My Conversation with Trevin Wax about “The Gospel is for Christians”

Today on Trevin Wax’s blog Kingdom People, he posted our conversation about The Gospel is for Christians and its various implications on discipleship and missions.

Some of the topics we cover are:
-The title of my book
-The gospel-centered movement
-The prevalence of gospel-centered language
-The effect of consumerism on Christian discipleship
-The practice of “preaching the gospel to yourself”
-How to guard against gospel-centeredness becoming mere individualism
-The connection between gospel-centeredness and global missions
-The connection between gospel-centeredness and the worship of God

I enjoyed having this conversation and hope you find it helpful.   The Gospel is for Christians is available here.

May the Lord help us see the centrality of the gospel for faith in Christ and for following Him in discipleship.

“Biblical Theology for Kids!”

Jim Hamilton and his son Jake have teamed up and created a biblical theology for kids.  This short book explores the major stories of the Bible in both poetic and artistic fashion.  They have made it available for free for you to download and print at your convenience.  Fantastic!  Use it with your kids as soon as possible.

May the Lord fill the mouths of children with His praises.

Main Points from The Gospel is for Christians

Here are three key ideas from each chapter of my book, The Gospel is for Christians:

Chapter 1: “The Gospel Planned Before All Creation”
(1) God planned the death of Jesus on the cross before He made the universe.
(2) The gospel is “good news” about Jesus for us.
(3) Even though God planned the death of Jesus, his opponents were morally responsible for their deeds.

Chapter 2: “A Christ-Centered Plan”
(1) Everything in the universe exists to magnify God through Jesus Christ.
(2) God saves self-exalting sinners in order to make them glory-beholding worshipers.
(3) Even though God is the rightful king of the world, we have all committed cosmic treason by rejecting his rule and going our own way.

Chapter 3: “God is Holy, Man is Wicked”
(1) Since God is righteous and holy, he could not ignore the transgression of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.
(2) God’s wrath is his righteous response to sin.
(3) Our only entitlement is everlasting judgment by a righteous God.

Chapter 4: “Where Wrath and Mercy Meet”
(1) In order for God to forgive sinners, he cannot ignore his righteousness.
(2) At the cross of Jesus, his mercy toward sinners finds expression in his wrath on his Son.
(3) Jesus, who had no sin, bore our sin on the cross and died under the judgment of his Father.

Chapter 5: “Deepening the Roots”
(1) Believers are commanded to grow in faith–the question is, How?
(2) Believers live with hearts of repentance and faith.
(3) True Christian growth does not occur apart from the gospel but in the gospel.

Chapter 6: “Preaching the Gospel to Yourself”
(1) Christians need the gospel every day, not just at the moment of salvation.
(2) Christians are paradoxically both saints and sinners until Jesus returns.
(3) Christians should preach the gospel to themselves in times of happiness as well as despair.

Chapter 7: “Saved by the Head to Serve the Body”
(1) It is wrong to hate what Jesus loves, and Jesus loves the church.
(2) Not caring about the Bride of Christ dishonors the Bridegroom (Jesus) whom you profess to love.
(3) There are some commands in the New Testament which can only be obeyed in the context of serving in a local church–thus, church involvement is not optional for faithful disciples.

Chapter 8: “Body Building”
(1) We should want churches to grow by exercising God-honoring methods, knowing that–in the end–God alone grants the growth of his Church.
(2) In a consumeristic culture, churches face temptation to operate as a business pushing a product to consumers.
(3) God, not man, is the center of corporate worship.

Chapter 9: “A Global Gospel”
(1) The church’s mission is to make disciples of all nations.
(2) No one can be saved unless they respond in faith and repentance to the true gospel about Jesus Christ.
(3) Jesus anchored the Great Commission in the truth of his universal sovereignty.

Chapter 10: “Jesus and His Bride”
(1) Marriage is a picture of Christ and the Church.
(2) At the core, all spouses are incompatible because of sin–which is why grace is crucial in the marital covenant.
(3) Marriage is a means of sanctification for the Christian.

