Mark #3 of a Healthy Church: The Gospel
There is a common worldly kind of Christianity in this day,
which many have, and think they have enough - a cheap Christianity
which offends nobody, and requires no sacrifice - which costs nothing,
and is worth nothing.
~J.C. Ryle, Holiness
Mine was not a church-going family. I remember a brief stint during my early elementary years when we attended church. I went to Vacation Bible School with my grandmother and attended church with her whenever I visited. I especially enjoyed when the choir director performed a solo of "Blessed Assurance". I still remember his deep, quiet voice carefully building to a crescendo in the chorus. I knew that hymn well, but the words were meaningless to me. Even though I spent many Easters holding my grandmother's hand during the sunrise service, I didn't understand what we were celebrating. The story of the empty tomb was distant, a tale in a storybook. It meant nothing.
By the time I was a teenager, the god I imagined had disappointed me in ways too numerous to count. My shaky foundation crumbled. I wasn't sure if there was a god, but I knew if he existed, I wanted nothing to do with him. I lived in that state of open rebellion for years. In my early twenties, I met a man who asked me to go to church with him. On one of our first visits, I realized that I could believe in the God of the Bible. I told everyone I was saved.
I thought I was.
"...false teaching deceives people and ruins souls for eternity." (Joshua Harris, Humble Orthodoxy, p. 52). Because I am a lover of knowledge, it was easy to study the Bible and start to talk a good game. I soon mastered "Christianese" and began to look like the other church members. I was confident in my salvation, even though I never heard the Gospel preached in that church. Praise God, His Holy Spirit began to tug at my soul. The hunger He stirred led us to another church. The man, my new husband, recommitted his life to Christ. I was truly converted.
When we began searching for a new church home 18 years later, it was imperative that we find a church that carefully and rightly preaches the Gospel. In today's culture, there are many churches that preach a watered-down, ineffective gospel. As Mark Dever explains in Nine Marks of a Healthy Church, the Gospel isn't simply
...that we're okay
...that God is love
...that Jesus wants to be our friend
...that we should live right.
The Gospel is so much more.
To really hear the Gospel is to be shaken to your core. To really hear the Gospel is to change. Have you heard the Gospel - not a soothing word about your goodness, or about God's acceptance, or about Jesus' inoffensive willingness to befriend all and sundry, or even some convicting word about getting rid of some sin in your life - but have you heard the Bible's great message about God and us? Does it sound like the best news you've ever heard? Old sins forgiven! New life begun! A personal relationship with your God, your Creator, now and forever!
~Dever, Nine Marks of a Healthy Church, p. 95
Thankfully, the Lord has brought us to a church that places high value on the Biblical Gospel, that teaches believers that we need the Gospel every day. If you aren't sure if you've ever heard the Gospel, please take a few minutes to watch this presentation.
This summer, I'm blogging through Nine Marks of a Healthy Church. Find out why here.