In some churches I have attended, there is a sense that the gospel entails the elementary teaching of Christianity. In those churches, maturity is thought to entail moving beyond the gospel into more “meaty” doctrinal teaching.
I have come to realize that this is wrong headed and leads not to maturity, but to immaturity. The effect of this teaching is the exact opposite of the desired result.
The gospel teaches me that every aspect of my being is in need of redemption by Jesus Christ through his work on the Cross. The first thought of the gospel is that I am more deeply flawed than I ever dared to admit. The second part of the gospel is that I am loved more deeply than I ever dared dream.
If I do not preach this two-pronged gospel to myself every day, I am sure to go off track.
If I forget these two aspects of the gospel, theological knowledge will only serve to make me proud.
If I forget these two aspects of the gospel, any change that I make in my life will come from self-will rather than surrender to God. This will only serve to make me hard hearted.
If I dwell on how loved I am without realizing how unlovable I really am, this will only serve to make me selfish.
If I dwell on how flawed I am without basking in God’s love for me, this will only serve to make me morose and overwhelmed.
I should never think of moving beyond the gospel. I should only think about how more deeply the gospel needs to be applied in every aspect of my life.
The Apostle Paul should be our model in this. The same man who could call himself the chief of sinners, also penned one of the most confident declarations of God’s love in Scripture:
“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38–39, ESV)