"I Am Not Ashamed of the Gospel":
The Centrality of the Gospel
by William L. Kynes, Ph.D.
C.S. Lewis Institute Senior Fellow and Pastor, Cornerstone Evangelical Free Church, Annandale, Virginia
hen it comes right down to it, there is really only one thing I as a pastor have to offer my congregation—and only one thing that the church has to offer the world—and that is the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Certainly we can do many useful things. We can help the poor, befriend the lonely, and comfort the sorrowing. We can encourage struggling marriages and families. And we can champion certain moral causes that could have a positive impact on our society. But there is nothing particularly Christian about these deeds of kindness. The one unique and truly indispensable thing we as Christians have to offer the world is the gospel of Jesus Christ.
This gospel creates us, this gospel defines us, and this gospel equips us to serve the world in Jesus’ name. Nothing is so precious to us; nothing can be so dear to our hearts; nothing can so demand our loyalty and commitment as this gospel.
This gospel can be found nowhere else—not in any government agency, not in any university degree program, not in any corporate product line. In fact, you couldn’t buy it if you had all the money in the world. Only the church can offer the world this rare treasure, this pearl of great price.
In my role as a pastor people come to me with all sorts of problems in life, but I confess: I am a physician with but one medicine to prescribe, and that is the gospel of Christ. It may need to be applied in various ways, various aspects of it may need to receive the right emphasis, and it may need to be administered in the right form. But only the gospel of Jesus Christ can heal the deepest wounds of the human heart and can enable us to prosper according to God’s design.
The centrality of the gospel for the church is illustrated most clearly in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. This was a church with a host of problems, and in every instance Paul’s response was to expound the gospel.
Addressing their divisions and in-fighting caused by their pride in wisdom and knowledge, Paul points to the foolishness of the cross of Christ (1 Cor. 1:17–18). Regarding the sexual immorality that was prevalent among them, Paul urges them to get rid of the old leaven of sin from their midst, for Christ the Passover Lamb has been sacrificed (5:7). Through the gospel we are joined to Christ. How, then, can we be joined to prostitutes? “You were bought with a price,” Paul says, “now honor God with your body” (6:20).
On the issue of marriage, the gospel means you can serve God in whatever circumstance you are in—whether married or single, whether slave or free. You can live out the gospel wherever God has put you, so don’t be overly concerned about whether you are married or not (7:17–24).
And as to eating food sacrificed in the pagan temples, the gospel prohibits us from participating in idol worship, for through the gospel we participate in Christ (10:14–17). The gospel also sets us free from laws about what we eat and what we drink (8:1–8). Time after time, Paul’s response to the problems of this church centers on the gospel and what it ought to mean in our lives.
So it should be for us. Are you battling depression? Cling to the hope that is yours in Christ. Are you lonely and insecure? Reflect on the message of God’s love and eternal companionship found in the gospel. Are you struggling to get along with your spouse? Consider what it means to follow a crucified Messiah who, in humility, gave up everything for you. Are you racked with guilt? Receive the forgiveness found in the cleansing blood of Christ. Are you angry with a brother or sister? Forgive as you have been forgiven.
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