As a church, on Sundays we are busy revisiting our values: Gospel, Community and Mission, and we have spent the last few weeks looking at the gospel. We’re spending this extended time doing so because understanding the gospel and its implications for us as a church is one of the most important things we can do.
In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul writes to the Corinthians Christians about the fact that he wants to remind them of the gospel. A Christians, we desperately need to constantly reminded of the gospel. We don’t forget its data, we don’t forget who it was that died on the cross for us, but the vividness and the potency of the gospel does wear off; unless we are constantly reminding ourselves of the power and the beauty and the importance of the gospel.
One of the biggest mistakes we make when we consider the gospel is that we think of it as good advice, more so than good news. But the gospel is not God’s advice on how to live our lives, but it is is proclamation of what God has done for us in Jesus.
It is also the declaration that we are simul justus et preccator – simultaneously sinful yet justified. We are at one and the same time, more sinful and self-orientated than we imagine and yet more loved, accepted and acceptable than we could dare hope to believe. And that gives us a new identity, a new security, a new humility and a new self-worth not based on performance but based on Jesus’ profound love for us.
The challenge, however is merely to know the theology in our heads but to let it shape our hearts. That’s the real challenge. Ray Ortlund says “A church with the truth of the gospel in its theology can produce the opposite of the gospel in its practice.” For some crazy reason we can be all ‘gospel-centered’ in our theology, songs, sermons and CG content and yet full of frustration, anger, division and animosity in our hearts. At Watermark, we need to be more than merely ‘gospel-centered-everything’ with our worlds, we really need God to arrest our hearts and to re-format our hearts on this good news of great joy.
Below are a couple of brief articles by various people on What is a gospel-centered church anyway?. I encourage us to read these as we grapple with this most important of things.
Centered on one or the other – by Ray Ortlund
What Does It Mean to Be a Gospel-Centered Church? – by Ray Ortlund.