Tag Archives: Jesus

Rediscovering Discipleship – A review

rediscovering-discipleship

Rediscovering Discipleship is by far the best one I have read on discipleship, ever. This book, as the subtitle says is really all about “making Jesus’ final words our first work” (front cover). Unfortunately, in many churches, discipleship is more a program or something left for the “professional ministers” instead of something pursued and engaged in by every follower of Christ. One could make the claim this has done more harm to God’s church than any sin. Ed Stetzer, in the foreword, makes this statement: “The Bible tells us that we should be conscious of ourselves and of our teaching…In other words, it matters how you are growing and how you’re leading your people to grow” (p. 11).

Here is how Robby defines discipleship:

Discipleship is intentionally equipping believers with the Word of God through accountable relationships empowered by the Holy Spirit in order to replicate faithful followers of Christ. (p. 155)

Discipleship should not simply be a committee in a church, or even a program, it should be the life of the church. Discipleship should describe how a church grows, how it lives and breathes. Discipleship should be at the root of everything done in the church. If the ultimate goal and purpose of a program or event is not discipleship, what is it? For many, it simply stops after evangelism. After an individual is “hooked” they are left to themselves. There is nobody there to help them take the next steps in their walk with the Lord. This is extremely detrimental to the life of any church because many churches stop there. After someone makes a profession of faith they are left to figure things out on their own. But that is not how it should be, once someone has made a profession of faith, the work of discipleship begins.

The author quotes Heather Zempel, the leader of the discipleship ministry at National Community Church in Washington, DC:

The first model of discipleship that we see in history is the Relational model, which was the dominant approach to spiritual growth during the first few centuries of the church. It is built upon the premise that discipleship will occur naturally when Christians live in community with one another. Relational discipleship was vitally important during the early church because there was no New Testament and there were very few copies of Old Testament writings available to the common people. Spiritual truths were conveyed through the stories of the apostles and their letters to the churches. (p. 92)

Robby then follows that with this statement perfectly showing what happened to this movement, or the church:

Unfortunately, what began as a grass roots, relational movement eventually turned into a structured hierarchy that quenched efforts at discipling those not pursuing professional ministry roles. The common understanding of the church changed from being a people to a place, from a body to a building. The ministry was seen as something done exclusively by the clergy, while the laity sat idle and took on a more passive role. Institutionalized ministry replaced individualized ministry. (p. 92)

Perfect way to describe what has actually happened in the church throughout history. Discipleship is how the church reproduces itself and remains alive and growing. Discipleship is how God molds His children into the image of His Son. When discipleship is simply reduced to another program offered by the church, we suffer and the church suffers. God desires fully devoted followers of Him, not partially committed followers who only come to Him when life gets hard or when they need something. God is molding and shaping us into the image of His Son and discipleship is how God does this.

From the time Jesus called His first disciples to His crucifixion, Jesus was involved in discipleship. He was training them, preparing them for/ life after He ascended into heaven. This was God’s plan A from the very beginning and there is no plan B. God does not see discipleship as optional like many churches do. He sees it as foundational.

One of the main reasons I enjoyed this book so much is because it really helps paint the picture of what discipleship should be all about. It is not a difficult read but is encouraging and refreshing in that it explains what discipleship is all about and should be all about, and then goes into application by helping the reader understand how they can actually disciple someone. The last part will serve to be extremely beneficial for the Christian who has wanted to disciple but just does not know how.

Here are a couple quotes from the book:

Train yourself and your people not to be impressed with success in the church that does not accomplish the goal set forth by Christ: making disciples. (p. 23)

Discipleship has an end goal: to be conformed into the image of Christ – to talk the way He talked, walk the way He walked, and respond the way He responded. (p. 79)

Discipleship wasn’t a ministry of the first-century church. It was the ministry of the church…shouldn’t it be ours as well? (p. 85)

Just remember, you cannot microwave disciples. It’s a crock-pot recipe. And it takes time for maturity to take root. The wait is long, but the results are worth it. (p. 138)

Fortunately, Jesus, in His infinite wisdom, did not prescribe for us a single model of how to disciple. Instead, He gave us a mandate: Make disciples! He didn’t give us a single process; he left us with several principles and showed us by His own examples. (p. 154)

A church member once said to me, “your talk talks and your walk walks, but your walk talks louder than your talk talks.” The way you live speaks volumes about the degree of disciple-making taking place in your church.

