Gospel – Centered Life
This summer we will talk a lot about being Gospel-centered as a church and/or community, and I really want to encourage Gospel-centered living amongst the people in our class. From time to time you will we get asked by our newcomers, “What exactly does that mean? What does it look like?” Here is a brief explanation.
Before we jump into gospel-centeredness we need to be clear about the gospel itself. In the simplest of terms the gospel is the life, death and resurrection of Jesus that accomplishes redemption and restoration for all who believe and all of creation. In the simplest way I can state this is the gospel, the “good news,” that God redeems a fallen world by his grace.
Therefore, to be gospel-centered means that that the gospel – and Jesus himself – is our greatest hope and boast, our deepest longing and joy, and our most passionate song and message. It means that the gospel is what defines us as Christians (Gospel Identity), unites us as brothers and sisters (Gospel Community), changes us as sinner/saints and sends us as God’s people on mission (Gospel Practice). When we are gospel-centered the gospel is exalted above every other good thing in our lives and triumphs over every bad thing set against it. I essentially serves as the only filter by which we view the world in which we interact.
More specifically, the gospel-centered life is a life where a Christian experiences a growing personal reliance on the gospel that protects him from depending on his own religious performance and being seduced and overwhelmed by idols. This summer my want and prayer for each of you is that we become gospel-centered and that the subsequent life produces:
When the gospel is central in our lives we have confidence before God – not because of our achievements, but because of Christ’s atonement. We can approach God knowing that he receives us as his children. We do not allow our sins to anchor us to guilt and despair, but their very presence in our lives compels us to flee again and again to Christ for grace that restores our spirits and gives us strength.
When the gospel is central in our lives we have and maintain intimacy with God, not because of our religious performance, but because of Jesus’ priestly ministry. We know that Jesus is our mediator with God the Father and that he has made perfect peace for us through his sacrifice allowing us to draw near to God with the eager expectation of receiving grace, not judgment.
When the gospel is central in our lives we experience spiritual transformation, not just moral improvement, and this change does not come about by our willpower, but by the power of the resurrection. Our hope for becoming what God designed and desires for us is not trying harder, but trusting more – relying on his truth and Spirit to sanctify us.
When the gospel is central in our lives we long for and discover unity with other believers in the local church, not because of any cultural commonality, but because of our common faith and Savior. It is within this covenant community, if the community itself is gospel-centered, that we experience the kind of fellowship that comforts the afflicted, corrects the wayward, strengthens the weak, and encourages the disheartened.
In Galatians, Paul lays down a powerful principle. He deals with Peter’s racial pride and cowardice by declaring that he was not living “in line with the truth of the gospel”. From this we see that the Christian life is a process of renewing every dimension of our life– spiritual, psychological, corporate, social–by thinking, hoping, and living out the “lines” or ramifications of the Gospel. The Gospel is to be applied to every area of thinking, feeling, relating, working, and behaving. The implications and applications of this idea are vast and deep and I pray that they change us throughout this summer.