[This was originally posted on the Covenant Presbyterian Church, Nashville blog on 23 February 2012]
It is quite popular in American churches today to speak of the gospel as though it is something we do. All sorts of good works are treated as though they are a way to communicate the gospel to someone. You can “preach” the gospel by feeding someone who is hungry, or giving clothes or shelter to someone who is poor or homeless. Make no mistake: These are indeed good works. And for we who have embraced the gospel, they are an outworking of the gospel grace we have experienced. Maybe another way to say it is that we do good works because we have experienced God’s grace in the gospel. These good works are so important that the Apostle James tells us that without them faith is dead (Jam 2:26).
However, these good works are not the gospel, nor do they communicate the gospel to those who receive them. If someone who has never heard the gospel has their physical needs met by a Christian, but never hears that Christian declare the truth of the gospel, then that person will walk away as lost as they were when they arrived. They will be well fed, perhaps. They may be warmer and better rested than when they arrived. But they will not be any nearer to heaven.
The gospel is the good news that Jesus Christ died to save sinners from the righteous wrath of God. If that news is not declared with words, then there has been no gospel declared (Rom 10:14). “Gospel” is a noun, not a verb. And if we treat it as a verb, we will one day awake to find that we have lost the very gospel itself. And without the gospel, our good works lose their proper motivation. We become just another group of nice people doing nice things.
So let’s recommit ourselves to abandoning the language of gospel as verb. You cannot do the gospel. Only Christ could do it. And praise God, He has done it! It is our privilege and calling as Christians to declare this gospel that Christ has done it. This does not mean we abandon good works. It just means we must stop confusing our good works for the gospel. We do good works because of the gospel, not because they are the gospel.
It’s that time of year again. The Summer break is yielding to the Fall semester and teaching ministries that have been dormant for a season are getting back into full swing. Here are most of the things I will be teaching this Fall.
We spent the Summer in Ephesians and are now back in the Westminster Confession of Faith. We just completed Ch. 5 on the Providence of God and will be moving on to Ch 6, Of the Fall of Man, of Sin, and of the Punishment Thereof.
Women in the Church (WIC)
WIC has asked me to teach the Tuesday morning large group Bible study. Our subject matter is the book of Isaiah. This will carry us through the Fall and into the Spring. Small groups will be using Kathleen Buswell Nielson’s study guide. You can find out more about the WIC schedule here.
Women’s Bible Study
I will also be leading a small group of women on Wednesday mornings here at the church. We will meet in Rm 121 at 8am on Wednesdays. The subject will be a study of Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians. All women are welcome to join us.
Wednesday Night Elective
After supper on Wednesday nights I will be teaching a class on Islam in Rm 224. We will survey the history and basic beliefs of Islam as well as how to most effectively minister the gospel to those Muslims in our community and around the world. We will begin promptly at 6:15 and end at 7.
I am currently scheduled to preach one Sunday morning this Fall and am looking forward to that opportunity and the growth it always brings.
In addition to these I will continue discipling church members as well as fulfilling my responsibilities at the Presbytery level, helping men prepare for ordination exams among other things. I am also joining the other staff members in writing for the church blog (on the church website) on a rotating basis. Although it will be a busy Fall, please know that we are never too busy to shepherd our membership. We hate to hear people say they didn’t call because they thought we were too busy. If you need us, please let us know how we can minister to you. We do more than teach classes. We want to love you well as best we can using the gifts and means with which God has provided us.
The committee has convened and elected Fred Greco moderator.
I will update as often as the committee determines each recommendation.
The committee will be taking up Overtures 2, 4, 8, 10, and then 11 will be sent to the committee later from another committee.
A reminder: What are below are the recommendations that the Overtures Committee will make to the entire Assembly. So they are not decided until Thursday afternoon when the committee makes it’s report to the Assembly and the Assembly votes.
The committee is now recessed until either tonight or tomorrow (they hadn’t figured it out before I had to leave). I’ll provide a further update tomorrow re: Overture 11.
Overture 2: negative
Overture 4: affirmative (with perfecting language)
Overture 8: responded with statement (in other words, did not make 59 constitutional, but reminded TEs that WCF 24 and the WSC and WLC are binding).
Overture 10: affirmative, as amended.
We leave in the morning for General Assembly. If you are going to be following my posts as I report, you will find it most helpful to familiarize yourself first with the Overtures for this year. You can find them listed with links to each Overture in pdf format here:
The overtures aren’t usually very long. They begin with “Whereas” statements which form the basis for the overture. They then move to the “Therefore” clause in which the specific request is stated. Sometimes they conclude with a rationale section in which they explain in further detail what is motivating the request.
In my updates I will simply refer to them by number without explaining the substance.
I’ll be posting here next week, updating events at the PCA General Assembly. I’m going to be using an iPad this year so I wanted to post from the iPad and see if there are any glitches. So far so good!