I became a Christian at 15 years old and surrendered to a call to ministry at 16. Yet, as I grew in faith, my understanding of the word “gospel” was limited to Southern Gospel Music. I had no idea that the word gospel was rooted in the very fabric of Scripture. At the time, I could explain to you what the Prayer of Jabez was or how you could live a purpose driven life, but I couldn’t come close to telling you what the gospel meant. Nowadays, you can’t walk into a Christian bookstore without tripping over a book with “gospel” in the title. You have books like The Explicit Gospel, Gospel and Gospel-Centered Discipleship to name a few. There’s even a Bible study for the entirety of your church small groups called The Gospel Project.
So is this the next Christian fad in the Purpose-Driven mold? There was Purpose-Driven everything. You had Purpose-Driven: Life, Church, Youth Ministry, Man, Dog…the list was endless. So is this the era the gospel-centered Christian fad? Yes and no. Is there a polar shift of focus on to the gospel in evangelical Christianity? Yes. Is this just a passing cultural Christian fad? I hope not.
Let me explain. There is no more vital piece of the Christian faith than the gospel. The Apostle Paul puts it succinctly:
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:1-2
Paul reminds us that the gospel is not only what we received, but it is the power in which we stand and by which we continue to be saved. The gospel is active and powerful. The gospel grants the believer so many things, chief of which is our adoption as sons and daughters of God. As we live and rest in the gospel, the effects are manifold.
Instead of defining ourselves by what we have done or what has happened to us, the gospel pulls us back to what Christ has done. No longer am I defined by my job, by the bad things I’ve done, by the bad things that have happened to me or by the good things I’ve done. When I go outside of Christ to find my identity, regardless of how noble the pursuit is, I am engaging in idolatry. Because of the work of the cross I am adopted as a son. Because of Christ, I am credited with the righteousness of God (2 Cor 5:21). In Christ I am no longer what I have done but I am what He has done.
The gospel is the ultimate means of destroying all barriers between man. No skin color, socioeconomic background or culture can withstand the power of the gospel to break it down. The gospel unites us all as sinners saved by grace. That brotherhood is meant to be played out in biblical community. The New Testament reminds us over and over that our faith, though personal, was never meant to be private. The first half of Titus 2 lays out the benefits of having relationships and discipleship within the context of biblical community. As Christians, we are meant to live our lives together.
Many Christians think of Doxology as a song you sing in church. But doxology comes from two Greek words – doxa which means belief and logos which means word(s). So basically we have “words of belief”. As we rest in the fact of Christ as our Lord and Savior we have a story to tell. As we wake up everyday in the understanding that we are sons and daughters of the living God, our lives will erupt with words of belief! There is no greater thing to grasp than the fact that God loves me, has adopted me and is sending me into the world for His glory. Our purpose of our faith is to worship. If our belief does not drive us to worship God with our lives and our lips, it is pointless. May a word of praise be ever on our lips!
The gospel is everything. May today you rest and live confidently in the wondrous hope of the gospel!