In Seattle Steve Timmis gave us three sessions on “Total Church”. The first was on the Gospel, the second on Community, the third on practical training for developing gospel-centered communities. One of the things I love about Chester and Timmis is the way they allow biblical theology to drive their ecclesiology, and not in an academic way. Consider the following definition of the gospel which accessibly incorporates the biblical-theological themes of: monotheistic christology, substitutionary atonement, imputed righteousness, christus victor, new creation, inaugurated eschatology, and the gospel of grace:
Jesus, God’s promised Rescuer and Ruler, lived our life, died our death and rose again in triumphant vindication as the first fruits of the new creation to bring forgiven sinners together under his gracious reign.
This is a big gospel. This is not the individualistic, works-based, escapist gospel of much of American evangelicalism. It incorporates the whole world, person, and Jesus. It forces us to move beyond decision-based conversions to following Jesus as Lord. It calls us beyond Christianity as private religion into Christianity as public, communal gospel. It’s not a pocket-sized gospel. The gospel is bigger than we think. Now, if we can just lead our churches into renewal, revival, and repentance towards living out a big gospel, a gospel as big as the city, as the world, as the whole of history.
How is this big gospel impacting your church, your leadership? Are you doing anything differently in your church because of the size of this gospel?