Rediscovering Discipleship is all about what the title says, rediscovering discipleship. If you are involved in church leadership, a volunteer, or someone who has just begun their faith journey, this book is for you. It will help you understand how intentional and purposeful God is with His children. He does not simply want people to place their faith in Him and then live life how they want to. Choosing to respond to Jesus’ call to follow Him is just the beginning. After responding to the call is when the work really begins, and does not end until our lives end. Get this book, read it and apply it. You will be glad you did. I just think, if every Christian in the world were to take what this book says to heart, apply it and make disciples, there would be no more unreached people in the world today. Besides, what more motivation do we need to make disciples than the fact we are commanded to by Jesus?

 In compliance with regulations introduced by the Federal Trade Commission, I received a complimentary copy of this book from Cross Focused Media LLC in exchange for this review.

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Jesus IS the Answer

Jesus IS the answer

What this world needs is Jesus. There is no better way to put it.

Jesus is the only answer to pain and evil and suffering. He took our pain upon Himself so death is not the end for us. Apart from Jesus, there is no answer to the big three headed monster of pain, evil and suffering. We just have to hope against hope that we live a better life and don’t experience any pain, evil or suffering. But if something does happen, we are left to simply shrug our shoulders and keep going through life more numb. Other religions ignore it but Jesus is the answer for it through a relationship with Him.

Jesus is the hope of this world. Jesus resurrected from the dead to conquer death and the grave which gives us hope that no matter how bad this world gets, it is not our final home. There IS something better coming. When He was crucified, He didn’t just die as a good man. He died as the Son of God and because of this, He defeated the grave and because of this, we have hope that even though there is pain evil and suffering in the world, we have hope that when we also die, it is not the end and life only gets better for eternity.

Jesus is love. God is love and we love because He first loved us. We only know what love is because of God. Jesus was that love personified to show the extent to which God loves us. How else can we explain what love is? How do we know love apart from a loving God? Do animals know love? Not in the same way humans do.

Jesus is truth. How can we say anything is true or not true if there is no standard? Our emotions are not a good enough standard. We need an absolute standard that stands the test of time. If there is no absolute truth then we are free to do what we want. The man who shot and killed the 2 reporters this morning is simply acting upon what his emotions led him to do. If there is no truth, how can we say what he did, or what anyone else does is wrong? Apart from Jesus, we are left to the simple rule of the animal kingdom, where only the strong survive.

Jesus is life. Apart from Jesus, we cannot experience true life because life only happens through Jesus. This world has so many things that promise a life to the full. They all fall short of offering true life. Drugs, alcohol, sex, and anything else this world offers only leads to bondage and addiction. Jesus leads to freedom which is how life is best lived.

Jesus is God. As God, Jesus is able to be this and so much more. The true question comes in do you follow Him? Do you know Him intimately or do you know Him as an acquaintance? Saying you know Him but not allowing your life to show it is living a lie. Saying you know Jesus but living for yourself is a lie.

If you truly know Jesus and follow Him, the Bible has simple ways to know if someone is a Christian or not:

  1. Do you love God more than anything else?
  2. Do you love your neighbor as much as you love yourself?
  3. Are you making disciples?

How you answer those three questions will reveal if you know about Jesus, or know Jesus and follow Him. It is extremely sad what happened this morning to Alison and Adam. I pray for their families and I pray they had a personal, life changing relationship with Jesus Christ.

The answer this world needs and already knows IS Jesus. And for those who consider themselves followers of Christ, the world needs us to give them Jesus. We can offer the world nothing more and nothing less. It is time for Christians to take seriously what the Gospel of Matthew says in 16:24:

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”

That is how we change this world. Will you?

