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GOSPEL CR002

Various leaders within the Anglican family came together in London in 2012 to answer the question, “What is the gospel?” Their answer wonderfully expresses the meaning of the good news:

The gospel is the life-­transforming message of salvation from sin and all its consequences through the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is both a declaration and a summons: announcing what has been done for us in Christ and calling us to repentance, faith and submission to his lordship. ‘Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, was buried and was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures’.1

Jesus himself proclaimed ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe the gospel’.2 This gospel finds its ultimate ground in the character of the triune God, his perfect love and holiness. God will not ignore human sin. Sin leads to God’s just and holy wrath and the awful reality of hell. The grave consequences of sin — guilt before God and the judgment to come, enslavement to sin and Satan, corruption and death — all must be dealt with. We cannot deal with those consequences ourselves, in part or in whole. In this light, God’s determined love expressed itself most clearly when the Father sent his Son in the power of the Spirit to be the Savior of the world.3 ‘For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life’.4 ‘God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us’.5

The gospel announces the work of the triune God. The Son came to do the Father’s will in the power of the Spirit. By the Spirit he was incarnate in Mary’s womb in fulfillment of the OT Scriptures, becoming genuinely one of us while remaining truly God.6  He was made like us in every way, sin excepted.7 At the same time he is the unique Son of God, the only savior of the world. He lived the perfect life that none of us can live, always doing the will of the Father who sent him.8 He died for our sins and was raised for our justification, always in perfect unity with the Father and the Spirit. ‘For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit …’9

The gospel, the proclamation of what God has done in Christ, is the powerful means by which God saves men and women today.10 As the gospel is proclaimed, the Holy Spirit enables us to trust in God’s promise of forgiveness and eternal life. Faith, genuine repentance and a transformed life are evidence that the gospel has been at work. Because Christ has died and been raised from the grave we cannot continue as before. In response to God’s mercy in saving us, we are called to be obedient, to stand as Christ’s faithful people in the world. We recognize that we now belong to the one who sanctified his people through his own blood.11 Having died to sin in Christ we cannot continue to live in it.12 As those rescued by Christ, our thinking and our behavior must be determined by his will expressed in his authoritative written word. Yet this new life of faith and obedience is never a human achievement. We are saved only through faith in Christ alone and even our faith is a gift of God.13 We have been brought from death to life by Jesus and the life he gives us is life as it was meant to be, life to the full.14  It is a life characterized by trust in God’s goodness, love of God and of our neighbor, and hope in the midst of suffering, looking forward to that day when every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.15 On that day, God’s redeemed people will enjoy his presence in a new heavens and new earth in which righteousness dwells.16 In the meantime, his service is perfect freedom.

The gospel announces God’s great victory and the fulfillment of his ancient promises in Christ.17  Sin and the powers that stand behind it are defeated.18 Judgment is exhausted so that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.19 Death has been overturned by the one who is the resurrection and the life.20 Exalted to the right hand of the Father, he pours out his Spirit on the church, equipping it powerfully to worship, to witness by word and deed to the gospel of God, which always remains the gospel concerning his Son.21 This same gospel, proclaimed by Jesus and his apostles, is our message in every age to a broken world of lost men and women who can be rescued only by Jesus, the crucified but risen Saviour and Lord of all. It is in the faithful proclamation of the gospel, and in the living of lives that have been transformed by it, that we give God the glory that is his due.

References:

1  1 Corinthians 15:3–4
2  Mark 1:14
3  1 John 4:14
4  John 3:16
5  Romans 5:8
6  Isaiah 7:14; Luke 1:35
7  Hebrews 4:15
8  John 6:38; 8:28–29
9  1 Peter 3:18; 2 Corinthians 5:21
10  Romans 1:16–17
11  Hebrews 13:12
12  Romans 6:2
13  Ephesians 2:8–9
14  John 10:10
15  Philippians 2:9–10
16  2 Peter 3:13
17  Genesis 3:15; Isaiah 53:5–6
18  Colossians 2:13–15
19  Romans 8:1
20  John 11:25
20  Acts 2:33; Romans 1:1–3

From the FCA Leaders’ Conference, London, April 2012 and the GAFCON Website.

THEOLOGY

The Nicene Creed

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father,  God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father. Through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,  and was made man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

Our core beliefs are summarized in the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds, which are very ancient summaries of Christian faith. These creeds unite us with believers from every time and place, and place our church within the historical mainstream of faith.

As Anglican Christians, our faith also conforms to the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion. The Articles are a definitive statement of doctrine for the the Anglican church. The Articles were drawn up in response to various questions and disputes during the 16th century Reformation. As J.I. Packer put it, the Articles, “Catch the substance and spirit of biblical Christianity superbly well” and are an important part of our rich heritage.

X. Of Free-Will.
The condition of Man after the fall of Adam is such, that he cannot turn and prepare himself, by his own natural strength and good works, to faith; and calling upon God. Wherefore we have no power to do good works pleasant and acceptable to God, without the grace of God by Christ preventing [preceding] us, that we may have a good will, and working with us, when we have that good will.

