We are a gathering of people who believe the gospel. The word "gospel" means "good news"—specifically the good news that two thousand years ago, Jesus of Nazareth died and rose again from the dead. And that news changes everything.
+ The Problem
We live in a messed up world. In spite of all we do to distract ourselves, life is marred by fears, selfishness, and pain, and it unavoidably ends in death. And when we take the time to reflect seriously on this, we should conclude that something is profoundly wrong.
But that is not the way God designed the world. We believe that God is the source of all life, and is the very definition of love, goodness, and truth. In the beginning, his creation flourished with life that reflected his own perfect goodness. Moreover, he made us human beings to be the crowning jewel of his creation, his very own representatives on the earth. We were to be kings, guarding and developing God's good world. We were to be priests, acting as a voice of thanksgiving and praise for the beauty and goodness of what he made. In everything, we were to live forever in perfect harmony with him and one another in a wonderful union between heaven and earth.
Our good God gave us a good command to love and obey him. If we kept it, he promised to confirm that life we had with him; if we disobeyed, he promised death. In a tragic fall, the first man and woman rebelled against that command, bringing death and corruption upon themselves and upon all of us who would come after. All the fears and pains in life are nothing more than the justly deserved reward for our own refusal to love and obey our good God. We are an evil people.
+ The Promise
Not all was without hope, however. Out of his abundant mercy and love, God promised to send a Savior who would deliver his people from sin, guilt, and disobedience, and who would overcome the curse of pain, corruption, and death that we had earned. He gave this promise to a people that eventually became the nation of ancient Israel. The story of God's commitment to Israel to keep his promise is the content of the writings we now call the Old Testament.
+ The Provision
Two thousand years ago, God made good on his promise, himself entering into the world as the man Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus taught the people concerning the new kingdom he came to inaugurate, proving his authority by performing many miraculous signs, as attested in four separate accounts in the Bible as well as in non-biblical historical writings. But his own people rejected him, putting him to death by crucifying him on a cross. Yet God’s plan had not failed, for on the third day, Jesus rose from the dead. His resurrection secured pardon from God for our rebellion (the penalty having been executed on Jesus in our place) and everlasting life for all who believe. This gospel, or “good news,” was recorded by eyewitnesses of the risen Jesus in the writings we now call the New Testament.
+ The Proclamation
From that point on, God has been calling people all over the world to believe the news of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus and bringing them into his church. We exist as a gathering of those people in Madison, Wisconsin, and as a small part of his people throughout the city, country, and world. We come together week by week to confess our sins, to hear God proclaim to us his wonderful news of salvation in the Old and New Testaments, to respond to him in prayer and songs of praise, and to celebrate as he confirms his promises to us in baptism and the Lord’s supper. And we leave in renewed life, joy, and peace, confident in the grace God has shown us through the work of our great Savior!