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Book Review on D.A. Carson and Tim Keller’s “Gospel-Centered Ministry”

08 Jul

How The Gospel is Central to Everything: Review by David P. Craig

GCM Carson and Keller

One of the most exciting developments in the Twenty-first century has been the development of the Gospel Coalition. The Gospel Coalition provides blogs, audio and video resources, books, provides conferences, and a plethora of various helps for believers and churches that desire to be gospel centered and gospel driven.

In this brief introduction to the whats and whys of the Gospel Coalition – Tim Keller and D.A. Carson have written a wonderful primer of why this organization was established, and what makes it tick. It’s really an amazing phenomenon that has brought together pastors, missionaries, and lay workers from many different non-denominational and denominational evangelical churches and ministries.

The common denominator that makes up the Gospel Coalition is a biblically robust view that the Gospel from Genesis to Revelation is the central theme of the Bible and that all ministry endeavors are to be bathed in Gospel waters. The gospel is focuses on the necessity of the new birth, justification by faith alone, atonement through propitiation, the substitutionary death of Christ on the cross, and His resurrection from the dead. However, it’s more than that. The gospel is more than what’s tacked on at the end of the sermon, or a devotional that’s shared once a month before we partake of the Lord’s Supper.

Carson and Keller contend that all of ministry must operate from and lead to, and everything in-between is saturated by the Gospel. For example, in our preaching, they write, “Expository preaching fails if it does not tie every text, even the most discursive, into the great story of the gospel and mission of Jesus Christ.” Another example is in ministering to the poor, where they use the example of Jonathan Edwards’ ministry, “Edwards saw a concern for the poor that was rooted not only in a doctrine of creation and the imago Dei but also in the doctrine of the substitutionary death of Christ and justification by faith alone….We  should be willing to give our funds even to the ‘undeserving poor’ since we are the spiritually undeserving poor who receive the free mercy of God.”

The theological vision of the Gospel Coalition is huge in stating that the gospel should: “produce churches filled with winsome and theologically substantial preaching, dynamic evangelism and apologetics, and church growth and church planting. They will emphasize repentance, personal renewal, and holiness of life. At the same time, and in the same congregations, there will be an engagement with the social structures of ordinary people, and cultural engagement with art, business, scholarship, and government. There will be calls for radical Christian community in which all members share wealth and resources and make room for the poor and marginalized. These priorities will all mutually strengthen one another in each local church.”

Carson and Keller make a great case for why the gospel at the center of all of ministry brings balance to our churches, and how “everything is secured by Jesus’ death and resurrection; everything is empowered by the Spirit, whom God bequeaths; and how everything unfolds as God Himself has ordained.” Ultimately, “gospel-centered ministry is biblically mandated. It is the only ministry that simultaneously addresses human need as God sees it, reaches out in unbroken lines to gospel-ministry in other centuries and cultures, and makes central what Jesus himself establishes as central.”

This is a short read but theologically dense, insightful, and thought provoking. I am so grateful for the development of the Gospel Coalition and have and continue to be the beneficiary of their wonderful resources for the church and for the glory of Christ and His gospel. I can’t recommend Gospel Coalition resources like this booklet enough. It well definitely lead you to be more gospel saturated, and Christ focused in all aspects of your life.

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