At the very core of our faith is a simple story of what God is doing in the world and in our lives to rescue us from the power of sin and reclaim us for his own. That story is called the “gospel.”

All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth. (Col 1:6)

Although the story is simple, it is incredibly important. “Gospel” is what Jesus came preaching (Mt 4:23). It is what he sent his Apostles out to preach (Mk 16:15). It is a major reason the church exists—to proclaim and bear testimony to the gospel. It is a God-given thing (Gal 1:11-12), “the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes” (Rom 1:17). It contains the basic truths of God’s purposes for the world and his plans for our lives (Gal 2:5, 14). It begins in the Garden, with God’s creation, and ends on the Last Day, with God’s judgment. In between are majestic themes like Covenant, Grace, Cross, and Spirit.

Sadly, many Christians don’t know the gospel. Religion—that well-intended accrual of traditions, rituals, practices, mores, power structures, and mindsets—has managed to hide the gospel so effectively that we can no longer see it, we no longer prize it, and we are no longer familiar enough with it to speak a word of good news to a world that is dying for the lack of it.

This loss of the gospel has radically affected our views of discipleship, the church, and our mission in the world. It has shifted our focus from what God has done for us to what we must do for God. It has forced us to rely on human insight and discipline rather than rest in spiritual power. It has persuaded us that God expects only marginal accommodations to the kingdom in our lives rather than radical transformations. It has encouraged us to preach much about the church and little about the cross. It has substituted programs of social improvement for the salvation of souls. It has turned us into nervous, insecure, timid church-goers when we were meant to turn the world upside down.

It is time for the church to recover the gospel … to separate religious chaff from gospel wheat. When we know, understand, and trust the gospel story, it becomes a source of strength and confidence for us. It tells us how much God loves us and how he saves us and how he is working to make us holy. Knowing the gospel leads to secure living and bold witness.

By growing our roots deep into the Gospel—by knowing and believing that God is saving his creation from brokenness and transforming it to become what he intended all along—we connect to a major source of spiritual nutrition. If you want to grow up into a mature, Christ-like disciple, you will make knowledge of and confidence in the gospel a priority.

To that end, the North Central Church will place a heavy emphasis on the core gospel. We will preach, teach, and talk about the simple truths that comprise the story that saves and sanctifies us. We want you to know that story, trust that story, and tell the story to others.

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© 2012 by Tim Woodroof. Reproduction of this material requires permission from the author.