“LIVING AND SHARING THE GOSPEL”
April 29, 2018
– Call To Worship –
“LOVE YOU LORD”
“LOVE YOU SO MUCH”
“I GIVE YOU MY HEART”
Prayers of Intercession
Sermon – Don Auxier
“Do You Love Me?”
“I LOVE THE LORD”
Worship God in Spirit and Truth
Grow in His Grace and Knowledge
Share the Love and Hope we have in Christ.
Grace Communion International – We are an international Christian fellowship, on mission with the Father, Son and Spirit, living and sharing the gospel in ways that birth all kinds of churches, for all kinds of people, in all kinds of places. As an international Christian fellowship, we have about 50,000 members formed into 900 churches spread across 100 countries.
Are we “evangelicals”?
GCI President Joseph Tkach
I was talking recently with a member who was wondering where Grace Communion International fits within the larger body of Christ. Noting that GCI is not Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox, they asked, “Does that mean we’re Protestant?” I answered yes, and they continued: “Since we’re not liberal or fundamentalist Christians, does that mean GCI is evangelical?” Again, my answer was yes, though as I’ll point out in this letter, the term “evangelical” is widely misunderstood and misrepresented. Note this comment from Christian scholar and professor Mark Noll:
In the rough and tumble world of American politics, the label [evangelical] is now often used simply for the most active religious supporters of President Donald Trump. By contrast, in the rarified world of professional scholarship, academics now sometimes treat it as a term with so much ambiguity, fluidity and imprecision that it cannot meaningfully designate any single group of Christians. (Source)
Despite the ambiguity and controversy swirling around the term evangelical, Professor Noll believes that it does have continuing value and should not be abandoned. He concludes: “When used with responsible attention to history and careful focus on generally accepted norms of… definition, [it] can still communicate reality and not just confusion.”
A related question is this: Who gets to define who and what an evangelical is? Often overlooked in answering that question is that, first and foremost, evangelical is a theological identifier. Before it identifies a group of people, it identifies the gospel (the evangel) of Jesus. It is first Jesus’ gospel, not ours—it is first about him, not about us. Those who rightly call themselves evangelicals are careful to point first to Jesus and his gospel, and then to what it means to be a follower of Jesus.
Faithfulness to the gospel is measured by faithfulness to the Bible, whose authors were appointed by Jesus. Central to the Scriptures are the four Gospels authored by the four evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. As these authors show, Jesus is the gospel—he is the true evangelical!
Sadly, for many in North American society, the term evangelical is defined not by Jesus and his gospel, but by the media and entertainment industry, along with politicians, psychologists, sociologists and historians—people often with little or no understanding of the biblical and theological roots and meaning of the term evangelical. The result is the confusion, controversy and outright misrepresentations that swirl around the term in our culture today.
To add to the problem, there are religious leaders who call themselves evangelicals but, at best, are on the extreme edges of what theologically can rightly be called evangelical. Some of these leaders are hypocrites who, wanting to justify themselves or cover up their unfaithful ways, co-opt the label evangelical. Though these pretenders are rightly criticized, the media often portray evangelicals as a monolithic group that is largely white, privileged, ultra-right-wing, racist and homophobic. The unfortunate result is that all who call themselves evangelical are tarred with the same brush by the media, casting a spell of guilt-by-association on those who, in actuality, rightly bear the name evangelical.
The reality is that evangelicals are not a monolithic group—in fact, they are quite diverse, including racially and ethnically, as shown in this chart:
In an article published by the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), Ed Stetzer notes that research on evangelical identity has tended to focus on three measures: behavior, belonging and belief.
The article quotes NAE President Leith Anderson who, in weighing up the research, notes that “evangelicals must be defined primarily by their beliefs rather than politics or race.” Stetzer then offers this:
In the hopes of crafting a consensus definition of core evangelical beliefs, we evaluated the statements of a diverse group of sociologists, theologians and evangelical leaders. In weighing the insights of these leaders, LifeWay Research developed a definition of evangelical belief around strong agreement with these four statements:
The Bible is the highest authority for what I believe. It is very important for me personally to encourage non-Christians to trust Jesus Christ as their Savior. Jesus Christ’s death on the cross is the only sacrifice that could remove the penalty of my sin. Only those who trust in Jesus Christ alone as their Savior receive God’s free gift of eternal salvation.
