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Book Review: The Gospel Centered-Life by Bob Thune and Will Walker

A Phenomenally Christ Centered Workbook

 I think that the most important concept that Christians can formulate in their minds is how the gospel applies in our lives every day. The authors describe this workbook as “a nine-lesson small group study intended to help participants understand how the gospel shapes every aspect of life. Each lesson is self-contained, featuring clear teaching from the Scriptures and requires no extra work outside of the group setting.”

The Gospel-Centered life is designed to do the following:

1)    Deepen your grasp of the gospel as you see your need for continued renewal.

2)    Grow as you experience transformation from the inside out.

3)    Be challenged to develop authentic relationships as the gospel moves you to love and serve others.

Each lesson contains the following sections: 1) a Bible Conversation; 2) An article from a primary source that teaches some good in depth content on the topic; 3) Discussion questions related to the content and their practical ramifications in our lives; 4) An exercise to take the discussion from theory to application; 5) The wrap-up gives the leader the chance to answer any last minute questions, reinforce ideas, and spend some time in prayer.

Thune and Walker give a helpful summary of how each lesson is organized and what it is designed to accomplish (the “Big Idea” for study, discussion, and application):

Section One – three lessons answering the question: What is the gospel?

Lesson 1: The Gospel Grid – “If the gospel is constantly ‘bearing fruit and growing’ (Col. 1:6), then everything has to do with the gospel—God, humanity, salvation, worship, relationships, shopping, recreation, work, personality…everything! The objective in this lesson is to establish a framework for talking about the gospel.”

Lesson 2: Pretending & Performing – “Each of us tends to ‘shrink the cross,’ which is to say that something is lacking in our understanding, appreciation, or application of Jesus’ sacrifice for our sin. This manifests itself in two main ways: pretending and performing. Pretending minimizes sin by making ourselves out to be something we are not. Performing minimizes God’s holiness by reducing his standard to something we can meet, thereby meriting his favor. Both are rooted in an inadequate view of God’s holiness and out identity.”

Lesson 3: Believing The Gospel – “This lesson turns our attention to the positive aspects of the gospel: what remedies has God given in the gospel to keep us from shrinking the cross and depending on our own effort?”

Section Two – three lessons answering the question: What does the gospel do in us?

Lesson 4: Law & Gospel – “Continue to think about how the gospel interacts with our lives, but now we turn to consider the gospel’s relationship to law. What is the law? Does God expect me to obey it? What is the purpose of the law? How does the law help me to believe the gospel? How does the gospel help me to obey the law?”

Lesson 5: Repentance – “This lesson deals with repentance. In our culture, this usually sounds like a bad thing, but repentance is the norm for gospel-centered living. Becoming more aware of God’s holiness and our sinfulness leads us to repent and believe the gospel of Jesus. Biblical repentance frees us from our own devices and makes a way for the power of the gospel to bear fruit in our lives.”

Lesson 6: Heart Idolatry – “The Christian walk consists of two repeated steps: repentance and faith. Turning our attention to the topic of faith, we focus on how we grow through believing the gospel. The goal in this lesson is to take ‘believing the gospel’ out of the abstract and make it concrete.”

Section Three – three lessons answering the question: How does the gospel work through us?

Lesson 7: Mission – “The gospel is simultaneously at work in us and through us. Inwardly, our desires and motives are being changed as we repent and believe the gospel. As we experience Christ’s love in this way, we are compelled to engage those around us with the same kind of redemptive love. God’s grace brings renewal everywhere, in and through us.”

Lesson 8: Forgiveness – “The gospel that works in us always works through us. It shows its power in our relationships and actions. One key way this happens is when we forgive others biblically.”

Lesson 9: Conflict – “Conflict is something we all experience (regularly), but often handle in very fleshly ways. The gospel gives us a pattern and a means to healthy conflict resolution.”

The Gospel Centered Life is designed for:

1)    “Pastors and leaders who want to spur gospel renewal in their churches and ministries.

2)    Church planters who want to form gospel DNA in the churches they start.

3)    Students and campus ministers who are looking to live out the gospel on campus.

4)    Christians who want to be more deeply formed around the gospel.

5)    Small group leaders who are looking for content that ‘works’ with diverse groups of people.

6)    Missionaries who are looking for simple material to disciple new Christians.”

I can’t recommend this workbook highly enough. Another way I have used this material is in coaching and counseling non-believers and believers. If not the best, its one the best workbooks I know of to help others become more Christ-centered and apply the gospel in all aspects of life.

 

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