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Tim Keller:

We never "get beyond the gospel" in our Christian life to something more "advanced." The gospel is not the first "step" in a "stairway" of truths, rather, it is more like the "hub" in a "wheel" of truth. The gospel is not just the A-B-C's of Christianity, but it is the A to Z of Christianity. The gospel is not just the minimum required doctrine necessary to enter the kingdom, but the way we make all progress in the kingdom.

We are not justified by the gospel and then sanctified by obedience but the gospel is the way we grow (Gal. 3:1-3) and are renewed (Col 1:6). It is the solution to each problem, the key to each closed door, the power through every barrier (Rom 1:16-17).

It is very common in the church to think as follows: "The gospel is for non-Christians. One needs it to be saved. But once saved, you grow through hard work and obedience." But Colossians 1:6 shows that this is a mistake. Both confession and "hard work" that is not arising from and "in line" with the gospel will not sanctify you--it will strangle you. All our problems come from a failure to apply the gospel. Thus when Paul left the Ephesians he committed them "to the word of his grace, which can build you up" (Acts 20:32).

The main problem, then, in the Christian life I that we have not thought out the deep implication of the gospel, we have not "used" the gospel in and on all parts of our life. Richard Lovelace says that most people's problems are just a failure to be oriented to the gospel--a failure to grasp and believe it through and through. Luther says (on Gal. 2:14), "The truth of the Gospel is the principle article of all Christian doctrine... Most necessary is it that we know this article well, teach it to others, and beat it into their heads continually." The gospel is not easily comprehended. Paul says that the gospel only does its renewing work in us as we understand it in all its truth. All of us, to some degree live around the truth of the gospel but do not "get" it. So the key to continual and deeper spiritual renewal and revival is the continual re-discovery of the gospel. A stage of renewal is always the discovery of a new implication or application of the gospel--seeing more of its truth. This is true for either an individual or a church.

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10 thoughts on “We Never Get Beyond the Gospel”

  1. Nicholas Cardot says:

    This is a great post about the gospel. It is no doubt that the gospel is the greatest thing in all the world and that it alone is the center of all our doing and all our theology. It is definitely the A to Z of our lives…or at least it should be!

  2. PaPaMarc says:

    Does anyone know of a good book to use in a small group with this theme. I am finishing up “Putting Amazing Back into Grace” by Michael Horton with my group and this would be a great place to go next.

  3. Mitch Maher says:

    Hey papamarc,

    We’ve used Jerry Bridges’ “The Gospel for Real Life” at our church. It seemed to be a great blessing to our people.

  4. pduggie says:

    “a man’s doing good, and refraining from evil, because the law encourages to the one and deters from the other, is no evidence of his being under the law: and not under grace.”

  5. PaPaMarc says:

    Thanks Mitch, I will give it a read. The name sounds like what I am looking for.

  6. revdanerickson says:

    The Gospel for Real Life is an excellent book for a small group study. Another one which I would recommend (because it is very readable an does a good job at explaining the full implications of the gospel) is Alistair Begg’s “What Angels Wish They Knew.”

  7. PaPaMarc says:

    Thanks Revdanerickson, I will check it out also.

  8. Bobby says:

    Keller has a small group study available online at called Gospel Christianity 1. Excellent study.

  9. Bobby says:

    If the my previous web address post is hard to read, try going to:
    Click “online store”,”curriculum”.
    Scroll down to Gospel Christianity 1, click on “more”. Download sample.

    We are using this (actually on Gospel Christianity 2) material at a Bible study we are conducting at a mission in Nashville.

  10. PaPaMarc says:

    Thanks Bobby I will take a look at it.

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Justin Taylor, PhD

Justin Taylor is executive vice president of book publishing and book publisher for Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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