Jon Moffitt: Hi, this is Jon. Today on Theocast, we have a conversation about moving past the gospel. The gospel really is the beginning point for many, but it’s not the point of the Christian life—the Christian life really is involved with more. We enter into the Christian life through the gospel, but we don’t necessarily see it as the point or that which drives our everyday life.
Then in the members’ podcast, Justin and I try and explain that experience that you have when you’re in a church and the gospel becomes the center point of every aspect of the church service, and even the church life, compared to a church that assumes the gospel and they tack it on at the end as an invitation. We hope you enjoy.
Justin and I often want to talk about what I think gets us going, what we find to be the passion behind our ministries, and the passion behind Theocast. One of those is the theme of Theocast, which is resting in Christ. We’re always trying to look at ways in which the Christian life has this rest robbed from them, where they carry around a burden where Christ has relieved them of that burden, and the burden is being placed back on them and what causes that.
One of those is pietism, which is a massive theme within our podcast. Specifically, we want to get into a more nuanced issue within the broader Christian world. This isn’t just in evangelicalism, this isn’t just in the Baptist legalistic world; this can come in even into some of the Reformed world. It sneaks in very easily because our hearts desire this.
What we’re going to be talking about is how we can separate the gospel from the Christian life where the gospel isn’t that driving force where it’s seen in every area of our life. Even when there was a movement a while back—was it 10 or 15 years ago? It was the gospel everything movement: the gospel in marriage, the gospel in parenting, the gospel in your job, the gospel in food, the gospel in everything. But even in that movement, what I began to realize in those podcasts is that they would actually never explain the gospel—they would assume it in their book—and they only emphasized the implications of the gospel. They never actually got to the importance of the gospel. It just became the title to get people’s attention.
But the gospel wasn’t the driving force of the book or the sermons: it was the implications of the gospel, which are the how-tos and what-to-dos after the gospel. The emphasis was still on what we should be doing, not on what Christ has done.
That’s what we want to try and explain to you: the difference between the implications of the gospel and the gospel, and then what the gospel and the Christian life are and how the two come together.
Justin Perdue: For many people listening to this, perhaps you have been in what we call broad evangelicalism, or maybe you’re still there in a broadly evangelical context. You have not really heard a lot of confessional Reformed theology or you’re certainly not in a confessional Reformed church. We want to try to put some handles on this for that listener as we go through this conversation.
Something that Jon and I were talking about before we hit record is it is clear to us that as we look at the evangelical church in recent decades, a large project of the evangelical church—and this is a good thing—has been focused on evangelism. Again, we want to commend that; we want sinners to trust in Christ. But what that has meant in many contexts is that the church has become so focused with getting people in that it has all kinds of bad implications for those who have come in and are now part of the church.
What I mean here is that the gospel is often viewed as the entry point to the Christian life. It is treated as if it’s the starting point or the doorway in, and then once you’re in, they move on to other stuff—in particular the Christian life and what that should look like, as well as the things that you should be doing and should abstain from doing, the things that you should be feeling, and the things that you should be thinking.
Jon and I are not saying that there isn’t room for that kind of talk. Absolutely not; the Scripture contains things about that. But whenever you view the gospel as the entry point of the Christian life, there are problems that flow out of that. There are implications of that kind of understanding.
In many evangelical churches, even to this day, the Sunday morning gathering is essentially seen as a stationary Billy Graham crusade where the goal of Sunday morning is to reach the seekers reach the lost, and to bring them in. The gospel, in that sense, even from a preaching perspective, is really seen as primarily needing to be preached to the person who is not a Christian. It’s like I need to preach the gospel and make the gospel clear to the person who has shown up today who does not know Christ.
We would just want to kindly push back against that and say, of course we should preach the gospel to those people, but the Sunday morning gathering is actually for the saints; it’s for the edification of the body of Christ. The primary way that the saints are built up, sustained, confirmed, and strengthened in the faith is through the proclamation of the gospel to them. Of course, the person who isn’t a believer who shows up at church is going to hear the gospel. But we, like Martin Luther would say, are going to preach the gospel every week to our people because we all tend to forget it every week. We tend to move on in our own minds and hearts from the gospel. If there is not a very self-conscious emphasis in the church about the centrality of the gospel and all things, and of the redeemed or the saints’ need of the gospel all the time, then inevitably other things are going to become the focus. What we’re trying to highlight here is that the implications of the gospel become the focus rather than the gospel itself.
