TOGETHER WITH HIM
Our experience of the gospel begins with our individual relationships with God. Every one of us must believe the gospel of Jesus Christ for ourselves, no one can believe it for us. When we believe the good news that God the Father sent God the Son, Jesus Christ, to live a perfect life, die on the cross in our place, and rise from the dead so that we can have life, we are rescued from death, sin, and despair, and given a new life, we are born again (John 3:1–16). The course of life is changed on this earth and for all eternity. But the gospel is not only about our own individual relationships with God.
The gospel is also about the church. Jesus didn’t just die for us as individuals, he died for us as his church (Eph 5:25). God saves us personally and individually, but he also saves us to be a part of one of his churches — a body of believers in Jesus Christ who come together to worship him, grow in him, serve and minister to each other, and be a witness to the world of who he is. We must be careful not to fall into the trap of thinking that the gospel is only about me and Jesus, it is about us and Jesus as well. When we are saved, God makes us into living stones in his temple (1 Pet 2:4-5), brothers and sisters in the family of God (1 Tim 5:1-2). He wants to dwell among his people; he wants to make us into a spiritual temple, a loving family, together. There is no such thing as churchless Christianity. Believing and living out the gospel means being part of a church.
But even here we have to be careful. If we think of the gospel only in terms of ourselves or even our church, we are still missing the big picture of what God is doing in this world through Jesus Christ. God saves us and then brings us into a church to point beyond ourselves, to be a preview, the coming attraction, of the kingdom of God. The gospel is as big as the universe. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen 1:1), and in the end, we will dwell in the “new heavens and new earth” (Rev 21:1). God is at work bringing his redemption to the entire universe, reconciling all things through the blood of his cross (Col 1:20). The gospel is for everything! This means that when we catch a vision of what God is doing in his world, the world that he made, we will care about our individual relationships with him, our church, and impacting this world for him. We will want not only to know God, but to make him known.