New Hope seeks to be a gospel-centered church. The adjective, “Gospel-centered,” gets applied to virtually everything in the church these days! Yet, what exactly does this mean? Briefly, “Gospel” (literally, “good news”) refers to what God has done for us in Christ. The most important question anyone can ask is: Who is Jesus and what has He done? The Lord Jesus, fully God and fully human, lived the life we should have lived – in our place; and, He died the death we deserved to die – in our place. The Father “so loved” the world that He sent Jesus (John. 3:16); Jesus so loved the church that He died for her (Eph. 5:25)!
So what does it mean to be a “Gospel-centered” church? Pastor Dane Ortlund helpfully distinguishes between two senses of this term:
(1) On the worldview level, it means we view all of life through the “lens” of the Gospel. No longer do we look at life with ourselves at the center, rather Christ now governs our thoughts, attitudes, and affections;
(2) Further, there is a sense in which all that we do in our church and individual lives is done in light of our ongoing struggle with sin and our ongoing need of grace. In other words, the Gospel isn’t just for unbelievers, but for believers too.
The Apostle Paul often reminded believers of the need for the Gospel for the Christian life because of the depth of sin’s grip on our heart. We often seek to root our identity, find our significance, or simply seek to “be OK” through many other things beside Christ. However, in Ortlund’s words, “We move forward when we hear afresh the strangeness of grace, relaxing our hearts and loosening our clenched hold on a litany of lesser things—financial security, the perfect spouse, career advancement, sexual pleasure, human approval, and so on…This sweet calm is the soil in which true godliness flourishes.”