Today is the launch of my new book, The Gospel: How The Church Portrays The Beauty Of Christ, part of the 9Marks series on Building Healthy Churches.
The biblical gospel is not only a doctrine on paper, not only a theological flag to salute. The gospel also creates a relational environment, an ethos of beauty, an experience of humaneness. In other words, gospel doctrine creates a gospel culture.
In this new kind of community, which only the gospel can create, desperate sinners coming to Christ have nothing to fear. They are finally safe. They can open up about what’s really going on in their lives. They can find healing for the past and hope for the future. This new kind of church feels like heaven on earth. And the way to get there is not by slick packaging but by gospel rebuilding. It’s what the doctrine is for – building a new kind of community to compel the attention of the world.
If in our churches we have gospel doctrine only, without a gospel culture, we actually undermine the doctrine, however strongly we adhere to it. But if we allow the gospel to sweeten the flavor of our churches by the grace of Jesus, the doctrine starts shining more gloriously than ever before. A gospel culture is itself an apologetic argument for the doctrine, and the best argument.
I believe that, as the Lord helps us build churches marked by the beauty of Christ, it will be his answer to our prayers for revival. But churches with correct doctrine only will continue to turn people away from Jesus.