I just wanted to start there because I think that’s the experience of many people: that the gospel is for the non-believer, and then the Christian life and an emphasis and focus on that—whether it’s discipleship marriage, family, parenting, finances, leadership, or whatever it is—those things become what we really need to consider and concern ourselves with in the church.
Jon Moffitt: Self-improvement; it’s all about how to become a better me, and we can make it look and sound more biblical. How do I become more like Christ? That sounds good. It’s like disagreeing that Jesus is the point of the Bible: no one would disagree with that but at the same time, if they agree with it, they don’t read and preach the Bible that way. They don’t read it as if Jesus is the point— they read it as if they are the point. Every time we interact with the Bible, we’re interacting with it as if they are instructions for how I can become a better me.
One of the things that we’re trying to do at Theocast is to not say the same thing over and over again, but really try and pull apart our thoughts in history so that you can see it from a different angle every time we look at it—from what we write and what we say. One of the things I know is true in my own life is that the gospel that was handed to me was a true gospel. What I mean by a true gospel is it was true good news. It was this: you’re a sinner, god’s going to judge you for your sin, and the only thing that can redeem you is Jesus, and that payment has to be a perfect Jesus. I believed in the virgin birth, I believe that Jesus lived a perfect life, and I believe he died on the cross for my sins. All of that took place within the gospels; none of that took place outside of the gospels. That’s how I became a family member.
Now let’s talk about what it looks like to be a family member. This may sound like it’s a false gospel but it’s not—I had a watered-down gospel. I had a very elementary level gospel. I think the Bible is designed to add to your understanding of the gospel for the rest of your Christian life. When Paul says he should be given the meat of the word, but instead was giving the milk, Paul was talking about a watered-down versus a robust gospel. He is saying they should have a robust gospel but they don’t; they have a very watered and surface-level gospel, and he was disappointed in them for it. This is interesting to me because he wasn’t upset with their actions. Their actions were the result of their theology, and he was upset with their actions. He was upset with their theology saying, “You should know better. And you don’t, because you haven’t been trained well, and you haven’t been growing in your faith.”
One of the reasons Justin, Jimmy, and I try to help everyone have a covenantal/redemptive-historical understanding of Scripture is that it broadens the gospel for you. The gospel is not just contained in the four gospels. The gospel is seen, developed, and creates this wide perspective all the way back to Genesis 3. I would even say in Genesis 1 because Jesus is described as the creator and sustainer of the world, who is the savior of the world. Your understanding of covenant theology, and even your understanding of redemptive-historical understanding of Scripture, is going to allow you to have that robust understanding of the gospel.
Now, I need to be very clear here before I hand this off to Justin. I am not saying that you don’t have the gospel, or you’ve misunderstood the gospel, or your gospel is wrong, or you can’t have a full gospel unless you have a covenantal redemptive-historical understanding of the Bible. I am not saying that. Please don’t hear me say that your gospel is wrong. All I’m saying is that often what happens in evangelicalism and the reason that we emphasize what we should be doing—pietism—to earn God’s favor—the implications of the gospel—is because we haven’t been trained in how the Bible is pushing us towards a robust understanding of the gospel as our motivation for the Christian life. We go to the actions and we miss out what’s already been done. Done versus do. We should be looking at what’s been done before we ever look at or emphasize what we need to be doing.
Justin Perdue: Essentially what we’re driving at here is how the gospel and the Christian life are somewhat separated from one another in the minds of many people. That’s very clear as you look at many churches and the kind of culture that exists within them. The gospel is there, the gospel is preached, and it’s not that Christ crucified is not heralded. But when it comes to the-rubber-meets-the-road issues of the Christian life, it turns into a focus on the believer and the believer’s performance, effort, discipline, and all those kinds of things. There is a focus on needing to educate people in terms of how to live and giving them tips, wisdom, and some tricks in terms of how to do things better. That’s what the project of the church becomes.
