Being gospel-centered means making the gospel of Jesus Christ the central focus and driving force in every aspect of our lives. The gospel is the good news that Jesus died on the cross for our sins and rose again, offering salvation, forgiveness, and eternal life to all who repent and believe (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). A gospel-centered person recognizes they are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone (Ephesians 2:8-9). They understand the gospel is not just the starting point of the Christian life, but the sustaining power to finish it as well.
Recognizing Our Need for the Gospel
To be gospel-centered, we must first acknowledge our need for the gospel. The Bible teaches all people are sinners deserving eternal separation from God (Romans 3:23). We cannot save ourselves through good works or religious rituals. We are helpless and hopeless apart from Christ (Galatians 2:16). The gospel humbles us because it reveals our inability to justify ourselves before a holy God. It drives us to cry out for mercy and grace. A gospel-centered Christian remembers they are still a sinner in daily need of God’s forgiveness and salvation through Jesus.
Trusting in Christ Alone
Being gospel-centered means relying completely on Jesus Christ for our standing before God. We trust in His sinless life, substitutionary death, and resurrection as the sole basis for our righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21). We do not look to our own merits or abilities as the ground of justification, but wholly cling to Christ. Gospel-centered Christians boast only in the cross, not their own works (Galatians 6:14). They find great assurance knowing their acceptance is in Christ alone and does not fluctuate based on their performance.
Growing in Gospel Grace
In addition to justifying us, the gospel also empowers our growth in grace as Christians. The same grace that saves us also transforms us, healing the damage of sin in our lives. God uses the gospel to change our hearts and free us from bondage to sin so we can increasingly walk in holiness (Titus 2:11-12). Gospel-centered Christians rely on the Spirit’s power and Christ’s finished work, not willpower, to overcome sinful struggles. They find motivation to obey God out of love and gratitude, not duty or fear. The gospel fuels their sanctification.
Magnifying God’s Glory
At its heart, being gospel-centered means magnifying the glory and supremacy of God in all things. It places God at the center where He belongs. The gospel glorifies God’s grace, love, mercy, justice, power, and holiness. A gospel-centered Christian desires to exalt and enjoy God above all else. They want His name hallowed, His kingdom advanced, and His will done on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:9-10). Their ultimate purpose is to magnify the Son for the joy of the Father through the power of the Spirit.
Depending on God’s Grace
Being gospel-centered means relying completely on God’s grace every day. Just as grace birthed the Christian life, so grace sustains it. Salvation is by grace from start to finish. Gospel-centered Christians avoid legalism or works-based living. They rest in the finished work of Christ and trust the Spirit to produce fruit in keeping with repentance (Galatians 3:1-3). They do not try to repay or earn God’s favor but walk by faith in future grace.
Rooted in God’s Word
At the core of being gospel-centered is submission to the authority of Scripture. God’s Word teaches us the content and implications of the gospel message. Gospel-centered Christians build their lives on the solid foundation of the Bible, not shifting culture. They know that God’s truth transforms lives in a way extra-biblical ideas cannot. The more they saturate their minds with Scripture, the more the gospel renews their thinking and shapes their worldview.
Living in Community
While personal, the gospel also connects us to Jesus’ body, the church. Gospel-centered Christians experience the gospel through relationships with other believers. They study the Bible, fellowship, worship, and serve alongside their brothers and sisters in Christ. They bear one another’s burdens and fulfill the law of Christ through love (Galatians 6:2). Gospel community keeps Christians from isolation and reminds them of their new identity in the family of God.
Lastly, being gospel-centered propels us into God’s mission to make disciples of Christ locally and globally. Out of love, gospel-centered Christians proclaim the message that transformed their own hearts and lives. They support gospel ministry and plant churches. They leverage their gifts to help fulfill the Great Commission however they can. The gospel compels us to share God’s love with others until Christ returns. There is no greater life purpose than exalting Jesus by proclaiming Him among the nations.
Grace, Not Legalism or License
In summary, being gospel-centered means building your Christian life around Christ and the good news of salvation by grace alone through faith alone. It saturates your mindset, identity, purpose, motivation, community, mission, and everything in between with God’s amazing grace. Gospel-centered Christianity is neither legalistic nor passive, but gracious. It empowers holy obedience without fueling self-righteousness or moralism. At the same time, it spurs purposeful living without descending into license or lawlessness. By God’s grace, the gospel enables us to walk in freedom and holiness with Christ at the very core.
