WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE “GOSPEL-CENTERED?”
In articles to come, a term I am likely to use often is “gospel-centered” which will be descriptive of life, parenting, marriage, and ministry. It will be helpful to define this up front and why I would use this rather than terms like “biblical” or “Christian.”
To start, the term gospel needs to be clear. In a sentence, Paul states it best in 1 Corinthians 15: 3-4, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” It is the good news that God, by his grace, has provided redemption to a fallen world through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. For a more detailed description, see the tab “The Gospel” at the top of this website.
To be gospel-centered then is take the gospel message and the object of the gospel, Jesus Christ, and center on it our hope, our joy, and passions. It is to make the gospel of first importance over the way I parent, be a husband, and the way I deal with the joys and the trials of life.
Making the message of the gospel central protects me from depending upon any religious performance as a means of thinking I am meriting favor with God and it protects me from being seduced by idols. It helps me as a parent to guide my children by nurturing and disciplining them from the perspective that they are sinners needing guidance and grace just as I do. I can love my wife like Christ loves the church because daily I experience such love as one pledged to Christ. I can live a gospel-centered life because my identity is found in the perfect obedience of Christ, my standing before God is based on Christ’s death for my sins, and my living is shaped by the power of the Holy Spirit.
The gospel is not just a message for unbelievers to be saved but is the basis of the storyline of Scripture and brings meaning to every aspect of our lives here and is the focus of the life to come. In other words, to be gospel-centered is to recognize that the gospel is the basis of meaning to everything.