How to Encourage Gospel Culture

This summer we are going to read through Ray Ortlund’s book, The Gospel: How the Church Portrays the Beauty of Christ. I know the book was quoted on the blog last week, but at risk of overexposure I hope mentioning it again will only encourage you to read with us. Also, I’m providing a quote I mentioned in my sermon Sunday. When I shared this nugget I noticed an unusual amount of people writing, so I’m guessing it struck a chord (or maybe you all were doodling).

As we are going through the last half of Ephesians (4:1-6:20), I have sought to constantly remind us that we are God’s children (Eph. 1:5, 5:1). This means that we are learning how to live in light of being a part of God’s family (Eph. 4:21-24). We have a new identity and a status change in Christ (Eph. 2:1-10). We also need a healthy environment (Gospel Culture) to walk in our progressive sanctification (the grace-filled process of us becoming godly in Christ, Eph. 5:1-2). Under the heading, “The Household of God” Ortlund writes:

The family of God is where people behave in a new way. I think of it with a simple equation: gospel + safety + time. The family of God is where people should find lots of gospel, lots of safety, and lots of time. In other words, the people in our churches need:

-Multiple exposures to the happy news of the gospel from one end of the Bible to the other;

-The safety of non-accusing sympathy so that they can admit their problems honestly; and

-Enough time to rethink their lives at a deep level, because people are complex and changing is not easy. (pgs. 71- 72)

In their book, The Compelling Community: Where God’s Power Makes a Church Attractive, Mark Dever and Jamie Dunlop write to church leaders. Their goal is to offer a “set of biblical principles that can guide gradual change in your congregation over several years” (pg. 14). At one point they offer “four P’s that can lead to persistent cultural change” (pg. 131). I want to slightly adapt three of them in order to challenge us all. Are you ready…you’ve heard me say this before…here it is: we need proclamation, prayer, and patience. In a culture of being disciples and making disciples we all should consistently speak (proclaim) God’s Word into the life of one another (Eph. 4:15; Rom. 15:14). We should pray, asking “God to do a supernatural work” in the life of our church. Last, we should be patient as we wait on the Lord to do the work that only he can do. Dever and Dunlop wrote, “as Christ’s servants, our job is not to ‘effect change.’ It is to be faithful.”

I think it is clear that I’m not advocating inactivity, but rather biblically faithful activity trusting the Lord for results. We must proclaim; giving people “multiple exposures” to the gospel. We must be willing to walk with another through difficulty providing “safety.” We must endure with another as we seek to live in light of who we are in Christ. We must pray expressing our dependence on God and then we wait patiently trusting His sovereignty.


About Pastor Matt

Matt Baker is the Pastor of Redeemer Fellowship Church.
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