The New People
JULY 16, 2022
by Michael Reeves
In practice, sadly, evangelicals have often tended to be individualists in their faith. But again, our understanding of what it is to be truly evangelical should not be taken from evangelical practice but the evangel. Evangelicals are people who have been born again, but to be born again is to be born or baptized into Christ (Rom. 6:3; Gal. 3:27). From the moment of our regeneration, we are part of a bigger whole, the body of Christ (Rom. 12:5; 1 Cor. 12:13).
It means that, as J. I. Packer noted, an important part of our new life in the Spirit is our fellowship in the body of Christ. But for that fellowship to be truly evangelical, it must be the evangel that brings the unity, and not any other agenda or identity. So the apostle Paul wrote to the Gentiles in Ephesus of how Jews and Gentiles are brought together in Christ:
For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone. (Eph. 2:14–20)
Christ Jesus is the cornerstone of the fellowship, and his teaching the foundation of its unity. And so it must be for those who have no boast except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ (Gal. 6:14): there can be no second class and no segregation in Christ’s church.
This is not easy or natural for us, since we all come into the church with our own particular cultural identity, an identity we easily confuse with the gospel. And so the church can appear to be just another club defined by ethnicity or class or politics. But, as Conrad Mbewe writes, “we must never limit our church’s membership to one tribe or one ethnic group.” To the extent that our church is defined by such identities, it is not evangelical. Therefore, just as evangelicals will fight their own individual sin as they keep in step with the Spirit, so we must fight the collective sin of allowing anything but the gospel to be the cause of our unity. We must live out the truth that all who are born again are one in Christ Jesus, and one only in Christ Jesus, not by any other identity (Gal. 3:27–28). Only then do we testify that the gospel is the hope for world peace, bringing Jew and Gentile, male and female, black and white, rich and poor, all together into the loving household of God.
Content taken from Gospel People by Michael Reeves, ©2022. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, crossway.org.
 Packer, The Evangelical Anglican Identity Problem, 20–23.
 Conrad Mbewe, God’s Design for the Church: A Guide for African Pastors and Ministry Leaders (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2020), 31.