Core Value #1: Gospel-Centered Families and Church

Posted: March 2, 2010 in Uncategorized

Gospel Focus:  Jesus and the cross must come to have first place in everything, including family life and all aspects of church ministry.

And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. ~ Colossians 1:18

 Too often Christians only see the gospel as it pertains to salvation. The gospel: the truth that we are sinners before a Holy God who has sent His Son to die on the cross to pay the penalty of sin, and on the third day, he arose from the dead with power over sin and death.

 However, the cross of Christ must be the very center of our lives beyond our new birth.  We can never, ever move beyond the cross. Yes, we must grow in our walk with Christ in knowledge and understanding, but this can never mean that the cross of Christ becomes elementary to us.

 The cross of Christ is the center, “the blazing center” of the gospel as John Piper states.  The cross of Christ is the “ethic of the gospel. It models the behavior that God wants his people to imitate” (Gospel-Powered Parenting, Farley).  Without the cross, we have no other truth from God, much less power to live out God’s truth in our daily lives.

 The cross of Christ is the key that continues to unlock areas of growth in Christ; it is the key that the Spirit of God uses to remove our idols. The gospel continually reminds us of our utter dependence on God; it reminds us that we daily depend on His grace and mercy.  The cross of Christ reminds us that if we are to be his disciples, then we must totally and wholly submit our lives, our family’s life, and our church’s life to His Lordship. Through the cross of Christ, we learn how to forgive, to sacrifice and expect nothing in return, to keep us humble, and to uplift us in our world of woe.  It is radical, continual transformation of our lives.

 Jesus said:  “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me (Luke 9:23). 

We are to take up our cross daily! The gospel must have its daily fruition in our families, in our finances, work life, recreation, relationships, in all decisions, joys and sorrows, and in the mundane moments that make up our lives.  It compels us to disciple our own children. It compels us to disciple other believers.

 The Gospel is the power for our parenting. What does this look like?

  •  We must not focus on simply having moral children. 

Tedd Tripp states: “A change in behavior that does not proceed from the heart is not commendable, it is condemnable.” The arrows of our teaching and discipline must be aimed directly at the heart of children.  Those arrows must be dipped in the blood of the gospel teaching our children that they have idol producing factories in their hearts that can only be changed by the grace of God, and that everything which proceeds from their mouths and their actions stems from their hearts. If we focus on assuming every child is saved, and getting correct responses and approved behavior, then we are producing hypocritical Pharisees who are good and clean vessels on the outside, yet filthy on the inside.

  • We must be Christ-centered, not children-centered.

Tragically, too many Christian families are more children-centered than Christ-centered.  When this is the case, we compromise the cross.  I have seen it way too often where families will compromise their faithfulness to the body of Christ, stop or cut their tithing and giving, stop praying as a family, all because of the activities of their children. 

Two brief but REAL examples:

  • Christian family attended a Pop Warner football meeting with their coaches. When the coaches told them that practices and games would be on Wednesday nights, this “dedicated” Christian family stated: “Well, there goes church.”  This is a family who does not understand the gospel!
  • Another Christian family became sporadic in attending church after years of faithfulness, and seeing growth in their children when the parents were carting their children to music lessons, dance, and sports activities.

       We are child-centered when we compromise God’s Word for our children’s activities!

   William Farley states:  “The symptoms of God-centeredness are numerous…”

  • Willingness to say “no” to a child when it is in the best interest of the child.
  • A marriage in which Dad and Mom are united before their children, even when they disagree about a parenting direction.
  • Willingness to make our marriages more important than our children.
  • Willingness to be different; God-centered homes will be radically different.

 Finally, William Farley lists Seven Ways in which the Gospel Affects Parents:

  1. The gospel teaches Christian parents to fear God.
  2. The gospel motivates parents to lead by example.
  3. The gospel centers families in their male servant leaders.
  4. The gospel teaches and motivates parents to discipline their children.
  5. The gospel motivates parents to teach their children.
  6. The gospel motivates parents to lavish their children with love and affection. The gospel defines what this love looks like.
  7. The gospel is the solution for inadequate parents.  We are all woefully inadequate as parents. Gospel-centered parents understand this and run to the cross daily for grace, forgiveness, strength, and hope.

Quoted above and highly recommended for every parent and leader is the book:  Gospel-Powered Parenting: How the Gospel Shapes and Transforms Parenting by William P. Farley

Jesus and the Gospel must have preeminence in the life of our Family ministry, church, and in the lives of our families.   The Gospel has the power to save, yet it is also the “blazing center” of our sanctification. We are called to be disciple-makers. Parents discipling their children; believers discipling other believers. Growing people is what God has called each of us to do, and the Gospel is the fuel. Are we Gospel-centered as a church? Our households?

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