What is TGC Hawaii?
I’ve served in vocational ministry for 20 years, and after working in four different congregations, I've noticed that every church is driven by something.
Some of us are driven by doctrine. We want to stand for a certain set of beliefs; a certain system of theology. Some of us are driven by experiences. We want to experience God in powerful, mystical ways. Some of us are driven by relevance. We want to do whatever it takes to contextualize Christianity to the culture. On the other hand, some are driven by holiness. We want to do everything we can to be distinct and set apart from the culture. Other churches are driven by social justice. We want to love, and bless, and serve the poor and needy and marginalized.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with any of those things. Many of them are very attractive to us because they all emphasize an implication of the gospel. God wants us to have strong theology, he wants us to experience him through worship and prayer, and he wants us to bless the poor and marginalized.
The problem comes when we reduce the gospel to any of those things. Then my church becomes the “theology church” down the street from your “social-justice church.” Above all, we should be gospel churches!
That’s why Paul said to the Romans, “I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome” (Rom 1:15). Remember - he’s writing to believers! He knows that they need the gospel just as much as pagans do. As Tim Keller says, “We never get beyond the gospel in our Christian life to something more advanced. The gospel is not the first step in a stairway of truths; rather, it is more like the hub in a wheel of truth. The gospel is not just the A-B-C's but the A to Z of Christianity.”
That’s clear when we see how the gospel flavors every page of Scripture. The gospel was proclaimed to the Serpent in the garden: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Gen. 3:15). It was fore- shadowed by the sacrifices of Moses: “He shall lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him” (Lev. 1:4). The gospel was experienced by Isaiah in the temple (after he had already delivered five chapters of Spirit-inspired sermons): “He touched my mouth and said: ‘Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for’” (Isa. 6:7). It was preached by Paul above all else: “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” (1 Cor. 15:3–4). The gospel will be fulfilled by Jesus at the end of the age when he comes to reign: “Behold, I am making all things new” (Rev. 21:5).
As Bryan Chapell summarizes the epic story of the gospel, “God has fulfilled his promise to send a Savior to rescue broken people, restore creation’s glory, and rule over all with compas- sion and justice.” This means the gospel isn’t just a visa stamp on your passport to show the immigration officer when you get to heaven. It should shape every facet of life and ministry now: “The gospel . . . has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth” (Col. 1:5b–6).
Unfortunately, the gospel just isn’t enough for many people. We’re always trying to add something to God’s grace. Soon, the issues that drive our churches (such as strengthening families, pursuing social justice, or even studying the Bible) can start to take on gospel-level importance in our minds.
Don Carson discovered this danger early on in his ministry: “People don’t learn everything I teach them. What they learn is what I am excited about, the kinds of things I emphasize again and again and again and again. That had better be the gospel.”
And that’s why The Gospel Coalition Hawaii exists. We believe the gospel changes everything about a church. When leaders and people are enraptured by the undeserved grace of God expressed in the gospel, all kinds of things naturally start to happen.
Worship. We can’t stop ourselves from glorifying God because of the gospel.
Discipleship. We grow and develop in a community of believers who have been transformed by the gospel just like we are.
Mission. We are driven to share the gospel with others, so we can see more people glorify God along with us.
TGC Hawaii is a hui of churches that seeks to encourage and build one another up so we can see all those things happen across the islands, and around the world. Join us at one of our upcoming events!