The Internet Monk yesterday posted inquiring of the 2 or 3 year old "Gospel-Centered" movement. He asks some valid questions and got some good responses worth looking at, for those so disposed. Here is my comment on being gospel centered. My question is "Are we?"
As a practicer and not a preacher, I can only comment ‘from the pew’ that living Gospel centered to me means that as I struggle with my “self” thinking and worldliness throughout the week, it gets easier because Christ’s work means I don’t have to carry the “guilt” of failure with me, and His grace DOES transform me. Unbelievers can learn to try and be virtuous, but will always end up compromising their virtues at the point where “guilt” stops them. At one point, an unbeliever has to say, “Well this is okay to do, okay to be just this self-centered and worldly” even when it’s not, because to be anymore virtuous and fail consistantly would bring guilt. They reconcile themself to the self-seeking (sinful) world, and are at peace (sic) with it. The freedom in Christ is that we don’t have the weight of guilt to stop us from going farther and becoming more like Christ in an upside down world. We are reconciled to Him, not the world. We focus on Him instead of ourselves and go where unbelievers cannot go. And trusting in Him there is true peace. Sounds elementary, but so few Christians are actually letting Christ transform them as a lifelong thing.
So gospel centered preaching would by and large NOT be a 40 minute thumping on trueisms from the bible on how to live our life by stopping our sinning, without giving equal time to the gospel reasons that we can and will only through Him succeed and always improve in Godly living. It separates our “obedience” from Christ’s work on the cross. Gospel centered preaching gives hope not condemnation. And that is entirely different then just being a good “bible centered” message. We want to obey the bible because it expresses our love, not just to keep the rules, and we thirst for all things Christ, as keeping our eyes on Him is our passion, instead of looking at ourselves. We depend on Him, not ourselves for our daily bread. You’d be suprised how many preachers preach the bible without preaching hope. Gospel centeredness is a correction of the wrong thinking of many faithful bible believers and preachers that wed obedience to faith as co-partners eliminating Jesus’ work on our behalf. Obedience should be wed to love.
My hope is that it helps the drifting church. The Reformed seem to be the first ones to make it Vogue, but it should really unite everyone, as it is the power of God for the saving of souls, and I don’t see it exclusive for any doctrinal reasons. It’s the same Gospel for all.