XI. Of the Justification of Man.
We are accounted righteous before God, only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ by Faith, and not for our own works or deservings. Wherefore, that we are justified by Faith only, is a most wholesome Doctrine, and very full of comfort, as more largely is expressed in the Homily of Justification.

BIBLEold-books-bible-candle-widescreen-high-definition-wallpaper-download-old-book-images-free

“Because the Bible is inspired by the Holy Spirit, it is rightly called the Word of God written. God is revealed in his mighty works and in the incarnation of our Lord, but his works and his will are made known to us through the inspired words of Scripture. God “has spoken through the prophets” (Nicene Creed), and continues to speak through the Bible today. (Hebrews 1:1-2; 3:7-11; 10:15-17; 12:25-27)”

“The Old Testament is to be read in the light of Christ, incarnate, crucified and risen, and the New Testament is to be read in light of God’s revelation to Israel. As Saint Augustine says, “the New is in the Old concealed, the Old is in the New revealed.” (Hebrews 8:1-7; Augustine, Questions in the Heptateuch 2.73)”

“Holy Scripture is “God’s Word written” (Articles of Religion, 20), given by the Holy Spirit through prophets and apostles as the revelation of God and his acts in human history, and is therefore the Church’s final authority in all matters of faith and practice. (2 Timothy 3:16)”

– From To Be A Christian: An Anglican Catechism

The Holy Scriptures: The canonical books of the Old and New Testaments are trustworthy as “God’s Word written,” sufficiently teach God’s will for His world, and have supreme authority for faith, life, and the continuous renewal and reform of the Church. They are inspired, infallible, and “contain all things necessary for salvation.” (Articles of Religion, 6)

As such, the Church’s preaching, teaching, and entire life must be thoroughly rooted in and informed by the Bible. As St. Jerome said, “Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.”

LITURGYshutterstock_84672577 (2)

New Creation is a liturgical church. This means that when we gather we follow a basic pattern of worship shared by most Christians since the early church. This pattern of worship has been described as the four-fold model (Gathering, Word, Table, and Dismissal). Within this pattern, the story of God is told. We come into the presence of God and confess again our need for forgiveness. We hear God’s Word and sing his praises. We respond with one of the great creeds and our prayers. We are fed and nourished at his Table and then we are sent back out into God’s world to be God’s people!

We also use the historic services of Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer (these are services of praise, Scripture reading, and prayer).

Words fall short, however. The best way to get familiar with our worship is to come and experience it!

However, it must also be said that every church is a liturgical church in some sense, doing worship according to some kind of order – written or unwritten. Today, many in the Church shy away from, downplay, or look down upon discussions about tradition and liturgy. Here, we embrace such discussions! As church historian Jaraslov Pelikan said, the choice is not between having tradition or not having tradition, but between choosing “good tradition over bad tradition.”

Interested in finding out more about our approach to worship? Check out the article, “What Does Our Worship Say?” by Justin Clemente.

MARRIAGE & SEXUALITYshutterstock_112932721

“God ordains marriage for three important  purposes: for the procreation of children to be brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord; for a remedy against sin and to avoid fornication; and for mutual friendship, help, and comfort, both in prosperity and adversity (Genesis 1:28, Deuteronomy 6:7, Proverbs 22:6, 31:10-12, 1 Corinthians 7:2-25).”

“The covenantal union of a man and woman in marriage signifies the communion between Christ, the heavenly bridegroom, and the Church, his holy bride. Not all are called to marriage, but all Christians are wedded to Christ and blessed by the grace God gives in marriage (Ephesians 5:31-32).”

— From To Be A Christian: An Anglican Catechism

Marriage, Family, and the Single Life: God has instituted marriage to be a life-long union of husband and wife, intended for their mutual joy, help and comfort; for the procreation and nurture of godly children; and for the blessing of society. Divorce is always contrary to God’s original intention, though in a fallen world it is sometimes an all-too-frequent and tragic reality. The roles of father and mother, exercised in a variety of ways, are God-given and profoundly important since they are the chief providers of moral instruction and godly living. The single life, either by call or circumstance, is honored by God. It is therefore important for unmarried persons to embrace and be embraced by the Christian family.

Human Sexuality: Sexuality is inherent in God’s creation of human beings in his image as male and female. All Christians are called to chastity: husbands and wives by exclusive sexual fidelity to one another, and single persons by abstinence from sexual activity. God intends and enables all people to live within these boundaries, with the help and in the fellowship of the Church.

Fellowship: In grateful response to Christ Jesus, in whom there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, we will extend the welcome of the church to every man, woman and child regardless of race, social or economic status, sexual history or past behavior. We will oppose prejudice in ourselves and others and recognize that all have sinned and need to repent.

