“So what do you mean by gospel?”
My friend was taken aback by my question. She had just been talking about the importance of living a gospel-centered life, based on the transforming power of the gospel.
But I had been feeling some concern that gospel has become a buzzword in the church, and may be in danger of losing its meaning, which is beautiful, and take on a meaning it was never intended to have.
Am I really supposed to be living a gospel-centered life? Does the gospel really have transforming power?
Gospel means “good news.” All Christians know the basics there: because of Christ’s death on the cross, my sins are forgiven. Yes, good news indeed. But the Good News of Jesus Christ goes much higher and wider and deeper than that.
Jesus Christ’s perfect life fulfilled all the law for me.
His atoning death procured forgiveness for me.
His powerful resurrection provided for me new freedom from sin.
His glorious ascension provided gifts for me, primarily the Holy Spirit to empower me to be able to pour out a sweet fragrance before God.
His victorious seating provided a seat for me, where I am now.
Immeasurable riches of grace. Incomparable kindness through Christ Jesus.
All this is incredibly good news. Astounding news. Forgiveness and more, so much more.
But still, it has no more power to transform my life than wonderful news written up in a newspaper, like, say, the end of World War II.
Everyone who was living under the dark shadow of the war would be electrified by that news. That good news was going to change the way they viewed life–they would no longer be under that dark shadow; there would be a new freedom.
But that good news in itself does not have the power to transform a life.
The centering is around a Person. The transforming comes through the Person.
Is it vital to say that I live a Christ-centered life rather than a gospel-centered life?
Is it a crucial distinction to urge people to remember that they are transformed by Jesus Christ Himself rather than His gospel?
Maybe we can ask the young war bride who holds a newspaper in one hand and her faithful husband in the other.
But beyond all comparison with any earthly husband, when my life is centered around Jesus Christ, He is the one who has the power through His Holy Spirit to transform me—from the inside out. As I continue to look to Him, I find that He transforms my desires, my delights, my duties, my direction, my determinations, my day to day.
I find my life in Him and He lives His life in me.
This is the Good News. This is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We live it. We proclaim it. And we hold it in its rightful place.
May our lives be centered around the Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer from sin and shame, throughout all our days.
The original version of this post was published in 2010.
Go here to download your free Guide, How to Enjoy the Bible Again (when you’re ready) After Spiritual Abuse (without feeling guilty or getting triggered out of your mind). You’ll receive access to both print and audio versions of the Guide (audio read by me). I’m praying it will be helpful.
So good, so true. “News” does not transform us. Abiding in the Presence does.
Beautiful understanding! Love the seven “d”s of transformation. The person, Jesus Christ–in Him, through Him, because of Him, we bear fruit, and are made fit for the Kingdom. To be in a person, the Son of God and Man, is such an amazing privilege, a gift like no other, for one day we shall be like Him.
Yes, amen, and praise God.
This is so beautiful. Thank you, Rebecca ❤
Excellent, thank you!
My understanding is that we are to be Christ centered, not self centered or world centered, or any other “centered” really. Christ followers are supposed to be Christ centered. I have been abused by a few people’s versions of the gospel, one was supposedly a good friend, so that perhaps newer term, gospel centered, gave me chills. Your Untwisting Scriptures book series demonstrates how a gospel centered life can be one of bondage. Only Jesus can set free, only Jesus saves, and only Jesus is the bridge between a fallen humanity and God.
Thank you Rebecca!
Yes, that “gospel-centered movement” got addressed in Untwisting Scriptures book #4, if I remember correctly. And amen to all you said.
Love it! If this is ever put in book form, I will be a definite customer.
Right on. We constantly de-personalize God by the way we talks about the Bible, faith, grace, gospel, the anointing, or whatever. Which are all ultimately just “its.” We need a HIM. a PERSON. Relationship with a real person, Jesus. Not just a relationship with religious “things,” no matter how important. Thanks for calling it out.
Yes, that’s exactly what I wanted to say. Thank you!
Yes. So good. Thank you for bringing it up. Lately I’ve been realizing we all have been guilty of raising the Bible up above the person- Word of God- Jesus. Even the Bible can be a stumbling block to intimacy with the Person, Jesus. We just continually encourage one another to be immersed in Jesus so as not to allow anything to come between us and Him- even good things.
So important, yes.