I want to be really clear too. There are plenty of implications of the gospel that we could unpack for a long time on a podcast like this, and by implications of the gospel, we mean the things that naturally flow out of it according to God’s word. In particular, these are the things that have everything to do with how we relate to each other, how we should treat one another, having love for the brothers, being eager and willing and ready to forgive, to seek reconciliation, to pursue unity, to flee from things that are evil, to hold fast to things that are good.
Jon Moffitt: Can I just give one example here to help people understand what an implication of the gospel is? The first three chapters of Ephesians is gospel. It is a glorious gospel. It is Paul giving some of the most robust theological explanations of the gospel you can find in all of Scripture. It’s dripping with Old Testament imagery. Then he says this in Ephesians 4:1: “I, therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,” he’s talking about the calling of the gospel, and he continues, “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” That’s an implication of the gospel. It is saying that if this is true of you, this is how you respond.
Justin Perdue: Or think of Jesus when he said that when your brother sins against you, confess that to you and then ask for forgiveness, you forgive him. That’s an implication of the gospel. We could talk about a bunch of those. Those are very good—those are things that I know Jon, Jimmy, and I teach, preach, and emphasize in our local churches. We value those things very much but what we are trying to drive here on this particular episode is the way in which the implications of the gospel, as good as those things might be, are often functionally divorced from the gospel itself in terms of how we live in the church.
On the apostolic pattern, you mentioned the letter to the Ephesians— it’s a great example of this, and is maybe the clearest one that there is in Scripture. But I would argue that all of the epistles are written in this way where the apostles always begin not only with the gospel, but they begin by reassuring their listeners, their readers, their audience that they are in Christ and that they have been justified. The apostles reassure them that they have been called, that they are loved, that they’re being kept by God, and all of those kinds of things. Then having made that crystal clear—that your identity is now one of being in Christ and that your status is now one of being justified—the apostles go on to talk about implications of how the redeemed live. That’s what we are advocating for: do not ever assume the gospel, do not ever assume that we all, as the saints who gather together or who are trying to live our lives, are always thinking about our identity in Christ and are always aware of our justified status. We often are not because this life is hard: we struggle, we sin, we doubt, and we wrestle.
I had a conversation yesterday with a brother who was visiting our church with his family. He looked at me and he just said, “Justin, this has been so refreshing for us because every Sunday, when we come, we are given Christ.” He looks at me and says, “That’s what we need.” We had a great conversation about that, that I don’t need to unpack right now, but he’s exactly right—and this is what we’re talking about. When we show up to church on Sunday, we’ve lived Monday to Saturday battling our sin, battling our flesh, doubting all kinds of things, doing things that we swore we would never do, feeling things we don’t want to feel. The world bombards us, finances are tight, our job sucks, politics are insane, and then you show up on Sunday. What do we need? We don’t need a list of things that you need to be doing and things that will improve your life. I need Jesus, brother. Can you give me Christ?
Jon Moffitt: Let me ask you a question. When the pastor shows up and says, “Here are five ways to deal with this,” would you say that what he’s really saying is, “Here are five ways to handle the sinful nature you still have.”
Justin Perdue: Is that what he’s saying?
Jon Moffitt: He isn’t understanding it to be that way. I guess what I’m saying is this is the end of Colossians where Paul says these have an appearance of wisdom, but are of no value of stopping the indulgence of the flesh. You just finished describing the battle against the flesh, right? The people who assume the gospel or only preach about the implications of the gospel.
Justin Perdue: They are not coming at it from the perspective that you and I would come at it from. They’re not articulating it the way that I just did: here’s your battle, here’s your experience, now look to Christ, consider Christ, and now having considered him and having been reassured, flee from stupidity, love one another, and practice these things. That’s how we want to do it.
I fear that often what happens in many church contexts is when the gospel is assumed, meaning it’s assumed that everybody understands the gospel.
