Paul chose Silas and departed, having been commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.
-- Acts 15:40-41, ESV
"Together for the Gospel," or "T4G," was a ministry and biennial conference for Christian leaders which began in 2006 and held its last meeting in 2022. I attended the first and the last, plus two in the middle. It was a true blessing to see people from many denominations coming together for the Gospel.
In the aftermath of The Jerusalem Council, we find the earliest two churches of Christendom together for the Gospel. The Jerusalem Church was mostly Jewish. The Antioch Church was largely Gentile.
One member from one church (Silas) got together with a member from the other church (Paul) to accomplish the greatest missionary journey ever taken, going together with the Gospel from the Middle East, through Asia, into Europe. These true Christians and two Christian churches were together for the Gospel on at least three principles found in their story.
First of all, Christians should join together with other Christians by being a part of a "congregation," a plurality of other Christians, a local church. There is nothing here or elsewhere in Holy Scripture that advocates lone ranger Christianity, nor the nonsensical notion that one can be spiritual without being religious. Christianity is more than a religion but it is not less. Inherent in the Gospel is a commitment to join together with other Christians by sitting with them on the Lord's Day for worship and serving alongside them as ambassadors for Christ during the entire week.
Secondly, Christian churches should be together on the meaning of the Gospel and the spiritual and moral implications for the Christian life. Previous paragraphs record The Jerusalem Council, but "the letter" shows up in this trip and continues to be discussed and disseminated. To summarize, the Gospel should be preached and accepted by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Saved people should be baptized into churches and taught to refrain from idolatry (worship God alone and put the Lord Jesus Christ first place in your life) and immorality (sex is for marriage alone and all other exploitations of it are displeasing to God and destroy the witness of the people of God). Churches that deny the deity and lordship of Christ and churches that promote deviant sexuality are not true churches at all.
And thirdly, Christians and Christian churches should bow together under the authority and direction of "the teaching and preaching (of) the word of God." At this time, God's word was delivered through inspired Apostles and "prophets." Eventually, the key elements of their preaching and teaching were written into 27 books we call the New Testament. Join it with the Old Testament and you have the inspired, inerrant, infallible "word of the Lord," thanks be to God!
Make sure you are together in the Gospel. Make sure you have received it, believed it, and changed your life according to it. Make sure you are so in love with the Lord Jesus Christ, that you would love to introduce other people to Him.
Make sure you are together for the Gospel, with like-minded believers who desire to worship, be and make disciples, fellowship with one another, minister to others, and spread the Gospel all over the world. Church membership matters, and you should be a part of one that you love so much, you want other people to be members of your church, too.
Make sure you go out get people together with the Gospel. Do not target other sincere Christians who do things differently than you and your church. Do go after professing Christians who are trapped in nominal churches, those who deny the exclusivity of the Gospel and the veracity of Holy Scripture. And by all means, reach out to those who have no experience of grace, no evidence of the Spirit, and no hope of salvation apart from the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
You may find out the person you invite to Christ and His church is already a genuine Christian, abiding by biblical principles in a church like your own. Encourage them! You may find out they claim to be Christian but are involved with a congregation that in no way resembles a true, Christian church. Warn them! But you can always find many who don't have Christ, don't have a church, and don't have a clue about the Gospel and the word of God. Share your testimony and invite them to your church, where we are together for the Gospel every Lord's Day!
Chuck DeVane is the pastor of Lake Hamilton Baptist Church. Call him at 501-525-8339 or email [email protected].