our vision is God’s vision
Reaching the lost and nurturing the found for the glory of God
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”(Matt 28:19–20 ESV)
The principal purpose of humanity is to bring glory and honor to the Creator. We were created in God’s image, to reflect his glorious power and goodness, and to enjoy Him forever. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are self-sufficient and eternal. God needs nothing. It was an act of kindness for him to create us. That’s not hubris. He’s that wonderful – all powerful, all knowing, holy, just, trustworthy and true.
God, in His infinite power and wisdom, had a plan that would allow Him to be merciful to sinners without compromising His own holiness. He would be both just and the justifier of those who have faith in the finished sacrificial work of His Son, Jesus Christ. This is the God we serve. He is frightfully holy, but tenderly merciful. This is incredibly good news. Jesus tasked His church with making disciples of all nations. We are to share this gospel of the kingdom of God at home and abroad … for God’s glory and for man’s good. That’s the commission He left to His church, and that’s the core of our vision.
Build Up the Body
The church’s task is not done when the sheep hear the shepherd’s voice. We unashamedly seek to win converts to Christ. But once they’ve been won, by the power of the Holy Spirit, the church is tasked with training them up, discipling them. Christ’s commission for his church was not merely to win converts, but to make disciples. And that’s our vision. The church offers the only avenue of hope for real change for real people. And the church equips them for works of service. Through the gospel, it teaches ‘beggars to show other beggars where to find bread’. But to do so, the gospel must be clear. We must be absolutely explicit about how REAL PEOPLE are to find REAL HOPE of REAL CHANGE.
Only in the gospel does one find the grounds for expecting a happy outcome. Our own sinfulness is too evident to ignore. We know that rebellion against God is at the heart of all our problems. And we know that anything short of reconciling us to God is a hopeless solution. But when we are reconciled to God in Christ Jesus, we are not only promised an inheritance in heaven that can never perish, spoil, or fade, we are given a foretaste of it in this life. The Christian life is the only life worth living. It is the only life where the joy is not empty and fleeting. It is the only life that offers freedom from anxiety, worry and fear.
“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.” Jesus came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance and faith. This hope is not offered to those who don’t need it, as if such people existed. Romans is clear, “No one is righteous, not even one.” At Living Hope, we recognize that, wherever you’ve been, you are no worse than the rest of us. We are sinners, saved by grace. And we recognize, too, that we need each other. “No man is an island, entire of itself,” said John Donne, and he was right. We are social creatures. At Living Hope, we strive to develop a community built upon grace, ready to share the joys and sorrows of our neighbor, and ready to spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Are we always successful? Of course not. But that’s because we’re real people, just like you. Come help us do a better job of caring for one another.
The world offers hundreds of self-help options, or blames our problems on our brains or on other people. But we know that the problem is with our character. And no force of will can change the heart of man. If you want real change, real renewal, it is only to be found in union with Christ. There are two major forces at work in real biblical change. One is gratitude. As you grasp the grace that has been shown to you in the gospel, you will long to live to please your gracious Lord. The other is potential. As you recognize what God has declared you to be, and strive with all your might to live up to it, you will be empowered and enabled by the Holy Spirit more and more to die unto sin and to live unto righteousness.
so how do we go about this?
There are three directions to the ministry of the church: 1) Glorification of God, 2) Making disciples, and 3) Growing in Grace. Scripture and prayer lie at the heart of all of these things. As you bring Scripture and prayer to bear in each direction, it will look a little different. We sing, give, fast and offer prayers of thanks and praise to glorify God. We proclaim the gospel and go (or support those who do), and show mercy to others in our efforts to extend the kingdom of God. And we instruct, encourage, challenge, and even rebuke believers, encouraging one another toward love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24). And as a family, we stand ready to meet every need of mercy and support as God enables us.