Jon Moffitt: You wouldn’t be here if you didn’t believe.
Justin Perdue: Right. We got the gospel, now let’s talk about how we need to be living. Often, I would agree that along with that is a misunderstanding of the internal war—the saint-sinner reality that we are at the same time justified and sinner, and that we are battling against our corrupted flesh, and that our inner man delights in God’s Law and wants to obey, but then our flesh does not want to obey and wants things that are wicked. I think there is an ignorance of that, often in this kind of teaching and preaching, and in these kinds of church contexts.
This is the assumption: we assume you have the gospel, we’re trusting you have Christ and that’s why we’re here, and you have the Holy Spirit—and this all sounds very good—so now go about doing this thing or that thing. We have the Holy Spirit so let’s talk about what our marriages should look like. We have the Holy Spirit so let’s talk about what good leadership is. Or whatever it may be. It’s not that talking about marriage or leadership is out of bounds in the church—that’s not what we’re saying at all. It has everything to do with what the emphasis is, and it has everything to do with what the tone is. If we are understanding marriage, leadership, parenting, work, employment and all these kinds of things, if we are understanding that and viewing that through the lens of Christ and the gospel where Christ is in the foreground and the Christian life is in the background, then praise God. Go for it. That’s good. That’s what we should do. But what we’re trying to address today is how that whole thing has been reoriented and in the foreground is all this stuff about us—how we need to live, what our marriages need to look like, and what kind of employees we need to be. Then in the background is this assumption of Christ in the gospel.
What we’re pleading for is to bring Christ back up into the foreground so that when we gather, it’s redundantly clear that what we have gathered for is Christ. The other things that are contained in God’s word will be given appropriate consideration in light of Christ. That emphasis makes all the difference.
Jon Moffitt: That’s the word: emphasis. Where are you putting the emphasis?
The passage that has helped me the most here is 2 Peter 1:3. Peter makes no bones about it. If you begin in the very beginning of the chapter, he says, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence,” Peter immediately starts with the sovereignty of God and that it’s through the knowledge of Christ, his glory, and his excellence is the way in which we govern our lives, “by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.” Where is Peter putting the emphasis? The divine power and God’s nature and the knowledge of that—those are what govern us.
Now he does the same thing Paul does. He says that if this is true, then you should govern yourself in such a way. Then he gives things like godliness and brotherly affection with love. He says, “For if these qualities are yours and increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” He’s saying, “These are purposeful. These are good things. They make the work of God effective.” Now listen to where he points the emphasis back again. It says, “For if these qualities are yours and increasing, they keep you from being ineffective.” Verse nine, “For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.” He says they are to be diligent in examining this cleansing. These are the next two verses where he talks about where our emphasis is on what is waiting for us. This is the good news of the gospel that we have been cleansed that we have been given union with Christ, that we have been given a final home and destiny, and that this is not our home. He is saying that if you are not showing grace, kindness, and brotherly love, and you’re not adding these things into your life, it’s not that you haven’t been trained well or that you need to be afraid or that you need more, he’s saying you have forgotten the gospel. You’ve watered it down which should be robust. You have stopped emphasizing what needs to be emphasized. Emphasizing the gospel is what gives you motivation and explanation for the implications of the gospel. When you deemphasize the gospel, you now don’t understand why you are doing what you’re doing or your reasons for obedience are wrong. That’s pietism.
Justin Perdue: Let me pick up on that. You and I are on the same wavelength. Jon and I do not want to be misunderstood. The question is not, “Should we be doing good works in the Christian life?” The answer to that question is an obvious and resounding yes. Of course, we should be doing good works in the Christian life. We should pursue them. The question is, “Why do we do good works?” What’s the motivation for good works? The answer to that is that the motivation, at the most fundamental level, is Jesus and what he has done for me.
