Format: Sound Plus Doctrine PodcastDownload Session
This episode of Sound + Doctrine is the third of five focusing on what really matters to God in our Sunday gatherings. Devon Kauflin joins us as we talk about the importance of our meetings being Christ centered and Gospel driven.
Scriptures referenced: Col. 1:18; Eph. 1:9-10; Rev. 5:11-14; Gal. 2:20; Is. 6:5; Eph. 2:4-5; Ps. 34:8; Rom. 8:32; Rom. 3:19; Rom. 11:23-26
Have a question about this episode? Shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
David Zimmer: This episode of S+D is the third of five focusing on what really matters to God in our Sunday gatherings. Devon Kauflin joins us as we talk about the importance of our meetings be Christ-centered and gospel-driven. Thanks for joining us.
DZ: Welcome to the Sound Plus Doctrine Podcast. My name is David Zimmer.
Bob Kauflin: And I’m Bob Kauflin.
DZ: And we are joined by…
BK: Some random guy who just happened to show up.
DZ: Yeah, random guy we found outside.
Devon Kauflin: Hey, it’s good to be here guys.
DZ: What are we talking about? [chuckle]
BK: We were having a good time. Devon.
DZ: This is Devon Kauflin and he has been with us on this podcast. This is actually part three of a series that we are doing. If you haven’t heard the part one and part two, you should go back and take a listen on those.
BK: You better… You cannot listen to this one until you listen to those two.
DZ: Maybe, maybe not.
BK: Okay, I guess we can’t make them.
DZ: But we are talking about a lot of different core values. And so Bob, what have we covered already?
BK: Well, we’ve covered that our meetings… We’re talking about core values of the corporate gathering. What should the church be focused on as we gather? So first, it was that our meetings should be God-initiated and exalting. And then last time we talked about they should be Scripture-governed and fueled. And I should say for each of these categories, there’s so much more we could talk about, but we’re kind of using this as an opportunity to flesh out some of our own thoughts on this and because we think it’s so important that we be clear on what we’re aiming at and what we’re seeking to do when we gather. So the third core value would be that our gathering should be Christ-centered and gospel-driven. And we’ve gone back and forth on this like, how do we phrase it? Is it gospel-centered and driven or is it Christ-centered? Christ-driven? That doesn’t sound right there. And the reason is because when you say a meeting is Christ-exalting… That’s taken from Colossians 1:18, places like Colossians 1:18, where Paul says that, “Jesus, he is the head of the body, the church, he is the beginning, the first born from the dead that in everything he might be preeminent.”
BK: So we are to be exalting Christ. He is to be the center of everything, we are… That’s what history is hurdling towards. Everything being summed up in Christ, it says in Ephesians 1, everything is going to fall under him. So Christ is to be the center of our meetings, our gatherings and our lives, but when you say that we can forget, unbelievably at times, what is the center of what Christ came to do on the earth, which was to be our substitute on the cross, to take our punishment, received the wrath of God. He became sin. He who knew no sin became sin for us. God made him to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. He paid for our transgressions. He was the propitiation, satisfying God’s wrath against us so that we could be justified in God’s sight, adopted into his family, forgiven of all our sins and be… Enjoy the fellowship of the triune God. So that’s the gospel, the heart of the gospel. And so our meetings should be about Christ and what he’s done. So Devon, you look like you’re about to share some thoughts or…
DK: I just wanted to add to that. I think it’s so helpful as we talk about these things, one, to keep in mind that which we’re denying. So to be Christ-centered means we’re not man-centered, we’re not experience-centered, we’re centered on Christ. But then I also think it’s good to keep the end in mind, the… I mean, we’ve been talking about aims, but the end of all things is around the throne of God and we see how Christ is exalted there. And to your point, just we can say we’re Christ-centered and fail to delve into the glories of the gospel. But when we look at Revelation 4 and 5 in particular, and that’s one of the places where often times we’ll go to talk about how incredible it is to see just this diversity around the throne, and in one sense, we can approach those texts and the corporate worship of the church as one that is more experience-centered. And so, isn’t this so great that God brings together this diverse group of people? And yes and amen, it is so great. But what’s so great about it is not so much this experience, as wonderful as that is.
