LIVING PROOF OF THE GOSPEL
As a church, we are supposed to be living proof that the gospel is true. We’re not supposed to just be a group of people who gather together whenever we feel like it to sing some songs and hear some preaching. We’re not supposed to just be people who dip our toes in one area of the church and say “I’ll support this ministry,” or “I’ll attend this Sunday morning Bible study class,” but can take and leave everything else.
The good news that Jesus Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead to make things right is the power of God that makes things new. When we believe in Jesus Christ we become new creations individually and then a new creation together (2 Cor 5:17). We are a new kind of community called to bear witness together of the new things that God is doing throughout this world.
We are supposed to be living proof that Jesus is not just a theory or an ideal, but real and actual. Our life together should demonstrate that the Bible is not just a historically important book that isn’t really relevant for life today, but the very words of life. God commands us to be baptized and join a church not just for our own sake, but to demonstrate by our life of worship, service, ministry, and witness what we really believe. Do our actions proclaim that Jesus’ way is the right way? That he is the one who really makes us human and that following him together really is the best way to live?
In his essay 2 Contents, 2 Realities, Francis Schaeffer says there are four things that mark a gospel-created and gospel-centered church. In others words, this is how we demonstrate the reality of the gospel: sound doctrine, honest answers to honest questions, true spirituality, and the beauty of human relationships. It’s that last one that shows whether we really get the truth of the gospel and if those other three things are even real.
It’s deeply ironic that the very thing God intended to demonstrate the truth of the gospel is the thing that keeps so many from seeing the truth of the gospel. One of the most common objections to the gospel is “look at your churches.” Unfortunately, people can all too often find ample justification for not following Jesus just by looking at us and seeing how we treat each other, whether or not we even show up regularly to worship with our fellow church members, or whether or not we actually believe and do all the things that Jesus tells us to believe and do, or just pick and choose what we like.
Looking to us to see if the gospel is true is, of course, a totally fair and natural thing to do. If we want to see if communism is true we don’t have to read a book about it, we just have to look at North Korea or China, or what happened to the Soviet Union. If we want to know if Jesus is real and his gospel does actually change us, we don’t need to get a Ph.D. in theology, we should just be able to visit a church. Each church should be a living picture of the gospel. As churches, we will either demonstrate that the gospel is new and meaningful and true or just some religious words and rituals that make no real difference to anyone or anything.
How we live as the household of God, the church of the living God, matters (1 Tim 3:15). We must do everything we can to make sure we not only believe and teach the gospel, but also live out the gospel if we want to please God and lead others to know him.