This is very much the language of Paul in Philippians 3: I press on to take hold of the prize and run the race, and all these kinds of things. Why? Because Jesus has taken hold of me. This is Ephesians 2:8-10 that we walk in: we’ve been saved by grace through faith, it’s a gift of God that no man may boast, we are created in Christ Jesus, we are his workmanship, and we are going to walk in the good works that had been prepared beforehand for us to walk in. So we’re going to be motivated by Christ and his work for us in order to even go about pursuing good works.
This is a big issue here: we’re not concerned with our own personal improvement for our own sake. We are concerned for the good of our brothers and sisters, and the good of our neighbor. We realize that these good works that have been prepared for us to walk in, we do them because of Christ, out of love and gratitude toward God, and out of love for our neighbor. It makes a world of difference in terms of the emphasis and the understanding.
I have this conversation constantly in my own church. People ask me, “Justin, it does matter how we live, right?” And I’ll say, “Absolutely. It matters how we live.” Of course, we should be doing these kinds of things. But the thing is, when you begin to understand the centrality of Christ in the gospel in all of the Christian life, you will find that you’re going to be pursuing the same things but for different reasons. You will be pursuing the same things with a very different heart posture, not chasing after something that you have yet to obtain, but you are living in Christ realizing that every spiritual blessing has already been given to you. Now, because I’m safe, I can concern myself with doing these good things so that my neighbor will benefit, and so that God will be honored.
Jon Moffitt: When people say we should be doing things, I always say yes, but not the things that you’ve been told to do. Everything you’ve been handed in the Christian life, I would say, is a misinterpretation of the gospel. If we are saved through the message of the gospel, this is the good news, and we become people of the gospel, we live underneath the banner of children of God, unified in Him, justified, sanctified, glorified, cannot wait for this reunion with God while it be in His presence, that is my new identity, I live in two worlds, this world is not my home—those are all things that are true. Then what you are handed is nothing that is related to that. What you are handed is a list of what you should be doing as a Christian, as if the salvation is not quite finished; it’s almost finished, it’s 99% done, but there’s still 1% left for you. We would never word it that way, but that’s exactly what it is. You’re handed these lists that you must do as a Christian to prove that you’re a Christian. The emphasis becomes centered on proving your salvation.
I’m going to lose my temper here for a minute. I’m just so fed up with this whole idea that the Christian life is about you proving you’re a Christian. The emphasis becomes on you demonstrating that somehow you have faith—and the gospel says if you have faith, these things are true. You don’t prove that they are true.
This whole thing about lazy Christianity or lukewarm Christianity, the problem is not that they don’t want to do it, the problem is they don’t understand why they should do it. When someone says that they think someone is a lukewarm Christian, I ask them why. They say it’s because they don’t have any desire to listen to sermons on YouTube, or they don’t post any quotes about the Bible on their Instagram, or they don’t read their Bible faithfully. None of those have anything to do with Christianity. None of them do. The thing they should be doing is showing kindness and mercy.
What’s interesting to me is that in Ephesians 4, the means by which we receive the gospel is through God the Spirit gifting the church preachers and teachers, and it is through the administration of God’s word with His people that we receive the gospel. Many people go home and they think they just need to read their Bible more so they can think on the gospel more, and the more they think on the gospel, the more they will be like Jesus. It doesn’t say that in Ephesians; it says when the body functions properly, it builds itself up in love. It doesn’t say when you go home and meditate on the gospel, you’ll be more like Jesus.
Justin Perdue: I may want to circle back and comment on the centrality of the word and sacrament in the service, the Sunday morning gathering, and even what the ministry of the word and the administration of the Lord’s table is about. We may want to circle back to that.
I want to riff on something else for just a minute. You mentioned how there are things that people would never say in a certain way but then they would functionally live that way. One thing that nobody would ever say, at least in these terms, is, “Now that we’ve got the gospel, let’s move on to the real important stuff which is the Christian life.” Nobody would ever say it like that. But people almost do sometimes when they come up to you and they say, “We need more meat in the sermon.” By meat in the sermon, they mean they want us to tell them a bunch of stuff to do. That’s a dead giveaway that people are thinking they need instruction on what they need to be doing. “I need an application. I don’t so much need the objective declarative realities of what God has done. I need imperative stuff. That’s what the majority of the sermon needs to be.” Nobody would ever tell you to move on to the real important stuff of the Christian life, but you see it in the way that people are saying or acting like they already have the gospel and that’s that.
