Scripture has a clear gospel shape. We are introduced to a holy and good God who created the heavens and the earth. We then see the world plunged in darkness as a result of sin. The bulk of the Bible then describes God’s gracious work of restoring his creation – culminating in the work of Jesus. The classic reformed summary is creation, fall, redemption and consummation (i.e. new creation).
We also see this shape within certain biblical books. The book of Romans, for example, begins with God’s holiness and the universal dilemma of human sin and rebellion. Then there is the great gospel declaration of salvation through faith in Jesus. And then beginning in chapter 12, there is a call to response.
It should not surprise us then that the church has always structured its worship after a gospel pattern as well. There is:
- Recognition of God’s character
- Acknowledgement of our sin
- Declaration of God’s grace
- Expression of gratitude
- Instruction in living for God.
Churches ought to ask, “Does our ministry have a gospel shape?”
But I would suggest that our lives as believers ought to have a gospel shape. The apostle Paul had confronted the apostle Peter because Peter was “not acting in line with the truth of the gospel” (Galatians 2:14). Peter was separating from Gentile believers in order to maintain the approval of Jewish believers. Peter had preached that a person comes into a relationship with God by grace alone through faith alone. But Peter’s life was not lined up with the message that he preached.
The clear implication is that the life of the believer should be lined up with the gospel. It is not enough to simply agree to a set of doctrines about God, sin and salvation. Genuine faith is marked by a turning from sin and a transformation of life. People are able to look at your lifestyle and determine what you really believe. Does your life have a gospel shape?
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