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But are you really friends??

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Okay, so maybe we aren’t great listeners. We all know it’s true. When someone is talking to us, we hear them, but are simultaneously formulating what we’ll say next. And even when we do “listen,” are we really discerning what is underneath what they’re saying?

In past classes I’ve used a quick grid that grades how well we actually listen to friends. I argue that sometimes the beginning of being gospel fluent is simply listening better.

Picture a friend you have, maybe someone far from Jesus but someone you’re developing a friendship with. I want you to answer the following questions with a 1-4 rating. You’re more or less gauging how well you could write a report on them if you had to. For each of the 11 questions, simply place a number next to it.

(1) I have no understanding of who my friend really is. They’re more of an acquaintance.

(2) I have a slight understanding of who my friend really is. We hang out and know basics about each other.

(3) I have a pretty good grasp of who my friend really is. We’ve had several deep moments.

(4) I know them like a brother. I can’t know them any closer.

  • What are their functional heaven, hell, and savior(s)?  How do you know?
  • What is the community they feel most comfortable in? Why?                
  • What do they see as sin? Why?                           
  • What’s hit’s them the hardest and/or makes them grieve?  How do you know?
  • How and what do they celebrate most?  What’s your proof?
  • What part of the Gospel story would most resonate with them?    
  • Do they look forward to eating or meeting together regularly? Why?   
  • Where/how did they get their understanding of the Gospel story? How do you know?   
  • How do they view me and my view of Jesus and sin? How do you know?     
  • Have they introduced me to their own circle of friends and community?       
  • Who would they call if a tragedy hit them and they really needed someone?   

You’re not literally answering these questions, just gauging how well you know them. As an example, when I took this test, I realized I avoided tough areas with my friends because I didn’t want the tension. This also means I didn’t know my friends that well. I also wasn’t able to apply the gospel to their hearts very well. Those moments, as tough as they might be, are actually what stabilize and deepen friendships.

Consider how you can mature and advance your current relationships in such a way that you actually could develop a few paragraphs on what makes them who they are. You’re ability to put 4’s on these questions means you know them fairly well, which means you also can speak to their heart issues more accurately. Sometimes, being “gospel fluent” begins with simply listening.


Posted by Luke Thomas with

Resources for Gospel Centrality

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As I’ve grown over the last 25 years as a Chrsitain, I’ve watched various doctrines or beliefs change how I see God, myself, and, well really everything. For instance, Learning of God’s sovereignty changed how I saw salvation, suffering, my marriage, and even my anxiety. God’s hospitality to outsiders edited how I evangelized, and prayed. Of all the shifts in my theology however, none created as much of a sea change as the centrality of the gospel for all of living. 

 Before 2009, I believed that the gospel was the power of God to save those who trusted themselves to it, but that was as far as it could reach. Once day 2 came, the same powerful gospel wasn’t useful for my marriage, anger, or financial giving - just evangelism. After 2009, God was kind to me in showing me more of the “length, depth, breadth and width” of the gospel for my every day. I now saw racism and sex through the eyes of the gospel. I saw sleep and work through the prism of the gospel. Even enjoying food and music was altered by the deep reach of the gospel. 

 Certainly, God used key passages to accomplish this. I’d read, meditate, and the Holy Spirit would quicken the truth in my heart of hearts. Passages like the Prodigal Son or Paul reminding the Corinthian church to re-centralize the gospel, and even Jesus telling the Ephesians to return to the gospel. I also had books by men who were ahead of me in the same path. I grew through their writing to see the various shades and hear the various chords of the same true and great story. I grew through this story applied to everything from evangelism to church planting. 

 I read and re-read these books and thought it helpful to line them out for you. If you were to build a small library, start with these books. Read them slowly, take notes, interact with them. When they cite passages, go the the Bible and follow along. When you finish, type up a book report (yup, just like in middle school). Develop a robust theology on how the gospel is the best story ever told - the story we’ve received, stand in, and carry with us. 

 In somewhat of a vague order...

  • The Gospel Transformation Bible
  • The Explicit Gospel, Chandler & Wilson
  • Gospel Deeps, Wilson
  • The Gospel, Ortlund
  • Gospel Fluency, Vandersteldt
  • The Transforming Power of the Gospel, Bridges
  • The Unbelievable Gospel, Dodson
  • The Jesus Storybook Bible, Lloyd-Jones
  • Note to Self, Thorn
  • The Gospel for Real Life, Bridges
  • The Gospel as Center, Carson & Keller
  • Fifty Reasons Jesus Came To Die, Piper
  • The Return of The Prodigal Son, Nouwen
  • The Pursuit of Holiness, Bridges

 I hope these help. Feel free to leave a comment below regarding titles I may have missed. I’m still building my gospel library until Jesus comes to renew everything and bring home to us. 

Posted by Luke Thomas with
Tags: books, gospel

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