There is nothing more important than what a church believes. The theology of its pastors and content of its preaching will define the long-term direction and health of a church and its people. It’s why the Apostle Paul is so careful to charge Timothy to “guard the good deposit entrusted to you” (2 Tim 1:13-14). He’s talking about the centrality of the gospel in the beliefs of a church. It’s important for a church to remain faithful to the Bible, but it’s equally important to emphasize what the Bible is most faithful to emphasize.
That’s why we work so hard to keep the good news of Christ substitutionary death and his kingdom central at Providence. Preaching Christ and him crucified is no fad for us. We see in the unfolding storyline of Scripture a gospel message that comes into greater and clearer focus. Jesus is the hero of the story, and his life, death and resurrection are the details that interpret everything the Bible has to say (John 5:39). And so we want to ensure that we keep ‘the main thing’ in focus and clear as well.
One thing we see highlighted clearly in the gospel is the reckless, sovereign, saving grace of God. Jesus saves sinners who are dead in their sin (Ephesians 2:1-9). In a great act of mercy the Father causes us to be born again to a living hope (1 Peter 1:3). When the Spirit regenerates us this grace is expressed in the gift of faith, which justifies us before God (John 1:12-13). We love the doctrines of grace because they make much of God and we see them in Scripture. So whether it’s called ‘essentially reformed’ or ‘big God’ theology or the ‘5 Solas’ of the Reformation, we celebrate God’s sovereign grace because it highlights the radical love God extends to us in the gospel.
2 Cor 5:21; Romans 3:21-26; Ephesians 1:1-2:22; Galatians 2:17-21
Who we worship and how we worship flows naturally from what we believe. So the same gospel that defines our doctrine shapes our worship. And it shapes our worship in all of life because all of life is worship. We were created to worship. Every thought, desire, word and deed is a fundamental expression of what we worship. These actions all express our ingrained orientation towards glory. What we value most and hold most dear illustrates what we worship most. There are simply no neutral attitudes, affections or activities. Each one is our heart communicating its loyalty, either to a Creator or to His creation.
Broadly, worship extends to all aspects of our lives, from our eating, drinking and speaking to our schedules and priorities (1 Cor 10:31). We never turn our worshipping off. It’s reflected in the books we read, the movies we watch, the things we purchase and the way spend our days. The consistency of our worship in all of life reflects the consistency of our gospel application.
Narrowly, gospel centered worship culminates in believers gathering together corporately to raise their voices, hearts and prayers to the God who saves. Our Sunday Celebration is one of the most significant and strategic moments of each week. The Spirit pours out grace in the context of the church gathering together to commemorate the gospel. Gospel centered worship drives our preaching, praying, singing, fellowshipping and celebrating of the ordinances of baptism and communion together.
When the body of Christ gathers corporately the gospel takes center stage. And considering this amazing news creates both reverence and impassioned orthodoxy. Deep theological truths are explored and deep, heartfelt affections for God are stirred up. The time spent remembering, responding, receiving and rejoicing in the gospel corporately prepares believers to step back into ‘normal’ life as worshippers of the King of kings.
Psalm 103:1-22; Psalm 145:1-21; Romans 12:1-3; Hebrews 12:28-29; 1 Cor 12:1-14:40; Colossians 3:1-17