If someone were to ask you, "What is the gospel?" how would you answer?
Most of us have been taught something like this:
The wording and the outline may vary, but basically that's what most of us were taught. And it isn't really wrong. The Bible does talk about all those things (except going ot heaven, but we'll talk about that later), and yet, the more we read the Bible, we see that this outline doesn't seem to capture what the Bible actually says.
For instance, is this the gospel that Jesus preached? Matthew says that Jesus preached the good news that the Kingdom of God is at hand. That doesn't sound like the gospel we know.
Or the Apostles? If you read the evangelistic sermons in the Book of Acts, they never talk about justification by faith, accepting Jesus into your heart, praying a sinners prayer, or any of those familiar phrases.
What is all that about? Is there more to the gospel than we realize? And does it matter?
Over the next 8 weeks, we are going to dive into these questions, because I think there is more to the gospel than just managing our sin, and waiting to go to heaven. There is a "Greater Gospel" that is plainly revealed in the Bible. This Greater Gospel is more complete, more compelling, and more powerful because it goes beyond mere salvation and encompasses the redemption and renewal of all that is. And best of all, it offers us a chance to participate in God's mighty work.
If we are going to think of ourselves as people defined by the good news of Jesus Christ, we ought to be very clear on exactly what we mean by "the Gospel." We will find that as we realize the fullness of the gospel, we will find a corresponding fullness of God's blessing.
Part 1 - "The Greater Gospel 1: What is the Gospel?" The scripture readings are 1 Chronicles 17:7-14 / 1 Corinthians 15:1-5, 20-28 / Matthew 4:17. 23-25
Part 2 - "The Greater Gospel 2: Before All Things." The scripture readings are Genesis 16:1-13 / Colossians 1:15-20 / John 1:1-3
Part 3 - "The Greater Gospel 3: He Became Flesh" The scripture readings are Genesis 1:26-30 / Hebrews 2:14-17 / Matthew 1:1, 17-23
Part 4 - "The Greater Gospel 4: He Died and Was Buried." The scripture readings are Exodus 12:1-13 / 1 Peter 2:20-24 / Mark 13:35-45
Part 5 - "The Greater Gospel 5: He Was Raised From Death." The scripture readings are Isaiah 50:4-9 / 1 Timothy 3:14-16 / Mark 15:1-8
Part 6 - "The Greater Gospel 6: He was Seen By Many." The scripture readings are Job 19:23-27 / 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 / John 20:19-29
Part 7 - "The Greater Gospel 7: He Reigns From Heaven." The scripture readings are Daniel 7:9-18 / Ephesians 1:!5-23 / Luke 22:66-71
Part 8 - "The Greater Gospel 8: He Returns to Judge." The scripture readings are Exodus 34:5-7 / Revelation 19:11-21, 20:11-15 / John 5:24-30
Part 9 - "The Greater Gospel 9: What is so Great About the Greater Gospel?" The scripture readings are Genesis 3:14-15 / Revelation 5:6-10 / Mark 8:27-38
By now most of you are aware that we have once again opened our sanctuary at 39 Fayette Street for Sunday worship. Last week we had 10 people join us live, while a few dozen more joined us via the Zoom Platform. That's a good start, and we have a long ways to go.
Of course, we asked those who gathered in person to observe some special guidelines to maintain the health and safety of everyone involved. If you are considering joining us live, please read our blog post about those guidelines here.
We want you all to know that we are working hard to include everyone. If you have assessed the risk and determined that it is best if you stay home, we are continuing our zoom feed so that you will still be included. If you have evaluated the likelihood of transmission and decided that it is reasonable to join us, we welcome your presence.
As some of you realized, however, even the live service is not like it was before. In order to include those who cannot attend, the live service is going to look and feel quite different than it used to. To put it bluntly, you will basically be sitting in the sanctuary watching me conduct the service. You will see it on the screens in church instead of in your living room. The main difference is that you will be with a bunch of other people. Much of what made live worship special (before we had to call it "live"), the singing, the choir, the passing of the peace, the seeing and hearing one another -- simply cannot be part of the service right now, and probably won't be for a long time.
But there are some things that do NOT change, ever: God and his promises, the saving work of Jesus, the presence of his Holy Spirit, the power of his Word, and Christ's eternal reign over all creation. None of these things are affected by COVID-19, the stay-at-home orders, or the CDC. So whether you are at home on Sunday morning, or in the sanctuary, make Jesus and what he has done your focus. Don't focus on the production quality. Don't give any energy to thinking about how we used to do things.
In that way, you will bring honor and glory to him who deserves it most, and you will find the greatest possible blessing for yourself.
Grace and peace to you all.
We are pleased to be able to welcome you back into our facility at 39 Fayette Street for Sunday morning worship.
Of course, this does not mean that all danger is past. Nevertheless, the State of NH has deemed it reasonably safe for us to proceed if we employ certain precautions to safeguard the well-being of those participating and those with whom we have contact.
Therefore, please understand these services will not be like they were before the COVID-19 shutdown. Here are some guidelines to help you know what to expect should you decide to attend.
