Every church has a functional center, something that motivates what they do, how they do it, and how they understand who they are. Sometimes this “center” is not clearly defined and other times what is stated as the central motivation is not what really motivates church life. At Redemption Hill, we aim to be a church that is centered on the Gospel. This means that the Gospel shapes the character of this church…the practices, commitments, and behavior of the church. As we like to say, we aim to be a church that brings all of life “in step with the gospel” (Galatians 2:14).
The Gospel (which simply means “good news”) is that the wisdom of God made a way for the love of God to redeem rebellious men and women and make them children of God without compromising the holiness and justice of God.
This good news is the central message of the entire Bible.
The Gospel is the good news that God delivers us from the penalty of our sin once and for all. It is also the good news that God continually delivers us from the power of sin that keeps us in bondage.
The Gospel is not just the means of our salvation, but the means of our transformation. It is not simply deliverance from sin’s penalty, but release from sin’s power. The gospel is what makes us right with God (justification) and it is also what frees us to delight in God (sanctification). This means that the Gospel is for both the unbeliever and the believer because it satisfies the unbeliever’s debt owed to God and it satisfies the believer’s inability to conquer the deathly power of sin.
So when Paul calls us to “work out our salvation,” he is calling us to work the gospel into every nook and cranny of our lives so that we are transformed emotionally, spiritually, psychologically, physically, and culturally—for the gospel is the power of God to heal all of our deepest and most profound personal and societal problems.
The great reformer Martin Luther rightly said that, as sinners, we are prone to pursue a relationship with God in one of two ways. The first is religion/spirituality and the second is the gospel. The two are antithetical in every way.
- Religion is about me.
- Religion says that if we obey God, he will love us.
- Religion says that the world is filled with both good people and bad people.
- Religion says that you should trust in what you do as a good moral person.
- The goal of religion is to get from God such things as health, wealth, insight, power, and control.
- Religion is about what I have to do.
- Religion sees the hardships encountered in life as a form of punishment from God.
- Religion leads to an uncertainty about my standing before God because I never know if I have done enough to please God.
- Religion ends in either pride (because I think I’m better than other people) or dispair (because I continually fall short of God’s commands).
- The Gospel is about Jesus.
- The Gospel says that because God loved us through Jesus we can obey.
- The Gospel says that world is filled with bad people who are either repentant or unrepentant.
- The Gospel says that you should trust in the perfect sinless life of Jesus because He alone is the only good and truly moral person to ever live.
- The goal of the Gospel is not the gifts God gives, but rather God as the gift given to us by grace.
- The Gospel is about what I get to do.
- The Gospel sees hardship in life as sanctifying affliction that reminds us of Jesus’ suffering and is used by God in love to make us more like Jesus.
- The Gospel leads to a certainty about my standing before God because of the finished work of Jesus on my behalf on the cross.
- The Gospel ends in humble and confident joy because of the power of Jesus at work for me, in me, through me, and sometimes in spite of me.
How Will We Cultivate a Gospel-Centered Ethos?
We must preach and teach the Gospel to everyone, both believers and unbelievers.
The Gospel is not just the way that we become Christians; though it’s not less than that, it is much more. It is the way that we mature as Christians. We are committed to preaching the Gospel as God’s means to mature Christians and not just as “biblical principals for living”.
We must learn to read the whole Bible as the whole Gospel.
Christ himself pointed out to his disciples that everything written in the Old Testament was about Him. We are committed to seeing how things like the Old Testament law, sacrifices, ceremonies and history all point to Jesus and find their fulfillment in Him. So from beginning to end, the Bible is about His story of redemption. We are committed to reading it that way and seeking to find our story in it as well.
We must see the world through the lens of the Gospel.
Because the Bible is our ultimate authority — and because the whole Bible is the Gospel, our understanding of the world and how to address its needs and problems will be based on the Gospel.