Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Keller on the Centrality of the Gospel

Came across an article by Tim Keller on the centrality of the gospel of Christ. Simply put, it's something everyone must read who claims to be a Gospel-centered follower of Christ. While I'm not a super fan of Keller (in the "I am of Keller, I am of Piper, I am of Osteen" Corinthian kind of way), this is an excellent exposition. He clearly makes the point that we never outgrow the gospel in our life as a Christian. Here's a few excerpts:

Paul is showing that we never “get beyond the gospel” in our Christian life to something more “advanced”. The gospel is not the first “step” in a “stairway” of truths, rather, it is more like the “hub” in a “wheel” of truth. The gospel is not just the A-B-C’s but the A to Z of Christianity. The gospel is not just the minimum required doctrine necessary to enter the kingdom, but the way we make all progress in the kingdom.

We are not justified by the gospel and then sanctified by obedience, but the gospel is the way we grow (Gal.3:1-3) and are renewed (Col.1:6). It is the solution to each problem, the key to each closed door, the power through every barrier (Rom.1:16-17).

It is very common in the church to think as follows. "The gospel is for non-Christians. One needs it to be saved. But once saved, you grow through hard work and obedience." But Col.1:6 shows that this is a mistake. Both confession and "hard work" that is not arising from and "in line" with the gospel will not sanctify you--it will strangle you. All our problems come from a failure to apply the gospel.

The main problem, then, in the Christian life is that we have not thought out the deep implications of the gospel, we have not “used” the gospel in and on all parts of our life. Paul says that the gospel only does its renewing work in us as we understand it in all its truth. All of us, to some degree live around the truth of the gospel but do not "get" it. So the key to continual and deeper spiritual renewal and revival is the continual re-discovery of the gospel. A stage of renewal is always the discovery of a new implication or application of the gospel--seeing more of its truth. This is true for either an individual or a church.
I've posted about some of these topics in the past, the perception in the contemporary church that the gospel is just for evangelism, that it's only power is unto conversion. Keller does a much better job of destroying this heresy. Romans 1:16 says that the gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation, not just conversion. Salvation is a whole process that takes us from conversion, through sanctification and all the way to glorification. And it's the power of the gospel that is the power of God in all those stages of salvation.

Read Keller's article, all of it (it's 12 pages). And then reconsider your need to constantly be reminded of the truths of the gospel, it all its fullness and depth. As Martin Luther said, "The
truth of the Gospel is the principle article of all Christian doctrine....Most necessary is it that we know this article well, teach it to others, and beat it into their heads continually."

1 comment:

James Kubecki said...

Excellent find. I'll be printing a copy. Maybe several, and hand them out as tracts. ;-)

Seriously, the first line you've quoted there...

Paul is showing that we never “get beyond the gospel” in our Christian life to something more “advanced”.

...reminds me of one of my favorite John Piper clips (especially the part that starts 38 seconds in):

The Gospel in 6 Minutes