What is the Gospel?
#1: You are a Sinner
Explanation: Paul said in Romans, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) “Sinned” means that we have missed the mark. When we lie, hate, lust, or gossip, we have missed the standard God has set.
Illustration: Suppose you and I were each to throw a rock and try to hit the North Pole. You might throw farther than I, but neither of us would hit it.
Application: When the Bible says, “All have sinned and fall short,” it means that we have all come short of God’s standard of perfection. In thoughts, words, and deeds, we have not been perfect.
#2: The Penalty for Sin is Death
Explanation: Paul continues, “The wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23)
Illustration: Suppose you worked for me and I paid you $50. That $50 was your wages—that’s what you earned.
Application: The Bible says that by sinning we have earned death. That means we deserve to die and be separated from God forever. Since there was no way we could come to God, the Bible says that God came to us!
#3: Christ Died for You
Explanation: Paul says, “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
Illustration: Suppose you are in a hospital dying of cancer. I come to you and say, “Let’s take the cancer cells from your body and put them into my body.” If that were possible, what would happen to me? What would happen to you? I would die in your place. I would die instead of you.
Application: The Bible says Christ took the penalty that we deserved for sin, placed it on Himself and died in our place. Three days later Christ came back to life to prove that sin and death have been conquered and that His claims to be God were true.
#4: You can be Saved through Faith in Christ
Explanation: Paul says in Ephesians, “For it is by grace [undeserved favor] you have been saved [delivered from sin’s penalty] through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) Faith means trust.
Illustration: Just as you trust a chair to hold you through no effort of your own, so you must trust Jesus Christ to get you to heaven through no effort of your own.
Application: You must trust in Jesus Christ alone, and God will give you eternal life as a gift!
“The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:8-13
What is Baptism?
We believe the Bible presents baptism as an outward witness (testimony) of an inward faith (Romans 10:9) in Jesus Christ alone for salvation. Christian baptism is an act of obedience to the command of Jesus, declaring the believers faith in and identification with their crucified, buried, and risen Savior (Romans 6:5). It is a visible declaration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The believer (Christian) being baptized is immersed beneath the waters in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, which expresses (or shows) the believers’ death to sin and the burial of their old life (without Christ), and then brought out of the water, which expresses the believers’ resurrection to a new life in Christ Jesus (I Corinthians 15:42). Furthermore, baptism identifies a Christian with Jesus, the universal church (or global church - people who have confessed with their mouth and believed in their heart Jesus Christ is Lord across the world), and the local church (CGC or other churches consisting of people who have confessed with their mouth and believed in their heart Jesus Christ is Lord).
Why Should I be Baptized?
Jesus commanded that all Christians be baptized (Matthew 28:19). The apostles commanded that all Christians be baptized (Ephesians 4:5), which explains why the book of Acts and records of the early church show that baptism was practiced consistently (2:41; 8:12, 28; 9:18; 10:48; 16:15; 19:5; 22:16). We understand baptism to be the sign and seal of membership in the covenant community. Baptism is for all persons as they join the community of the church.
Who Should be Baptized?
The consistent witness of the New Testament is that someone first believes in Jesus and then is baptized. This is called believers’ baptism. Never do we witness the reverse order where someone, such as an infant, is baptized and then later believes in Jesus. We see six lines of support for this position in the New Testament.
In the precursor to Christian baptism, John the Baptizer required that people repent of sin before being baptized. (Matt. 3:2; Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3) Every baptism in the New Testament is preceded by repentance of sin and faith in Jesus. (Acts 2:38–41; 8:12; 9:18–19; 10:44–48; 16:14–15, 29–36; 18:8; 19:1–7; 22:16) Therefore…
Baptism is reserved solely for those people who have put on Christ. (Gal. 3:27)
Baptism shows personal identification with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. This can only happen when someone has trusted in Christ for salvation. (Rom. 6:1–10; Col. 2:12)
The Bible does record occurrences where entire households were baptized. (Acts 10:33, 44–48; 11:14; 16:15; 1 Cor. 1:16) In these cases, the Bible also records that each member of these households believed in Jesus and was saved. (John 4:53; Acts 18:8; 1 Cor. 16:15) Both Jesus and his apostles gave the command for disciples to be baptized as an expression of that discipleship. (Matt. 28:19, Acts 2:38)
Do You Have to be Baptized to be Saved?
Salvation is solely a gift given to people whose faith rests in the grace of God to forgive their sins through the death and resurrection of Jesus. For example, when the Philippian jailer in the Bible asked what was required of him to be saved, Paul did not mention baptism but simply said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus.” Likewise, the thief who died on the cross next to Jesus was promised by our Lord that “today you will be with me in Paradise,” though he had not been baptized.
