How does the gospel function as the central doctrine in our Christian walk? Mike Bullmore has been particularly helpful to me in answering this question. In an article I read recently, he informs his readers as to how the gospel functions as the central thing in our Christian life.
Defining: Gospel Truths and Gospel Conduct
In answering these questions we need to first understand the difference between “Gospel Truths” and “Gospel Conduct.” Bullmore says, “Gospel [T]ruths are specific, concrete doctrinal implications of the gospel.” Whereas “Gospel Conduct” is the connection the Bible makes between the gospel and our behavior.
Scriptural Evidence: Gospel Truths
“Gospel Truths” are concrete doctrinal implications of the gospel that take their shape from the gospel itself. In other words, because of the gospel, we have peace with God (Rom 5:1). Because of the gospel, we are not condemned (Rom 8:1). Because of the gospel, God will graciously provide for us (Rom 8:32).
“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Rom 5:1).
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Rom 8:1)
“He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Rom 8:32)
Scriptural Evidence: Gospel Conduct
“Gospel Conduct” is the connection the Bible makes between the gospel and our behavior. In other words, because of the gospel, we are to flee sexual immorality (1 Cor 6:18-20). Because of the gospel, we are urged to forgive one another (Eph 4:32). Because of the gospel, husbands understand how to love their wives (Eph 5:25). Because of God’s generosity in the gospel, we are to be generous (2 Cor 8:7,9; 9:12-13).
“Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (1 Cor 6:18–20)
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Eph 4:32)
“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,” (Eph 5:25)
“But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you—see that you excel in this act of grace also….For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” (2 Cor 8:7,9)
“For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission flowing from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others,” (2 Cor 9:12–13)
Implications of the Functional Centrality of the Gospel
When we see that “Gospel Truths” stem from the gospel itself, and when we meditate on those truths, our mind is renewed and we experience peace, no condemnation, and assurance God will provide for our daily spiritual and physical needs.
When we see that “Gospel Conduct” stems from the gospel itself, we begin to understand the power for change does not simply lie in our own power. Were it not for the gospel working in our lives, we would not be able to flee sexual immorality, forgive others, love our wives correctly, or be generous with our money and time.
The gospel is at the center of our Christian lives, and from it stem both “Gospel Truths”, which work to renew our mind, and “Gospel Conduct”, which works to renew our actions. Were it not for the gospel, our minds would not be renewed, nor would our conduct change. As a result, the gospel must always be proclaimed as the way to change. Without it, we are powerless and are not able to change or grow in our Christian walk. This means we must always ground our imperatives in the indicative. For if we do not, then we are teaching our people to be moralists.