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The Gospel-Centered Church: Why the Gospel is so Different (pt. 1 of 2)

January 13, 2009

The Gospel is contrary to our fallen instincts.. As I’ve already posted a number of times:

Religion says, “I obey, therefore I am accepted.” The Gospel says, “I am accepted, therefore I obey” (from class notes).

I could go on a lengthy discussion of what the Gospel is, but for a quick summary I’ll let Mark Dever summarize it here (John Piper also provides an interesting summary and commentary here.)

The grand narrative of the Bible is the Gospel, literally the “good news” – God created (everything was good), man rebelled against God (man sinned) and was separated from Him. Because of our separation from God this world is a mess and we are a mess (in as many ways as you can imagine). Despite our separation from God, He lovingly pursues those who rejected Him making Himself known to a fallen world. The climax of this is seen in Jesus Christ, fully man and fully God, who lived a sinless life (the life we should have lived) and died on a cross (the death we should have died). He resurrected from the grave three days later, conquering sin and death and ascended to be with the Father. This is the grace of God that though we sinned He made a way for us to be reunited to Him, and through faith in Christ we may be united with Christ to achieve restoration with the God who is drawing people to Himself. Pretty awesome if you ask me.

An incredible number of American churches are not Gospel-driven but religion-driven. They may talk about the Gospel, may use the word “Gospel,” and may even sing some music they call Gospel music. They are not desperately, completely, utterly dependent on the work of God and the righteousness of Christ.

They do not point to this to explain why husbands and wives should live a certain way within the context of marriage. They do not point to this to explain why giving generously makes sense. They do not point to this as the reason the Christian should be willing to sacrifice anything (even his or her own life) for the cause of Christ. They do not point to this as the ultimate pursuit and lifestyle of the Christian. Instead, the Gospel is secondary and used as a means to achieve something else (called an idol), when it was meant to achieve God Himself.

Religion is a never-satisfied savage. The Gospel is beautiful,

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