The Gospel by Ray Ortlund
I began reading The Gospel by Ray Ortlund last week. It is a short book but filled with powerful truths. Here are some quotes from the early chapters:
Gospel doctrine creates a gospel culture. The doctrine of grace creates a culture of grace. When the doctrine is clear and the culture is beautiful, that church will be powerful. But there are no shortcuts to getting there.
We accept that the truth of biblical doctrine is essential to authentic Christianity, but do we accept that the beauty of human relationships is equally essential?
Gospel doctrine - gospel culture = hypocrisy
Gospel culture - gospel doctrine = fragility
Gospel doctrine + gospel culture = power
God so loved the world, not because we are lovable but because he is love.
By his life, death, and resurrection, Jesus fulfilled every demand of God in our place. He atoned for our guilt. He satisfied the wrath of God against us. He conquered death on our behalf. He did all that as our substitute, because in our helplessness we could never dig our own way out.
We stop treating him as a religious garnish to be placed on the side of life. Rather, we find in him our all. He becomes our new sacred center.
A gracious church culture proves that Jesus is the Holy One who forgives sinners, the King who befriends his enemies, the Genius who counsels failures.
It is together that we suffer and thrive. It is together that we worship and grow and serve, according to the Word of God. That's what your church is--ground zero for the new kind of community Christ is creating in the world today for the display of his glory. That is a gospel culture.
Christians have to choose between isolation, which is easy, and belonging, which is costly--and much more satisfying.
We didn't ruin God's plan; we are his plan, his eternal plan to love the undeserving, for the display of his glory alone.
The love of Christ is the greatest power in the universe--far greater than all our sins.
His holiness starts to show only by his miraculous power in our weakness and corruption. Then people can see his beauty in the world today--in churches graced with holiness.