Plumbline #1, "The Gospel isn't the diving board, but the pool itself"

Builders use something called a plumbline to make sure walls are perfectly vertical. If somewhere in the building process walls are getting out of square, the plumbline will show it. From that concept our staff is always checking ideas and ministry against “plumblines” of our own. For us, ministry plumblines are one liners that help us remember things about the church’s DNA. So when an idea comes up we often check it against our plumblines in order to make sure it squares with Mercy Hill vision and direction overall. In this series of blog posts I will be sharing some of our notable plumblines and making a few comments about each.

In general our plumblines are not in descending order. But the first one is by far the most important and most foundational. Our first plumbline is, “The Gospel is not the diving board by which a person enters the pool of Christianity, it is the pool itself.” Other analogies we use are similar. For example, “The Gospel is not the ABC’s of Christianity, it is the A-Z” or “The Gospel is not the starting block to run the race of Christianity, but the race itself.” All of these sayings are meant to show that the Gospel is not the entry point for the Christian faith. Growing in the Gospel is the Christian faith.

I think most Christians would affirm this idea on the face of it. But when we really dig down into people’s thinking and theology, another picture emerges. See for many the Gospel is the way they began their walk with God. But when they are more mature, they leave the Gospel in order to chew on the real “meat” of the faith. This line of thinking is exactly what our first plumbline guards us against. True growth is pushing deeper into the Gospel, not growing beyond it. In our flesh there is always a tendency to move on from God’s grace to us in Christ. As we do more and try harder any change in our lives is to our own glory. That’s why it is imperative to be a people who do less and remember more.

Titus 2:12 tells that it is the grace of God appearing to all men (ie, the Gospel) that teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldy lusts. Paul tells us in Romans 12 to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. What are they be renewed in? The Gospel as presented in the first 11 chapters of Romans! Colossians 1:16 tells that growth and fruit come from understanding the grace of God. The bottom line is, to grow in the faith we must grow in our knowledge of and reverence for God’s love for us. And the love of God culminates in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. To quote my friend and mentor JD Greear, “All the power for change, in individuals and in the community, flow from the Gospel.” At Mercy Hill this is something we believe whole heartedly.

– Pastor Andrew

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