DK: What’s so great about it is the one we are focused on. And so he’s revealed that… Revelation 5, “Then I looked and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders, the voice of many angels numbering myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, ‘Worthy is the lamb who was slain to receive power and wealth and wisdom, and might, and honor, and glory, and blessing.’ And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them saying, ‘To him who sits on the throne and to the lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever.'” So because of that vision, that day that we are anticipating, that day to which all history is moving towards, we must be Christ-centered. And that means gospel-driven as well in our gatherings.
BK: Yes, yes. And it’s not… It just seems so obvious. All of these things we’ve covered thus far and will cover… It just seems to be so obvious, but we regularly miss it. We gather together and we somehow make it about us and what we’ve done. Every meeting tells a story. We’re telling a story about something that’s significant, whether it’s where we’ve been and where we’re going or who we are, but the story that God calls his people to proclaim again and again throughout history, is the story of his deliverance, in other… We were condemned. Adam and Eve rejected God. They turned away from him, were cast out of his presence, they rejected his authority, and now, God has said, “I will redeem you back to myself. I will bring you back to myself and forever and ever, you will be proclaiming how I delivered you.” I’m in the Book of Exodus in my Bible reading, it’s one of the places I am right now, and it’s just the story of God delivering his people from the slavery of Egypt. And so he calls his people together at Mount Sinai and says, “I am the Lord, your God who delivered you out of Egypt from your slavery.” And they’re to celebrate that and they’re to live in the light of that. And so every time we gather now…
BK: After Christ, it’s the same thing, only now we’re proclaiming a greater deliverance, much greater, that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh to live the life we could never lived, a perfect obedience to the Father, to be our sin-bearing substitute incurring the wrath of God, rising from the dead, and we look back and we say, “What a deliverance!” and how can we not be Christ-centered? And as Devon just said, that’s what we’re headed towards. In the New Heavens and the New Earth, we’re gonna be doing a lot of things, but one of the primary things we’re gonna be doing is just being amazed again and again at what Jesus has done and who He is. And I think one of the reasons it’s helpful to say Christ-centered and gospel-driven is that those who believe in the gospel-centered theology, a gospel-centered Bible or gospel-centered meetings, we can make gospel this category that’s separate from the person of Christ.
DZ: That’s good.
BK: Jesus is the Gospel.
DZ: Yeah, yeah.
BK: And when we make it just a doctrine, we lose that relationship. We aren’t saved by a doctrine, we’re saved by a person.
BK: And that is Jesus Christ, and it’s, you know… It’s hard to think of an analogy, but what Jesus did to save us, He did because He loved us. He loved us and gave Himself for us. Paul says in Galatians 2, “He loved me and gave Himself for me.” Or that may be one… In another place. He says both. And that’s… Paul was just undone by that, and we should be undone by that, and every week when we gather, it should be evident, we’re undone by this. This is not like, “Well, we’ve got the doctrine right, we’ve got all the points together in the right places, we’re singing the right kinds of songs, we’re making sure the songs and all the words are right or not.”
BK: It’s like, “Can you believe this?” It should produce such a, “Can you believe this?” We’re a bunch of losers, we were condemned, we were going to hell, we deserve eternal damnation and instead, we get to gather in the presence of God. His Spirit is here, Jesus is here, we get to celebrate His kindness to us. He’s kind! He’s not condemning, He’s good, He’s not harsh, He’s loving, He’s not rejecting us, He’s our Father!
DK: Amen, Amen.
BK: And it’s all because of Jesus. And what a reason to wake up every Sunday morning and go, “Yeah, I can’t wait. I was glad when they said, let us go to the House of the Lord. I can’t wait”, because we’re gonna center our thoughts and our minds and everything we do around this Jesus who redeemed a people for His glory.
DZ: Yeah, and it’s some… Like you just said, it’s somehow shocking that we forget that or we move past it so quickly.
DZ: So how do you… How do you do that? I mean, like in your corporate gatherings when you say, you know…
BK: That’s the question, isn’t it?
