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As I get older I keep asking myself important questions. I want to make sure that my life is on the right track. So today I have a question for the Simply Missional community.

“How do you know the gospel is the center of your life?”

Any thoughts?

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10 Comments

  1. I am only a practicing theologian, but I will give it a shot:

    For me, it is a battle between trusting in the gospel for acceptance and trusting in myself for acceptance before God. In partnership with the Spirit, I have to continually assess my thought life and my behavior.

    Resting in the cross (the gospel)
    Am I looking at Jesus on the cross and trusting that my acceptance and reconciliation before God is grounded in that? Have I rested in the sufficient work of the cross? Or am I trusting in my works for God’s approval.

    Compelled by the cross (the gospel)
    2 Cor 5:14 says that it is the love of Christ that compels us, and it goes on to say that that love was demonstrated on the cross, the core of the gospel

    So, is my thought love and my actions motivated by the cross?

    When I am selfish with my wife, do I look to the selflessness of Jesus on the cross and his pursuit of his bride and his dying to self for his bride?

    When I want to hoard my money, do I look at the generosity of God as displayed through the cross?

    When I want to hold a grudge, does the sacrifice of Christ compel me to forgive?

    What Does the Gospel Say Here?
    A question I ask a lot is, “What does the gospel say here?” In light of the truth of the gospel, its grace, its generosity and its abundant blessing, what is the proper gospel response? Is my response redemptive? Or does it keep me or those around me in bondage?

    If I gave you one handle to grab, it would be continuously asking, “What does the gospel say here?”

    And now I will make way for a theologian to answer the question.

  2. wow.
    i guess my only suggestion at this point could be read the last two book that i read.

    jesus for president- claiborne
    everything must change- mclaren

    these two together have done well in summing up a lot of the thougths i’ve been having over the last few years.

    a friend recently pointed out on the comments on by blog that he is concerned that while there is need and place for social justic in the church, that it might too easily overshadow the idea of repentance and personal conversion that the church has focused on. my response would be that, if we take a historical approach to what the people of God viewed salvation to be, then we will not be able to have one without the other. you cannot say that you have personal conversion without working for justice and care for the poor and oppressed. you cannot do those works without doing the work of God. this is not, according to the law and the prophets, a “either/or”, it is a “both/and”.

  3. Hey Chris,

    I have a tendency to take for granted that centering on the cross results in considering others before yourself and serving others. Phil 2 states the equation rather clearly, focus on the cross = humility and living for others. Justin is correct that it is both/and. That just seemed too obvious to state, but it does indeed need to be stated.

    I hate to be the bad guy in the conversation, but McLaren has a different gospel on the cross. I have read it in his books, and I have spoken with him in person. He is a likable guy, very gentle and humble, but I wouldn’t rely on his material for knowing the gospel is at the center. Justin, you seem like a good dude, no personal offense intended brother.

    Chris, you every listen to Rick McKinley? He is a guy that I wish more people were influenced by.

    Blessings bro.

  4. Jacob,
    No offense taken. If we ever begin to take one man’s perspective as the “end all” to the gospel, we’ve got a problem. We got a few chances to talk at the EMC conference here in Dallas and, yes, he’s a very likable/humble/gentle guy, but no, he does not contain the center of the gospel. But, I would say that, while the need for doctrine as we know it in the traditional sense is necessary, if it does not impact both our local situations as well as the global one, I fear that we fall into the the trap of “faith without works is dead” that James so bluntly warns us about.
    If the gospel is not practical good news to the poor and downtrodden; if it is not practical good news to the Creation that we have abused; if it is not practical good news to the broken and hurting in our spheres of influence, I dare say it is feces in the sight of God… mere words and good for nothing.

    What intrigues me most about Chris’ question is that it hits at our core. Is the gospel about what we mentally ascent to? Is the gospel about what we “work out” in practical ways? How do we know that the “gospel” is at the center of our lives?

    Two areas need defining if we’re to answer the question.

    What is the gospel? (Doctrine? Call to action?)
    What is the center of our lives? (Belief? Repentance and action into selfless living?)

  5. Two things from my view:

    1. Are you part of God’s work of reconciling, redeeming, and resurrecting things that are not as they should be?
    2. Are you free to act out of love and not fear?

    If the answer to both is yes, then you’re probably there.

  6. Hey Justin,

    The cool thing about Paul’s statement in 1 Cor 5:14 is that the love of Christ COMPELS him. He is absolutely transformed by the gospel of Christ, not simply because he mentally ascents to it, but because in view of the gospel and moved by the Spirit he repents from his old way and follows Christ. To believe (heart and mind) the gospel is to follow Christ and his life and actions.

    Good doctrine results in good action. The problem is that we have let people claim to have good doctrine when they don’t have transformed lives that serve others. It CAN’T be considered good doctrine if it doesn’t result in transformation.

    There should be no such thing as good orthodoxy if there is not good orthopraxy with it. And it cannot really be good orthopraxy if it is not tied to good orthodoxy. Right practice is rooted in right doctrine. They are inseparable.

    Chris, regarding my mention of Mckinley, I just picked up my iPhone and found a sermon of his called “Gospel Shaped Life”

    Here is a link to the sermon: http://www.imagodeicommunity.com/sermon/gospel-shaped-life

    Here is a summary of the message:

    A common thread in anyone’s life that has a valid claim as one following the ancient paths of devotion is a gospel shaped life. This entails having a living doctrine of the gospel that transforms your life. Doctrine is often accused of being dry, sterile, or even dead. But a true Christian doctrine is exactly the opposite. It has a blood stained cross and an empty tomb at its core. Christ’s substitution upon the cross for us should not be a boring concept. It is more than a story to tell at Easter. When embodied, it brings life in all its fullness. When we look to the Bible, there are at least four radical things that the gospel does when we truly encounter it.

    1. It provides forgiveness. The pressure of carrying our own sin is what goes wrong with most religions. We cannot be further shaped by the gospel until we offload the tendency to carry our own sin. We offload this at the cross.

    2. It removes any condemnation. Even if we offload our sin at the cross, most of us struggle with the guilt that’s left behind. But that guilt, also, is removed when our life is shaped by the gospel. We can live a life free from shame. We can wake up each day to freedom.

    3. It provides our life with significance. Another tendency of ours in our human state is find our significance in all the wrong places. As the gospel shapes us, our freedom is deepened by our growth to label ourselves as a child of God, and need nothing else to identify us.

    4. It shapes our heart to imitate Christ and therefore love the world. Justice is clearly a theme of the Kingdom of God. The only hope of finding true justice is if we have our hearts transformed to love as God loves.

  7. Yup.
    Same page.

  8. I think the Apostle Paul said it best in Galatians 5:22-26:

    “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.”

    The Gospel is center in our life when Jesus is the center of our life…think Jesus as the vine and us as the branches…

    Great question Chris.

  9. the Lord blesses you. you make more money. right?

  10. Blake,

    Too funny.

    Jacob,

    I think I’m one of the few who can listen to McLarnen and Driscoll 🙂
    Usually I want to shoot Driscoll because of his attitude and arrogance, but I love his passion for the church.

    I think McLaren asks a lot of questions that are vital-esp on a global scale. But I’m concerned that he could forgo proper orthodoxy in the process. I do think he is a legit Jesus follower.

    Love me some Rick M. Studly humble dude that seems to be not creating a “reformed” following only, yet he is still reformed.

    Drew,
    Thanks for leaving a comment. That is def a great scripture.

    Texas,
    Great thoughts. Simple and clear.

    I hope to post my thoughts soon.


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