It’s always helpful to define your terms.
I am hearing the phrase “man-centered Gospel” a lot now. Some argue that certain Christian songs are “man-centered.” Some Christians accuse others of preaching a “man-centered Gospel,” where the focus is more on us than God. Unfortunately, I’ve even seen some Christians use the phrase to easily dismiss other Christians who disagree with their theology.
Let’s carefully define what we mean and do not mean by the phrase “man-centered Gospel.”
What a Man-Centered Gospel Is
Here is how I would define it:
A man-centered Gospel is when the Gospel that we preach does one of two things:
- Claims that we deserved or somehow earned God’s grace.
- Focuses solely on the benefits of our salvation without acknowledging that God is the One who saved us for His glory and that He alone deserves the praise.
In other words, if our Gospel preaches that God saved us because we deserved it or because there is something good in us, then we are preaching a man-centered Gospel. Or if we focus solely on the benefits of our salvation without giving praise to the God who freely gives those benefits to us, then we are preaching a man-centered Gospel.
What a Man-Centered Gospel Is NOT
At the same time, however, some Christians take this too idea far and preach what I call a “man-neglected Gospel.” They believe that if we talk too much about the benefits of salvation, or even how much God loves us, then we are going too far. And this is something that I wholeheartedly disagree with.
Scripture presents the following truths without reservation:
- We are God’s special creation made in His image (Genesis 1:26; Psalm 8).
- God uses us to accomplish His will (Romans 10:14-15; Ephesians 2:10).
- One of God’s primary motivations for saving us was His love (John 3:16; Romans 5:8; 1 John 4:9-11).
- Believers are beneficiaries of salvation and its many spiritual blessings in Christ (Ephesians 1:3-14; 2:1-10).
- God is for us and graciously gives us all things (Romans 8:31-34).
- Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:9).
- We are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession” (1 Peter 2:9).
I could go on and on!
To deny any of these truths is to deny the teaching of Scripture. In the process of being God-centered, we cannot swing too far to the other side and become man-neglected.
By God’s Grace and For His Glory
The idea behind a God-centered Gospel is to make sure that our focus is on how wonderful God is, which is absolutely right. But ironically, if gone too far, this can end up doing the exact opposite of what it intends to do. Here’s why:
God’s glory and grace are revealed most clearly in how He has sent His Son to live a perfect life, die on the cross for our sins, and rise from the dead for our justification.
In Ephesians 1-2, Paul outlines all of the amazing benefits of salvation that God gives to us. He writes that all of this was done “to the praise of his glorious grace” (1:6), “according to this riches of his grace” (1:7), “to the praise of his glory” (1:12, 14), and “so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (2:7).
If we remove what God has done for us out of the equation, then we would be removing some of the most amazing ways that God has chosen to bring glory to His name!
In the end, we should make sure that our focus is on God’s glory and grace and not on ourselves.
At the same time, God has graciously chosen to make us the beneficiaries of His love and salvation!
And for this, we should be moved to praise God all the more!