The Doctrinal Centrality of the Gospel, The Functional Centrality of the Gospel

Greg Strand – May 23, 2013 4 Comments

The doctrinal centrality of the gospel is foundational to and leads inexorably to the functional centrality of the gospel.

The gospel focuses on the fulfillment of God’s plan for the redemption of His people through the Person of Jesus Christ. The gospel is something done! Full stop. But this is not all there is to say about the gospel. Rooted in what the gospel is, it also has entailments in how we think and live. This is not the gospel, but an entailment of the gospel. If we make it the gospel, then we have created another gospel (cf. Gal. 1:6-9).

It is vital to affirm and rest upon the centrality of the gospel of Jesus Christ in doctrine and proclamation. But it is also vital to live out the gospel in all of life and ministry. This is the functional centrality of the gospel.

So often people affirm the doctrinal centrality of the gospel of Jesus Christ, but then they press on to other things as if the gospel has no bearing on how we go about ministry thereafter. This undermines and sometimes denies, often not by design but by default, the truth of the gospel.

For example, it was the functional centrality of the gospel in ministry and relationships that Peter compromised when he pulled away from table fellowship with the Gentiles in Galatia. This is why Paul confronted him so strongly (Gal. 2:11-14). Peter’s functional response undermined the doctrinal centrality of the gospel.

It is vital that we affirm both truths, that we get the order right, and that we understand how they relate to one another. If not, we will end up with a dead orthodoxy (denial of its functional centrality), or we will end up with a different gospel (extending the meaning of the gospel to what we need to do).

As you ponder and pray about this, how are you doing?

Greg Strand

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Affectionately called “Walking Bible” by his youngest daughter, Greg Strand has a ministry history that goes back to 1982. Since that time, he has served in local church ministry in a variety of ministry capacities: youth pastor, associate pastor of adult ministries and senior pastor. He is currently the EFCA's Executive Director of Theology and Credentialing. Greg reads voraciously and never stops learning — a passion reflected in the overflowing bookshelves that spill from his library to multiple offices. And he could tell you about each of those books! His hunger for learning pales in contrast to his great love for God and for teaching the Word of God.

4 responses to The Doctrinal Centrality of the Gospel, The Functional Centrality of the Gospel

  1. Very well put, Greg!

    • It is great to hear from you, Jim. I am thankful to the Lord this resonated with you. Let’s pray that we will, by God’s grace, have the strength and perseverance to live this as faithfully as we speak/teach it!

  2. Thanks a lot Greg. Something as Christians we need to be reminded of time and time again. “Go Ye Into All the World and Make Diciples” Only Doctrinal Centrality and Relationships can acheive this Great Commission.

    • Thank you for commenting, Issac. It is good to hear from you again! These truths are critical for individual Christians and the corporate church to be reminded of again and again. This is part of what we ought to do as we gather, encourage one another both to confess/profess the doctrinal centrality of the gospel, and also the functional centrality of the gospel in life and ministry. Reminding one another of these truths and encouraging/exhorting us to live theses truths is one of the means God uses to keep our hearts from becoming “hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Heb. 3:13) and, stated positively, to conform us into the image of the Son (Rom. 8:29). We must not think that once we have understood these truths in our heads, or even when we have proclaimed these truths with our lips we have completed the matter. These truths are, indeed, foundational. But they also lead to application in life.

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