I received the December issue of The Gospel Coalition newsletter in my inbox the other day, and I thought they did such a good job stating their vision for the organization that I wanted to share it here.
Here’s how they (Don Carson and Tim Keller) put it:
We helped to found The Gospel Coalition in 2005 with three goals in mind: first, to articulate the gospel in a theologically rich way to demonstrate its relevance to all biblical revelation and to all peoples; second, to deepen thinking and living to “act in line with the truth of the gospel” (Gal. 2:14); and third, to spread this vision of ministry to churches around the globe.
Most of you are familiar with TGC and its vision. Yet, in another sense, I think there is a lot here that is always worth a good refresher.
For example, note the first goal. Their point is that the gospel is at the heart of the Bible. In one sense that seems obvious, but that’s only because people like Carson and Keller have been making that point so well!
Many people still think of the Scriptures as a book of moral principles or disconnected stories. While it does teach us moral principles, and does have stories, the heart of everything — the center and that which connects everything together — is Christ himself, who died and rose again for us. All Scripture points to him ultimately, and is to be understood in that way.
If Christ and the gospel are at the heart of the Scriptures, then that means that mercy is at the heart of the Scriptures. For the gospel is at root a revelation of God’s mercy. And this leads to the second point: the gospel is to affect how we live every area of our lives.
It is, first of all, significant to realize that, just as the gospel is relevant to every facet of biblical revelation, so also the gospel is relevant to every area of our life. We are to think of every area of life in relation to the gospel. But what does this mean? Since the gospel is about God’s mercy, it means that we are to have a merciful angle in how we do and think about everything.
For example, with your business practices letting the gospel be the center doesn’t mean you don’t care about profit. But it does mean that you pursue profit in a people-affirming way — in a way that doesn’t use your employees or treat customers simply as a means to making money. Instead, you see your customers (and employees) as people who are valuable in themselves and whom you exist to bring real benefit to.
It also means that you don’t justify being inhuman or overly strict to people in the name of saying “this is just business.” Letting mercy govern how you do things means you act like a real human being, with emotion and compassion, in every area of life, including business.
Business is just a small example here. To act in line with the truth of the gospel in every area of life means to see yourself as a servant of others in every area, seeking to do what is right for them rather than first seeking to do what is right for yourself.
Third, this vision of the primacy of the gospel is so significant and crucial that it is not enough simply to live it; we must also spread it. And, of course, this is God’s call to his people. We are to believe the gospel, live in accord with the truth of the gospel, and spread the gospel and the vision for life that is in line with it to the world. The chief way that TGC does this is by spreading a gospel-centered vision to churches and ministries globally.
These three principles are incredibly profound, exciting, and life transforming. They are solid principles not just for a Christian ministry, but for a Christian life.