SANCTITY OF LIFEcats

“Since God declares human life sacred from conception to natural death, I may not take the life of neighbors unjustly, bear them malice in my heart, or harm them by word or deed; rather, I should seek to cause their lives to flourish. (Genesis 9:6; Leviticus 19:16; Deuteronomy 19:4-7)”

“Jesus sought the well-being of all who came to him: he made the blind see and the deaf hear, caused the lame to walk, cured the sick, fed the hungry, cast out demons, raised the dead, and preached good news to all. (Luke 4:17-21; Matthew 14:13-21, 34-36)”

“Suicide, abortion, genocide, infanticide, and euthanasia are forms of murder. Related sins include abuse, abandonment, recklessness, and hatred or derision.”

“As a witness to the Gospel, I can love God and my neighbor by refraining from selfish anger, insults, and cursing, by defending the helpless and unborn, by rescuing those who damage themselves, and by helping others to prosper. (Matthew 5:38-48; 9:35-38; Luke 23:34; Acts 10:34-42; Ephesians 4:25-32; 5:1-2)”

– From To Be A Christian: An Anglican Catechism

“You shall not murder a child by abortion nor kill that which is begotten.”

— The Didache, an early Christian baptismal document

Sanctity of Life: All human life is a sacred gift from God and is to be protected and defended from conception to natural death. We will uphold the sanctity of life and bring the grace and compassion of Christ to those who face the realities of previous abortion, unwanted pregnancy and end-of-life illness.

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“Cross On a Hill” by Tambako / Flickr / Creative Commons

STEWARDSHIP

“Q: As his steward, how does God require you to use your possessions? A: As I am able, I should earn my own living so that I may set aside offerings for worship, give alms to the poor, and care for my dependents; and I should use all my possessions, gifts and abilities to glorify God, better the state of the creation, and love my neighbors.”

“Q: What is the minimum standard of giving for you as a Christian? A: A tithe, which is ten percent of my income, is the minimum standard and goal of giving for the work of God; yet Jesus expects more than my minimum.

– To Be A Christian: An Anglican Catechism

“When what we have we receive as a gift, and when we know that what we have is to be cared for by God, and when what we have is available to others, we have an attitude of stewardship.”

– Richard Foster

Stewardship: There are few areas of life where people need to hear the liberating message of the Gospel more than the area of finances and money. Conversely, there are few issues that the Church is more reticent to address than the issue of stewardship. Here at New Creation, there are five great biblical principles which inform the life of our church. We openly discuss these as we pray to become more and more a truly generous people:

1. God is the giver of all that we have. What we possess is not earned, but is a gift from him.

  • Psalm 24:1 declares, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein.”
  • In Psalm 50:10-11, God says, “For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the hills, and all that moves in the field is mine.
  • This includes our whole life: our time, our talent, our treasure.

2. We are accountable to God for what we do with what he has entrusted to us.

  • The person who has been made rich with God in the Gospel of Jesus has no problem with the reality that they are accountable to God for everything because they’ve already got everything they need. But for the person who is clinging to and scratching for everything they see around them, this accountability feels like a great weight on their back.
  • In Matthew 25, Jesus tells the parable of the talents, and makes this utterly clear. Three servants are given varying amounts of money (talents) by their master. The master leaves and two of the servants use the money accordingly, bearing fruit. The other acts as if he had never received the money from his master in the first place, simply burying it. At the end of the parable, the thing that is made utterly clear is that regardless of what we believe, in the end we will all be accountable to God for what we’ve done with what he’s given. What kind of attitude will we have about it?

3. Our decisions about possessions are spiritual decisions. Giving affects our relationship with the Lord for good or ill.

  • We tend to view money as a practical matter (“I just need more of it”), rather than a spiritual issue.
  • Jesus told the story of the poor widow’s offering in Mark 12, and declares her to be a truly generous person. Money was a great spiritual good in her life.
  • On the other hand, we read of the Rich Young Ruler (Matthew 19:16-30), the one to whom Jesus said, “”If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.” The man’s love for his riches was a great spiritual threat, robbing him of devoted discipleship to God.

  4. We are called to give generously, with a tithe as our baseline.

  • Generous giving is the goal of New Testament giving, which far exceeds tithing. Under the blessings of the New Covenant, the expectation is more, not less.
  • Tithing is a milestone, not a destination.
  • Basis for the tithe: Genesis 14:17-24, Deuteronomy 14:22-29, Malachi 3:6-12, Matthew 23:23: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.”

5. The motive for giving is joy, gratitude, and thankfulness.

  • Psalm 116 says, “What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits to me? I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the Lord.”
  • 2 Corinthians 9:7 says, “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
  • If our giving is not based on thankfulness, it’s merely fundraising. The motive for our giving is not flattery, not to be thought of as a benefactor, not as a “tip” to the pastor for doing a good job, not guilt, not duty, not because the church “needs” it, but gratitude, joy, and thankfulness. In Jesus Christ, God has given us everything we need, how can we do anything other than live with an open hand, saying to God, “All things come from you, and of your own have we given you!”

 

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