Protect the Gospel
Last week, New Life Church had their Annual General Meeting. We had a good attendance by the members, and in a spirit of unity and humility we brought in another Elder and voted on the budget for 2020. The week before the AGM, I wrote an email to all the members that started off by saying that responsibility and church membership go hand-in-hand—you simply can’t have one without the other. I was encouraged that the majority of our members were at the meeting, but as with anything else there is always room for improvement, especially in the area of church membership.
In the email I sent out, I mentioned briefly six points that the Bible teaches on the responsibilities of members and I focused our attention on the first point listed: Assemble Together. The other points mentioned were; Protect the Gospel, Define the Church’s Membership, Love One Another, Submit to the Elders and sixth, Evangelise the Lost.
In the next few articles I want to examine each of these points individually in order to help equip and grow us as a church.
Protect the Gospel
Ensuring faithfulness to the gospel isn’t the responsibility of pastors alone. Every church member is responsible to uphold and affirm the gospel. When the apostle Paul wrote to the churches of Galatia, he chastised the churches, not the elders, for turning to a “different gospel” (Gal 1:2, 6). He held the congregation accountable for allowing error to creep in and distort the gospel (Gal 1:7). Granted, not every member can master the intricacies of systematic theology, but every member should be able to articulate and defend the substance of the gospel. The apostles assumed that every believer would mature in Christ, enabling them to discern true and false doctrine (Eph. 4:13–14; Phil. 1:9–10; 1 Jn. 4:1–6).
At a practical level, protecting the gospel means that church members should know and understand the gospel, and know it well. This means you must study it, understand it, be able to articulate it, and apply it. And God has determined that the primary way to learn and rehearse the gospel is by participating in the weekly worship gatherings of the church. This is where the body sings the gospel, hears the gospel preached and applied, and sees the gospel acted out in the ordinances. When every member accepts the responsibility to protect the gospel, the whole church benefits. Together, the church matures in the truth and builds themselves up in the knowledge of the Son of God (Eph. 4:13).
To that end we have book studies at the moment for men and women that help us understand, articulate and apply the gospel. Have you taken advantage of this? We also have Friday School for our Youth and Adults to help equip everyone with the word of God. Are you taking advantage of these classes? Our Home-groups are also an integral part of helping us know and understand the gospel. Are you in a Homegroup? Are you taking advantage of this means of grace to gather together with the saints and grow in your knowledge and understanding of the gospel?
The bible teaches that every church member – not just the leaders- have been entrusted with the responsibility of protecting, propagating and preserving the gospel. This means that if we (NLC) fail to fulfil our responsibility to carry out our given assignment, spiritual disaster will eventually occur. The message of the gospel will eventually be diluted. The meaning of the term “Christian” will eventually be distorted. And the mission of the church will eventually be derailed.
The mission statement of New Life Church is a biblical one: “...to make and develop disciples of all nations through proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ”. Perhaps one reason why so many people do not share the gospel regularly is because they feel intimidated and inadequate. Imagine if the opposite were true! Imagine if all the members of New Life Church were well equipped and able to faithfully articulate the gospel. I think if this was the case, we would see more people coming to faith in Christ, being baptised and being added to the membership of NLC. Pray with me that this would be a reality, that we as a church will uphold our responsibility to protect, propagate and preserve the gospel for the glory of our Saviour and for the joy of all people.