The Gospel

If you want to follow Jesus, you need to know why he came.

Jesus didn’t come primarily as a good man so that you could follow his example. He didn’t come primarily as a teacher so that you could follow his rules. Jesus came as a Savior, so that through faith in him, you would follow him out of death into new life (Romans 6:4-11).

Discipleship begins with hearing and believing the message of salvation, the gospel. Following Jesus is not for spiritual athletes who have enough religious fitness to keep up with him. Following Jesus is for the spiritually paralyzed, those who know they cannot keep up with Jesus and desperately call out to him for salvation. The apostle Paul writes, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). The gospel is the only way into discipleship.

The gospel isn’t just the front door to Christianity; it’s also the house. Believing in the gospel is how you begin and grow in discipleship. Paul tells the Colossians that they will grow more like Jesus if they “continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard” (Colossians 1:22-23). The only way to move forward in Christ is to stand firm in the gospel.

This is why the gospel is the center of the wheel. You can only love God in devotion because he has loved you first in Christ Jesus. You can only love each other in community because he has made you his sons and daughters by grace. You can only love the world through mission because he left heaven on a mission to save you. And the only way to become like Jesus in Christlikeness is to remember that Jesus became like you on the cross.

Since the gospel is the center of discipleship, it’s crucial that you understand it. A simple way to understand the gospel is with four words: Jesus in my place. When you believe in the gospel, Jesus stands in your place in payment, perfection, and power.

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