If all this information about the Bible and Jesus is new to you, allow us the privilege of telling you more. Every single one of us started out knowing nothing, so don't be discouraged.
It can be a real joy to discover what has been hidden right there in plain sight in the Scriptures all these years.
If you have no one more accessible to ask questions of, feel free to email us. We would love to be of help to you!
You can start with one of these two links:
Understanding the Good News is for those who are not believers, or not sure whether they are or not.
Steps to Spiritual Growth is aimed at those who have begun to follow Jesus, and want to grow spiritually.
Still interested? Then take an armchair tour of GCC in What to Expect: A Typical Sunday!
First of all — congratulations on your openness to hearing more!
So, what is the gospel—the good news of Jesus Christ? Let's have a try at it!
The first necessary point to comprehending the good news, is:
The bad news:
Every person on this planet has a sin problem that separates him or her from God.
The apostle Paul says it this way in Romans 3:10-12:
"There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one."
From the angry cry of a little baby to the daily crime headlines of today's newspapers, the evidence of this truth is everywhere. And if we take an honest look in the mirror, we must admit that we are a part of the problem as well.
Every one of us has a history of things we regret, times we've disobeyed, bad attitudes we've held onto, etc.—things the Bible calls sin.
Romans 3:23 summarizes:
"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."
It gets worse!
Not only do we each have a problem with sin, but there is not a thing we can do to solve it.
"By works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight."
Even if we knew all the right things to do, we could never do them wholly, completely, and consistently. The brutal truth is that there is no way we can impress God or earn our way into His good graces. No amount of good works, helping old ladies across streets, giving money to the church, or any other activity will cause Him to declare us righteous (this is what "justify" means). He sees us as the sinners we are—helpless, hopeless, distant, and lost.
This truth, as harsh as it is, does a lot to explain our existence, doesn't it—the pain, the frustration, the lack of fulfillment that abounds in lives everywhere around us?
If you can handle this brutal evaluation of the human condition (which of course includes you), then you are ready for…
The good news!
The good news of the Bible is that what man could never do for himself (solve his own sin problem), God did! God had a plan to completely pay the price for our sins (so that we could find forgiveness) and to make a way for us to have a personal and right relationship with Him. Hear it from the lips of Jesus Himself in John 3:16-17:
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him."
His plan required nothing less than the death of His Son, Jesus, Who came to earth for the very purpose of dying on the cross (the wages of sin is death) in our place, to endure the penalty of our sins (past, present, and future) so that we could enjoy life with the Father Who loves us.
Let's hear from Romans again, starting with the "all have sinned" part (3:23-26):
"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; Whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed, for the demonstration of His righteousness at the present time, in order that He might be just and the Justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus."
Whew! Grab yourself a dictionary and look up words like redemption, propitiation, righteousness, and forbearance, to further appreciate what He has done.
But the short version is: even though all fall short, it is nevertheless possible, as a free gift by His grace, to be justified (declared as righteous; pardoned, forgiven) because of the shed blood of Christ which satisfies the justice of God. Or as Paul adds in Romans 6:23:
"For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."
That is the truth of it. Our sin is deserving of death, and apart from Christ, that is what we experience right now (spiritually) and what awaits us after death (permanently). Or, we can accept the free gift that is offered and enjoy eternal life—beginning right now and lasting into eternity.
Just think, your sins completely forgiven, and erased from the mind of God; your life freed from enslavement to sin, and free to enter into a relationship with the Creator Himself Who loves you, and to walk through life together!
All as a gift, yours for the taking.
You must simply understand your own depravity, appreciate God's plan and Christ's death in your place, and count on it as effective and sufficient for yourself.
One more thing
Of course, one doesn't just slide into being a follower of Jesus. It is more like a point-in-time decision from which there is no turning back.
Coming to Christ should involve being truly sorry for your sin and your past (the Bible calls this "repentance"), being grateful for the way Jesus has provided you to know God the Father, and submitting yourself to the risen Lord by inviting Jesus to come into your life and take over control of it.
You can begin a personal relationship with God at any time, in any place, simply by talking to Him (we call that prayer).
If these truths make sense to you, and you feel God's tug on your life, we urge you to wait no longer, but to respond to His call by praying something like the following:
I am so sorry for the mess I have made of life, and for the things I have done. But I thank you, Lord, that you have already paid the price for my sins on the cross of Christ, and stand ready to accept me with open, forgiving arms. Lord Jesus, I invite You to come into my life and re-shape me. Teach me to depend upon Your life within me and to learn of Your ways. Please give me a future and a hope.
Thank you, Lord. Amen!
If that prayer represents the desire of your heart, invite Jesus in and begin the adventure of a lifetime!
If you have prayed this prayer, please let us know with an email, so that we might encourage you in your new-found faith.
If there is no one more immediately accessible to you, and there are any questions that we might answer, feel free to email them, and we will try to get back to you quickly with an honest, thoughtful reply.
We would also be happy to send you a free copy of The Search, a little pamphlet that also tries to articulate very clearly and succinctly the way to salvation through Christ. Send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to the address on our contact page, and we will get that right off to you.
And finally, let us encourage you with a final thought from the Bible, in this case Hebrews 11:6, which reminds us that
"He is a Rewarder of those who seek Him."
May God excite your heart with the thrill of knowing Him, and continue to guide you into the truth of Jesus Christ.
