Spirit uses His power to bring renewal and transformation. Even when you don’t feel like you’re learning much something powerful and miraculous is happening. One of the great goals of gospel centered teaching and our church is mind renewal. We know that mind renewal leads to real personal and relational change. One of the great problems with pastors today is that they’re preaching for life change by throwing verses at people’s problems. Everything would change if they would just keep bringing people back to the gospel through expositional teaching.

Gospel centered teaching will permeate every age and stage at Redemption Hill. Even the little ones can be consistently taught that Jesus is the hero of the Bible who came to save lost sinners.

The third thing RHC will be about is…

3. Gospel centered discipleship.

Most discipleship today is primarily focused on teaching people to live as Christ lived in their marriages, friendships, work places and at home. The whole WWJD movement truly reflects the current mode of discipleship. But gospel centered discipleship is different. Gospel centered discipleship puts the focus on what Jesus has already done, not on what He might do at any given moment. It also works to establish our identity, value, security and purpose in Him.

Gospel centered discipleship is not to-do lists which tend to produce either self-righteousness or despair or both. It is not commands to do more or formulas for how to become better people. Gospel centered discipleship trains people to rest in the completed work of Christ and to abide in Him.

Jesus told a multitude of weary religious burn-outs to “Come unto Him and to take His yoke upon them because His burden is light” (Matt 11:28-30). Gospel centered discipleship calls for people to give up their religious efforts and to come rest in Christ.

Gospel centered discipleship is transparent and real. This happens because Christ’s perfection is always put on display which disarms us from thinking too highly of ourselves and from having to fake it around others. We don’t have to wear our church masks and walk around acting holier-than-thou. Gospel centered discipleship always works to keep man in his proper place which is lowly and in great need of God’s grace.

JC Ryle (19th century scholar and pastor)

“The best medicine for the human soul is the exaltation of God and the humiliation of man.”

I think Ryle nailed it. How many times have you gone to a church service and sang songs that were all about us and listened to sermons that were all about us? It happens all the time. And guess what, when that happens we’re actually being poisoned by the same lie that the serpent used to deceive Eve. “Ye shall be as gods.”

The purpose of the gospel is to undress and strip us of our self-righteousness and to cloth us in the righteousness of Christ. If this is happening at your church on a regular basis, run!

Gospel centered discipleship employs the sacraments of baptism and communion as a means to reflect upon the Lord’s grace. At RHC, baptisms will be done each quarter, communion will be celebrated each week at the end of the service.

With that being said, our two primary vehicles for gospel centered discipleship will be our Sunday services and our small groups which we will begin later. We may add a couple Bible studies in the future as well but that’s about it.

In case you’re wondering, we will not be a church of a thousand programs.

The forth thing RHC will be about is…

4. Gospel centered church planting.

Gospel centered church planting simply means to plant gospel centered churches. We are interested in planting like-minded churches that hold the same biblical and ministerial philosophy of RHC. We are interested in multiplying and expanding the gospel centered work that God is doing in our own congregation to the ends of the earth. Sound ambitious?

Let me tell you what we’re not interested in. We are not interested in competing with other churches over size, quality, and ascetics. We are not interested in building the most advanced state-of-the-art facilities. We are not interested in building an RHC empire that sprawls out to every nook-and-cranny of our community. We do believe that smaller more manageable gospel centered churches that focus on gospel centered worship, gospel centered teaching, gospel centered discipleship and gospel centered church planting are going to be most effective in reaching both the churched and the un-churched in our community and beyond.

These are big hopes and dreams we have here at RHC. We take the Great Commission very seriously. We want to see the name of Jesus lifted up in our town. We want to see people set free from the shackles of sin. We want to see a gospel centered reformation happen here. And as long as we have breath in our lungs or until the Lord returns, we will not stop.

In ending I’d like to read you an awesome passage.

In Acts chapter 28 the Apostle Paul was standing before King Agrippa on trial for preaching the gospel. In verses 12-18 Paul gave testimony about what happened when Jesus saved him.

Acts 26:12-18

12 “In this connection I journeyed to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests.

13 At midday, O king, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, that shone around me and those who journeyed with me. 14 And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ 15 And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. 16 But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, 17 delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles— to whom I am sending you 18 to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’

I believe our Righteous King is ready to send us with the light of His gospel into the darkness that has engulfed our community. I believe that Jesus desires to “send us to open the eyes of our neighbors, so that they too will turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in the Lord.”

I believe the Lord is calling us just as He called Paul to go and plant churches.

Here is my question to you… Will you join us on God’s mission?

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