Whenever I perceive that I think what that’s indicative of is a misunderstanding of several things. It is a misunderstanding of the gospel itself. It’s true that it is the efficiency of the work of Christ, the nature of redemption, and how God saves, but it’s also a tremendous misunderstanding of our own need.
When you think that the primary need you have is just to be told how to live well now that you are a Christian, brother or sister, I think you’ve missed it. You have overestimated yourself. I am not trying to be a broker for Satan’s doubt. I know that you have the Holy Spirit of God who has taken up residence in you—that is a new covenant reality so praise be to the Lord. At the same time, you are in the midst of a war against your sin, your flesh, and your corruption. You are in a world that is fallen and that is groaning like you are. What you need primarily every time we gather on Sunday is Christ, and then we’ll talk about this other stuff. There’s a reason God tells us to do this weekly gathering regularly. Again, back to Luther’s comment, we tend to forget the gospel. We tend to forget what’s true. We need to be reminded again and again of what Christ has done. It’s like what Paul says in Philippians 3:1, “To write the same things to you is no trouble for me and it’s safe for you.” Then he goes on to talk about the righteousness that’s been given to us through faith in Christ over and against any kind of righteousness that we would have we have on our own.
We need to be reminded of that all the time because it is what sustains us in the Christian life; it’s what propels us, it’s what motivates us, it’s what strengthens us and confirms us in the faith. We have Christ given to us every week as we gather in the word, in the table, and also through prayer and song and other means.
It’s one of those things wherein our own respective churches, we’re unashamed. This is what we’re doing. If you want a lot of how-to’s or if you want a lot of application and heavy preaching, there are a thousand places you can go, but here the primary thing that you will get unapologetically is Christ every week because that’s how we understand the Christian life. We need Jesus and then everything else that we consider is only after we have considered Christ. It is only because of Christ that we consider these things, and we can only consider them in and under Christ, being safe and secure in him. Then we can honestly wrestle and struggle to live together in a way that we’re called to live. But it’s that orientation that does allow us to rest in the midst of pursuing—obedience pursuing good works, pursuing any of that stuff.
Jon Moffitt: It’s a total shift in thinking to think that what I really need is to feast on Christ. This goes to John 6. He plays on the illustration where he talks about the manna or bread that came down from heaven. God sustained the Israelites for years in the wilderness, and he gave them just enough bread every single day. Jesus says he’s that bread. It’s not once either: he says he is that bread for you every day because the illustration that Jesus is making is that it’s not that salvation happens once then you move on. You’re being saved every day, and what is saving you right now is Christ and you holding onto him. Your faith in Christ is what saves you. The way we think about it is it’s like a transaction that happened in the past and it’s over. No, you are being saved.
Justin Perdue: Well, you are safe. It’s not that it’s uncertain, but your hope, your righteousness, your security, your peace, etc. is always and only Jesus. You’ve got to be reminded of that reality. You and I, as preachers of the word, sit under the word with the people—it’s a “we” reality, it’s not an “us and them” reality. It’s not “me and you”, it’s “us and we”. We need this, too. That’s what we’re doing when we gather and preach the word.
I don’t think that reality can be emphasized enough: the Christian life is, not to be reductionistic, but it is always and only Christ. If we’re talking in absolute terms, we cannot look anywhere other than Jesus. Can we be encouraged by our obedience? Can we be encouraged by good fruit? Can we be encouraged by the transformation of life? Sure. Can we look at our lives and thank God for His grace because we’ve seen good things happen in marriage, families, etc.? Of course, we can. God is gracious and good to us in those ways. No matter how well it’s going for us, no matter how well we are doing, or if we’re absolutely crushing it in the spheres of marriage, family, work, and leadership, no matter how good it’s going, Jesus is our righteousness—him and him alone. We’d never move on from that need. We need to be reminded of that all the time.
