The gospel is the story of God redeeming this fallen world through the person and saving work of his Son, Jesus Christ. The good news is that God has saved us. We are saved by His free, immeasurable grace, through faith in Christ’s finished work of redemption. This is not accomplished through our effort or good works; it is a gift from God (Eph. 2:8–10). At Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church, we believe this good news is not just a list of facts to memorize and profess. It is God’s actual power for salvation (Rom. 1:16). Therefore, the gospel is at the center of everything we do, shaping every part of our worship, life, and service. It is for unbelievers and believers alike. That is to say, we never "get past" the gospel but forever go deeper in the gospel. In everything we do, we seek to bring the gospel to bear on our everyday lives.
We believe the gospel transforms people from the inside out and is the only hope for true and lasting change. If we start by attempting to change our behavior, we will fail and fall again and again. What we need is a new heart. What we need is to be born again and become a new creation. This only happens by the power of God’s Holy Spirit working through the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The gospel destroys any pretext of self-righteousness, and it rescues us from the crippling despair of self-condemnation.
As fallen sinners, we can never be good enough and earn God’s favor. No amount of will power can rescue us from our sin. But the gospel of Jesus Christ reveals to us a gracious Father who sent his Son to save us out of his great love for us. By his grace, God makes us alive so we can now live with and for him. God has done for us what we could not do for ourselves, and in Christ he gives us everything he requires of us. The gospel truly transforms us and makes us new. The Christian life, then, is a life of slow and often painful progress as we become more like the one who saved us.
If we truly embrace the gospel, we cannot be closed off to our neighbors. The gospel should make us outward-facing toward our community. The posture we wish to have before our neighbors in Kalamazoo is one of grace, patience, kindness, gentleness, humility, and compassion. We are sinners saved by grace who desire to offer this same grace to other sinners. Therefore, we pray that everyone will feel welcome when they visit us and not think they need to have their lives in order first. If you are a broken sinner in need of God’s saving and transforming grace, you will fit right in.
The gospel creates a worshipping community - the church. Since salvation is God’s work, he is the one who receives all the glory. Our understanding of the gospel should lead to the praise of God’s glorious grace (Eph. 1:6). Therefore, we love to worship God and celebrate the reality of the gospel corporately as we gather together every Sunday. We pray our worship is biblically and theologically substantial, simple, reverent, and joyful. As a church, we are committed in our worship to the true preaching of God’s word, the right administration of the sacraments of the Lord’s Supper and baptism, prayer, and joyful singing and fellowship. For more on our worship, see Worship at Good Shepherd.
Because we value gospel centrality, we are fully committed to the proclamation of the gospel. The preaching and teaching of the gospel is the most important thing we do as a church. We are a Bible-believing community, dedicated to “rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). We want unbelievers to hear the gospel and believe, and we want believers to hear the gospel week-in and week-out and grow in their understanding and appropriation of gospel truth. We are passionate about knowing and preaching the Bible because we love God and love people, and so we want to see the gospel advance in Kalamazoo, on the campus of Western Michigan University and the other colleges, throughout our nation, and to the ends of the earth.
The power of the gospel breaks down all hostilities and barriers that would keep us from living in love and peace with one another (Eph. 2:11–22). As we are united to Christ by faith, we are also united to one another. This is the only way people from every ethnicity, socioeconomic group, and varying personal and cultural backgrounds can live in harmony with one another. The gospel creates a new and intimate community where we can live in open, honest, patient, and loving relationships with one another—bearing one another’s burdens, forgiving one another, extending hospitality, and serving one another.
Our love for one another, even in the midst of sin and failure, marks us as Jesus’ disciples. We can love this way only because this is how Jesus first loved us (Jn. 13:34). Therefore, we pray our community will be a portrait of the peace God makes not only between humanity and himself but also between one another. When people see us, we want them to see that the gospel is power to bring everyone together in Christ.
While good works in no way earn salvation and favor with God, we believe gospel transformation produces gospel living. We are not saved by good works but for good works (Eph. 2:10). Therefore, we strive by God’s grace to love and serve one another as well as our greater community. We first seek to alleviate the spiritual suffering and needs of our neighbors, but we also desire to alleviate the physical and material suffering and needs of our neighbors.