My prayers go out to the family of Alison and Adam.

alison-parker-adam-ward-today-150826-tease_d6aceb3048ff35498ceb9c59423a996e.nbcnews-ux-2880-1000


The State of the Church

The State of the Church

As 2014 begins, I have been considering what this year might hold for the Church. Is the church here in America, and around the world, in trouble? As a follower of Christ, do I need to worry about the state of the church? My simple response to this is the church here in America and around the world is alive and well. The church is not dying. Though the church might be facing difficulties and persecution and even death, it is not in trouble. A while back, I listened to a Louie Giglio message on the church and one thing he said that stuck with me is “God loves the church.” God is not disappointed in the church; God is not surprised by the church. God loves the church and gave His life for the church. I want to give two simple reasons why the church is not in trouble now or ever.

  1. We are not the foundation. If we believe the church is in trouble, then we have the wrong foundation holding up the church. Christians are not holding up the church. God is holding up the church. If we believe the church depends on us, then we have been mislead. In Matthew 16:18 when Jesus tells Peter “and on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not overcome it”, Jesus is telling Peter nothing Satan does can or will overcome the church. Colossians 1:17-18 says “and He is before all things, and in Him ALL things hold together. And He is the head of the body, the church.” The church holds together because Jesus is the foundation upon which the church is built. It is not built on our evangelistic campaigns or community outreach efforts or small groups or even missional communities. The church is built on Jesus and because of this the gates of hell cannot overcome it.
  2. We are not the main attraction. In recent years, I have seen a number of churches do various campaigns around the slogan “I ‘heart’ my church.” At the surface, this does not seem to have anything wrong with it because it gets people to take pride in their church. However, from an outsider’s perspective, this can give the wrong impression. To someone who does not follow Christ and has not grown up in church, this can cause them to think the church is all about the people. If, at any given gathering your church holds, people cannot walk away knowing Jesus is the center of everything you do, then we are simply showing them a false idol. If the music we sing does not lift up Jesus, then why are we doing it? People can go anywhere to listen to music where Jesus is not the central message; the church should be a place where the music is all about Jesus and what He did for us. If we were the main attraction, then the church would be in trouble.

I know these two reasons might sound simple but it’s because they are simple. It seems many churches have problems because they get confused on these two points. We forget the church is not built on us and we believe the people of a certain church are the main attraction. We take God out of the equation and make ourselves the center of attention. If we remember God is the foundation of the church and Jesus is the main attraction, then how we respond to various circumstances and situations in the church will be transformed by the Gospel.

I believe in many ways we get this feeling because we see so many changes in how Christians are treated here in America. We see our “freedoms” being taken away, or Christians being treated unfairly and in some ways, our voices being quieted. However, this is no reason to despair. This is simply a sign the church is being the church. All throughout the Bible, we see God’s people treated unfairly. We see in 2 Timothy 3:12 “all who desire to live a Godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” 1 Peter 4:12-14 says “do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share in Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when His glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.” 1 John 3:13 also says “do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you.”

According to these passages, we are to expect to be treated unfairly, to be persecuted. We are not to expect an easy life, we are to expect a life where the only freedom we experience is the freedom we have in our relationship with Christ. Christians reacting negatively when facing this persecution is not how Jesus told us to live. Jesus told us to expect trials and tests because in these, our faith will be perfected.

To conclude, I simply want to restate the church is not in trouble. The church never has been in trouble and the church never will be in trouble because we are not the foundation and we are not the main attraction. As we live according to these two ideas, our lives will make sense, no matter what we face and no matter how poorly and unfairly we are treated because of our faith.

I will leave you with John 16:33, in the words of Jesus:

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.


Remembering Sandy Hook Elementary

SandyHook

Tomorrow marks one year since the horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, CT. Hard to believe it has already been a year since everyone received news of what had taken place. Who would have thought that someone would actually go after the children? Even in jails, there seems to be a mindset that those who have abused children are treated the worse by other inmates because they are so innocent and full of life and energy. Then, on that fateful day, it was all taken away. Families left shattered through a holiday season supposed to bring joy and family fun. Christmas presents under their tree never to be opened by the one they were intended for. My heart breaks for those families today. My prayers go out to them through yet another holiday season where there will be tears and memories. But none of that will bring back their loved ones. Many things are being done around the US in their memory. One thing is simply challenging people to perform a random act of kindness. It seems simple enough; until we stop thinking about it. It is so easy to get caught up in our own lives we forget there are millions of people in the US alone who are not as well off as we are. There are people who will not spend time with loved ones this holiday season; children who will not have presents to open. I do not say this to cause you to feel guilty, but to remember just how much you are blessed with. Christmas around the world for Christians is also a time of stiffer persecution. Many anti-Christian groups use Christmas as a time to commit various acts against Christians. I learned that from reading the book The Global War on Christians by John Allen.