For further encouragement in this area, please see: Peace with God.net
Coming to faith in Jesus Christ is just the beginning of a lifelong adventure of learning and growing to be more like Him.
But how exactly do I become more like Jesus? What should I do? How should I spend my time?
While only the Spirit of God can do this transforming work in your life, there are some choices you can make, and some skills you can work on, that will help contribute toward the process, or perhaps more accurately, put you on the path of how He tends to work.
So not as a recipe for success, or a legalistic to-do list, but as humble encouragement, you might consider the following:
Learn to pray unceasingly
(1 Thess. 5:17)
If prayer is simply talking with God, then the goal should be a lifestyle that is in constant communication with the Commander-in-Chief. Wouldn't it be great to realize at the end of a day that you had chatted with Him constantly throughout? Imagine how His view of life would affect yours!
Learn to talk with God about everything: your hopes and dreams, your joys and frustrations, issues you face and sins you commit. We don't do this to fill Him in or keep Him up-to-date. The Bible says He knows our needs before we even ask Him. We do this because, as illustrated by King David in the Psalms, when we talk with Him openly and honestly, He tends to change us, to restore our perspective, to remind us of His love, etc.
And so another worthy goal in praying is to learn to listen as well. Not just blab away at Him, but to listen for the voice of the Great Shepherd, and allow Him to reach your soul as only He can.
Learn to mine the Scriptures
(1 Pet. 2:2)
So much of what He wants to tell us is already written down for us, in our language, on our bookshelf. It couldn't be easier, but unfortunately so few find the time to read their Bible.
Go for it! Choose to make time, preferably each morning, to fill your mind with His thoughts and truth. It can make an amazing difference, and provide perspective, hope, and energy to power you through a day.
Start in the New Testament with Matthew, and read about Jesus. Watch how He interacts with people. Listen carefully when He teaches. Try to grab onto one new thought to "chew on" each day. This is good stuff!
Learn to appreciate the body of Christ
How many people have told you that they are "believers," but they never go to church because the church is full of hypocrites?
They're right, actually. There are no other kinds of churches than ones filled with hypocrites, because none of us lives out our faith perfectly and consistently.
Unfortunately, people who hide behind this sentiment miss one of the tremendous blessings God has given believers: a family of brothers and sisters with whom to learn and grow.
It was God's idea to make the body of Christ (the Church). He designed it as a good gift, so we could watch each other's lives and learn from both good and bad, so we could see more prayers answered, and watch God's transforming power in each other's lives (because we always see things in others far more easily than we see them in ourselves).
There is great blessing and benefit to the mutual learning, encouragement, accountability, service, and prayer support that come from being in fellowship together. Don't miss out!
Be encouraged to find a church where you get spiritual nourishment from the Word, where you feel comfortable in terms of worship style, and where people are honest and transparent about their lives (because no one likes pretentiousness and posturing).
You might meet some tough-to-love people, but you'll also find opportunities to serve, to be stretched in new ways, and to grow outside of your comfort zone – the very things that God uses to make us more and more like Jesus.
Learn to worship Him
There is a difference between singing and worship. Just because you're singing doesn't mean your head and heart are in it. So, learn to take it to the next level by engaging your mind to ponder the words as you give voice to them. Learn to enjoy the living Lord's presence with you when you gather with other believers. Consider His worthiness, His majesty, His beauty, and His ways, and immerse yourself in praise to Him!
Learn to be useful
Every single believer has been given at least one spiritual gift, a special capacity to minister to others in ways that affect them for eternity. Start your service by meeting needs of any kind you see, but over time you will notice a pattern developing as to how God seems to primarily use you. As you discover His pattern (your gifting) you can begin to focus your service more in line with who He has equipped you to be.
We could probably list more Biblical skills to work on, but this is a good start, and enough for now.
Pray about these areas. Practice them. And as always, seek God in the process. And as Paul reminds us in Ephesians 3:20-21:
"Now to Him Who is able to do exceedingly abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen."
Our church parking lot which is directly beside the building (accessed from 84th street). There is also on-street parking along South Park Avenue. There is another lot directly across Park Avenue from our building where we may also park. The main entrance to our building is up a short flight of steps, but, we also have a ramp-accessible door on the side of the building beside the parking lot.
We don't dress to impress each other, but we aim not to distract each other with our clothing choices either. No need to dress up "fancy;" in fact – you'll see a lot of jeans! Just dress as you would feel comfortable in any public setting. If you feel comfortable in a suit or dress, that's fine, too!
The teaching in almost every context is expositional. That means we work through one book of the Bible at a time – we don't want to miss anything!
Our song choices and music styles are mostly contemporary, with regular inclusion of classic hymns and older songs.
Nursery for children ages 0-3 is available for the entire duration of the service. Some parents of young infants keep their little ones with them for the entire service, which is also just fine with us. If you need a quiet place to nurse, soothe, or change your baby, we have rooms available for this upstairs. Children ages 4 years old through 3rd grade stay in the main sanctuary for the singing portion of our worship service, and are then dismissed to their classrooms in the children's area after about 4 songs. They have their own age-appropriate lessons based on the same passages that the adults learn from in the sermon.
We typically share communion together about once per month.
Sunday school for all ages runs from 9:00 am to 10:00 am. Our main service starts at 10:30 am and normally ends at or before 12:00 noon.