Pastor Kyle McIver
Have you ever heard someone you know talk about living a cross-centered life? Or perhaps tell you that they belong to a gospel-centered church? Or that they’ve embraced the beauty of God-centered theology? Phrases like these have become popular in the church today, each hoping to distill a distinct emphasis, a particular focus on God, on his Son Jesus Christ, and on the gospel in which he is so beautifully revealed. And I like these phrases! I’ve often used phrases like gospel-centered or Christ-centered myself. But as I was thinking about this recently, I was left wondering about the gap that exists between using these terms and experiencing the reality they describe.
We may be able to use these terms to identify with a church or a particular theological vision, but can we make the connection to real life? To parenting? To working in the insurance field? To our decades-long struggle with anxiety? Where does putting the gospel at the center of your life meet your desire to be married? Or your financial struggles? This morning I want to share what I believe to be the bridge between concept and reality, idea and practice when it comes to being gospel-centered.
The first step is to recognize that the gospel is not merely doctrine to be believed. It certainly is that - we need specific details about who Jesus is and what he has done. There are truths we must absolutely insist upon without compromise. And, the gospel also comes to us as a promise. Not a singular promise that applies only to certain situations… but a Narnian wardrobe kind of promise. One in which the more we press in, the more expansive we find it to be. The more life we live, sins we repent of, and sufferings we endure, the more we come to find that the depth and breadth of all that God promises to us in Christ is sufficient for everything we could ever encounter.
You see, all of God’s promises are yes to us in Christ. This means that when Jesus, as he is revealed to us in the gospel, is at the center of our lives, he is not simply a statue to gaze at. Rather he becomes to us a fountain, ceaselessly spilling over with the blessing of a thousand promises.
Promises that are the antidote to fear, the balm for anxiety, calm for our restlessness, and confidence in the face of uncertainty.
Promises that assure us of future hope, remind us of the radiance of his love when the clouds are dark, and strengthen us when we’re at the end of our rope.
Living the gospel-centered life means fixating on Jesus - his character, his life, his death, and his resurrection. We receive Jesus, who is clothed in every gospel blessing, and we cling to his promises - specific promises which we find scattered lavishly like diamonds across the pages of the Bible.
We hold fast to specific promises suited for our particular sins and weaknesses, and then watch the Spirit work in us. We taste the purifying power of the Spirit when we live by faith in the Son of God and apply his promises to real-life situations.
So Redeemer, I exhort you this morning to bridge the gap. Don’t simply hear about a gospel-centered life, or be content to just talk about it. Live it. Keep looking at Jesus, repenting of your sins, drinking deeply from the fountain of his promises, and trusting the Spirit to work in profound ways.