Written By Bob Schindler, Chief Operating Officer of CEDE SPORTS
Being Gospel Centered – Part 3
When we talk about being gospel centered, one of the objections we hear is “Why don’t you use the idea ‘Christ centered’ instead of gospel centered?”
It is a good question. After all, if Jesus Christ is the one by whom and for whom all things were created, if “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:16-17), then clearly He is the center of everything and our focus should be on being Christ centered.
Paul certainly had this perspective as he wrote Ephesians. After telling us in 1:3 that God has “blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ,” he then goes on to outline those blessings like:
- Being chosen in Christ to be holy and blameless in God’s sight – 1:4
- Being adopted as sons and daughters through Jesus Christ – 1:5
- Having redemption in Jesus Christ – 1:7
Paul uses the term “in Christ” or “in Him” twenty-one times in the first three chapters. (A great exercise is to find those occurrences that outline our new identity in Christ.). He is clearly writing from a Christ centered perspective.
Having said that, Paul also speaks about “the mystery of Christ.” (3:4) He goes on to say that “this mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.” (3:6) Paul ties the mystery of Christ to the gospel. The mystery of Christ is expressed through the gospel. Through the gospel come the riches of Christ, those blessings in Christ that Paul mentioned in 1:3.
Paul goes on to say that he “became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace.” (3:7) where in other letters Paul referred to himself as a servant of Jesus Christ (Rm 1:1, Gl 1:10). Once again, he ties the Christ and the gospel.
For Paul, to be Christ centered is to be gospel centered. To be gospel centered is to be Christ centered. These two ideas are deeply intertwined.
If that is so, why even use the term gospel centered? Using the term gospel centered recalls the gospel as a story, not just a set of propositional truths, and Jesus Christ in the context of that story. Just as any person’s story helps us to better understand that person, the four-chapter story of the gospel – Creation, Fall, Redemption, Consummation – helps us to see and understand Jesus Christ more clearly, more fully.
Jesus – The Greatest Hero
Seeing that gospel as His story and seeing Christ’s place in the story as the Hero broadens and deepens our grasp of His work. Like any hero, he arrives on the scene and overcomes significant opposition to fix what is broken, restore what is lost, and right what is wrong. Jesus is the Greatest Hero because He overcomes the greatest opposition to right the greatest wrongs, restore the greatest loss, and fix the greatest brokenness.
Seeing Jesus as the Hero of this gospel story reminds us all that we are not the Hero. Life is not about us. Life is not up to us. Yet, the Hero has given us a significant role in the story, a role e has uniquely fitted us to fulfill. Our role is one he promises to empower as we walk in it. Each of us, Paul says, “are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works which he prepared beforehand that we should walk in.”(Ep 2:10).
Being Gospel centered is about remembering, believing, and experiencing. It involves regularly remembering the truths of the gospel. The greatest truths, the most central truths of the gospel that we must remember are those that surround the Hero of the gospel story – Jesus Christ, the GREATEST HERO!!!!!