“On Christ’s glory I would fix all my thoughts and desires, and the more I see of the glory of Christ, the more the painted beauties of this world will wither in my eyes and I will be more and more crucified to this world. It will become to me like something dead and putrid, impossible for me to enjoy.” ― John Owen, The Glory of Christ
“Everything in Scripture is either preparation for the gospel, presentation of the gospel, or participation in the gospel.” ― Dave Harvey
The theological linchpin of the church is the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is utterly indispensable. It simply cannot be replaced. It is the front page on the newspaper of the Christian life. It isn’t mere advice, it is the most unique and valuable news in all the cosmos. It is all we have to offer a world in dire need of redemption. So to be “gospel-centered” in our doctrine is of immeasurable importance because our faith hinges on this specific message; distorting it can cause serious damage.
We’ve all seen it before, when pastors and churches unmoor themselves from gospel roots they are tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes (Ephesians 4:14). Eugene Peterson put it this way: In a gospel-centered church there will be “no prolonged infancies among us, please. We’ll not tolerate babes in the woods, small children who are an easy mark for impostors. God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love—like Christ in everything. We take our lead from Christ, who is the source of everything we do. He keeps us in step with each other. His very breath and blood flow through us, nourishing us so that we will grow up healthy in God, robust in love.”
So where do you start? How can you know if your doctrine is gospel-centered?
A (humble) Outline for Gospel-Centered Doctrine:
- God: The gospel finds it origin in and manifests the wondrous perfections of the eternal, triune God.
- Scripture: The gospel is authoritatively revealed in the scriptures.
- Sin: The gospel alone addresses our deepest need.
- Jesus: The gospel is made known supremely in Jesus Christ.
- Salvation: The gospel is accomplished through the work of Christ.
- Holy Spirit: The gospel is applied by the power of the Holy Spirit.
- Church: The gospel is now embodied in God’s new community.
- Kingdom: The gospel compels us to Christ-like living and witness.
- New Heavens/New Earth: The gospel will be brought to fulfillment by the Lord Jesus Christ at the end of this age.
- Judgment: The gospel necessitates a response that has eternal consequences.
5 “Tests” of Gospel-Centrality
If you’re interested or intrigued enough to explore more about gospel-centered doctrine, Pastor J.D. Greear preached a message on Acts 2:41–47 that gives 5 “tests” of gospel-centrality. In it he shows how if we are preaching the Spirit-anointed gospel, these 5 things will be the result in our churches, just as they were in the very first one.