DZ: Gospel-driven, how do you approach the songs you sing and the liturgy you choose and your gatherings to not move past the fact that, “This is an amazing news.”
DZ: Like, “Don’t miss this.”
BK: Yeah, I mean, I have a ton of thoughts, but…
DK: I do as well, I’ll just share a couple…
BK: Maybe you should go… Okay. [chuckle]
DK: It ties back to… We talked about being scripture-fueled in our corporate worship and it goes back to that. And the God that we see revealed in Scripture, we have to see Him as He is and for who He is, and in His glory, in His holiness, in His independence even. I mean, God is other than us, doesn’t need us. So in order to grasp the glory and beauty of the gospel, first we do have to see God as He is.
BK: Yes, yes.
DK: Apart from us. So that’s one of the things that we seek to do each and every week.
DZ: Yeah, yeah.
DK: We seek to behold something of the glory and greatness of God. As we do that… I think Isaiah 6 presents it so well, where we see Isaiah has this vision of the throne room, and he sees the Holy, Holy, Holy God, and his response is one, “Woe is me, for I am a man of unclean lips.”
DK: Like, once we see God, it’s… We can’t come near Him, we can’t approach Him, it’s just… All we can say is, “Woe is me.” And it’s interesting, I think, when we look around at how a lot of churches gather, I don’t think “Woe is me” is really a category that we often have.
DZ: It’s not the posture.
BK: Well, I…
BK: I preached on that passage and heard others preach on it, and have… It doesn’t take preaching to see this. He says in verse 5, Isaiah 6 verse 5, the reason we don’t say “Woe is me” much, “I said, Woe is me for I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips, for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts.” And it struck me that the reason we don’t hear, “Woe is me” very much is because…
DK: ‘Cause we don’t see the King.
BK: We don’t see the King very much.
BK: We come together… And it gets back to us being impressed with our own offerings, and it’s not… If the goal of your church or your mindset is, we just need to get bigger production system, bigger band, better instruments, better musicians, and… I mean, you might need better musicians, but if that’s your goal and thinking, “That’s what’s gonna help everything”, your sights are way too low, and they could be the exact opposite of what God intends. He wants us to see the King.
DK: Amen. That’s good.
BK: And it’s what you were saying Dev, I think… And unless we as leaders are seeing the King in our personal devotions, in our times with the Lord in our daily lives, it’s gonna feel real fake, getting up in front of people and trying to help them see the King, ’cause we don’t think He’s that impressive. But He’s really impressive, and the gospel doesn’t make any sense unless we see God as this holy, righteous, other than us, King, whose, Transcendent, Sovereign King, who rules, sustains everything and we’re accountable to Him. Otherwise, the gospel is just not that big a deal.
DK: Yeah, it’s shocking. We shouldn’t be shocked, because we’re sinful people, but how… I think how much more easily we are impressed with our and by our pious intentions, as we’ve talked about, we’re impressed by our offerings more than or sooner than we are impressed by who God is. So if we’re gonna be gospel-driven we have to, I love how you say it, see the King and when we see the King we respond by confessing our sin, by acknowledging that woe is me and who am I to come to God? Who am I to know God? Who am I to receive from God, hear from God? And then when we’re at that point what profound joy that we should feel when we see that he came to us, though we were dead in our sins…
DK: He’s made us alive together with Christ.
BK: Because of His great love for us.
DK: Because of His great love for us. And so for us week-to-week we seek to have that rhythm expressed in our gatherings and that looks different ways.
DK: It’s expressed in different way, but that rhythm is always there.
BK: When you say the rhythm, talk about that.
DK: Yeah, this rhythm of… I’ve heard some people refer to it as adoration.
DK: It’s just this acknowledgement of the glory of God, this desire to see the King, this contemplation of who He is in His glory and His greatness. Then the second part of that rhythm is just our acknowledgement of our sin and it’s interesting. You read Calvin’s Institutes and where he sets up his institutes is… It all begins with knowledge. We cannot know God without knowledge of ourselves, we cannot know ourselves without knowledge of God and we need both of those things. And both of those things are seen not in this self-aware and elevating perspective on ourselves, it’s us in our, “Wow, we’re really messed up.”
