TWO CORE PRINCIPLES
1. The Gospel is the milk AND the meat of God’s word. It is the means of our justification AND our sanctification. We exist to help believers understand this beautiful truth and to equip them to live in light of it.
The whole of the Christian life begins, continues and is finished by grace. This is the declaration of scripture. Over and over again we are told that we received Christ, the Spirit and Eternal Life by faith alone. We are then told that we are to continue in the same way; leaning on Christ by faith.
There is a common view that the gospel is only the beginning of the Christian life, the starter, the first rung of the ladder, the shallow end of the pool, the milk, one spoke of the bicycle. This view can lead to the idea that maturity in Christ is synonymous with an understanding of deeper theological concepts, an exactness on all doctrinal points and/or outward adherence to biblical or traditional standards.
Here at Reach the Isles we believe that the gospel is the beginning, middle and end of the Christian life. It is the starter, the main course and the dessert. It is the first and last rung of the ladder. It is the shallow end and the deep end. It is the milk and the meat. It is the centre from which all the spokes of the bicycle come out of.
While growing in our understanding of scripture and believing what is true is important they should never distract from the goal of becoming more like Christ. While outward obedience is important, we can never truly obey and, therefore, should never try to, without the continual inward work of Christ by the Spirit. This inward work of Christ, working His character into us, will then express itself outwardly in our speech and lifestyle.
God's Desire is to Restore Us and Transform Us into the Image (Character) of Christ:
"Conformed to the image of His Son" - Romans 8v29
"Be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us" - Ephesians 5v1-2
We Begin and Continue this Restoration and Transformation by Faith:
"Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?" - Galatians 3v2-3
"As you received Christ Jesus the Lord [by faith], so walk in Him, rooted up and built up in Him and established in the faith" - Colossians 2v6-7
It is Christ who Produces the Desire and Strength to Bear His Character:
"filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ" - Philippians 1v9-11
"It is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure" - Philippians 2v13
Christlike Character Only Comes from Intimacy with Christ:
"We all, with unveiled faces, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another" - 2 Corinthians 3v18
"Abide in me, and I in you. As the brand cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me" - John 15v4
It is Christ who will Present Us Perfect before the Father:
"He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ" - Philippians 1v6
"Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of His glory with great joy" - Jude 1v24
John Newton writes, in Amazing Grace, about grace being the beginning, middle and end of the Christian life:
Was Grace that taught my heart to fear
(grace brought the work of conviction)
And Grace, my fears relieved
(by grace we are saved and made secure in Christ)
T'is Grace has brought me safe thus far
(grace had brought him through the temptations, struggles and trials of life)
And Grace will lead me home
(grace would bring him into the presence of God without blemish or stain)
2. The Word of God speaks consistently, clearly and powerfully into a world of broken gospels and worldviews. We exist to help believers understand the Biblical worldview and to equip them to engage this generation with it.
We live in a universe created by God and we have been hardwired to know Him. The fall of man has brought separation from God; we are now broken images of what we were created to be. However, there are still vestiges of the image of God in every human. We are still hardwired to know Him, we are still capable of doing good, we are still able to appreciate beauty. The problem is that, because of our spiritual fallen condition, we now hate God, love sin and fear judgement. We now willingly and actively suppress the truth of God.
Being made in the image of God while rejecting God leads to a brokenness in every one of us. We are hardwired to know the infinite God, but we run from Him, so we need other things to fill our longings. We are hardwired to know God's good law, but we want to break it, so we have a wonky understanding of morality, truth and reality.
Everyone has a Gospel
Everyone is pursuing purpose, identity and community in some direction. Everyone has some kind of fall-to-redemption narrative. It could be personal, such as weight loss, relationships, career, finances etc or it could be national such as racial issues, gender issues, animal care etc. Everyone sees their lives and/or world as fallen in some way. Everyone has some kind of answer for how to fix it.
The problem is that none of these answers, without God, are sufficient. Both the description of the fall and the means to fix the fall come up short. In the end, all attempts to fix the brokenness, without the true gospel, will either lead to a temporary fix or no fix at all. These false gospels, whether religious, relational, social, are like mirages in the desert; they appear refreshing at a distance, but when we finally make it, we find it empty and we are left thirsty and dying still.
Everyone has a Worldview
Everyone has a belief system about what is good, what is true and what is real. Those who suppress the truth of God cannot remain stationary in their belief systems but must swing across the pendulum of being inconsistent and arbitrary.
On one side of the extreme, there is the Nihilist who maintains that there is no such thing as ultimate, truth, good and reality. The problem with this view is that no-one who adopts this view can live consistently in this universe of good, truth and reality. On the other side is the Romantic Humanist who maintains that there is such a thing as truth, good and reality but that there is no Absolute Source of these things. The problem with this view is that it is arbitrary. No-one can live on either extreme for long and remain sane, and so, when the occasion suits, the no-god worldview holder will swing from one side to the other.
Here at Reach the Isles we want to equip believers to listen to and filter through the brokenness and confusion of the individual and unique person you are speaking to in an engaging and winsome way to help them see and understand the realty and consistency of the Christian worldview and their real motives for suppressing the truth of God. We also want to help believers understand that, when we sin, it is usually connected to a false gospel that we are hoping in and/or a false worldview we have come to believe.