Matt Chandler, pastor of The Village Church in Dallas, Texas, wants churches to cultivate a gospel-breathed environment, where people see it’s okay to not be okay, but it is not okay to stay there.
During the final session of the 9Marks at Southeastern conference on Saturday, Chandler followed the account of the Ephesian church throughout the New Testament, recognizing their doctrinal soundness, but also their loss of their first love.
The church at Ephesus, praised in Revelation as a faithful, patient and sound church, is also called out as one that has turned from their first love and turned to another gospel, as Paul discusses in Galatians 1.
“But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first,” Chandler read from Revelation 2. The Ephesian church, which once freely confessed their wickedness and sinful hearts, lost their view of the gospel and therefore, their power.
“Ephesus somehow got civilized, got away from the gospel and got away from their need for the gospel. Therefore, they lost their power and their need for the church,” Chandler said. He said the church no longer recognized their sin, and the church didn’t cultivate a gospel-breathed environment.
“For us to walk in deep relationship with others and with the God of the universe, we have to acknowledge we fall short. It’s okay to not be okay, but it’s not okay to stay there,” he said. “I love the idea of Jesus being our advocate who takes away our sins. If the Ephesians would have got that, would have grabbed hold of that, confession is a lot easier when you understand that Christ is for you, not against you.”
This environment of confession and repentance creates an environment where they see God as their advocate and recognize they can run to him, not away from him, when they fall, he said. This kind of church, where the gospel is breathed in and out, is one in which sanctification occurs and where and where sanctification occurs and where Christ is exalted and celebrated as our only hope.
“The whole point of the cross and Christ dying on the cross is you being where you are right now so you don’t have to be there tomorrow.”