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Gospel-Centered Teaching: Showing Christ in All the Scripture Paperback – October 1, 2013
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What was birthed from traveling and speaking around the country, Trevin has been hearing the same thing over and over again from group leaders. “No matter where I go,” he writes, “I hear the common refrain and a number of concerns. Something’s missing from our small groups.”
As one who has lead bible studies, you know of the many differing approaches of conducting them. Your group may be lacking bible knowledge, your discussion may be too shallow, and you may want to just “go deeper.” And there are many books written to “fix” these problems, giving you a band-aid without the ointment. We don’t need a quick fix, Trevin points out. We don’t need new methods.
“I’m convinced that the method is not what matters most anyway; it’s the message. Get the message right, and God will work through a variety of methods, and the best methods in the world won’t bring about transformation.”
How quickly group leaders can become tired of being “perpetual cheerleaders,” struggling to dig and pull things from the Bible that apply to their group. So in this book, we are asked: Just what are we doing when we open the Bible? What’s the point? What’s the goal? And what is really all that “Christian” about my lesson? And if you want real application, what is in your application that an unbeliever off the street would be uncomfortable with? Because our desire for application should go beyond “be a nice person.”
And so, this book does a wonderful job at anchoring all of this in the gospel. It’s written by a teacher for the teacher. It’s honest and palpable. It gives direction with conviction but it is gentle with grace. It is, well, gospel-centered after all.
And why the gospel? Because it is the power of God unto salvation. Because it the power of God for sanctification and because the gospel provides the motivation for mission.
“We need our hearts to be wrecked afresh by the reality of God’s love for us. We need Jesus.”
Trevin always – even in the Gospel Project curriculum – connects the dots to tell the story of God’s redemptive plan in Jesus. He always grounds the application in the gospel and (as we sometimes forget to do) he always reminds us that the gospel gives us an overflow of passion for God’s mission. Sometimes we forget that we are on a mission for God. This book will remind us that when we study the bible, we connect it to the gospel and to God’s mission: “to invite others to the fountain of living water offered freely by our Master Teacher whose life and death changes everything.”
Pastors, teachers, bible study leaders, volunteers, buy this book, read this book, give this book away and let’s get our groups centered – not on us – but on the true Hero, Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.
Gospel-Centered Teaching is a powerful book that reminds readers that the gospel is not merely for the unconverted. Indeed, it not only saves us; it also sustains us in the Christian life. I am reminded of the gentlemen who left a church I served in. The accusation went something like this: "I left the xyz church because all I ever heard from the pulpit was the gospel." This person failed to see that the gospel is not only for salvation; it is life itself and propels Christ-followers into the future by his grace and for his glory.
Wax further elaborates another reason why we must place the gospel at the centered of every lesson and sermon:
We progress in holiness the more we immerse ourselves in the truth that Jesus Christ bled and died to save helpless sinners like you and me. The more we see the depth of our sin, the more we understand the depth of God's grace. Going deep means we must remember there is nothing we can do to make ourselves more acceptable to God ... The gospel-centered teacher understands that the unsaved need the gospel in order to come to know Christ, while the saved need the gospel in order to become more like Christ.
Gospel-Centered Teaching is a necessary antidote for a culture that is awash in moralism. This little book is sure to encourage pastors and teachers to not only maintain fidelity to the gospel; but to keep it at the center of all ministry.
Wax encourages teachers to realize that the focus of teaching is not to merely give deeper knowledge or more application. The focus is to make people fall in love with Jesus; this is the ultimate goal of our knowledge and the only thing that will ensure that our life changes and empower us to bring it about.
One of the most helpful gems in this book is the list of three questions Wax says we should ask when we are teaching: "1. How does this topic/passage fit into the big story of Scripture? 2. What is distinctively Christian about the way I am addressing the topic/passage? (Would this be true if Jesus hadn't died and been raised?) 3. How does this truth equip God's church to live on mission?" (page 42)
Wax goes on to unpack each of these questions and help teachers see how to answer them and ensure that their teaching is completely centered on Jesus and the gospel.
This was a short book, and I was able to read it in one sitting. Still I highlighted something on almost every page in my Kindle. I am sure I will be retreading this book frequently to remind myself of the goal of teaching, making people fall more in love with Jesus and draw closer to Him so that through the power of the gospel we can be changed into God's image and likeness as ambassadors who help point others to Christ in our lives.
If you are a teacher, whether through a Sunday school, a small group, or another form of Bible study, read this book. You will not regret it.