What does that mean?
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 His life, Jesus fulfilled the law and accomplished all righteousness on behalf of sinners who have broken God’s law at every point. In His death Jesus atones for our sins, satisfying the wrath of God and obtaining forgiveness for all who believe. In His resurrection, Jesus’ victory over sin and death is the guarantee of our victory over sin and death. Jesus’ saving work not only redeems sinners, uniting us to God but also assures the future restoration of all creation. 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 delight, and our most passionate song and message. It means that the gospel is what defines us as Christians, unites us as brothers and sisters, changes us as both sinners and saints and sends us as God’s people on mission. 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.
- Confidence In What Christ Has Accomplished (Heb. 3:14; 4:16)
- Access To Intimacy (Heb. 7:25; 10:22; James 4:8)
- Transforming Power (2 Cor. 3:18; 1 Thess. 5:23; 2 Thess. 2:13)
- Authentic Community (Heb. 3:12, 13; 10:25; 2 Tim 3:16, 17)
- Joining Jesus on Mission (Mat. 28:19-20)
We serve a missionary God. The Father sent Jesus, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is sending us to live “on mission” to make God known and enjoyed above all things. Those who have been redeemed by God through the gospel are sent as missionaries into their own social, work, and family relationships to live and love as active and intentional followers of Christ in a love-starved world.
- Some churches are driven by doctrinal purity.
- Some churches are driven by maintaining the status quo.
- Some churches are driven by numbers.
- Some churches are driven by a desire to be culturally relevant.
- Some churches are driven by how culturally distinct they can remain.
- Some churches are driven by social justice.
Gospel-centered churches do not forsake any of these things, but they are not driven by them. They are driven by a love for Jesus and His work on our behalf. Therefore gospel-centered churches are so focused on Jesus and the hope of redemption that they are passionate and articulate about their theology. Their desire to know and make known Jesus requires doctrinal thoughtfulness and leads them to seek as many people as possible to repent of their sin and trust in Christ. When the gospel is central in a church it leads them out into the world on mission, while preserving their counter-cultural character as the people of God. The gospel-centered church is driven by love (for God and others) and this leads to joyful, responsive obedience that points back to God.