Paul, said, ‘the gospel is of first importance’ in the church (1 Cor 15:3-4). The gospel defines how we live out our ultimate purpose in life which is to glorify God in all things. In my early experience as a student and pastor, I was taught two alternative purposes for the world and for what drives the Christian life. I was taught that history has either a soteriological purposes (to redeem sinners) or a doxological purpose (to bring glory to God). Consequently on the practical level, believers have either a soteriological purpose or a doxological purpose, i.e. either we are driven by our evangelistic passion to bring people to Christ or driven by our desire to bring glory to God by our obedience.
I am not focusing on the contrasting purposes in human history but on the practical outworking of those purposes. However I would note that God’s doxological purpose in human history is not achieved without his redemptive purposes being accomplished and, at the center of his doxological purpose is the redemption accomplished through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
I am most interested in this blog on the practical outworking of how we understand our purpose in life. Formerly for me on the practical level, the soteriological purpose was eschewed because it focused on only one area of obedience while the doxological purpose was extolled because it included all areas of obedience.
Now I conclude that both the soteriological and doxological purposes were somewhat skewed in how they were presented to me. I have observed that both of these purposes, easily end up being moralistic and focused on self-effort. The focus becomes either how much evangelism and I am doing or how obedient am I becoming. Churches are full of believers burdened with guilt and shame over not winning enough souls to Christ or not being obedient enough in every area of their lives. Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not encouraging less evangelism or a relaxed attitude toward obedience. But, the way that many Christians understand and practice ‘living for souls’ or ‘living for God’s glory’ may ultimately steal glory from God.
We will engage joyfully in evangelism and obedience as we rest in the finished work of Christ.
It is the Gospel that gives perspective, identity, and empowerment for daily living. All problems with sin that we experience in daily living come from failing to maintain the functional centrality of the Gospel. This is liberating truth!”
~ Dr. Tedd Tripp
I am supremely interested in glorifying my Creator and Redeemer. We are created for God’s glory (Rev 4:11) and we are to do all things in life for His glory (1 Cor 10:31). However without being gospel-centered we seek our own glory. Being gospel-centered helps avoid legalism/moralism on the one hand, and on the other hand relativism/hedonism (Ca. Tim Keller).
Being gospel-centered keeps the focus from being on our own self-effort. Being gospel-centered reminds us of God’s great holiness, our great sinfulness, and His great grace showed to us in the death and resurrection of Christ. The gospel is about what God has accomplished for sinners in Christ and He is most glorified when we believe in and rest in this gospel.
Being gospel-centered insures that God receives the glory.
1 Corinthians 1:30-31
30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
14 But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
Let me make a little twist on one of John Piper’s famous quotes: He says, “God is most glorified when I am most satisfied in Him.” I agree with that though I will tweak it a little in saying that “God is most glorified when I am most centered (at rest) in the gospel.”
P.S. For a good reader on being gospel-centered, see http://timmybrister.com/2009/08/27/a-gospel-centered-reader/