Chapter 11: “Making It Clear”
(1) We must not assume the gospel; we must boldly declare and clearly explain the gospel to the next generation.
(2) The gospel is offensive because it calls us sinners and demands our repentance, but we are stewards–not engineers–of this message.
(3) Parents and churches should think strategically about how they will pass the gospel to their children and members.

If these main points interest you, I invite you to the book’s Amazon page for more information.

May the Lord use this book to encourage and challenge his people to hold to the gospel, for his glory among the nations.

Being Saved by the Gospel

Tenses matter.  Paul told the Corinthians they had received the gospel (1 Cor 15:1) which saved them–past tense.  But then he said the gospel is also the message “by which you are being saved” (1 Cor 15:2)–present tense.

Put another way, sinners never exhaust their need for the gospel.  We need it to become Christians, and we need it to live as Christians!  The gospel is the message for both justification and sanctification.

Christians must hold to the gospel which saved them, for its work in their lives continues by the power of God.  The Christian life should be gospel-centered because it is driven by God’s grace from beginning to end.

Paul told the Corinthians they would hold to the gospel “unless you  believed in vain.”  This means growing in the gospel is evidence of salvation.  On the other hand, not holding to the gospel is evidence of unbelief.  Are you holding to the gospel today?

The gospel is for Christians–which sounds like a good book.  :)

My Book, “The Gospel is for Christians”

Last month Lucid Books published The Gospel is for Christians.  I wrote this book out of a burden for the contemporary church to love the gospel more, to understand it clearly, and to keep it central in Christian living.

You can purchase a copy here.

Haven’t you known believers who are constantly trying to grow through clever methods and formulas?  The “secret” to spiritual growth seems to always be something that someone must uncover and then disclose to others.

But there is no secret to Christian growth, and there are no shortcuts.  The New Testament teaches us that the gospel message (the good news about Jesus’ substitutionary death in our place that satisfied the righteous wrath of God) not only saves us but is also the message for our discipleship.  Unbelievers need the gospel to know Jesus, but believers also need the gospel to live like Jesus!

We need to understand the gospel clearly, and we need to apply it comprehensively to our Christian lives.  The gospel is for missions, for church ministry, for Mondays, and for marriage!  In short, the believer must see his or her life in light of the transformative message of the gospel.

If we separate Christian living from the gospel, we will end up with moralistic deism that does not honor God.  The gospel is a Christ-centered message that must result in a Christ-centered life.  The gospel is for Christians!

Seeking through Thinking

In Colossians 3:1-2, Paul gives two commands: (literally) “seek the things above” (v. 1) and “think on the things above” (v. 2).

What’s the relationship between those two commands?  Do we seek with our heart and think with our mind?  Do we both seek and think with our mind, or both with our heart?

Maybe the second command is synonymous with the first (since Paul is prone to say the same thing twice, only with different words), or perhaps the second command explains how the first one is accomplished…

I think the parallel object in both commands (“the things above”) suggests that the two commands are essentially the same–but not totally the same.  In both commands, “the things above” are the goal.  But what if someone read Paul’s first command and asked, “How do I seek the things above?”  Paul’s next statement might be seen as the answer: You seek the things above with your mind.  This is a command, then, for seeking through thinking.

The commands in Colossians 3:1-2 are not totally distinct, given their identical object, but the second seems to explain how to obey the first.

Paul’s emphasis on the mind here shouldn’t be surprising, given the fact that Jesus himself said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30).

Pursuing God, then, begins in the mind.  We must be transformed by the renewing of our mind (Rom 12:2), and we must think on what is excellent and praiseworthy (Phil 4:8).

Seeking God through thinking doesn’t render void the aspects of our affections, though.  That would be a false dichotomy–saying that we would have to choose between thinking and loving or thinking and zeal.  We need both.  We shouldn’t settle for ignorant zeal or empty intellectualism (besides, didn’t we just read Jesus’ words that said to love God with the mind?).

Finally, note that Paul’s words in Colossians 3:1-2 are commands.  Seeking God through thinking is a matter of obedience.  Paul is not presenting us with recommendations.  We will either pursue God with our minds, or we will be disobedient.