In need of a Gospel-driven theology

Someone by the name of “Chris” wrote:

Do you notice how all of those four problems [within the common Charismatic focus] ultimately come down to issues around the person and work of Jesus (addressing your four points in turn):

– Ignoring the significance of Jesus.
– Misunderstanding the work of Jesus.
– Confusion over the uniqueness of Jesus in redemptive history.
– Spiritual deafness to the voice of Jesus (”My sheep know my voice”).

Go here: Cerulean Sanctum for the whole story.

Metanarrative as Baseline

David Capener has written:  

“Theologians call this the metanarrative, the overarching story of Gods great redemptive plan throughout history.  Unless we understand the sweep of redemptive history how will we ever fully understand the need for salvation….  A grasp of the story is so so important. Otherwise reading the bible becomes like trying to read that novel without ever understanding the story.” 

Bible’s Focus = Bible’s Author

John Walton has written:  

“Focus on people rather than God: The Bible is God’s revelation of himself and its message and teaching is largely based on what it tells us about God. This is particularly true of narrative (stories). While we are drawn to observe the people in the stories, we cannot forget that the stories are intended to teach us about God more than about people. If in the end, the final point is “We should/shouldn’t be like X (= some biblical character)” there is probably a problem unless the “X” is Jesus or God. Better is “we can learn through X’s story that God . . .”

Gospel Ministry? What other sort is there?

Thomas Foxcroft on Gospel Ministry:   “Christ is the grand Subject which the ministers of the gospel should mainly insist upon in their preaching” and “In all their ministerial labors, pastors should make the conversion and edification of men in Christ their governing view and sovereign aim.”

Faith, A Regulative-Principle

Christian Cryder:  “If Justification By Faith is the heart of the gospel, and Sanctification By Faith is its lifeblood, then Worship by Faith explains the reality of our fellowship with God.  …[O]ur churches will die when we fail to understand the gospel – that we are justified by faith, sanctified by faith, and that our worship is made pleasing in faith.”

Checking out of so-called “worship”

There are times when we’re pressed (even while remaining seated in the assembly) to check out of so-called “worship,” as it turns its face from God to hope and lean upon lesser things (2Cor10.5).  No measure of earnest in what is preached apart from Christ will suffice to rightly comfort, protect, and equip the saints; nor does it render honor unto Whom honor is due. 

Sifting and Weeding Through…

I understand that many folks won’t care for Keller, nor do I fully appreciate his thinking on some matters.  But, when it comes down to apprehending and appropriating the Gospel…of all the preaching that I’ve heard that claims to be redemptive-historical and Christo-centric, Keller is among the few who go a very long way toward making clear the differences between *preaching the Gospel* and *preaching Jesus as Example/Add-on/Gap-filler*.


Of course there are things Keller says that give us pause, but I tend to ignore that sort of thing like I would everyone else’s statements that don’t seem to square with Scripture.  What I most appreciate about Keller is his bringing the finished work of Christ to bear upon Scripture, faith, and life.  May the Lord aide in our sifting wheat from chaff!


This sermon (Born of the Gospel) is a decent example of how Tim captures something of the “how” and “why” the Scriptures are to be read from Genesis to Revelation.  Here too, he helps us understand something of why folks can dabble in so-called “redemptive-historical” thinking, but never escape the grip of a functional denial of what they know Christ fulfilled and abolished!  Reading Vos, Kline, et al, without a more fundamental grasp of the implications of the Gospel, will sometimes (often) lead to more confusion and in the end result in one becoming quite frustrated with trying to do “redemptive-historical” thinking, so that, they give up on the idea and turn around and attempt to pick it apart.  (What they are picking apart is often nothing more than a caricature of a sounder and more thorough understanding of redemption and revelation.) 


Perhaps I’m coming to the place where… if the Gospel doesn’t penetrate a believer’s thinking and actions, tangibly over the course of time, than it probably isn’t centrally the Gospel they are hearing and trusting.  Thankfully, Keller helps tighten the weave in areas that many others (who I appreciate for other reasons) can’t seem to readily touch on.


