The gospel slips away when it stops being emphasized. When it ceases to be central. When Christ’s atoning work on the cross, his validating resurrection takes back seat to other things, a false gospel, with glacial slowness, begins to creep in.
Let me make this clear: If the Christian gospel isn’t prominent in our lives and in our church, there’s nothing special or unique about us. What makes Christianity Christian is Christ. Profound, right? And once the message of Jesus Christ and his work on the cross is removed from its primacy, other things start vying for first place. And if the gospel ever gets replaced, we turn into something less than Christian. We become “moralistic therapeutic deists.”
Sometimes I overhear students talking about a friend at school, and I ask, “Is he a Christian.” Sometimes their response is, “Yeah, he believes in God.” My usual reply is, “That’s not what I asked—I asked if he’s a Christian.”
If our unique gospel isn’t in the forefront, we might as well all be Jews and your church might as well be a synagogue.
Let me take this a step further. We can even have a lot of talk about Jesus and not be uniquely Christian. What makes Christianity unique is not that we believe in Jesus. It’s not that he was a great prophet—Muslims believe that. It’s not that we believe he taught great things. Mormons believe that. Get this—it’s not even that Jesus resurrected himself from the dead. Catholics believe that. What makes Christianity unique? This—and this is what Paul is driving at—it is the gospel of salvation by grace through faith alone. Not works. Not rituals. Just faith.