11 ways to pursue a relationship with God
Wed Dec 18, 2013
by Marsha Michaelis
Invest: A Brand New Book from Resurgence Publishing
Tue Dec 17, 2013
by Mark Driscoll
5 ways to love your neighbor during Christmas
Mon Dec 16, 2013
by Ryan Kearns
Sins of my youth
Sat Dec 14, 2013
by Ryan Williams
Resurgence Roundup, 12/13/13
Fri Dec 13, 2013
by Mark Driscoll
Translate Your Theology Into Sociology
“. . . A friend of tax collectors and sinners!” – Luke 7:34 What does it mean for a church to be gospel-centered? That’s a popular concept these days. Good. What if we were scrambling to be law-centered? But the difference is not so easy in real terms. A gospel-centered church holds together two things:
1. A Message of Grace
One, a gospel-centered church preaches a bold message of grace—so bold that it becomes the end of the law for all who believe. Not our performance, but Christ’s performance for us. Not our sacrifices, but his sacrifice for us. Not our superiority, but only his worth and prestige. It is the good news of substitution; the good news that our “okayness” is not in us, but exterior to us in Christ alone. It is the climbing down from the moral high ground, because only Christ belongs up there. That message, that awareness, and that clarity every Sunday.
2. A Culture of Grace
Two, a gospel-centered church translates that theology into its sociology. The good news of God’s grace beautifies how we treat one another. In fact, the horizontal reveals the vertical. How we treat one another reveals what we really believe as opposed to what we think we believe. It is possible to say, “We are a gospel-centered church,” and sincerely mean it, while we make our church into a law-centered social environment. We see God above lowering his gun, and we breathe a sigh of relief. But if we are trigger-happy toward one another, we don’t really get it yet.
A Collection of Sinners
A gospel-centered church looks something like this album cover—my all-time favorite. A gospel-centered church is a variegated collection of sinners. They come together and stick together because they have nothing to fear from their message or their culture. The theology creates the sociology, and the sociology incarnates the theology.
Doctrines and Environment
The one deal-breaker in a gospel-centered church is when anyone for any reason turns it into a culture of legal “demandingness” and negative scrutiny. Few would do that in the theology, of course. But still, a church with a message of grace can stop being gospel-centered in real terms. A major part of pastoral ministry is preaching the doctrines of grace and managing an environment of grace. The latter is harder to accomplish than the former. It is more intuitive. It requires more humility and self-awareness. May the Friend of sinners grant beautiful gospel-centricity to all our churches. Check out Ray Ortlund’s blog, Christ Is Deeper Still. Ray Ortlund will be teaching at Re:Train this year. Find out more at retrain.org.