The gospel is good news of what God has done to establish his kingdom and deal with our sin through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is the heart of the Christian faith and the central message of God’s written and authoritative Word, the Bible.
Being “gospel-centered” means keeping the gospel of Jesus as the main thing. The church is always being tempted to put something other than the gospel at the center of our community and mission. Many of these are good things—things like family, small groups, music, preaching, missions, youth group, food pantries, liturgy, choir, children’s ministries, outreach, and so on. But none of these things are able to give shape, direction, and significance to everything we do. None of them are able to empower everything we do. And therefore none of them should stand at the center. Rather, we want everything we are and do to flow out of the gospel and point back to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
More specifically, this gospel tells us:
WHO is at the center of our lives: the Triune God—the Father, who sent his eternal Son, Jesus
Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:3-14).
WHAT God has done and is doing: Through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection for us, God is rescuing people from their sins, restoring them to a right relationship with him, and changing their lives to love and serve him (Rom. 1:16; Col. 1:15-23; Tit. 2:11-14).
HOW God is doing it: God rescues and changes us by his grace, as the Holy Spirit applies the truth of God’s Word to our lives (John 16:7-15; Rom. 8:28-39; Eph. 2:1-10; Tit. 2:11-14). The gospel affirms that our sin really is sinful, but that God’s grace in Jesus really is sufficient to deal with our sin (Rom. 3:9-26; 6:1-14; 1 Tim. 1:15-16; 1 Jn. 2:2).
WHY God is doing it: to make much of his name and glory throughout all creation in accordance with his sovereign plan (Isa. 44:6-8, 22-23; Acts 2:22-24; 1 Cor. 6:19-20; Phil. 2:5-11; Eph. 1:3-14; 3:10).
The gospel is not just a message for non-Christians, as if once we begin our relationship with God by grace through faith, we then grow and serve God by works and human effort. Rather, the same grace of God that was at work by the Spirit to rescue us from sin’s penalty also transforms, equips, and strengthens the whole of Christian life and mission (Titus 2:11-14).
We never outgrow our need for the gospel of Jesus.