So, throughout this season, spend time with loved ones and be with them. Strive to not allow yourself to get caught up in finding the “perfect” gift because in so many people’s lives, the best present is your presence. How can you be present in someone else’s life this holiday season? Do you know someone who has lost a loved one? Do you know a family whose child might not have anything to open this Christmas morning? How can you serve? Because this is the message of Christmas, Christ became one of us to serve us.

Matthew 20:28 – “even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”

Philippians 2:5-7 – “Have this mind among yourselves which is yours in Christ Jesus, who though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.”

Jesus could have come demanding worship as a high powered king. Instead, Jesus came as a baby to the poorest among us to reach the world. He came and took our place, our punishment. The message of Christmas is Christ came to earth to live among us and be one of us. And when He left, He gave us the mission of doing the same thing. Christmas is one time we are truly able to do that. I have not been great at this but this year, I want to strive to make a difference somehow in someone’s life who could do nothing to repay me, but to smile and say thank you.

Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost as Luke 19:10 says. I was lost but God found me. Who in my life might still be lost where I can shine a light into their lives? Light can provide hope and warmth among other things. Where you can be a glimmer of hope this season? What will your children remember of this Christmas? Will it be of opening presents and seeing family like other years? Or will it be the start of a new tradition of being the light in someone’s darkness? This challenge is to me. If it speaks to you, that is amazing.

If you already have a similar tradition on Christmas, I would love to hear about it. It might help me and my wife come up with a plan of how we can do the same thing with our little girl in raising her to know the true meaning behind Christmas.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post. Feel free to share it with others. And take time tomorrow to pray for those families directly impacted in Newtown, CT and for other families you know who might have recently lost loved ones and this will be a particularly difficult holiday season for.


Does it matter how we live?

 

I have been thinking a lot recently about 2 Corinthians 5:14-15. This past Sunday I shared it with the youth and college students at Temple Baptist. It says:

“For the love of Christ controls us because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and He died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for Him who for their sake died and was raised.” (ESV)

The reason I have been thinking about this passage recently is I have noticed a trend moving in the church today, especially in younger people, where everyone can just live their lives the way they want to while professing to be a Christian. One can live however they want to and everything is fine because God loves everyone. We can do whatever we want all because God loves us and wants us to have a good time in this life. He is a God of grace and mercy so you can lie, steal, cheat, lust, etc. as long as your choices are not as poor as the next person.

However, this passage does not in any way give that impression. In fact, it says the exact opposite. First, as a follower of Christ, we should be controlled by the love of Christ. There are many times I have to remind myself about this. If the love of Christ is not controlling me as a follower of Christ, then what is controlling me? Nothing else should control me and have a tighter grip on my life than Jesus Christ. How can the love of Christ control me? It takes work and effort on our part. One does not become a follower of Christ and never have to work at living for God. Daily living for the Lord takes discipline and Bible reading and prayer and allowing God’s Spirit to guide you. This does not come easily to everyone. But that is what it truly takes to live a life controlled by the love of God.

Along the same lines, why should the love of Christ control us? Because of the Gospel. Verse 14 states the Gospel in a simple way, “One (Jesus) has died for all, therefore, all (followers of Christ) have died.” That is the Gospel clearly stated. We deserved to die the death Jesus died in our place, or on our behalf, or for our sake. He died so we would no longer live for ourselves. This is the essence of sin, living for ourselves. It is the very thing that caused Adam and Eve to sin. They wanted to live for themselves and fell for the lie of Satan that God was holding out on them and that their best life was right on the other side of eating the fruit of the tree God told them not to eat of. We are still trying to eat of that fruit even though God has given us His Word to show us the better way to live, His way. His is the way which leads to everlasting joy and peace, not temporary happiness and pleasure.

Moses chose to be with God in the wilderness than have the pleasures of Egypt without Him. By choosing to live for ourselves, we choose to live in the pleasures of Egypt apart from God while still trying to experience God in the wilderness. However, as you read through the Old Testament, we see that did not play out in the Israelites favor. Moses chose to let God lead Him and control his life.

