Too Much Gospel Focus?

“There is a danger in focusing too much on the gospel, narrowly conceived, and in compartmentalizing life with the result that important related dimensions – such as marriage and family – fade too far from view.  To emphasize the centrality of the gospel for its salvific purpose and reduce it to a bare-bones minimum neglects the complex, interrelated texture of all of life.  As with so many things, this is a matter of balance and of keeping things in proper proportion and perspective.”

Andreas Kostenberger, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, March 2016.

The first phrase of this quote seems obviously wrong in our “gospel-centered” evangelical church culture these days.  But think this through.  It’s possible to be so focused on Gospel conversions and evangelism that you don’t teach on how to live the Christian life.  You can spend all your time in Romans 1-8 and never get to Romans 12-15.  In some churches you get the same “come to Jesus” sales pitch and altar call every Sunday.  They know Jesus as Redeemer, but not so much as Lord and King of our lives and lands now.

Then again, in other churches they are so focused on right living that they have forgotten to connect it to the root – the grace of Jesus Christ.  (This is more the tendency in my circles and in me, I think.)  Their life verse is Hebrews 5:12-6:3 – that we need to go on beyond basics and mature in the faith.  Yes, but not in a prideful way that considers yourself “beyond” needing the Gospel anymore, and far ahead of the pitiful evangelical church.

Kostenberger is right that this is a matter of balance.  May God give us wisdom to show the primacy of Christ’s atonement for our forgiveness, and the necessity of our walking in accord with Gospel holiness in every aspect of life.

“As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.”

Colossians 2:6-7

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