What is a gospel-centred church?
What is a gospel-centred church? [draft sermon notes]
Published March 20th, 2019
Put On the New Self 3 1 b If then you have been raised with Christ, seek c the things that are above, where Christ is, d seated at the right hand of God. 2 e Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For f you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ g who is your 1 life h appears, then you also will appear with him i in glory.
3 1 Εἰ οὖν συνηγέρθητε τῷ Χριστῷ, τὰ ἄνω ζητεῖτε, οὗ ὁ Χριστός ἐστιν ἐν δεξιᾷ τοῦ θεοῦ καθήμενος• 2 τὰ ἄνω φρονεῖτε, μὴ τὰ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς. 3 ἀπεθάνετε γὰρ καὶ ἡ ζωὴ ὑμῶν κέκρυπται σὺν τῷ Χριστῷ ἐν τῷ θεῷ• 4 ὅταν ὁ Χριστὸς φανερωθῇ, ἡ ζωὴ ὑμῶν, τότε καὶ ὑμεῖς σὺν αὐτῷ φανερωθήσεσθε ἐν δόξῃ.
What is a gospel-centred church? Intro This phrase is cool nowadays. Which means we have to hang on tight to a clear definition of what we mean by it. Absolutely foundational to how we do church here at TCC. All we're trying to do is give a simple phrase to capture what the Bible says. A gospel centred church is one where we explicitly want our whole lives to be controlled by the reality of the gospel. Colossians 3.1-4 You have died and been raised with Jesus Christ, so now let your life on earth display your life in him. What are the 'things that are above' - it is 'where Christ is', i.e., who we really are now. Some preliminary parts of 'gospel-centred': 1. The gospel is the centre of the whole Bible plan. Luke 24; 2 Timothy 3; John 5, etc. 2. The gospel is therefore the centre of all of the universe, history and everything Ephesians 1.10 etc. 3. The gospel is the centre of how you and I are saved eg Romans 1.16 or John 3.16. But here's the key difference: 4. The gospel is the centre of how we grow as Christians into maturity. The way in is the way on eg Colossians 2.6-7. Note how pretty much all the NT a) unpacks the gospel explicitly and b) was written to people who were already Christians. Growing in the gospel (abiding) leads to growth and maturity (cf Colossians 1.23-28) The reality of who we are in Jesus is the controlling dynamic of our lives, if we 'get' this. It is our 'DNA'. Hence message - manner - methods [cf Paul] Read excerpt from https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/your-church-gospel-centered-think/ Gospel-Denying Churches These shouldn’t be called churches. Various cults and extreme brands of liberalism would fit this category. They deny the essential truths of the gospel. Gospel-Redefining Churches Related to the previous category, these add to or subtract from the gospel. Examples include the prosperity gospel and the social gospel. Gospel-Assuming Churches These churches say they believe the gospel, but they rarely preach it plainly and deeply. It’s “Christianity-lite.” Leadership talks, therapeutic sermons, and practical-improvement messages fill the air. Gospel-Affirming Churches Like the previous group, these churches believe the gospel doctrinally, but the gospel is only meant for evangelism, and it is segmented out of the life of the church. Gospel-Proclaiming Churches These churches are known for preaching the gospel every week in corporate worship. But the gospel is still viewed as simply evangelistic. The gospel tips people into the kingdom, but it isn’t taught as that which also shapes and empowers Christian living. Often what is communicated to believers is some form of post-conversion moralism. Gospel-Centered Churches These churches preach the gospel every week explicitly—but not just to the unbeliever. They also preach and apply the gospel to Christians, as Paul did for the Romans (Rom. 1:15). It shapes and empowers Christian ethics and the life of the Christian community. For example, marriage is taught by looking at Christ’s love for the church (Eph. 5:25); generosity is viewed through the lens of Christ’s generosity (2 Cor. 8:9); the call to forgive is rooted in Christ’s forgiveness of us (Col. 3:13); hospitality reflects the welcome of Christ (Rom. 15:7). Calls to social action—like caring for the orphan, the widow, the refugee, and the poor—are also made to believers with reference to their own identity in Christ. What is the only real alternative to gospel-centredness? Unrepentance and hardening of heart, in at least some area of life. Some 'zone' of fleshly self remains jealously nurtured and protected. Wrap-up: Consider different domains with examples, eg: Our emotional life - perhaps the biggest and subtlest one. Yet the NT is replete with it. Our relational life - constantly where the evil one attacks and undermines Our big-decisions-in-life Our lives in this world (public sphere etc)