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A Gospel-Centered Warning to Young Zealous “Theologians”

Over the years, as I traveled around India, Japan and the Philippines, I’ve met Christians from various cultural and denominational backgrounds who seem to clearly know and love Jesus.  There is an aura of Christ about them.  There is ‘grace and truth’ embodied in them, as it were.  They have the humility and the love that is clearly the mark of a Christian who walks with Jesus.  They often remind me of the manner in which people in the early times perceived Peter and John.

“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished.  And they recognized that they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4: 13).

Educated or uneducated.  Common everyday people or ordained ministers.   If we were to ask someone: “What do you think of such and such a person?”  How would people respond when they reflect on our lives?  What do they recognize in us?   A nitpicking legalistic theological exercise of the pharisees?   Or that we had been with Jesus?   The strongest defense of the Gospel is that our lives and actions match and reflect what or who we claim to believe in.  In the course of Church History, countless men and women have defended the Christian faith with their lifestyles- even to the point of martyrdom.   People who had given their all have made Christ so valuable and real to us!

Below is a sobering and refreshing quote via: Between The Times.

“A Gospel-Centered Warning to Young Zealous Theologians”

By J.D. Greear

I’ve noticed that many of us who grasp this concept of “gospel-centeredness” can have a tendency to be more excited about the “theory” of gospel-centeredness than we are about the gospel itself.  At least I’m that way.  I have gotten pretty good at identifying non-gospel-centered preaching, and can pretty ably point out the shortcomings of certain ministries.  The point of gospel-centeredness, however, is not the shrewd ability to critique others.  The point of gospel-centeredness is to adore God and worship His grace.

Many of us who love to talk about gospel-centeredness seem to possess very little of the humility that should go along with it.  You can see that in how self-promoting we are and how ungracious we are with others.   It always amazes me that we can be proud because we understand the very things that should lead us to humility.

My mind has often burned hotter with the latest theological trend than it has passion for the God who gave Himself for me at the cross.  Knowledge that does not lead, ultimately, to love and humility is “worthless,” Paul would say.   What really counts, he says, is not knowledge by itself, but the love that our knowledge of the gospel should produce (1 Cor. 12:1–3).

One of my fears in writing this book is that it might contribute to a growing self-righteousness among younger theologians who feel like understanding gospel-centeredness makes them more special in the eyes of God (oh, the irony!) than those who can’t articulate it, and who judge everyone else by whether or not they use the same terms that they do.

Recently, I talked with a little old lady who had been my Sunday school teacher at the very traditional church in which I grew up.   She said, “You know, as I lose more and more friends to heaven, I often wonder what it is really like up there and what I should be looking forward to.  I know they say there are streets of gold, but that doesn’t seem to excite me very much.  The one thing I really want to do is see Jesus.”  This lady has never heard of John Piper and has no idea what the Gospel Coalition is, but she has been changed by the gospel.   She loves Jesus, and that is the whole point of gospel-centeredness.

There are many little old ladies serving in church nurseries who may not understand how to articulate the theories of gospel-centeredness or have the ingenuity to dazzle our minds with psychological insights, cultural observations, and Christocentric interpretations of obscure Old Testament passages.   Their hearts, however, burn with love for Jesus and overflow with gratefulness for His grace.

Their humble, gospel-rich love for God is worth more than all the books you or I can write on this subject.

So don’t be quick to judge them.  Be humbled by them.  Mastering the theory of gospel-centeredness is not the point.  Loving the God of the gospel is.

See J.D. Greear, Gospel: Rediscovering the Power That Made Christianity Revolutionary (Nashville, TN: B&H Books, 2010), pp. 253–55.  Post: Via  Between The Times.

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One comment on “A Gospel-Centered Warning to Young Zealous “Theologians”

  1. […] Gospel-Centered Warning to Young Zealous “Theologians … 8 de março de 2012 Origem: http://outsidecampers.com/2012/03/09/a-gospel-centered-warning-to-young-zealous-theologians/ I've noticed that many of us who grasp this concept of “gospel-centeredness” can have a […]


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