Hopefully I’m learning (at least a little) to get over some of my own aversions to things less fundamental in lieu of missing what’s foundational to faith, hope, and love.

Fulfilled/Filtered in Christ

Lee Irons: “We must trace the progress of redemptive revelation as we move from the old covenant through its fulfillment in Christ into the new covenant. As a result, there is both *organic continuity* and *redemptive historical change*, but the focus is on the centrality of Christ and our union with him. It really is all about Christ!”


This is very likely one of the most succinct explanations of how the Gospel pertains to ALL faith and practice that I’ve yet heard!  Mike Bullmore has confirmed in this one message what I’ve been striving to grasp and communicate for a number of years now.

Thank you, MIKE!

Mike Bullmore, The Life: Applying the Gospel to ALL of Life

“THE” Ground of Christian Conduct

D.A. Carson:  “Paul never lets Christians forget that all our giving is but a pale reflection of God’s “indescribable gift” (2 Cor. 9:15), which of course lies at the heart of the Gospel.    So much of basic Christian ethics is tied in one way or another to the Gospel.  When husbands need instruction on how to treat their wives, Paul does not introduce special marriage therapy or appeal to a mystical experience.  Rather, he grounds conduct in the Gospel:  “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Eph. 5:25).  If you are looking for maturity, beware of any “deeper life” approach that sidesteps the Gospel, for Paul writes, “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness” (Col. 2:6 – 7).  Of course, there is “deeper life” in the sense that Christians are exhorted to press on toward greater conformity to Christ Jesus and not to be satisfied with their present level of obedience (e.g., Phil.3).  But none of this is an appeal to something that leaves the Gospel behind or that adds something to the Gospel.     We must avoid the view that, while the Gospel provides a sort of escape ticket from judgment and hell, all the real life – transforming power comes from something else — an esoteric doctrine, a mystical experience, a therapeutic technique, a discipleship course.  That is too narrow a view of the Gospel.  Worse, it ends up relativizing and marginalizing the Gospel, stripping it of its power while it directs the attention of people away from the Gospel and toward something less helpful.

What Evangelicalism (nor some others) Doesn’t Have

Fonville:  “Evangelical churches need to be telling people and teaching people the gospel and how all of its multifaceted truths connect to every area of life! What Evangelicalism desperately needs today are gospel-saturated and thus gospel-driven churches and pastors who are committed to declaring the gospel in all of its fullness and glory!“The Evangelical church is in large measure ignorant of the gospel, ignorant of the law and ignorant of Christ and His righteousness. Such ignorance is one major cause of the legal temper which characterizes the ethos of American Evangelicalism.  

G’M:  As Fonville indicates, the Gospel (finished work of Christ) has huge implications for how we look at all things, particularly the church’s mission.  And no doubt, this American-Religion (which has little or no root in the Gospel of our Lord) has won the day in much of Evangelicalism.  If only it could be said that reformational churches have come away unscathed; sadly, such is not the case, with the bulk of them having a tendency to assume the Gospel and give way to a nominal-confessionalism (which is another manifestation of ignorance concerning the Law/Gospel tension).  It’s heart-wrenching when the local PCA congregation hails Wesley’s hymns as “the soundest doctrine in this church.”  Not good! 

First Order Discourse

Abraham:  “The best antidote to abusive and self-serving forms of inclusivism is to reinstate the gospel at the core of the church’s life … When it comes to our turn to speak, we can change the subject and return to the first order of discourse of the gospel. We can immerse ourselves in the great themes of the gospel; we can drink afresh from the mercy of God in the cross; we can ensure that the full faith of the church is tended to and taught; we can lift up Christ like the serpent in the wilderness and watch him draw all to himself; we can cry out for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the church; we can do all we can to ensure that the sacraments are duly administered; we can pray without ceasing for the comprehensive renewal of the whole people of God.”

Gospel as regulative principle

Luther:  “…this doctrine can never be taught, urged, and repeated enough. If this doctrine be lost, then is also the doctrine of truth, life, and salvation, also lost and gone. If this doctrine flourish, then all good things flourish; religion, the true service of God, the glory of God, the right knowledge of all things which are necessary for a Christian man to know.”

 [HT: Fonville]