“You never grow past the gospel.”
That mantra, and others like it, have become embedded in the church’s lexicon since the Reformation. It has become an automatic response, a reflexive kick against anyone who professes boredom with the simple truths of the gospel.
And rightly so. There really is nothing deeper than the gospel.
This was hit home again last week as our Men’s Group wrapped up our study of Romans. In Romans 15:14, the apostle Paul declares that the church in Rome is filled with all knowledge, so much so that they are able to teach one another. They’ve got it. They’ve mastered it. If anyone was ready to move on to the next level, it was the church in Rome.
And yet, Paul is not afraid to, in his own words, “boldly” tell them the gospel again. He calls it his Ministry of Reminding. That’s the grace-work that God has called him to do. Yes, he must trail-blaze for the gospel among the Gentiles where Christ has not been named. Yes, he will stand before kings and governors to witness for the gospel of Jesus. But among the church he holds the office of Chief Reminder.
It’s almost as if Paul had a two-pronged Christian Education plan:
Christianity 101: Introduction to the Gospel
Christianity 201: Remember everything I taught you before.
Brothers and sisters, it’s true that the depths of the gospel are fathomless. The exploration of the gospel is so limitless, that it makes deep space exploration seem like a trip to the gas station.
That’s why we, like Paul, must constantly remind ourselves and our people back to the things we’ve learned. Back to the gospel.
If the gospel is an ocean, then a trip to the beach does not suffice. We must continually lead our people back to the water. Each time with different gear, but back to the same ocean. We lead them back with goggles. With glass-bottom boats. With scuba gear. With depth finders. With submarines. We keep leading them back to see what they’ve already seen, to experience what they’ve already experienced, in the hopes that each trip will renew and invigorate their love for their live-giving savior.
Practically, then, we see “issues” that need to be addressed in our churches not as different subjects, but as extensions of the gospel.
The heart of marriage is found in the gospel; and marriage issues are addressed there.
The heart of finances is found in the gospel; and finance issues are addressed there.
The heart of doctrine is found in the gospel; and doctrinal issues are addressed there.
The proper understanding and application of everything, everything, is found in the gospel alone. The study of creation, eschatology, ecclesiology, ecology, politics, relationships, sex, astronomy, work, health, food, everything must be seen and studied and taught within the confines of the gospel. We don’t simply add the gospel at the end of each of these as a means of forgiveness, but rather these are not rightly understood outside of the depths of the gospel.
Which is why we need to be reminded of it. Constantly.
So remind yourself. Remind your family. Remind your small group. Remind your church. Boldly tell them again of the life of Christ. Boldly teach them again of his death for their sins. Boldly declare to them again the resurrection. And boldly remind them again of the hope that we have, that one day we too will rise with resurrection bodies to live with God forever.