Someone can be unbaptized and yet be a Christian who is destined for heaven. Nonetheless, even though one can be a Christian without being baptized, a Christian should be baptized. If nothing else, Jesus commanded baptism to show in outward sign the inward covenant relationship we have with him. Similarly, married people are married regardless of whether they wear their wedding ring, which is the outward symbol of their inward covenant relationship. But I, for one, am glad that my wife wears her wedding ring.
Baptism is the biblical way in which we show that by the power of the Spirit, we died to our old way of life through the death of Jesus, and live a new life through the resurrection of Jesus, cleansed from our sin in the same way that water cleanses us from filth. Therefore, being baptized does not make someone a Christian. Not being baptized does not cause someone to stop being a Christian, but a Christian should be baptized.
What is Communion?
Communion (Lord’s Supper) is a sacrament given by Jesus to the church. Jesus used physical objects to signify a couple of spiritual truths with his disciples.
•BREAD: The broken bread symbolized Jesus’ body broken on the cross for sin.
•WINE: The wine symbolized a new covenant established between God and his people through the shedding of Jesus’ blood for the forgiveness of sins.
NOTE: Jesus was not teaching his disciples that the bread and wine were literally his physical body and blood, but rather a representation of his body and blood.
Who Should Take Communion?
When Jesus said, “eat” and “drink” he was speaking to his disciples (Matthew 26:26–27). Therefore, communion is a sacrament only for Christians. The Bible warns that those who take Communion in an unworthy manner will be guilty of disrespecting Jesus that will bring judgment (1 Corinthians 11:27–29).
Why is Communion Important?
Christians taking Communion are making a proclamation that they believe in Jesus as their Savior and have trusted in his sacrificial death for the forgiveness of their sins (1 Corinthians 11:26).
The act of taking Communion does not save a person, but rather demonstrates a person’s personal faith and shows that they have already been given salvation in Jesus. Communion is done regularly as a act of worship to celebrating Jesus. Jesus said it is important for Christians to practice Communion as a way to remember him and his sacrificial death (1 Corinthians 11:24–25).
When Should you take Communion?
Instructions are given in 1 Corinthians 11:23–30.
1. Communion must not be done in an unworthy manner (1 Cor. 11:27): The Corinthian had many divisions and factions that existed within the church while Communion was taking place (1 Cor. 11:18–19). People were being selfish, acting self-centered, getting drunk and neglecting the poor and needy (1 Cor. 11:21). The sacrament was not being taken seriously, and the people were being disrespectful to Jesus and hurtful to each other (1 Cor. 11:22). These sins were so vile that God disciplined some of people within the church with sickness and death (1 Cor. 11:30).
2. We must examine ourselves (1 Cor. 11:28): Before participating in Communion, a person must examine all of his or her life for sin (words, deeds, thoughts, and even the motives and intentions of their heart). If any un-confessed sin is found it must be dealt with, because the unrepentant Christian is not qualified to partake in Communion. Communion should only be taken after a Christian has fully confessed to Jesus and laid the guilt of their sin at the foot of his cross. Anything less insults Jesus and disrespects God.
3. We must discern the body (1 Corinthians 11:29): Communion is a personal act done as part of a corporate worship experience. To discern the body means to consider all personal relationships within the church. If there is unresolved conflict or sin, it must be dealt with. If anyone takes Communion without discerning the entire body of the church they neglect others, cause disunity, and bring judgment.
Communion is a sacred sacrament full of meaning, truth, and beauty. It has great value in the life of a believer and the life of the church. All Christians should take the act of Communion very seriously, out of reverence and gratitude for Jesus.
Why does Community Gospel have “members”?
Community Gospel Church supports and agrees to the Biblical use of the metaphor of a body to describe the church: ‘‘For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ’‘ (1 Cor. 12:12). This is a lovely illustration of how we’re each created to serve different functions, we need everyone to function in order to be a healthy body, and all of us as separate parts find purpose and unity under Jesus, ‘‘the head of the body, the church’‘ (Col. 1:18). “Members” are the church (Eph. 2:19-22).
What’s the difference between a member and somebody who just goes to Community Gospel every week?
At Community Gospel, we make a distinction between “members” and “non-members”. If you’re not a member, then you’re technically a guest that remains to a certain extent separated from our church family, and separated from the maturity, protection, accountability, and care that comes with being an active member of the church.
This may not make much difference for visitors and non-Christians, but Christians who consume rather than commit to a local church do a disservice to Jesus’ body (the church) and themselves. Members, on the other hand, participate as the church as a whole. They sacrifice their time, talents, and treasure; committing to the care and community of their fellow members; and submit to the authority God has established to lead our congregation. In short, the difference between a member and a non-member is that members live “on vision”.
What does it mean to be “on vision”?
To be on vision means we are together living out our identity found in Jesus Christ, embodying the Community Gospel vision statement and covenant by living a life of worship to God making Christ known near and far. Being on vision also means we are together covenantaly committed to fellowshipping with one another, working to help non-Christians know and grow in the Gospel (Matt. 28:18-20). These expressions are only possible with an identity established in Jesus.
