Christian theology is about the gospel, which is focused on who Jesus is and what he said and did. Jesus is the hero of history, the centerpiece of the entire Bible. God made us to worship Him. He was our Father, living and walking among us, giving us everything we needed to live, and yet we chose to sin against Him—a cosmic act of treason punishable by death (Gen 2:17; Rm 6:23). As a result, we were separated from God; and we try to be our own gods, declaring what is right and wrong and living life by our own standards.
Good news for a broken world
IN A SENTENCE THE GOSPEL IS:
GOD HIMSELF HAS COME
TO RESCUE AND REDEEM
SINNERS THROUGH CHRIST.
Despite our pride, Jesus, who created the world and is God, lovingly came into human history as a man (John 1:14; Rm 1:3; 8:3; Gal 4:4; Philemon 2:7, 8; Col 1:22; 1 Tim 3:16; Heb 2:14; 1 Jn 4:2; 2 Jn 7). He was born of a virgin, (Mt 1:23; Is 7:14) and he lived a life without sin, (Heb 4:15; 1 Pt 2:22; 1 Jn 3:5) though he was tempted in every way as we are.
Because of His great love for us, He went to the cross and took on the punishment of death that we justly deserved (Rm 3:25; 1 Jn 2:2). Before His death and after His resurrection, He preached that the good news of God’s kingdom, love, promise, forgiveness, and acceptance was fulfilled in Him, in both his life and death.
Our first parents in the garden substituted themselves for God, and, at the cross, Jesus reversed that substitution, substituting Himself for sinners (1 Cor 15:45–48). When Jesus went to the cross, He willingly took upon Himself the sin of those who would come to trust in Him. That means that if you trust Him as your Lord and Savior, Jesus went to the cross and took upon Himself all your sin—past, present, and future—and that He died in your place, paying your debt to God and purchasing your salvation (Rm 10:9; Mt 10:32; Lk 12:8).
Jesus not only took the punishment for your sin, but He also lived a perfectly righteous life. When you trust in Christ, your sins are forgiven and you are declared righteous by God: the ultimate judge. The righteousness of Christ is attributed to you as if you lived a perfect life. 2 Cor 5:21 tells us this: “For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”
WE ARE VILLIANS TURNED INTO ADOPTED, CHILDREN OF GOD.
Martin Luther called this the Great Exchange: “Lord Jesus, you are my righteousness, just as I am your sin. You have taken upon yourself what is mine and have given me what is yours. You have taken upon yourself what you were not and have given to me what I was not.” The famous Christian hymn, “Rock of Ages,” says the same thing: “Be of sin the double cure. Save from wrath and make me pure.”
Jesus’ dead body was then laid in a tomb, where He lay buried for three days. On the third day, Jesus rose in victory over Satan, sin, death, demons, and hell (Lk 42:1; Mt 28:1–8; Mk 16:1–8; Jn 20:1). After spending some more time eating, drinking, laughing, and teaching with his closest friends (Jn 20-21), he ascended into heaven and today is alive and well (Acts 1:6–11).
He is seated on a throne, and He is ruling and reigning over all nations, cultures, philosophies, races, and periods of time. Jesus will come again to judge the living and the dead, and those
who trust in Him will enjoy eternity in His kingdom of heaven forever. Those who do not will suffer apart from him in the conscious, eternal torments of hell (Rev 21).
He is King of kings and He is Lord of lords (Rev 17:14), and He is ruling and reigning over all people, commanding everyone everywhere to repent. And now He commissions us with the Holy Spirit to be missionaries, telling this amazingly good news that there is a God who passionately, lovingly, continually and relentlessly pursues us.
To be gospel-centered means to focus on Jesus, who He is and what He has done: not on who we are and what we have done or will do for God. The gospel is the good news about Jesus Christ (Mk 1:1) who came “to seek and save the lost” (Lk 19:10).
The gospel is for every one, every day, and every moment.
In 1 Cor 15:4-6, Paul declares and defines the gospel clearly: “Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures … he was buried … he was raised on the third day … he appeared.” Paul says these facts are “of first importance” (1 Cor 15:3).
To hold this gospel message as “of first importance” is what it means for one’s theology to be “gospel-centered.” The gospel should have a central place in Christian theology and ministry. The gospel is clearly the center of the purpose of Jesus’ ministry and the Bible. It should also to be the center of what every Christian and church believes because the gospel is the power of God for salvation to all who believe (Romans 1:16).