Someone recently asked me, “Tim, if you were to choose a symbol for your life, what would it be and why?”
This is the symbol I would use. Christ has taken residence at the center of my life. The grace of God, through the gospel, is what empowers my life. This grace is leading me to a maturing dependence on Christ as my Lord and Savior. The ultimate aim that Christ has for my life is not personal perfection or external compliance or communal belonging. The aim is Christ dependence. This Christ dependence is expressed through repentance and faith. Repentance and faith (continually coming back to the Gospel) produces a Christ-likeness that is matured in my affections, my understanding, and my obedience. My life is being tailored by the Spirit of God to be a dance around the cross. The Spirit will continue this work of grace until at last I behold my Savior face to face.
The gospel is not just the ABCs of Christianity, it is the A-Z; it is not the first step in a stairway of truths, it is more like the hub of God’s wheel of truth. 1
Christians often think of the Gospel as the beginning of the Christian faith. As Tim Keller puts it, they see the gospel as the “first step” in a stairway of spiritual growth. But this is not a biblical picture of the gospel. Keller says that the gospel is “the hub of God’s wheel of truth.” Adding to this thought, J.D. Greear adds, “The gospel is not the diving board off of which we jump into a pool of Christianity, the gospel is the pool itself. That’s why growth in Christ is never going beyond the gospel, but going deeper into it.” 2
The gospel is the heart of Christianity. It is the center by which the Christian’s spiritual life flows into and out of Christ. We never grow away from this central reality. We never grow away from the cross. As Martin Luther said, spiritual progress is “always to begin again.” 3 The Christian should never grow weary of dancing around Jesus as the Lord of all things. The gospel is not the beginning of Christianity, the gospel is the hub by which everything else holds together.
1 J.D. Greear, Gospel: Recovering the power that made Christianity Revolutionary, (Nashville: B&H Publishing, 2011), 21.
2 Ibid., 22.
3 Martin Luther, The Sermons of Martin Luther, vol. VI (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1983), 146.