The above title was point number one in a series of sermons titled “The Death of a Church” delivered by our senior pastor Patrick Abendroth beginning two Sunday’s ago. What is meant by assuming the gospel is to assume the conversion of an individual. It is also to assume the flock, congregation, or church leadership can articulate the gospel of Jesus Christ. And also the assumption that the local church is standing firm in the faith, and striving together. This assumption of the gospel is one of several signs of a dying church mentioned in the sermon series.
Is the conversion of an individual down played? Does the church even discuss conversion? Jesus makes it very clear in Matthew 18:3. In the context of the disciples questioning Jesus about who the greatest in His kingdom. Jesus states:
Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (ESV)
Is conversion taken for granted? Is the assumption that salvation is passed down from previous generations? Whenever I think of this assumption, I think of a song I heard many years ago. The song was recorded by artist Nicole C. Mullen called “Granny’s Angel” which basically warns folks that you can’t get to heaven on Granny’s conversion. No one has ever been or will ever be born a Christian. No one automatically becomes a Christian at a certain age or after some series of classes are completed. One of the signs of a dying church is the assumption of the pastor, leadership, and congregation that those folks who attend and are involved in ministry are believers.
Which brings us to point number two in the signs. I will only briefly mention this one as I may blog about in more detail at a later date. Point number two is gospel ignorance. Do you know the gospel? Can you articulate the gospel? Pastor Mark Dever of Capital Hill Baptist Church and founder of 9Marks Ministry says that every believer should be able to articulate the gospel in one minute or less. The apostle Paul tells the Corinthian church in 1 Cor. 15:1-4 to hold fast to the gospel he preached to them.
1 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,
We also should hold fast to this same gospel. If you can’t think of how to articulate it now, it can all be summed up in three words. God saves sinners! We can surely elaborate on that.