I once assumed the gospel was simply what non-Christians must believe in order to be saved, while afterward we advance to deeper theological waters. But I’ve come to realize that ” the gospel isn’t the first step in a stairway of truths, but more like the hub in a wheel of truth.” In other words, once God rescues sinners, his plan isn’t to steer them beyond the gospel, but to move them more deeply into it. All good theology, in fact, is an exposition of the gospel.
In my own awakening to discover the truth of what Tullian is talking about, God used a small-town Lutheran pastor. I don’t remember his name—he was the pastor of the tiny Lutheran church in High Level, Alberta during the time I was the associate pastor at High Level Evangelical Church. The local evangelical pastors—the Baptist guy, the Full-Gospel youth pastor, the Lutheran pastor, the senior pastor at our church and myself—met periodically to challenge and encourage each other. During some of those get-togethers, the Lutheran (I really wish I could remember his name!) talked about a podcast he listened to called, “The Whitehorse Inn”. Honestly, for quite a while, I couldn’t understand why he was so excited about some podcast from a bunch of guys up in the Yukon.
In time my friend corrected my misunderstanding and gave me a cd with some WHI podcast recordings on it. The result? I began to wake up to the Gospel truths in a new way. The same Gospel truths that had awakened the Reformers. I was already Calvinistic in my soteriology (I had cut my teeth on Strong’s Systematic Theology when I was 15 had been regularly consulting Gill’s Exposition of Scripture for 5 or 6 years). I was already pretty Reformed (A. A. Hodge’s Outlines of Theology had made a big impression on me when I was 17-18). But the fuller implications of the Gospel for living the Christian life had not sunk in yet.
The funny thing about it: Those recordings of the WHI were all from the year they worked methodically through the book of Romans, discussing the interpretation of each passage (in which Paul preaches, explains and defends the Gospel). So it was the Gospel that woke me up to the Gospel. Go figure.