This brings us to the end of the passage above: “might no longer live for themselves but for Him who for their sake died and was raised.” The part translated as “for their sake” in ESV, in the NASB is translated as “on their behalf.” When someone does something on your behalf, it is done in your place and no longer needs to be done. This means since Jesus died on the cross, we no longer need to pay for our sins because it is already done. Nothing we do can help pay more or less for our sins. Nothing we do can bring more grace to our lives and nothing can take grace away from our lives. God loves us all the same no matter what we choose to do with our lives. This means God loves the most faithful pastor of a mega church or small town church the same as He loves Osama Bin Laden. Thus, because all God did for us, we are to live our lives to Him. As followers of Christ we can no longer say “it is my life, I can do what I want.” Everything we do, from eating to how we dress to how we talk to what we watch on TV or listen to on the radio should all be done out of love for Christ.

But how is this possible? This seems pretty legalistic and rigid don’t you think? To say that God wants us to consider Him in everything we do is crazy. Two more passages:

Colossians 3:23 – “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.”

1 Corinthians 10:31 – “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

It is not legalistic, it is what Christ desires from us as His followers. Read what Galatians 2:19-20 says:

“For through the law, I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

These verses contain the same idea as 2 Corinthians 5. Lastly, look at Galatians 5:16: “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” What are the desires of the flesh? You can simply say it is the desire to live for ourselves. Can you imagine a world where followers of Christ truly had this mindset instead of the mindset that I can do what I want? If we are a follower of Christ, we cannot live the way we want because our lives are no longer our own, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:20) Can it be any clearer?

To close, I don’t want this post to only sound negative and restrictive because that is not how God presents Himself. God tells us many times that life in Him is the abundant life. Life lived according to His Word brings life. The more we live for ourselves, the more we become slaves to it and to our own passions which is in direct contrast to what God desires for us. God wants our very best. Living for ourselves does not bring us the very best. It eventually leads to a less satisfying life for many reasons, more than I will take time to go into here. But I would urge you as a follower of Christ to look at your life. What is controlling you and guiding you? Only God’s love can lead to the most fulfilling life regardless of your current circumstances and situations.

When asked why we live how we live, may our response be “for the Love of Christ controls us.”

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. It is always my prayer that this encourages you and challenges you in your walk with the Lord. Feel free to pose any comments or thoughts.


Dirty God by Johnnie Moore

 

Dirty God

 

Johnnie Moore is an acquaintance of mine from my time at Liberty University so when I noticed this book was available, I went for it. Having heard Johnnie speak as well as travel with him to Israel in 2005 or 2006, I knew it would not be a waste of my time. I was able to watch Johnnie from a distance and admire his heart and passion for the gospel and for the world. If you follow him on Twitter or read his blog, you are constantly noticing his passion for God and his love for the students at Liberty. At only 29, he has traveled more and probably accomplished more than I might in my lifetime. But that is what God has called him to do and how he is gifted. I mean, there are not many 29 year old university VP’s. After reading this book, you are able to understand more of what drives Johnnie Moore.

With that said, let’s take a brief look at Johnnie Moore’s sophomore release, Dirty God. From the time you pick up the book and see the picture on the front, to the time you finish the book, you are introduced to the idea that God, Jesus, is all about “getting dirty.” The main thread woven through this whole book is that of grace. As you read each page you are left challenged and encouraged to look at Jesus in a different way. Every Christian will tell you that Jesus did come to earth to die for us to reconcile us to God, as well as adopt, justify and sanctify us. It is what we believe. However, how many of us would ever really think about Jesus coming to get “dirty?” Our lives are messy and anyone who works with people or is around people for a long time, we can see just how messy life can be. And the beautiful thing that we see about Jesus while reading through Dirty God, is that Jesus did not care. Jesus came to save us and bring us back to Him and because of this, the mess never bothered him.