Indicators of a Gospel-Centered Life
Here are some key indicators that someone is living a gospel-centered life:
– Their identity is in Christ alone, not their own works or goodness (Galatians 2:20)
– They boast only in the cross and give all glory to God (1 Corinthians 1:31)
– They meditate often on the gospel and preach the gospel to themselves daily (1 Corinthians 15:1-4)
– Grace motivates their obedience more than guilt or fear (2 Corinthians 5:14-15)
– They extend grace to others, forgive others, and pursue reconciliation in relationships (Ephesians 4:32)
– They see themselves as sinners in daily need of God’s grace (1 Timothy 1:15)
– The heart behind their ministry is out of love and gratitude, not duty or obligation (2 Corinthians 5:14)
– They find greatest joy in Jesus and enjoy Him above all else (Psalms 16:11)
– Their worship exalts the glory and supremacy of God (Revelation 4:11)
– They obey God’s Word because they love Jesus, not just because they know they should (John 14:15)
– They leverage their gifts to spread the gospel to the lost (Matthew 28:19-20)
– They draw life from the gospel daily for strength to follow Christ (Colossians 1:6)
Here are some practical ways to apply the gospel more deeply into specific areas of life:
Marriage: Build your marriage on the example of Christ’s sacrificial love for the church (Ephesians 5:25). Extend grace to your spouse’s weaknesses. Let the gospel motivate you to love, forgive, serve, and cherish.
Parenting: Shepherd your children’s hearts toward Christ. Teach them the gospel and model repentance when you fail. Rely on grace, not anger or control.
Work: Work hard and honor Christ in your job. But find your primary identity and sense of purpose in the gospel, not career success.
Money: Steward your finances generously, remembering everything you have is a gift from God. Hold possessions loosely and resist greed or covetousness.
Suffering: When suffering comes, anchor your hope in the gospel promise that this life is not all there is. The trials we face now cannot compare to the eternal glory of knowing Christ.
Evangelism: Share the gospel out of love for lost people. Rely on the Holy Spirit, not manipulative or emotionally-driven tactics. Remember you were once lost too.
Discipleship: Help other believers grow in grace, not just knowledge. Emphasize heart-change rooted in the gospel, not just behavior modification.
In all areas, being gospel-centered means tracing every aspect of life back to God’s amazing grace through Christ and seeking to exalt Him above all.
Here are some common hurdles that can hinder living a gospel-centered life:
Legalism: Focusing more on rules and self-effort than God’s grace; judging others based on extra-biblical standards of holiness. The cure is understanding we are saved by grace alone, not our own works.
Cynicism: Becoming cynical, critical, or judgmental toward leaders, churches, or other Christians rather than extending grace. The cure is remembering how flawed we all are and how much grace we each need.
Pride: Thinking we are better than we really are; losing sight of our ongoing need for the gospel due to spiritual pride. The cure is meditating often on the gospel and clinging to Christ alone for righteousness.
Worldliness: Allowing the ungodly value systems of culture to shape us more than the counter-cultural truth of the gospel; loving worldly things more than Jesus. The cure is saturating our minds with Scripture so the gospel renews our thinking.
Idolatry: Replacing Jesus as the center of our lives with other idols like success, relationships, influence, comfort, or approval of others. The cure is confessing and repenting from anything that supplants Christ from His rightful place in our hearts.
Self-reliance: Depending on our own wisdom, strength, and abilities to change our lives rather than relying on the Spirit’s power and grace. The cure is the reminder that apart from Christ, we can do nothing of true spiritual value (John 15:5).
By God’s grace, a gospel-centered life avoids these pitfalls and is grounded continually on the grace of God in Christ for salvation, transformation and mission.
Resources for Further Study
Here are some recommended resources for learning more about living a gospel-centered life:
– The Gospel Primer by Milton Vincent – A short book with daily meditations on living out of the gospel
– Gospel Wakefulness by Jared Wilson – Explores the dangers of both legalism and antinomianism.
– The Cross Centered Life by C.J. Mahaney – A practical book on keeping the gospel the main thing.
– Gospel by J.D. Greear – Explains the many implications of the gospel for every area of life.
– Gospel Deeps by Jared Wilson – Focuses on the nuances and depths of the gospel and its impact.
– Gospel Worship by Jeremiah Johnson – Discusses the centrality of the gospel for worship and music ministry specifically.
-uning Grace by Jerry Bridges – A book on how the gospel empowers our pursuit of holiness.
– The Whole Christ by Sinclair Ferguson – Details the relationship between the law and gospel; avoiding both legalism and antinomianism.
These books, along with sermons and teachings from respected gospel-centered pastors and theologians can provide more wisdom on this vital topic. The journey of learning to live in light of the gospel more fully is one we all continue by God’s grace.