Jon Moffitt: Just going back to the illustration in John 6. It says, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh. . . Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me and I in him.” Is he legitimately saying we have to eat him? No.
Justin Perdue: He’s not encouraging people to cannibalism.
Jon Moffitt: No, but what he is saying is, “I am your sustenance. I am the way in which you live.”
We’re going through a book in our church called Truth We Can Touch by Tim Chester. It’s a book we’ll probably review here soon. Listen to this simple statement—this is the difference: “Part of the problem is that we too often view preaching as permanently conveying information about Christ rather than conveying the grace of Christ.” That’s what we’re getting at. Preaching and the Christian life is about receiving this grace from Christ over and over again as it washes over us, not data about him to help us be better.
Justin Perdue: We are extolling the grace of Christ. We’re extolling the mercy of Christ. We’re extolling the power and the sufficiency of Christ to save sinners and wretches such as us. Thinking about John 6, it’s beautiful. I preached this in a series of meditations that I did recently, too. It’s so wonderful because he is saying, “You guys remember the manna? What that was ultimately about was me. Because just like the Israelites were sustained by bread that came down from heaven as they wandered in the wilderness, so too will you be sustained by the bread that comes down from heaven as you are sojourners and pilgrims on the way to the Celestial City.” The bread is Jesus. It is metaphorical language. He’s not encouraging people to cannibalism. I do think the Lord’s supper is in view, but what that text is about is union with Christ. You are united to Jesus, you are feeding on him, he is your sustenance, you will endure, and your life is inextricably tethered to him. That’s what we’re communicating here. That needs to be the heartbeat of the church. That needs to be the DNA, the lifeblood, the resting heart rate, whatever phrase you want to use, of the church is that. Our life is always and only in Christ, and that needs to permeate every aspect of the church’s life together on Sunday morning. We pray that perspective permeates all of our relationships as we hang out together, doing whatever we’re doing outside of the assembly. It’s so good. We’re not just conveying information; we are extolling the grace, power, and sufficiency of Christ. We understand that is how the saints are edified.
Circling back to what I said at the beginning: of course, if there is a person who isn’t a Christian who shows up at our services, they are going to be confronted with the gospel. From the welcome, as people show up, they’re saying, “We’re coming in need and in weakness, not in strength. We’ve blown it this week.” If that’s, you, Christ is our righteousness and he is able to save wretches even like us. Welcome to church. We’re not confusing the issue.
Jon Moffitt: One last illustration then what we’re going to move into the members’ podcasts.
Even Paul, when he’s talking about marriage, he says, “Husbands, love your wife as Christ loves the church.” If you don’t understand how Christ loves the church then you’re not going to stand his illustration. The emphasis is not on loving your wife, the emphasis is on how to love your wife.
Justin Perdue: The emphasis is not be Jesus for your wife, the emphasis is love her in this way.
Jon Moffitt: This is true of even loving your neighbor.
In moving forward into our members’ podcast, I want to try and give a little bit more of what the differences sound like of when you’re in a church that is diving deeper into the gospel versus a church that tags the gospel at the end for the unbeliever that may not be there, or for the unbeliever that might be there. Right. The tag versus the emphasis. What do the two services look like? A lot of this is going to come down to word, sacrament, and prayer. We’ll talk about that in our membership.
For those of you that don’t know what that is, it’s a simple way for you to support our ministry. We’ve been doing this now for quite a few years. As our ministry has grown, we have started to provide classes and books, and all of that costs money. This is a simple way for us to make sure that we can cover those costs. One resource that we were able to do recently is an introduction to covenant theology. There are so many people who don’t know what that is. The two words put together, “covenant theology”, is not even something they’ve heard before. So we wanted to give a simple introduction to that. It’s a five-part series that you can find in our website for a donation of any amount. That would be helpful for us to cover those costs of producing that.
For those who are members, all of our classes are in there. I think we have five or six classes that are in there now. All of that is part of the membership. Of course, our membership podcasts are there as well. This is where we just take some extra time. It’s a little bit more relaxed.
You can find out all that information over at our website theocast.org. Thanks for listening. We’ll see you next week.