A Harvest for the Gospel

By Pastor Nate Powell
 
As I acknowledged last Sunday, it is a busy season! Combines and grain trucks are in full swing. Outage workers at Cooper are in place and working to refuel the plant. Fall school and sports seasons are in the thick of things. Each of these things are the work that God has before us to do in our various fields of labor and study.
 
But why do we do what we do? Why are we working so hard and so many long hours? Is it for the sake of work itself? Is it for the money and financial gain? Those can certainly be factors in our work. But at the core of those things, there is a key factor that makes your work worth the money you receive: it is for human good and flourishing that we work. We harvest grain so that people can be fed and well nourished. We make electricity so that people can stay cool & warm, make food, stay connected to one another, and lead productive lives. We educate so that individuals and families may thrive by making a living for themselves. Central to our work and the value of our work is the benefit that comes to people.
 
In the same way, when it comes to talking about Harvest time as a church, we may ask why it is that we want to have a Harvest? Why do we want to grow? Does a church grow and add to their numbers just so that they can say they have the biggest church around? Does a church grow and build new facilities just so that they can brag on themselves? Lots of people want to have a growing church. But the church doesn’t exist for itself. The church exists to make much of Jesus and to grow in their life and walk with Jesus. It is the seed that we spread, and it is the harvest that we reap in the hearts of people in times of Harvest.
 
If we don’t have the good news of Jesus and the Gospel at the center of the church growth work that we do, then we have nothing. Paul told us the same thing in multiple places in his writings:
 
  • The Gospel is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes. (Rom 1:16, 1 Cor 1:18)
  • The Gospel is the Word of God that is at work in believers. (1 Thess 2:13)
  • The Gospel is the one central message that Paul and the other apostles clung to and centrally preached. (1 Cor 2:1-2)
  • The Gospel is the message that is shared and preached, so that hearing it may lead one into saving faith. (Rom 10:17)
 
The Gospel is to be at the core of the church’s worship, identity & mission.
 
So what is the Gospel? Very clearly and concisely, it is the good news of Jesus. When we share it, we share the good news of what Jesus has done. Paul shared a clear concise statement to share the core truths of the message in 1 Corinthians 15:3-5: “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.” His message in that same chapter goes on to talk about many other appearances and the hope of resurrection that believers have because of what Christ has accomplished.
 
One simple acrostic that I have shared over the years is one that was shared by a ministry called Dare 2 Share. Greg Stier and Dare 2 Share exist to help students share the Gospel message easily with their friends and families. They came up with this acrostic.
 
G – O – S – P – E – L
 
God // God is good and created us to be with Him. (Psalm 100:3)
Our // We sinned and that sin separates us from God. (Romans 3:23)
Sins // Our sins cannot be removed by our good deeds. (Ephesians 2:8)
Paying // Jesus innocent blood on the cross paid the penalty for our sin. (Romans 5:8)
Everyone // Jesus rose from death and all who trust in Him alone have life. (John 3:16)
Life // Life with Jesus starts now and lasts forever. (John 10:28)
 
This is the message that we are calling people to respond to. So, when we call people to respond we show them these truths and ask them to receive and live in light of the one they are receiving as savior, Jesus Christ. And we ask them for a response to what God’s word presents: Do you know God created you and calls to you to respond to him? Do you know that you have done wrong in God’s sight? Do you know that there are not enough good things that you can do to live up to his standard? Do you know that Jesus was perfect and died on the cross as a sacrifice for the wrongs that you have done, paying the penalty for sin for you in his death? Do you know that Jesus rose from the dead and is alive, and that he offers that life to all who would receive him? Do you know that the life that Jesus offers is a new life here and now and into eternity? It is when you have believed Christ & these truths that you are to be baptized into Christ in obedience to his word. (Acts 2:38 & Matt 28:19)
 
These are the things that we must know and respond to in receiving the Gospel. This is the work of the Harvest and bringing people to Christ. As you share Christ and your faith with family, coworkers or friends, remember this Gospel truth and keep it central. We cannot be saved & grow a true Church in Christ without the Gospel!
 
For the Gospel with you,
Pastor Nate


How We Breathe

By Nate Powell

In the Summer of 2011, my family and I moved to Auburn, and I came on staff at ACC as the Associate Minister of Youth and Worship. There were many reasons we were excited to come to this church and be a part of this ministry, one of which was having a church family that invests in its students and their growth and development. So during that first Summer, we went to Joplin with students to help with Tornado Relief, and we took some of our worship students to Kansas City for the National Worship Leaders Conference, to invest in their development as musicians and future worship leaders.
 
While we were in Kansas City, we got to hear from some of the best worship leaders in the world: p2011-07-19_12-32-14_844eople who are writing and recording worship songs that churches around the world sing every Sunday. One of those worship leaders who invested in us was Matt Redman (the guy in the middle in the picture above). I’ve always admired Matt as a songwriter. He’s written songs like The Heart of Worship, Blessed Be Your Name, Better is One Day, 10,000 Reasons, and many more. I also love Matt’s heart as a worship leader. He never comes across as the most talented musician in the room when he is leading; there are always much better singers than him at conferences like these. But Matt has a pastoral heart for the church, and he has a manner of coaxing the Christians gathered to focus singularly on the message they are singing and the One they are singing those lyrics to, and to do so loudly.
 
When we got to sit in on Matt’s seminar, he talked about his view of worship: that it is all about breathing in and breathing out.
 
Worship is breathing in when we read the Word. Breathing in is the preaching of the word and us hearing it. Breathing in is meditating on the truth that God is speaking to us. Breathing in is coming to a greater understanding of the love or grace God has for us. When we take time to receive and think about God’s truth, we are breathing in.
 
Worship is also breathing out. We breathe out when we respond to the grace and truth we have been given by the Lord. We breathe out when we sing songs to God, when we pray, and when we live, love and serve as God wants us to.
One good example of this from the Bible is Psalm 136. There we continue to see a truth preached that we should breathe in: Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good (Ps. 136:1); give thanks to Him who does mighty miracles (v. 4); He brought Israel out of Egypt (v. 11). And after each of those breathing in lines, the church is urged to breath out together “His faithful love endures forever.” This is just one example of our worship being like breathing, and it is what our times of corporate worship should do and be: Lessons in breathing praise to God.