Posted by: michaelhanegan | September 21, 2008

The Gospel and the People of God (a.k.a. the Church)…

Country%20Church.jpgWhat is the relationship of the church to the gospel? What does the gospel have to do with the life and ministry (as if you can separate those two) of the people of God?

This was the question that I dealt with in a Bible class setting last night at church. So here is a reproduction of my presentation for that time together. The emphasis of the class was that the gospel CALLS, SHAPES, and SENDS the people of God (a.k.a. the Church). Here is how it played out in the handout.

A WORKING DEFINITION OF THE GOSPEL:
The gospel is found in the life, teachings, death, burial, resurrection, and imminent return of Jesus Christ as the event to which all history pointed and which shapes both the present and the future.

PREMISE FOR THE CLASS PERIOD:
The people of God (a.k.a. the Church) is a community that is CALLED, SHAPED, and SENT by the gospel.

The People of God (a.k.a. the Church) is a community that is CALLED by the gospel.
The word for “called” used in the NT is kaleo. It carries the idea of vocation and/or commission. (e.g. “This is my calling in life…”) This has a rather frequent usage in the NT, especially in the letters of Paul. It most often is directly connected with God being the one who calls, at other times it is only implicit.

See the following passages for uses of the word kaleo (“called”):

Rom. 1:1, 6, 7; 8:28; 9:24; 1 Cor. 1:1, 2, 9, 24, 26; 7:15, 17, 18, 20, 21, 22, 24; Gal. 1:6, 15; Gal. 5:13; Eph. 1:18; 4:4; Phil. 3:14; Col. 3:15; 2 Thess. 2:14; 1 Tim. 6:12; 2 Tim. 1:9; Heb. 5:4; 9:15; 11:8; 1 Pet. 1:15; 2:9, 21; 3:9; 5:10; 2 Pet. 1:3; Jude 1:1

When we find this word used in the New Testament it may be helpful to read it not just as “called” but as “called and commissioned”. (I encourage you to back through these references especially in Romans, 1 Corinthians, and 2 Timothy and where you see the word called read aloud “called and commissioned”.)

The People of God (a.k.a. the Church) is a community that is SHAPED by the gospel.
The concept of being shaped or formed by the gospel is what we often refer to as sanctification. While the definitions and understandings of this term are varied we understand that being “conformed to the image of Christ” (a common definition of sanctification) comes from interaction with and obedience to the Gospel.

Philippians 1:27; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14; 1 Corinthians 1:18; John 17:15-19; 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8

The People of God (a.k.a. the Church) is a community that is SENT by the gospel.

When we understand the Gospel this way we begin to see that evangelism as a ministry or work of the church is an artificial separation. The Gospel sends us as witnesses (an important term that deserves more time and attention in our study) to the Gospel itself and its transforming of our own lives. It is not a part of what we do…it becomes an expression of who we are and who we are becoming through the work of the Spirit and the Gospel.

The spreading of the Gospel (a.k.a. “outreach” or “evangelism”) happens as the People of God (a.k.a. the Church) hear, respond to, and obey the Gospel of Jesus Christ in new and more comprehensive ways.

John 20:21; John 17:18; Matthew 28:18-20; 2 Corinthians 5:14-6:1

A specific text that gives us an image of what it means to be the People of God that are CALLED, SHAPED, and SENT by the gospel can be found in…

1 Peter 2:1-12
CONCLUSION:

5 Important Questions to ask when interacting with the gospel:

  1. How does the gospel read us and our situation?
  2. How does the gospel call us?
  3. How does the gospel shape us?
  4. How does the gospel send us?
  5. How does the gospel focus us on the imminent return of Jesus Christ?
The question that will define our lives as the Church (a.k.a. the People of God) is this:
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE THE PEOPLE OF GOD WHEN AND WHERE WE ARE?

The only way we will be able to answer that question is as we continue to be confronted, converted, and conformed to the gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

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