We framed our membership class at Pembroke Road around the three-fold value of Gospel, Community, and Mission.
Below is an outline of our first session, which is an overview of the class in general and the Gospel itself in particular. Let me know what you think.
The Big Picture
Question: Why does PRBC exist?
Answer: PRBC exists (a) for the glory of God and (b) for the good of our community and world.
Question: What does a church that exists for the glory of God and the good of its community look like?
Answer: We believe that such a church will exhibit the following three core values: Gospel, Community, and Mission.
a. Gospel: The Gospel is the foundational belief of Christianity. Without Christ crucified for our sins, we might have a religious organization or a social club, but we do not have a right relationship with God.
b. Community: We believe that the Gospel changes people and enables them to live together in a way that would be impossible without Christ. In short, the Gospel creates the church, a Christian community or family, where sin is not hidden but forgiven and where we all stand as equally undeserving sinners underneath the shadow of the Cross.
c. Mission: The Gospel also demands that we live as missionaries in a lost and dying world. That means that if we belong to Christ we are missionaries whether we are in Miramar or in Mumbai. Our goal is proclaim Christ crucified to all people.
The Membership Essentials class is structured around these three core values.
Week 1: The Gospel
Week 2: Our Statement of Faith (spokes off the “hub” of the Gospel)
Week 3: Church History (how did PRBC get here?)
Week 4: Being a Part of the Family (expectations of PRBC members)
Week 5: Biblical Foundations for Mission
Week 6: Practical Outworkings of Mission
The Gospel is a story, a grand story with God’s almighty fingerprints all over it. It is the ultimate drama of history. It is a majestic and true tale of Creation, Rebellion, Redemption and a New Creation.
This fabric of this story is woven into the Bible from the first chapter to the last:
Creation → Rebellion → Redemption → New Creation
(Gen. 1) (Gen. 3) (Gen. 3:15) (Rev. 21:1)
The “Creation-Rebellion-Redemption-New Creation” timeline is the big picture of what the Bible is about and what God is up to in saving people for his glory and their good. It is a birds-eye view of things.
On an individual level, the Gospel can be laid out like this:
God → Man → Christ → Response
This summary shows each person’s responsibility toward the Gospel message. It summarizes the key points of the good news:
1. God is the perfect, holy, loving, and righteous Creator of the world.
2. Man was created good, in God’s image, but rebelled against God’s commands and desired to rule his own life and the world apart from God. Man is now soaked-through with sin, being a sinner at heart.
3. Christ, both fully God and fully man, was sent by God at the appointed time to live a perfect life and die a sacrificial death in the place of rebellious sinners.
4. Response is required from sinners toward this wonderful news that Christ lived and died for sinners. Repentance and belief brings salvation, but rejection brings destruction.
The whole Bible is about Jesus Christ and the Gospel (Luke 24:45-47), and some sections are especially helpful in understanding what Jesus accomplished. For example, in 1 Corinthians 15:1-8, the Apostle Paul explains a number of things about the Gospel. Here we see that the Gospel is:
1. A Message (15:1-2)
a. Preached (15:1)
b. Received; Held; Saving (15:1)
2. A Message “Of First Importance” (15:3)
3. The Content of the Message (15:3-8)
a. Christ died (15:3) (see 1 Cor. 2:1)
b. for our sins (15:3) (see 2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Pet. 3:18)
c. according to the Scriptures (15:3) (see Is. 53; Dan. 9:26; Zech. 13:7)
d. he was buried (15:4)
e. he was raised (15:4) (see the Gospels; Hosea 6:2)
f. he appeared to: Cephas (Peter), the twelve (15:5), five hundred (15:6), James and the apostles (15:7), Paul (15:8)
Also, some other important verses explaining aspects of the Gospel are: Isaiah 53:6, Galatians 2:20, 2 Corinthians 5:21, 1 Peter 2:24 (and many more!).
As we think about the Gospel it is important to explain how it relates to religious or spiritual “good works”. Other faiths and religions (and even some streams of Christianity) teach that “I am accepted by God because I obey him”. The true Christian Gospel, however, teaches that “I obey God because I am accepted by him on the basis of Christ’s life and death alone.”
This means that no “good thing” we have done or could do is good enough. We can’t pray enough, we can’t give enough money, we can’t come to church enough times, we can’t study the Bible enough to make ourselves right before God. The Bible says that “all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment” (Is. 64:6). This means that our “best” isn’t nearly good enough for God.
We need the righteousness of another. We need the righteousness of Jesus, the perfect Son of God, to be “credited” to our account. A great exchange took place on the Cross when Jesus died. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:21: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Do you see the trade? God gave all of our sin to Christ and he gave all of Christ’s perfect, holy, obedient, righteous life to us!
At PRBC, we desire to live in the shade of the Gospel tree. We want to increasingly view the Gospel as not simply the “ABCs” of our faith, but as the
“A to Z” of everything we think, say, and do as Christ’s followers (see Galatians 3:1).
The Gospel has huge implications for our lives as Christians and, specifically, as members of PRBC. Some these are:
• It should not surprise us when people fail (Christ would not have had to die if they didn’t!)
• We ourselves should be open about our failures and not pretend we are “perfect Christians”
• We should have a culture of grace, being patient and forgiving with other
• We should see the solution to problems in our church as “more Jesus” and not “more rules”
• Repentance and Gospel renewal should be our pattern of life
• We should have a burning desire to share this good news with others