GCI agrees with these statements, though we would locate them within the larger theological context of our whole Statement of Beliefs. Our agreement is reflected by our membership in the National Association of Evangelicals (in the U.S.), the World Evangelical Alliance, the Evangelical Alliance (in the UK and Philippines) and similar organizations elsewhere. The beliefs and ideals that characterize these evangelical organizations are addressed in The Capetown Commitment, an 80-page document that resulted from deliberations at the Third Lausanne Conference on World Evangelization. If you’d like to learn more about what it means to be evangelical, I highly recommend that you read this document.
As a denomination, churches and individuals, we are healthy when we are living out our biblically based, evangelical beliefs. With that in mind, I close with the admirable example of one of our retired pastors, Don Lawson. For many years Don served GCI-USA as a pastor then as a district superintendent.
Following retirement, Don experienced severe health problems, had to be hospitalized, then spent time rehabilitating in an assisted-care facility. Don sent me a note recently, letting me know he had returned home. His note included this:
About a month ago, the nurse in charge of memory care, where [my wife] Sue lives, asked if I would do a church service each Sunday for the Alzheimer’s patients in her ward. I agreed, and have spoken to them for the last three weeks. What a challenge for an 81-year-old, but I enjoyed it. We have had an average of 15 attending and I will continue to help them as long as I am able. My purpose is to try to find a level of teaching they might understand.
I begin with He knows my name. Second: Jesus loves me this I know (and some sang along with me). Third: What is Jesus doing now? (I talked about a place of eternal joy and happiness, with no sorrow or tears).
That’s what being an evangelical looks like, and that’s the gospel evangelicals love to share!
Gospel blessings to you all,
†† Pastor’s Corner ††
Pastor David Perry & Jonnie
For many years, I always kept an important prayer request in our bulletin prayer list, but I haven’t included it for quite a few months: Prayers for Divine Appointments to touch others with Jesus’ life and love.
It’s back in the prayer list starting today! The reason we have been saved and given New Life in Christ Jesus – is to show forth His Life & Love – that we have and are experiencing – to others. They need to see and hear that God is a good, kind, loving, grace-filled friend. We need to be reminded of this!
Evangelist Bill Keller included this profound prayer in a recent post:
***DAILY PERSONAL PRAYER FOR YOU***
Dear Lord, please help me to live this day
honoring you in my thoughts, words, and deeds.
Help me this day to live my life pleasing
and acceptable to Jesus. Allow me to use my life
to help someone else during this day,
and be kind to everyone I come across
no matter how they may treat me.
Let Christ shine through me
throughout this day
oh Lord, be glorified through my life!
In Jesus name I pray…AMEN!
I must admit that I have become somewhat lax in making this a daily prayer. How about each of you? The most profound line in this prayer – to me – is: “Oh Lord, be glorified through my life!” Additionally, know that the Lord desires greatly to help us live a life pleasing and acceptable to Him.
Oh, if we could only see and realize how much the Lord desires to help us, encourage us and love us each day…it would make a wonderful difference in our life —- and in the lives of those we encounter each day. These are the people that daily “come into our lives” and those whom the Spirit puts on our minds to reach out to via phone calls, emails and personal visits. Again we do this out of love, to bring Glory to God and help them catch a glimpse of the Life & Love of Jesus.
Rejoicing That Jesus Is Alive & Loves Us – Pastor David
Prayers for our Country and Pres. Trump
Prayers for the Body of Christ World Wide
Our Persecuted Christian Brothers & Sisters Around The World
Local Prayer Requests
JW Holmes-(Vicki’s friend) leukemia – hospitalized with blood clots.
Mary Coffey, prayers for healing, strength & encouragement.
AnIta – (niece of Barb Hudson) – continue prayers for complete healing
Doug Whitlock – (Laf) Is still in a lot of pain
Oscar Brown (GCI Indy) Will be having more tests….headaches and other medical issues
John Nelson (GCI Indy) Still dealing with health issues
Lucy (Anita Franz’s sister) She started Cardiac Rehab.
Peggy Perry Still looking for a job, is experiencing some tiredness after all the chemo and radiation.
Deben Sam (GCI affiliate in Nepal) Prayers that they can remodel their current building, raising it above flood waters. (See update in this bulletin)
Joseph & Georgette Franklin, Our Haiti Church & School– Prayers for safety & blessing & provision.
Joe & Tammy Tkach & Greg & Susan Williams Protection, safety, wisdom & encouragement
For Divine Appointments To Touch Others With Jesus’ Life & Love