ODJ: only the gospel

November 14, 2015 

READ: 1 Corinthians 2:1-16 

I decided that while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified (v.2).

The outgrow never we gospel. What’s wrong with that sentence? It violates the rules of grammar and syntax. Writers may sometimes break rules for effect but if they want to be understood, they’ll never graduate beyond grammar.

The ‘grammar’ of the Christian life is the gospel. Paul said the gospel is that “Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said. He was seen by Peter and then by the Twelve” (1 Corinthians 15:3-5). This good news that Jesus died and rose again to forgive our sins is what the gospel is built on.

It’s important that we never graduate beyond the gospel. It’s tempting to think that believing in Jesus is necessary only for starting the Christian life, and that we grow in Him by practising spiritual disciplines such as meditation, memorisation and joining accountability or Bible-study groups. These are all important practices, but they’ll draw us to Jesus only as they point us to the gospel.

The closer we come to Jesus, the more we grasp what it means to be set free from sin and death by God’s grace. If we forget this—if we think we’re somehow earning our way to God through our spiritual disciplines—we’ll lose our grip on the gospel, just as Peter did when he shamed the Gentiles for not keeping the Jewish practice of circumcision (see Galatians 2:14).

It’s good for us to have favourite practices that draw us closer to Jesus. But may those methods never excite us more than what Jesus has already done. Let’s look at that opening sentence again, this time with proper grammar: we never outgrow the gospel.

—Mike Wittmer

365-day-plan: Acts 25:1-27

Read Philippians 1:1-29 to see how the gospel transformed Paul’s life and attitude. 
What spiritual discipline draws you closer to Jesus? How does it remind you of what He’s already done for you?