For many church members the term gospel-centered is equated with evangelism-centered. It is not a surprising mistake since many in our churches have not been taught, biblically, how the gospel applies to the Christian life beyond conversion.
Timothy Keller and Zondervan have teamed up to produce Gospel in Life: Grace Changes Everything (DVD). The DVD is an eight-session course on the gospel and how it is lived out in all of life – your heart, workplace, community, and the nations – taught by Keller himself. The sessions are 8-11 minutes each, while the entire DVD is about 90 minutes total. The sessions are designed to be accompanied with a study guide, which reviews each lesson, develops the content, and asks discussion questions (240 pages).
If you are familiar with Tim Keller, whether through his sermons, talks, or books, then the first three sessions – (1) The City, (2) Heart, and (3) Idolatry – will be very familiar to you. They are vintage Keller, so to speak. The rest of the sessions seem to be developed from the foundation of the first three. Below is a quick summary of the 8 sessions:
- The City. Many people know Keller to be an advocate for urban ministry, or city-centric. The motive behind this lesson is not to recommend we minister only in cities, but that we should recognize that in the grand scheme of God’s plan for saving his people and redeeming creation, he has worked through the life and culture of the cities.
- The Heart. Keller talks about three ways to live, which is based on the material from his book Prodigal God. He uses the parable of the Prodigal Son to display how people can either be legalistic (relying on your efforts or abilities for acceptance with God), antinomian (despising God’s ways in order to do it your own way) or grace-centered. Keller shows how the gospel instructs us to live in the third way.
- Idolatry. Similar to much of the material from Counterfeit Gods, Keller uproots the “sin beneath the sin.” Idolatry is the lusts of our desires that turns our allegiance from God to the created world. We need overriding affections for God in order to expel the idols of the heart.
- Community. For Keller, the context for change – real biblical change – is only found in Christian community.
- Witness. At this point, we begin to see why Keller began with The City. We are part of God’s work of change in the world, to bring about an “alternate city,” one that shines forth, even in the dark crevices, the grace of the gospel.
- Work. Session 6 is probably the most practical of the 8. Keller offers real help for the nitty-gritty life of everyday Christians to work as those who works for the Lord, not for ourselves or others.
- Justice. Keller helps us to see that working for the good and justice of others is the right response to God working on our behalf for the forgiveness of sins.
- Eternity. God started in a garden, Keller observes, but he ends in a great city. Because the cross was the tree of death for Jesus Christ, we can have the tree of life for eternity as a citizen in the City of our God.
Its not too difficult to see why Gospel in Life is a helpful new resource. The sessions are short enough to watch in one sitting, allowing time to unpack the material using the study guide. Its ideal for adult small group or sunday school settings. While the sessions are simple, they are also profound explanations of how the gospel affects all of life.
The tendency for pastors and seminary students familiar with Tim Keller may be to respond, I’ve heard this before! Yet, for many in our congregations, how the gospel applies to the Christian life beyond conversion is a mystery. Terms like gospel-centered or gospel-driven have little-to-no meaning. Resources like this one puts content into these terms, so they are not simply by-words from the pulpit.Tags: The Christian Life, The Gospel