BK: Yes. Yeah, that’s right. Who we really are.
DK: It’s who we really are. So there is that rhythm, adoration, confession, we’ll say.
DK: And then for the people of God, assurance.
BK: God has really done something about us.
DK: And its assurance… Yeah, God has bridged this gap that, oh, I cannot fathom bridging. I can’t bridge it on my own.
DK: And so then… And then that… We respond then with gratitude and thankfulness and joy at what God has done.
DZ: Yeah, and I don’t… I think, Bob, to a point that you said, I don’t think we should gloss over that, if you’re not doing this, if you’re leading the singing or you’re preaching, if you’re not doing this in your own quiet times, if you’re not seeking the King, it’s not fueling your obedience to Him, that will be disingenuous and that will not encourage others to see the King.
BK: Absolutely, absolutely. We wanna tell other people what we’ve seen.
DK: Yeah, bear witness.
BK: Yes. Yeah, yeah.
DK: We wanna bear witness to what we’ve seen.
BK: David didn’t say taste and see that the Lord is good in Psalm 34, because he just thought it was a good idea. He had tasted and seen that the Lord is good. Getting back to your specific question, how do we do this? I think one of the ways is by presenting the gospel clearly and I think too many times we assume it. And I think it was… I forget who said it, but we’re always one generation from losing the gospel or one generation knows the gospel, the next generation assumes it, the next generation forgets it.
DZ: That’s so great.
BK: And we just can never assume it.
BK: There is a beauty and a joy and a… There’s a fresh zeal for Christ when I think about the specifics of what he has done and just never assume that, “Yeah, of course, people know this.” So we present it clearly and then I think… So in our songs, in our scriptures, in our teaching, in our prayers, but then we also present it compellingly and that comes from the personal experience of just knowing this really matters, this really makes a difference in my life, it should make a difference in your life too. And that is a way that, too, we, or I should say a time that we connect Christ’s sacrifice for us, his resurrection, with everything else in life. So for instance, Romans 8:32, “For He who did not spare His own son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things?” Well, that scripture is arguing from the greater to the lesser, if he did not spare his own son but gave him up for us all, how will he not give us all things that are good for us? If we don’t realize what that first part says, we’re not… We’re gonna have a hard time believing the second part. And what the first part says is, you had absolutely no hope before God, nothing. The very best you could do, put the son of God on the cross in your place to incur the wrath of God.
BK: And earlier, as you were talking, Devon, I was thinking about Romans 3:19, after Paul goes through these three chapters of saying how, if you’re Jewish you’re condemned, if you’re an unbeliever, you’re condemned, ’cause no one lives up to God’s standards. And then he says in verse 19, Chapter 3, “Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped and the whole world may be held accountable to God.” So that’s where we’re at, the whole world is being held accountable to God and none of us lives up to God’s standards except for Jesus.
BK: And that’s why when I stand in front of people and sing a song about, “Your blood has washed away my sins, Jesus, thank you”, I don’t wanna be singing that in a perfunctory way, I wanna be singing that with the awareness that, “Oh, you washed away my sins this morning, you washed away my sins from yesterday, from this past week, from last month, the last… ” All my life and all the sins I’m yet… I’ve yet to commit, you’ve washed them all away. It’s like, “And now on the cross as Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied.” It’s like, “Wow, this is amazing.” So clearly, compellingly, and consistently. I think we just start to think, well, there are other emphases we can do, we can start… This has been a test this past year with COVID, with racial things, with climate change. There’re just all kinds of things that we can be distracted by, not that things aren’t important, but we can’t lose sight of what is our greatest problem and our greatest solution and that is Jesus Chri… Our greatest problem was that we were separated from God, and he provided the answer for us in Jesus Christ, which is why every time we gather, Christ is to be our center.
BK: Christ… And what he’s done is to drive our affections and our responses, and I would say our identity. I mean, if our meetings are Christ-centered and gospel-driven, they should be diverse. We should allow for different political opinions, we should be able to have people of different ethnicities and cultures and races together worshipping God, because our identity isn’t in our ethnicity or our background or experience or in our social status, it’s in Christ and that’s a real thing. Now, it may take some getting used to, but the Gospel gives us hope that in Christ, we have been brought near to God through the power of the Spirit.
