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Christ_Taking_Leave_of_the_ApostlesMay the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus
— Romans 15:5

The gospel cannot puff us up. It cannot make us prideful. It cannot make us selfish. It cannot make us arrogant. It cannot make us rude. It cannot make us gossipy. It cannot make us accusers. So the more we press into the gospel, the more the gospel takes over our hearts and the spaces we bring our hearts to, and it stands to reason, the less we would see those things antithetical to it.

You cannot grow in holiness and holier-than-thou-ness at the same time. So a church that makes its main thing the gospel, and when faced with sin in its ranks doesn’t simply crack the whip of the law but says “remember the gospel,” should gradually be seeing grace coming to bear.

It works out this way individually. The most gracious people you and I know are people who have had an experience of grace and fixate on grace. The least gracious people we know are people who may know about grace academically, “theologically,” but don’t seem the least bit changed by it and really have a fixation on the law. They have an inordinate fixation on who did what wrong and what they deserve.

The same dynamic takes place in churches. Where grace and law are taught academically but law is “felt” as the operating system of the church, you will likely have a stifling, gossipy, burdensome environment. Where grace and law are taught theologically but grace is felt as the operating system of the church, you will see people begin to flourish, breathe. (You’ll also attract more sinners, which is where religious people start getting a little antsy.)

But the message of grace made preeminent will generate an atmosphere of grace.

This is why the harmony with each other of Romans 15:5 is “in accord with Jesus Christ.” It’s not predicated on having a bunch of stuff in common. It’s not predicated on common race or social class. It’s not predicated on a common special interest or political cause. It’s not predicated on all being theology nerds, liking the same authors, being Reformed or Arminian or somewhere in between. It’s not predicated on all being Republicans or Democrats. It’s not predicated on all being for social justice. It’s not predicated on all being homeschoolers or public schoolers. It’s not predicated on music styles or preaching styles or anything like that. All of that sort of commonality produces a very fragile harmony.

It is instead predicated on our common Savior, Jesus Christ, compared to whom we are all sinners who fall short of God’s glory, and from whom we have all received grace upon grace. It’s impossible to bask in the glorious grace of Jesus Christ and at the same time toot your own horn. So the more that we together focus on the gospel of Jesus, the more together we will walk in accordance with him and therefore in harmony with one another. “Gospel doctrine,” our friend Ray Ortlund says, “creates a gospel culture.”

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10 thoughts on “A Gospeled Church”

  1. TSL says:

    Thank you for this article. I have lived for decades without a “gospel-centered” life and have been very confused at HOW we (believers in Jesus Christ) can live a life where we “love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength” and “love your neighbor as yourself.” When we all experience grace from Jesus, with our eyes fixed on Him, remembering His gracious love for us and His continuing grace toward us… then grace and love can flourish in our marriages, friendships, families and churches! Thank you for the wise, powerful words.

  2. David says:

    You really sound freshly like in the circle of New Covenant Theology instead of the law centered CT!?

    1. Jared C. Wilson says:

      David, I’m just trying to sound like the Bible.

  3. Elisa says:

    Who become railing banshees at any mention of obedience.

    The most gracious people I know fixate on Christ and have a working knowledge of how their gracious position in Christ brings them to careful obedience.

    Fixating on the gift of grace gets believers as wildly off as fixating on law.

    1. Jared C. Wilson says:

      Elisa, we must run in different circles. The people I know who claim grace but disobey wildly don’t seem fixated on grace to me; they seem fixated on themselves.

      I also don’t know anybody who “rails like a banshee” at the mention of obedience. Like I said, different circles, I guess.

      1. Elisa says:

        We must. I’m faintly shocked bc I understood it was becoming a nationwide problem. I believe some call it “hyper grace?”

        What I described is rampant among women, where I find my main ministry before God. They wield the word “grace” like a dagger, post blogs about how believers should never mention sin or works, and find no peace because instead of fixating on Christ, they worship “grace.” When they don’t get the approval and peace they want in “grace,” turn nasty: ad homim attacks, gossip, slander, leaving relationships, etc. These women are hurting and “grace” empowers them to hurt others. In truth, it is not godly grace as you and I know that brings salvation and teaches us obedience (Titus 2.) These women are hurting & hurters and instead of fixating on Christ, they fixate on grace and give “Jesus” characteristics He never had. When believers point to the true Christ, they start railing.

        I understand that you mean true Godly grace that does produce deeds and not the type of faux grace I hear touted in my circles. Those caught in legalism are waaaaaay more gracious than the phenomena I’m describing. Ironic!

  4. Paul Madson says:

    Thanks Jared. Very refreshing. Please keep writing…your incredibly gifted.

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Jared C. Wilson

Jared C. Wilson is the Director of Content Strategy for Midwestern Seminary, managing editor of For The Church, director of The Pastoral Training Center at Liberty Baptist Church, and author of more than ten books, including Gospel Wakefulness, The Pastor’s Justification, and The Prodigal Church. You can follow him on Twitter.

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