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“It is easy to sound prophetic from the margins; what we urgently need is to be prophetic from the center.”
Despite its centrality to the Christian faith, it’s easy to overlook the gospel and instead speak out on more peripheral issues. This is a far cry from the New Testament emphasis on the gospel as the foundation of everything we believe.
In this passionate cry for gospel reform, D. A. Carson argues that if secondary issues consume our passions, then we’re in danger of sidelining the gospel. We may be able to make compelling arguments for how we should live, but if these are not rooted in the gospel then we aren’t speaking God’s truth.
Carson shows us that if the gospel is centralized, prioritized, and pondered, it powerfully directs us on how to think about everything else. In fact, the best way to speak God’s truth on secondary issues is to stand firm on the gospel.
Don Carson’s latest book, is a call for all Christians to get back to the gospel. Rather than standing at the margins, we need to get right back to the center of the faith, and stand on its foundations. At a time when modern society is going through major upheaval, and the core convictions of previous generations are being thrown under the bus, Carson reminds us that the gospel really has power. To do this, he walks us through 1 Corinthians 15 – a place where Paul clearly states the gospel he preaches and stands on. He does this with 8 summarising words, 5 clarifying sentences, and one evocative summary. And they indeed are! Don echoes Paul’s call, of how the gospel changes everything, and aims to reorientate our thinking about speaking into today’s society. It is easy, he says, to sound prophetic from the margins – from the periphery – but it downplays the gospel. What is it that we get fired up about when speaking to others? That question is one that got under my skin. Another reminder (among many in this short book) was that ‘we are not saved by theological ideas about Christ… we are saved by Christ himself’ (page 31). As I study the Bible for college, and for preaching, I need to constantly remember this. The power of the gospel is not in facts, but in who the facts are about. May I never forget that. I recommend this book to all Christians, young or old. It is a very short, but powerful read, at only 54 pages (you can actually read it in one sitting!). We desperately need to move back to the center of the faith – back to the foundation of the gospel – back to Christ crucified. It is that gospel that has the power to save, and to change. So let’s get back to the center and be prophetic from there.
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