DK: Amen. And I think all that you’re saying highlights the importance of the practice of the Lord’s Supper.
BK: Yes, good. Yeah.
DK: And there’s a specific way that Jesus wants to be remembered by his people, and so…
BK: Yes. Isn’t it amazing?
DK: It is remarkable. And so 1 Corinthians 10, Paul’s writing, when you come together, talks about the Lord’s supper…
BK: I think it’s 11.
DK: Well, no, and then in first… That’s when you come together.
BK: Oh, got it.
DK: 1 Corinthians 11, when he’s giving specific…
BK: I was surprised to hear you make that mistake, but that’s okay.
DK: Paul writes, “For I receive from the Lord what I also deliver to you, that Lord Jesus on the night when He was betrayed, took bread and when he’d given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, also, He took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this as often as you drink it in remembrance of me.” Then Paul writes, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.” And so, there’s this instruction…
BK: Very simple.
DK: This simple instruction, “Do this in remembrance of me.” Remember what I have done for you, my body broken for you, my blood shed for you and do this until I come, until I return.
BK: Yeah. Yes, yes.
DK: And you were talking about identity and this meal that we share together as God’s people, as the local church is reflective of that identity. And in 1st Corinthians 10, Paul was talking about this participation that we have with one another and with Christ’s body, we are… When we are united to Christ, so Jesus has done this reconciling work for us, redeemed us, we are reconciled to Him, but we’re also reconciled to one another, we’re joined to his body. And so that’s also an expression of what it means to be Gospel-centered, and that’s… When we talk about, specifically diversity as you were just mentioning, that’s where we see this tangible expression, wow, that we have been brought together in the blood of Christ and through this work and to enjoy that and to look forward to that and to, yeah, just rejoice in all that God has done. And I love… You pointed it out earlier, just this is the way that God has always worked since the beginning. And so even in… I was thinking about Psalm 107, and it’s these little stories of people that are just in desperation and in need and everyone… Oh, give thanks to the Lord for He is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.
DK: He has redeemed his people, he has delivered them. And just this consistent refrain of rejoicing in the deliverance we’ve received and that was true under the old covenant, that is true under the new covenant. This is what we rejoice in, this is what we want our gatherings. Any time we gather together, we want to be reminded of this, not only reminded, but stirred by it and rejoice in it.
BK: Yeah, I just thought of this. It’s, this is a… No, I think it’s a true analogy. I’ll be married 45 years in August to the same woman, Julie, just the most amazing woman I’ve ever known. I never get tired of calling to mind the fact that she said yes to my request to asking her to marry me. At the time, I didn’t realize how great a thing it was. In fact, this past Valentine’s Day, I gave her a Valentines Day card, ’cause that was the kind of the beginning of our relationship back in 1972. I gave her a Valentine’s Day card and with 16 other girls and she was the only one who responded and it’s a bad story. If you wanna read it, you can Google Redeeming Valentine’s Day. But anyway, I told her, if I knew now what I knew then, I would have not given a Valentine’s Day card to any other person. I would have just given it to you alone and I would have gotten down on my knees and begged you to take this card, because… Knowing what God was gonna do, but I never get tired of rehearsing the fact that God brought us together. Well, how much more should we never get tired of rehearsing the fact that God has reconciled us to himself.
BK: It’s like where we were headed was eternal damnation, and now where we’re headed is eternal pleasures at His right hand. It’s just incredible.
DK: Yeah, praise God.
BK: So may we never tire of that and may we… And may being Gospel-driven, Gospel-focused, Gospel-centered never become just a slogan.
BK: It’s biblical and it’s what our gatherings are meant to inspire as we gather that we come out of those meetings, freshly grateful, freshly humbled by, freshly amazed by the fact that God would send Jesus Christ, His Son, to pay for our sins, reconcile us to Himself and adopt us into his family. It’s amazing.
DZ: Amen. It is amazing. Thank you so much for joining us and we will…
BK: Looking forward to the next time.
DZ: Continue this conversation. Yeah.