Grace is one of those words in Christianity that we throw around so very often and yet just as often, miss what it is all about. The last couple of weeks, I have been teaching the youth at Journey Church about grace and even while I have been studying it and learning about it, there is still so much to learn about the topic of grace. Jesus never let anything stand in his way of extending grace to everyone, beginning at what we would say the bottom of the totem pole. Jesus did not head straight for the rulers. No, instead he went to the poverty stricken areas; He went to the poor people, to the lepers, drunks, sinners, etc. That is why the religious leaders of His time were so infuriated, because Jesus spent so much time with the people they tried to avoid. And that is the beautiful thing about grace; it does not allow anything to stand in its way. Grace goes after those society looks over. Grace goes after those who have been hurt by others. Grace goes after…everyone. Johnnie Moore’s book will introduce you and remind you what that grace looks like. Many of the stories he shares are inspiring and yet he is also so transparent as to share times when he has fallen short of showing grace to others. That is one thing to admire about him, he does not write this book from a perspective of “come see what I have done” but “come experience what grace really is.”

Where and how can we experience this grace that Jesus has so lovingly bestowed on us? By rolling our sleeves up, getting our hands and feet dirty and join Him in the trenches.” If we really want to show grace as God has shown it to us, we cannot do it from a distance. Jesus stepped out of heaven, was born as a baby and lived a life right where we are to show us how much He loved us and to show us what grace is all about. He could have done it from heaven but that was not enough for Him, He wanted to come down and walk among us and live among us and show us that He is not just some distant God, but He is the God who has come near. After reading Johnnie Moore’s book, you will be challenged to inspect your life and inspired to extend grace. There really is no other way to live the Christian life. Here are a couple quotes from the book:

“Jesus’ love and Jesus’ grace are so great it’s scandalous – too much to bear, and too easy to get, and that’s why it’s always been so controversial…Grace accepts us as we are but is too powerful and too transformative to leave us as we are.”

“Christians should never blend in. Our lives should preach our loudest sermon.”

“Grace treats people precisely not as they deserve.”

I highly recommend this book as it will refresh, encourage and maybe breathe some new life into you. If you have a chance, pick it up and read it. Allow yourself to be reintroduced to the God who came to “get dirty.”

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 


Just what I needed today…and everyday.

Just what I needed for today.

So I picked up Tullian Tchividjian’s book Jesus + Nothing = Everything the other day to try to finish it. With the way life went over the summer, I did not pick up many books to read. Now that life has slowed down just a hair, I have made it a point to get back into them. I am really glad I did. I am remembering why I love reading so much. After God’s Word, I love picking up books that challenge me and encourage me through reading them. There is so much to learn from other people who might see something in a way that I might not have yet, or ever for that matter. With that said, what I want to share today on this blog is an excerpt from his book. I hope it encourages you today as well.

Gospel Hub

We’ve recognized that once God rescues sinners, his plan isn’t to steer them beyond the gospel but to move them more deeply into it. That’s because the gospel isn’t the first step in a stairway of truths but more like the hub in a wheel of truth.

After all, the only antidote to sin is the gospel-always has been, always will be. And since Christians remain sinners even after they’re converted, the gospel must be the medicine a Christian takes every day. We can think of it this way: since we never leave off sinning, we can never leave off the gospel.

In Romans, Paul calls the gospel “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (1:16), and contrary to what many Christians conclude, he didn’t simply mean the power of God unto conversion. The gospel remains the power of God for salvation until we’re glorified. We need God’s rescue every day, in every way, because we are, as John Calvin expressed it, partly unbelievers until we die, for we remain sinners until we die. There’s nothing anyone can add to the gospel that can give us more rescue than the gospel alone does. Jesus plus nothing equals everything, everything minus Jesus equals nothing.

We never leave the gospel, ever-even as we move into deeper theological waters. As Tim Keller says, the gospel isn’t simply the ABCs of Christianity, but the A to Z of Christianity. All theology is an exposition of the gospel, a further articulation of the gospel in all its facets, meticulously unfolding all its liberating implications and empowering benefits.

And on the practical side, all true maturity and further growth in Christian living is simply the appropriation of the gospel and its benefits in daily life.

And those blessings truly amount to everything- to an extent beyond our imagining.

Everything in our lives as Christians, followers of Christ, begins and ends with the gospel. We are who we are today because of the Gospel and because of the Gospel, when we get to heaven, we will be who we will be. It really is good news. I hope it encourages you today.