How to Prepare Messages and Bible Studies in a Gospel-Centered Way

RightNow Conference 2013


In this 46-minute breakout session from the 2013 RightNow Conference, J.D. Greear lays out what it means to be gospel-centered. He clarifies the message and purpose of the gospel, and gives four practical ways to be gospel-centered in all you do. J.D. is Lead Pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, NC. He has authored numerous books including Gospel and Stop Asking Jesus into Your Heart.

As you watch this session, take notes and write down thoughts about how this session can impact your life and ministry.


What J.D. experienced could be considered a "gospel awakening," but prior to this revelation of gospel centrality he saw it as something to move past as you grew in faith. Describe your view of the gospel in the life of the believer. How did you come to view the gospel the way that you do?
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J.D. described the two ways to try to bring a change in someone—external force or internal force. How have you witnessed each in ministry? Do you agree with J.D.'s conclusion that internal force is the only way to see lasting change in someone's life? Why or why not?
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Mark 12:28-30 (ESV)

The Great Commandment

28And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?”29Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.30And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


J.D. noted that the irony of the Greatest Commandment is that we are commanded to love. Have you ever found irony in that? Think about the people, places, and things that you love most in life. What made you love them in the first place? How does the heart come to love someone or something?
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1 John 4:19 (ESV)

19We love because he first loved us.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


Citing the verse above, J.D. explained that Christian obedience does not flow out of a will to obey, but out of a revelation of the gospel—God’s love for us. Examine your motivations for obeying the imperatives of Scripture. Are you compelled to obey in search of God's acceptance, or does God's unmerited acceptance of you move you to obey Him? How often do you reflect on God's unconditional love for you?
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J.D. relayed four ways to be gospel-centered in the way you preach, teach, and lead:
  1. Constantly drive home the revolutionary nature of the gospel.
  2. Let the gospel saturate everything you teach.
  3. Help your people know their place in the bigger story.
  4. Have your goal at the end of every sermon, small group, etc. be worship.

Look through the list above. Where do you need to let the gospel penetrate your own heart? Do you grasp the revolutionary nature of the gospel? Does the gospel saturate everything you do and think? Do you live your life in light of God's bigger story or as though you are the center of the universe? Does the gospel move you to worship?
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Where does the gospel need to penetrate your preaching and teaching? How can you encourage those you lead with the liberating news of the gospel?
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Whether you, like J.D., experienced an awakening to the gospel in the past, or you are currently experiencing it, or you are still skeptical of its A-to-Z-ness, focus upon what God has done on your behalf. Let the reality of Christ's life, death, and resurrection stir your affections for His Name. “The greatest gift you can give your people is to burn with passion for Jesus, because then that gets contagious, and then they change, because the gospel changes them.”


For information about the upcoming RightNow Conference, go to rightnowconferences.org.