The Crossing’s Fifth Core Value

In April of 2000, two months before we held our first worship service at The Crossing, Keith and I wrote out our Six Core Values that would shape who we are and how we would do ministry as a new church.

And those who are part of The Crossing will see that the same Six Core Values we wrote out eleven years ago still shape our approach to ministry today.

I’ve previously discussed our Mission Statement and our First and Second and Third and Fourth Core Values in previous blogs.

Today I want to discuss our Fifth Core Value, which in hindsight may be more of a doctrinal statement than a Core Value, per se. Doctrines are just beliefs, and everyone has and lives by their doctrines whether they know it or not. Our Fifth Core Value is a doctrine that shapes how we want to do ministry, how we want to function as a church, how we want to motivate and lead and counsel and teach people, and what we want our church community to embrace together as we relate to one another and as we relate to those outside the church.

So this is the paragraph Keith and I wrote eleven years ago:

Core Value #5—The Continuing Grace of the Gospel

The gospel message, that God has completely accepted us in Christ, is something we must never move past as individual believers or as a church body. We believe that the path to lasting and deeper spiritual renewal is the continual embracing of the gospel. Our passion is to apply the sufficiency of the grace of God in Christ to every aspect of our lives and church community. As a result, we become properly motivated and equipped for true obedience and maturity, and thus avoid the common pitfalls of moralism, performance spirituality, and guilt motivation.

The apostle Paul describes the gospel message this way in 2 Timothy 1:8—

“[God] has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time” (TNIV).

Anyone God has “saved” has been saved for holiness, not by holiness. Holiness doesn’t mean that we live like monks but that we become like Christ. Anyone God has saved was not saved by anything holy or righteous or good that they’ve done, but only by God’s own purpose and grace. Think about that.

That means it’s never true, that if I obey God, then I am accepted by God (and the more I obey, the more I’ll be accepted). But rather, because I am already accepted by God’s grace in Christ, I’m secure in his love and going to become more and more like Christ over time as a result. Because I am already accepted by God, therefore I more and more want to obey him because I trust that his will for me is ultimately what’s most satisfying. I don’t obey to become righteous before God because I am already righteous before God and completely accepted by him the exact same degree that Christ is accepted by the Father. That’s life-changing security. And that’s what it means to be saved by grace through faith in Christ alone (Ephesians 2:8).

So the apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:21—

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (TNIV).

That’s often referred to as The Great Exchange—we give Christ all our sin and he gives us all his righteousness. This exchange is 100% or it’s 0%. It’s nothing less than total or it’s indeed nothing. That’s living by God’s grace for us in Christ. Living by God’s grace means we trust 100% in God’s grace to us in Christ as our only basis for acceptance by God.

In other words, a Christian is someone who is learning not to trust in their own obedience and good works and holiness and righteousness to make them acceptable before God, but rather, a Christian is learning to trust in Christ as their total and only righteousness and holiness before God.

A Christian is someone who is learning that either all of their sins are paid for by Christ’s death on the cross and forgiven by God, or none of them are. There is nothing in between. So either Christ is 100% of our forgiveness and righteousness before God, or we have zero forgiveness and righteousness before God. There is nothing in between. This exchange is 100% or it’s 0%.

Jerry Bridges, in his excellent book, Transforming Grace, says it this way—

“Here is a spiritual principle regarding the grace of God: To the extent you are clinging to any vestiges of self-righteousness or are putting any confidence in your own spiritual attainments, to that degree you are not living by the grace of God in your life. This principle applies both in salvation and in living the Christian life. …If you are trusting to any degree in your own morality or religious attainments, or if you believe God will somehow recognize any of your good works as merit toward your salvation, you need to seriously consider if you are truly a Christian” (p. 33-34).

So this means we’re never truly obeying God if we’re trying to obey our way to God. Trying to obey our way to God is not living by the gospel for which Christ died and rose again.

We truly obey God when we’re secure in his grace for us in Christ, and are therefore freed up to love people, serve people, be sacrificially generous with our possessions, pursue righteousness—all because we are secure in God’s love and grace and believe that only Christ ultimately and truly satisfies our heart’s deepest longings. Real obedience is not so-that, but because-of.

Being a church that embraces this gospel message will mean that we don’t have to be pretenders—as if we have our act together more than we actually do. Our lives are all messy to one degree or another. We’re all sinful people “saved” only by God’s grace for us in Christ. So we’ll be humble toward one another and graciously forgiving toward one another.

We’ll treat those outside the church with a genuine humility, honestly grasping that we’re no better than they are. That’s what it means to truly understand God’s grace. People will know that we know that we don’t have all the answers to life’s complexities, but we’re willing to help and love and serve and pray with and be with people who are sinners just like us. And if living by God’s grace this way can point others to the gospel as well, then that’s the best ministry we can possibly have.

So we read again what we wrote eleven years ago when we started The Crossing—

“The continuing grace of the gospel—that God has completely accepted us in Christ—is something we must never move past as individual believers or as a church body. We believe that the path to lasting and deeper spiritual renewal is the continual embracing of the gospel. Our passion is to apply the sufficiency of the grace of God in Christ to every aspect of our lives and church community. As a result, we become properly motivated and equipped for true obedience and maturity, and thus avoid the common pitfalls of moralism, performance spirituality, and guilt motivation.”

(Update: You can read about The Crossing’s Sixth Core Value here).

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

*
*