How can ordinary Christians become the people who God truly wants them to be? Gospel-Centred Life: Becoming the Person God Wants You to Be is a practical, easy-to-use workbook Steve Timmis and Tim Chester, authors of Total Church, have written to help the ordinary believer live an extraordinary life. “By focusing our attention on the grace of God shown to us in the gospel, everyday problems and experiences, familiar to Christians everywhere, can be transformed as the cross of Christ becomes the motive and measure of everything we do.” Ordinary lives become extraordinary when they reflect the glory and character of Jesus Christ.
The workbook is divided into three parts: gospel-centered change, gospel-centered perspectives, and gospel-centered living. Each short chapter gives a central principle, opening real-life scenario, Scripture passage with questions, explanation of the concept, and summary questions for reflection. Part one (gospel-centered change) teaches that the Christian life is not to be lived for self, but for God’s glory and for the good of others. Who we are, the life we live, the things we do, are all meant to commend God to others, not ourselves. Timmis and Chester rightly conclude that “Loving self is the cruelest of all slaveries: it promises everything and delivers nothing. Loving God and others is the most liberating of all freedoms: it promises everything and gives us more than we can ever imagine.” Furthermore, God is in the process of making this change of heart occur within all believers so that they become more like Jesus for his glory and our good. This miracle of a changed life, liberated from the love of self to live for the glory of God and the good of others, is the work of the Holy Spirit through the gospel.
Part two (gospel-centred perspectives) helps the reader to focus their lives by looking to God by responding to the gospel daily with repentance and faith, looking back to the cross as the foundation and pattern of our conduct and acceptance by God, looking around at the Christian community as we realize that to belong to Jesus means to belong to his church, and looking forward to eternity, trusting that eternal glory offers more than this life.
With the need and process of gospel-centered change defined, and hearts and minds focused on gospel-centered perspectives, Timmis and Chester then apply these truths to gospel-centered living. As Christians encounter decisions, they’re priority should be serving Christ. In relationships, we now, through the gospel, have the responsibility to care for others which means we take initiative to serve and to resolve conflict. Our interactions with non-Christian friends change so that we reflect and speak about Jesus as our delight in him grows. This delight also broadens our horizons as our biblical concern for the world increases. This gospel-centered perspective changes the way we view our possessions. We realize that they are a blessing from God to be used for his glory. We even begin to grasp that our suffering is not pointless, but can be a means of glorifying God as we comfort others with the comfort we have received from God in the midst of our suffering.
Gospel-Centred Life is a great resource to be used in any discipleship setting. It is short, easy to read, and doesn’t require any prior understanding of the Bible. Yet it still offers enough real life content to give more mature believers something to think about. The questions and concepts facilitate dialogue well and the material drives the reader toward personal application. It is, however, a little skimpy on Scripture for my taste, but the questions do get at the heart of the texts used and the concepts are biblically rooted and theologically sound. Yet the reader must realize that it was intended to be thoughtful and concise. This could easily account for the limited amount of Scripture used. A facilitator could add additional biblical passages if desired. Each chapter could be covered within an hour, so it is also a great resource for a hurried meeting time. Gospel-Centred Life would be best utilized to disciple young or immature believers and would make a great follow-up to Christianity Explained, another Good Book Company resource-that’s, at least, how I intend to use it.