the gospel

another post defining the Gospel. this one is excellent. check out the whole post, but here is the meat of the coconut:

So what is the gospel?

Although this brief survey is far from complete, it consistently reveals that the gospel is good news concerning Jesus and what he did to accomplish salvation for sinners.

In other words, the gospel is objective. It tells us what God has done to save his people. It consists of concrete, historical events, rooted in Old Testament promises, types, and institutions that were fulfilled in Jesus. It promises that all who trust in Christ and his work will receive forgiveness and life. Of course, this isn’t merely a catalogue of events of only historical interest; all of this has massive implications for our lives. But we must not confuse the gospel message itself with the outworking of those implications.

HT to the Z man.

gospel centered

helpful reminder from Joe Thorn about the gospel and what it means to be gospel centered as a person and as a church.

The Gospel

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 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 the same in and through him. Jesus’ saving work not only redeems sinners, uniting them 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.

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The Gospel-Centered Church

A gospel-centered church is a church that is about Jesus above everything else. That sounds a little obvious, but when we talk about striving to be and maintain gospel-centrality as a church we are recognizing our tendency to focus on many other things (often good and important things) instead of Jesus. There are really only two options for local churches; they will be gospel-centered, or issue driven.

Go check out the rest of his excellent post on the difference between the two kinds of churches.

Religion v. the Gospel

helpful reminder and summary. here are some to get you started, but please do go read all of them.

RELIGION: I obey-therefore I’m accepted.

THE GOSPEL: I’m accepted-therefore I obey.

RELIGION: Motivation is based on fear and insecurity.

THE GOSPEL: Motivation is based on grateful joy.

RELIGION: I obey God in order to get things from God.

THE GOSPEL: I obey God to get to God-to delight and resemble Him.

RELIGION: When circumstances in my life go wrong, I am angry at God or my self, since I believe, like Job’s friends that anyone who is good deserves a comfortable life.

THE GOSPEL: When circumstances in my life go wrong, I struggle but I know all my punishment fell on Jesus and that while he may allow this for my training, he will exercise his Fatherly love within my trial.

RELIGION: When I am criticized I am furious or devastated because it is critical that I think of myself as a ‘good person’. Threats to that self-image must be destroyed at all costs.

THE GOSPEL: When I am criticized I struggle, but it is not critical for me to think of myself as a ‘good person.’ My identity is not built on my record or my performance but on God’s love for me in Christ. I can take criticism.

RELIGION: My prayer life consists largely of petition and it only heats up when I am in a time of need. My main purpose in prayer is control of the environment.

THE GOSPEL: My prayer life consists of generous stretches of praise and adoration. My main purpose is fellowship with Him.

truth and doctrine

Kevin DeYoung has a great series of four posts on Truths that Transform, Doctrines that Damn.

Here are his summary conclusions, but go read all four posts.

First off, we see that anyone who says they have a church with no doctrinal center does not have a Christian church.

Second, we see that the early church believed orthodoxy was very important, and it was more than just living the right way, it involved holding certain truths about God, Christ, and salvation.

Third, we see that orthodoxy is not a moving target. There is no indication that Paul wanted his young pastors to repaint the Christian faith for a new generation. On the contrary, there is every indication that he wanted the apostolic deposit of truth to be passed on untouched and uncorrupted.

Fourth, we see that this apostolic message was to be declared boldly and confidently, and anyone who preached a different message or led others away from this core message were to be gently opposed and strongly rebuked (somehow, I guess, we can gently oppose and strongly rebuke at the same time).

Fifth, and more to the point of this series of blog posts, we see what the essentials of the faith looked like. The gospel message that Paul preached and expected all Christian to adhere to looked something like this: God is glorious; we are sinners; and Jesus Christ is our Savior and God. Jesus Christ is the son of David and God in the flesh; he died and rose again; he ascended into heaven; he is coming again. Salvation is by sovereign grace, according to the converting power of the Holy Spirit, through faith, not according to works. Jesus Christ saves us from sin, saves us for eternal life, and saves us unto holiness.

This is the gospel of the early church. It is rooted in Scripture. It is not to be deviated from. And it must be proclaimed confidently by anyone who would lay claim to apostolic authority in his ministry.

willing to be hated?

Randy Alcorn asks if you are willing to be hated for what you believe. Here are some excerpts, but you have to go read the rest. especially the quote from D.L. Moody. I have heard it before, but it is still a good one.

