This is adapted from the ministry information packet we send to churches as we seek support. Since few read this, I wanted to share it on a broader stage.
Gospel-centered is a buzzword that many are throwing around. Often it is used to deemphasize doctrinal differences. Sometimes it is used to create a libertine environment. This is not what I mean at all. The obvious question is why use a phrase that has some less than stellar baggage attached to it.
Well, we are Gospel-centered people though. Being centered on the Gospel does not lessen our need for holy living---it increases it. Paul makes this point in Romans 6. Just because we are under grace does not mean that we sin more. Rather, Paul speaks of the love of Christ constraining him.
How does this play out for our ministry? The Gospel is not the key just to a person's salvation, and then they must try really hard and follow all the rules. This misconception often results in preaching that is simply moralizing. "Do this. Don't do that." The problem is that "without faith it is impossible to please Him [God]." (Hebrews 11:6) The New Testament presents our continual need of Christ, and our acceptance by God is never found in our works but in Christ's finished work on the Cross.
This does not mean that we do not believe in the preaching of "do this, don't do that". It does mean that this preaching is couched in a completely different set of motivations and presuppositions (see the book of Galatians). Furthermore, the ability to perform is also dependent on God giving us a new heart and His indwelling Spirit as part of the New Covenant. Both are made possible by the Gospel.
The Gospel is the heart of the Bible. It is the culmination. It is not a high spot to be hit early on in our Christian life and then only occasionally revisited. No! It is to be the heart of our Christian life. It is not to be moved past but delved into.
And that is what we pray the Lord will enable us to do.