by Thabiti Anyabwile
The first order of business for a healthy church member is to know the gospel. This seems too obvious that stating it can feel silly. But, in point of fact, many professing and believing Christian possess a shallow understanding of the gospel as a result of years of hearing short “gospel presentations” tacked onto the ends of sermons. Still others who know the message of Christ find themselves feeling awkward and incapable of sharing the good news clearly with family and friends. Taking steps to be sure we know the gospel with some clarity and depth, then, is necessary.
It’s helpful to rule out some ideas frequently presented as the gospel. The gospel is not simply that (a) we are okay, (b) that God is love, (c) that Jesus wants to be our friends, or (d) that we should live right. Neither is the gospel simply that all our problems will be fixed if we follow Jesus, or that God wants us to be healthy, wealthy, and wise. All of these ideas may be true in some sense, but only in a partial sense and never as a solely sufficient statement of what the gospel is.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is literally “good news.” As news it contains statements of fact and truths derived from those facts. As good news the gospel holds our hope based upon promises of God and grounded in the historical facts and truths that vindicate those promises.
The gospel or good news of Jesus Christ is that God the Father, who is holy and righteous in all his ways, is angry with sinners and will punish sin. Man, who disobeys the rule of God, is alienated from the love of God and is in danger of an eternal and agonizing condemnation at the hands of God. But God, who is also rich in mercy, because of his great love, sent his eternal Son born by the Virgin Mary, to die as a ransom and substitute for the sins of rebellious people. And now, through the perfect obedience of the Son of God and his willing death on the cross as payment for our sins, all who repent and believe in Jesus Christ, following him as Savior and Lord, will be saved from the wrath of God to come, be declared just in his sight, have eternal life, and receive the Spirit of God as a foretaste of the glories of heaven with God himself.
It is this message – briefly stated here – that we must imbibe and delight in if we are to be healthy church members.
The LORD is the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You support my lot. The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me (Psalm 16:5-6).
What is a Healthy Church Member?
by Thabiti M. Anyabwile