Of course, this does NOT mean being hateful. Nor does it mean seeking to be hated. Or having a persecution complex, so you think people don’t like you because you’re following Christ, when they actually don’t like you because you’re an idiot.

I am all for graciousness, kindness and servant-hearted love as we speak the truth. I seek to practice this with the nonchristians I’m around. But at some point the greatest kindness we can offer them, coming out of a life of humility and faithfulness to Christ, is the good news about Jesus. (That good news actually involves some very bad news about human sinfulness, which is what makes the cross an offense, meaning that it ticks people off).
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If we seek our culture’s approval, we’ll either never get it or get it only at the expense of failing to represent Christ. We are promised, that if we “live godly lives in Christ Jesus” we “will suffer persecution.” If we’re not suffering persecution, at some level, then what does that suggest?
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I’m all for audience analysis and understanding the perceptions of this generation and speaking in a way they can understand. But instead of letting the world set our agenda and the ground rules of what we can and can’t say, let’s ask the Lord how best to take the timeless message of the gospel to these people.

But, and I say this coming out of some of the conversations I’ve had with cool Christians, the answer is not altering the contents of the gospel to make it something everyone can easily agree with. If the gospel becomes nothing more than the reflection of a worldview they already have, it has nothing to offer them. It’s God’s gospel. Given the price He paid on the cross to offer it, He has the right to say difficult things such as Jesus is the only way to the Father and we are hell-bound without him. That message is not popular and never will be. Our job isn’t to edit the message, but to deliver it.
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It’s not our job to be popular. We are not contestants on American Idol. And we are not Christ’s speechwriters or PR team, airbrushing Jesus so He has greater appeal to people who don’t want to hear what He said about sin and hell. He’s the King, He calls the shots, we’re just His ambassadors. So let’s represent the real Jesus, the whole Jesus, not just the culturally acceptable one.

There is nothing new or postmodern about the gospel turning some people off. That’s always been true, just as it’s always been true that some people are longing to hear it and will deeply appreciate it that you had enough courage to tell them about Jesus.

emphasis added

hat tip to challies

another presentation of the Gospel

here is another (more traditional) presentation of the Gospel accurately.

hat tip to Timmy Brister who has another “shocking message” posted on his blog. Go spend another hour over there for that one.

young men adrift

Collin Hansen has a great article in Christianity Today today.

He first states the problem:

You know the guy. He somehow managed to graduate college, but he still lives with his parents. And he doesn’t plan to move out anytime soon. Or maybe he has a decent job. He lives with some buddies in the city. But he blows most of his money on video games and his latest efforts to bring a girl back to his place.
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“Dating gives way to Facebook and hooking up,” [David] Brooks writes. “Marriage gives way to cohabitation. Church attendance gives way to spiritual longing. Newspaper reading gives way to blogging.” It’s not that young people today just want to slack off and don’t care about each other, Brooks cautions. “It’s a phase in which some social institutions flourish—knitting circles, Teach for America—while others—churches, political parties—have trouble establishing ties.”

He then points out the need for and difficulty with finding a solution:

Certainly this challenge requires a missionary response from our churches. If these men will not come and join our worship services, we must go and seek them. This imperative seems to inspire the current “missional” rage among evangelicals. Evangelistic appeals grounded in felt needs won’t do the trick with these men. What good is this approach when we see no evidence that these young men feel the need to change? And if we adjust our beliefs and behaviors in order to attract these men, we run the risk of peddling the gospel and precluding God-given transformation.

the solution that Collin proposes resonates with me. it is what I was driving at here, here and here, for instance.

here is part of what Collin proposes, but you have to read the rest over at Christianity Today.

No, there must be something different and demanding about the gospel if we expect these men to abandon their self-concerned lives. Thankfully, that’s exactly the gospel we proclaim, Jesus Christ and him crucified. Jesus himself set the standard for discipleship. “If anyone would come after me,” he said, “let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matt. 16:24-25). Jesus calls his followers to entrust their anxieties to him and devote themselves fully to serving God and his kingdom. These are difficult words, but we cannot survive the wrath of God unless we heed them. Seeking first the kingdom means nothing less than abandoning ourselves for the refuge of God’s grace.

so, the exit question for us all is: “is this really the gospel we proclaim?” if not, why not?