Should you come on Sunday Morning?
Some of you may want to come to church at 39 Fayette Street, but you probably shouldn’t – at least for a while. Here are some questions to help you decide.
Before you leave for church on Sunday morning, please ask yourself these questions about yourself and everyone in your household:
If you answer “I’m not sure,” or “Maybe, but it’s not that bad” or give any answer that is not a flat and unqualified NO, please stay home.
In addition, please also consider the following:
If you answer YES to either of these questions, please consider remaining at home.
Masks are Required
For the safety and well-being of all involved, we are requiring that those attend worship at UBC wear masks upon entering the building, and that you keep them on while in the building. The evidence that masks reduce risk of transmission is strong. Combined with spacing the risk reduction is significant.
Therefore, we ask everyone to take this precaution as a matter of caring for our neighbors.
If for any reason, you feel strongly that you should not wear a mask, the services are still available to you by the Zoom Platform. We are specifically offering both channels of access so that no one need be left out. If you are not already on our email list to receive the link, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and request to be placed on our mailing list.
If you test positive
If you test positive for COVID-19, and you have been in UBC for worship in the last 14 days, it is imperative that you notify us immediately. This is simply a matter of public safety. We want to cooperate with the authorities to perform contact tracing to limit the spread of the disease. So please help us to take care of our neighbors in our wider community.
What to Expect when you Arrive
Before arrival, a team from Restoration Foursquare will have gone through the Sanctuary and the rest of the building applying a hospital grade disinfectant to common contact surfaces and chairs to reduce risk of transmission.
When you arrive, please enter the building through the front doors at the top of the wide granite steps.
The green door in the parking lot will be locked and used as an exit door only.
Disposable masks will be available at the door if you forgot to bring one.
There will be someone at the front door to direct you to your seats. Seats are arranged to effect safe distancing. Please choose a group of seats that matches the size of your family group, if possible. If there are no groupings of the right size, the ushers may help re-arrange seats.
Children will remain with their family groups throughout the service.
All inside doors will be open, so that you will not have to touch a door handle to pass from one room to another.
There will be hand sanitizer bottles stationed at each entry and exit point. Please use them upon entering and exiting.
What will the Service be Like?
Pastor Dave will stand on the chancel behind his Zoom Meeting station, with a camera, computer, speakers, microphone, and reading stand. He will conduct the service from there.
In essence, the service will be a Zoom service, but with some people present in the sanctuary, rather than ONLY by Zoom. The order of service, the slides, and the content will be very much the same as it has been.
The Zoom Screen will be broadcast to the TV screens so that people in the sanctuary can participate in the Zoom Meeting. We hope to have a camera pointing toward the sanctuary so that those in the building are also appearing on the Zoom screen. That way everyone is participating in both aspects of the service.
Pastor Dave will not be wearing a mask while leading the service, to better facilitate communication. By standing on the chancel, he will be at least 20 feet from the nearest worshiper. Fans will also be aimed at him to create airflow directed away from the worshipers. Since droplets are by far the predominant means of disease transmission for COVID-19, we believe the combination of distance and airflow should provide sufficient protection.
There will be no congregational singing, but you are encouraged to hum along with any music, and to respond verbally at the appropriate times.
Dress appropriately for summer weather in a building without air conditioning. Feel free to bring ice water, or a hand fan.
What to Expect after the Service
We ask all participants to exit the building immediately after the service. If you wish to socialize, please do it outside, as we know that being outside dramatically reduces the opportunity for virus transmission. We recommend continuing to use masks and distance to further reduce risk.
Please exit through the education wing door that leads out onto the parking lot. By having everyone move in the same direction, and maintaining safe spacing, we can reduce risk of transmission.
You will find offering plates at the exit door from the sanctuary. Please leave your offering in the plates as you exit.
Please use hand sanitizer as you leave. Bottles will be stationed at the doors.
After the service, a team of volunteers will apply hospital disinfectant to all common contact surfaces and chairs to reduce risk of transmission to NH Worship Church, when they follow us at 2:00.
What about Restrooms?
Restrooms will be available, but as single person use only. Signs will be on the doors to indicate occupancy (AVAILABLE / OCCUPIED). On entering and exiting please flip the signs to show the appropriate message.
If the sign says “OCCUPIED” please wait behind the marked line until the restroom is available.
Disinfecting wipes will be available inside the bathroom. Please wipe down every surface you touched including toilet seats, flush handles, stall doors, faucets, doors, and light switches.
Discard the wipe in the trash can provided outside the restroom doors.
Yes. Please be as thoughtful, merciful, and forgiving as possible to the others who attend, to those in our sister congregations, and to the church leadership.
Although we tried to think of everything, it is quite possible that we may fail to anticipate some need, or that some systems may fail to do the job adequately. We appreciate your helpful feedback, as we very much want things to go well.
Please pray for those attending locally, for those attending online, and for those leading the services – that our Lord Jesus Christ will be honored and glorified through the worship that we give, and that his Holy Spirit would be at work shaping us into his image as we worship him.
United Baptist Church
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