• Timothy R Robinson

The Center of the Gospel


What do you call a ghost’s injury? A boo-boo

Lol, now that was a knee slapper.

October 31st is upon us. Today many people will celebrate Halloween (Hallowe’en, Saints evening) by dressing up in costumes and knocking on your door and asking for candy by saying “Trick or Treat”.

Unless you live in Leominster or Fitchburg. They have moved the Halloween celebration to Saturday. See, you thought this was just a blog, you also get local news. You're welcome.

Though Halloween is not my cup of tea, the day is special to me. 502 years ago, Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses (Disputation on the power of indulgences) to the door of the Wittenberg Castle church.

For many theologians and scholars, this was the beginning of the Reformation.

To my Baptist readers that just fell out of their chairs by that last sentence, I know I know, Luther wasn’t the first to protest. Yet, Luther’s actions for the masses was the fuel for change.

One truth that was highlighted and became the anthem of the movement was JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH!

Justification by Faith

Romans 3:23-24 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

“Our justification before God is apart from any good works we have done. This is because any good works done without faith are not good at all in God’s sight.”

AMEN AMEN! Christianity is not something to be done, but what has been done by our Lord Jesus Christ.

Today you can find this truth on t-shirts, coffee cups, bumper stickers, and tattoos. Many of my pastor friends preached a justification by faith sermon to celebrate the 502nd anniversary of the Reformation last Sunday.

Some would even say that justification by faith is the central truth of the gospel. And that’s when the DJ of the party stops the music. In other words, that’s going a little too far. Let me explain.

• Is Justification by faith the central truth of the gospel?

• Is this only what really matters?

You may say no, but many have said yes. And some who say no, live like justification by faith is what only matters. I think for many, justification by faith is the central truth and because of that we find 2 types of people in the church.

Salvation is the process of God taking the Hell out of us and putting heaven into us. In that process God uses good works to shape us into the image of Jesus. Also, He uses our works to glorify Himself.

The Frozen Chosen

Brrr! Members of the Frozen Chosen club love the word of God and they love doctrine. They love that we are saved by the work of Jesus on the cross and not our works, because our works are filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). They are not bad people, but they major on the minors. They can teach doctrine like no other, but when it comes to good works, they are lacking or feel God is pleased with the size of their brain.

As a pastor, I have to be careful here and examine my weekly behavior. I get paid to study and preach. No one will ask me about my good works. They assume if I’m preaching it, I’m living it. That’s dangerous. You must have accountability in your life pastors. I always have to examine myself to make sure I practice what I preach.

Trick: The FC club members have bought into the idea that Jesus saved us so we can beat atheist and spiritual babes in spiritual discussions. They forget that salvation is not just a ticket out of Hell.

They forget Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Salvation is the process of God taking the Hell out of us and putting heaven into us. In that process God uses good works to shape us into the image of Jesus. Also, He uses our works to glorify Himself.

Treat: God invites us in to His reconciliation work of the world. There is no joy like leading someone to Christ, helping someone in need, carrying the burden of brothers and sisters, on and on I could go.

Galatians 6:9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

The Easy Believer

Meet Eb. Eb was saved when he was young. Eb said a prayer and was baptized and…. that was about it. He stopped going to church soon after and his life has been pretty much all about seeking pleasure. He is confronted one day by a Christian friend named Paul who says, “You say you know God, but by your deeds you deny Him (Titus 1:16)”.

Eb says, “I have freedom in Christ because I was saved a long time ago.”

Easy believism is a term created for those who believe that because a Christian is saved by faith (Justification by faith), a committed life to Jesus is unnecessary.

“Faith alone does not mean that some believers follow Christ in a life of discipleship, while others do not. The concept of the carnal Christian as a separate category of non-spiritual believer is completely unscriptural.”

That does make sense. Are we to look past the sinful lifestyle of a man because he prayed a prayer as a child? Even Jesus said “You will know them by their fruits (Matt 7:16)."

Trick: When the center of the gospel is justification by faith and that’s all that matters, you miss that the same Spirit that lived in Jesus is given to believers (Romans 8:11). We won’t be perfect, but too many people are walking around thinking they know Christ and that their lifestyle doesn’t matter.

Treat: Sin is sweet, but it is really poison. If you know Christ, a good work has begun in you. You will be changed into the image of Christ (Romans 8). If you are struggling in sin, taste and see that the Lord is good. His ways bring freedom from sin, joy, and peace.

When the cross is the center of the gospel there is justification by faith, and work to be done. The power of the cross justifies me and empowers me to be an Ambassador of Christ and a means of grace for others.

What is the center of the gospel? The Cross

1 Corinthians 15:1-11

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,

5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

Beautiful, just beautiful. You see what happened there?

  • When the cross is the center of the gospel, there is death, but there is life.

  • When the cross is the center of the gospel there is justification by the work of Christ, but there is grace to change us.

  • When the cross is the center of the gospel there is justification by faith, and work to be done. The power of the cross justifies me and empowers me to be an Ambassador of Christ and a means of grace for others.

The cross should defrost the Frozen Chosen.

The cross should make easy believism distasteful.

The power of the cross is not just for the afterlife, it’s for today.

The center of the gospel is the cross of Christ. Through the cross of Christ, the Holy love and power of God is revealed.

May someone today nail this on the door of their hearts.

Last, since it is pastor’s appreciation month

I would like to thank all the pastors who loved me enough to rejoice in my good works and to call out my bad works.

Pastor Scott Wilson

Pastor Bob Butler

Pastor Bill Smith

Pastor Mike Sullivan

Pastor Rob Krumrey

Pastor Bob Cote

I know some of you read these blog post. I didn’t want pastor’s appreciation to pass without saying I love you. Continue to fulfill your ministry. Your work is not in vain. Happy Reformation day!

Questions for Reflection

1. If a hacker broke into the Frozen Club membership file list, would your name be on that list? Are you really good at the knowledge of God, but light on everything else? Ask the Lord to change you or to reveal areas where you can get better. Some people are not members of the Frozen chosen club, but they do not have any knowledge. Ask the Lord to give you a balanced life.

2. We are told to

• Work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12)

• Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5)

What evidence do you point to that gives you confidence that you know the Lord? Is it just the day you gave your life to Christ? Is it your fruits? Where does your confidence find its rest? We are saved by grace through faith, but saving faith will produce a changed life.

3. How does justification by faith and sanctification work together? Read Romans 8.


Join our mailing list

  • Black Twitter Icon