Why should I become a member?
Community Gospel is a family, adopted by God (Gal. 4:6-7 Eph. 1:5). We care for each other, pray for each other, and serve together. If you’re already a Christian, if you’re already in some form of Community Gospel community, if you’re already giving of your finances and your time, then you’re already fulfilling some functions of a member. Without making an official commitment, however, we cannot provide the same level of pastoral care and community support, in part because we may not know who you are, and in part because the Bible requires that we take care of our family first (Eph. 2:19 and Gal. 6:10).
If you’re not a Christian, you need to first seek and discover what it means to confess and believe in Jesus Christ as Lord (we would love to talk with you about this). If you are a Christian who has spent a lot of time at Community Gospel, search your heart and identify your hesitation. There may be valid reasons to abstain from Community Gospel membership. But we’re rebels by our cursed nature; if you tremble at the very idea of becoming a member, ask yourself why–and don’t hesitate to speak with a pastor or elder of CGC.
What are the benefits of being a member?
Scripture calls us a body, a family, a household–being a Christian is not a solo effort. Jesus works through the church (Eph. 2:10), the church is Jesus’ body (1 Cor. 12:27), and apart from Jesus, you can do nothing (John 15).
This isn’t McDonalds, a country club, or a 24-Hour Fitness. Again, members are the church. ‘‘In love [God] predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ…So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God’‘ (Eph. 1:4-5 2:19).
You don’t join for the perks–although members do, by nature, enjoy greater access to community and certain volunteer opportunities are only available to members as well as voting privileges. The benefit is that we get to worship Jesus together, serve in His kingdom, and be children of God! We enjoy the guidance that his Word provides, and, when sin comes between us, we enjoy the reconciliation Jesus’ blood provides.
How do I become a member?
CGC asks all our people asking about church membership to first participate in the expectations online study found here. After completion of all the sessions, turn in the CGC covenant at any CGC service and we will contact you soon!
What is a “member covenant”? Can I read it before I become a member?
A covenant is a promise by which we obligate ourselves to one another in such a way that the obligation of one party is not dependent on the faithfulness of the other (Ezek. 20:44 36:22 Ps. 76:11 Hos. 2:19-20 3:1 2 Tim. 2:13). A covenant is what we would use to describe the vows between a husband and his wife, and between God and his people. We ask our members to sign a covenant so that we know that prospective members understand what it means to be a Christian, baptized and a part of the church. The member covenant is not a legal document or some sort of cultic rite. It is an affirmation, an agreement, and a source of accountability for both the church and its individual members.
Do members have to be baptized?
Since Jesus commands that all of his disciples be baptized, baptism is a requirement for all Community Gospel members (Matt. 28:19 Acts 2:38 10:48 1 Peter 3:21). If you’ve already been baptized since you became a Christian, you don’t need to get re-baptized. Community Gospel performs believer baptisms only, which means we don’t baptize infants.
If you have more questions about membership or baptism specifically, email us @ firstname.lastname@example.org
Can I dedicate my children?
SIX THINGS TO UNDERSTAND ABOUT DEDICATING CHILDREN
1. It’s Old: The practice of child dedication is based on scriptural precedent, rooted in the Old Testament. Like many children in the biblical text, we see Jesus presented to the Lord in the Temple as an infant (Luke 2:22–35 and 1 Samuel 1:1-28).
2. It is a Call for Blessing: Child dedication is based on and acknowledges God’s blessing. The families that are presenting their children are asking God’s concern and care for children (Isa. 54:13; Matt 18:1–5, 10; 19:13–15; Luke 18:15–17; Acts 2:39; 1 John 2:12–13).
3. It’s About Parents as Well: We must understand it is the parents who are doing the dedicating. They have made a commitment to Christ first and then are making a dedication to live out and model what following Jesus looks like in the home. What we are doing today is a public acknowledgement of that commitment.
4. It Acknowledges a Gift was Given: Parents acknowledge that their children are a gift given you by God (Gen 33:5; Psalm 127:3–5). Even in the tough times, they are a blessing, a great privilege, and a source of joy (Prov. 23:24–25). We recognize that they have been created by our Father in heaven, and as such belong to him, being entrusted to the parents as stewards to raise in Jesus (Eph. 6:4, Deut 6:7).
5. It’s a Commitment to Prayer: Parents are committing to live their lives, by the grace of God, in such a way as to be a positive example as followers of Jesus. They are committing to pray that their children will find it easy to follow them as they follow Jesus, and that they will not become a stumbling block to their children’s saving faith in Jesus.
6. It’s an Act of Accountability: Community Gospel Church, leadership (elders and deacons) and our community commit to supporting and equipping parents by the grace of God to fulfill our biblical responsibilities, and likewise to be good examples to our children.
Dedicating children to the Lord is an expression of our commitment to persevering faithfulness in raising our children out of the heart-posture that God calls us to embrace daily:
“This is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word” (Isa. 66:2).