I think the first time I heard the phrase ‘gospel amnesia’ was while listening to Paul Tripp. The phrase itself describes the experience of forgetting the gospel. Now, I’m wary that some readers may have never heard the word ‘gospel’ before. So, let me fill you in quickly. The word ‘gospel’ is not necessarily a religious word. In fact, gospel simply means ‘good news’ and a gospel could, for example, be a message that a runner would carry into Roman cities to tell them the good news of a military victory. When Jesus came on to the scene 2,000 years ago, he proclaimed a gospel, and this gospel is central to the Christian faith. The gospel message is that Jesus came to deliver us from our enemies (Satan, Sin and Death), forgive us for our own rebellion and give us a new identity within his new society (called the Church). This wonderful news was based on the work of Jesus alone, there was nothing that we contributed to it, and we call this reality ‘grace’.
Now, ‘gospel amnesia’ does not refer to some kind of ‘memory loss’, as if we forget the details and facts of the Christian message. Rather, gospel amnesia refers to the far more insidious ways we leave this message behind, and it subtly reveals itself in the way we think and live. It shows up in pride, comparison and self-centredness. In fact, thinking too much of ourselves and thinking too little of ourselves are symptoms of the same problem – self-centredness! And the only solution is to go back to the gospel. You see, the gospel takes us outside of ourselves and sets our eyes on someone far more worthy of our time – Jesus. The gospel sets our eyes on our bloody, crucified saviour and produces humility because we were part of the problem that he gave his life to rectify. The gospel cuts through our inclination to compare and places all of us in the category of ‘broken, needy, and helpless’. The gospel destroys ‘pull up your bootstraps’ Christianity and declares with Jesus “It is finished!”. The gospel reminds us that we are more flawed than we ever dared believe, yet more loved than we ever dared dream! Our solution is the gospel!
We never graduate from the gracious message of the gospel. It is not simply the ABC’s of Christianity but the A-Z! It’s not simply where we begin, but where we go back to again and again as we grow in the Christian life. I don’t know about you, but I need things in my life that will continually give me a gospel-reset. Gospel amnesia is just too easy to fall into. Genuine Christian community cannot be replaced as one of God’s favourite tools to use in this area. There’s nothing quite like being a part of a Growth Group and being open with other Christians who love you and pray for you. Michanne, my wife, is especially good at pointing out a lie that I believe or a pride issue rising up. Christian community is key in this area. If you haven’t taken the step to build relationships like this already then I would commend you to do so.
One of the other ways I like to try and keep the gospel central in my life is by reading gospel-centred books and listening to gospel-centred podcasts. Here are a few books and podcasts you might want to check out:
• Gospel Wakefulness (Book) – Jared Wilson
• Gospel (Book) – J. D. Greear
• The Prodigal God (Book) – Timothy Keller
• Immanuel Nashville: Ray Ortlund Audio (Podcast)
• Paul Tripp: Sermon Podcast (Podcast)