The following post was written by Andrew Jacobson in 2014 as part of a discipleship blog series. We are revisiting these topics in our current sermon series and publishing his writings here with his permission.
We want everyone at First Free to understand and love the person and work of Christ and to live in an explicitly Christ-centered way in every area of life as they abide in the grace of Christ and pursue becoming like Christ.
The Center of Christianity
An obvious but unfortunately overlooked truth is that Christ is at the heart and center of Christianity. We never move beyond Christ but only ever deeper into knowledge of Him and a relationship with Him. And when we say knowledge we don’t mean a mere intellectual acquaintance with Christ that leaves your head big and your heart shriveled. We mean a vibrant and lively knowledge of Christ that informs the head with truth, inflames the heart with love, and inspires the hands to obedience. Everyone at First Free should be able to confidently answer the question, “What is the Gospel?” But just as importantly, they should be able to answer it with joy-filled hearts because the answer to that question means everything to them.
To be Gospel-Centered is most certainly about understanding and loving the Person and work of Christ but there is more to it than that. Gospel-Centeredness also includes an understanding that Christ is the model and motivator for all aspects of the Christian life. This is where a massive misconception has to be cleared up. You see, oftentimes we think of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as the entrance rite of the Christian life and once we become a Christian we must get on to bigger and better things.
The Gospel at First Free
That is not how we view the Gospel at First Free. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is at the center of the Christian life solar system and everything revolves around it and is held in its proper orbit by it. As we continue on in the Christian life, seeking to become more and more like Christ, we first learn that the person and work of Jesus is the thing by which we must model everything after. Our marriages should be modeled after the Gospel as Paul teaches in Ephesians 5:22-33. Our giving should be modeled after the Gospel as Paul states in 2 Corinthians 8:7-9. Even our service should be modeled after Jesus as He teaches in John 13.
But we cannot only view the Gospel as a model that we strive to resemble because just as the Gospel models for us, it also motivates and empowers us to conform to it. This is how the Gospel acts with our affections and actions. It works like a dynamic force motivating us to be forgivers by showing us that we have been forgiven (cf. Matthew 18:21-35; Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13). It motivates us to love others by reminding us how much we have been loved (John 13:34, 15:12). It motivates us to show generosity by reminding us that we have been shown generosity (cf. 2 Corinthians 8:7-9). The Gospel inspires us to action by inflaming our affections. This is what it means to ‘abide’ in Christ so that we may bear the fruit of obedience (cf. John 15:1-11).
Going Deeper in the Gospel
Now that we have fleshed out what we mean by wanting everyone at First Free to be Gospel-Centered let me offer a couple practical steps that you can take to grow in this component of discipleship.