The purpose of this book is not to shake your assurance but to bolster it, and in doing so to invite you deeper into your own spiritual brokenness to find the glistening diamond-riddled cave of the gospel treasure. But if at this point you are scratching your head, stretching your faculties to understand what is meant by divine entertainment, transferred affections, gospel-centrality, and the like, allow me the tender ministry of pressing on your assurance like a doctor would a troublesome extremity. Allow the application of a diagnostic test.
The Scriptures do tell us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling, so the aim of this diagnostic is not to shake your foundation, but to shake off whatever might not be of God that has been erected upon it.
Some signs you have not experienced gospel wakefulness:
1. The gospel doesn’t interest you—or it does, but not as much other religious subjects.
2. You take nearly everything personally.
3. You frequently worry about what other people think.
4. You treat inconveniences like minor (or major) tragedies.
5. You are impatient with people.
6. In general, you have trouble seeing the fruit of the Spirit in your life.
7. The Word of God holds little interest.
8. You have great difficulty forgiving.
9. You are told frequently by a spouse, close friend, or other family members that you are too “clingy” or too controlling.
10. You think someone beside yourself is the worst sinner you know.
11. The idea of gospel-centrality makes no sense to you.
That last diagnostic question raises what I call the “Catch-22” of gospel-centrality.
As a pastor I am frequently faced with questions, either from curious people or from temptation from the devil, about the durability of the gospel week in and week out. It is the centerpiece of my preaching, the central theme of my ministry, the heart of my life, and the joy of my tongue and pen. Occasionally I am faced with this question: Can it not get worn out from all that use?
Here is the Catch-22 of gospel centrality: Whether one “gets it” or not, the prescription for preaching and all of life is still the gospel. The critic of the one-note Johnnyism of gospel-centrality just doesn’t get it. But the gospel is versatile enough for those who do and don’t. And there’s the awesomeness of the gospel-centered life! Those who haven’t yet experienced gospel wakefulness can only do so by hearing the gospel, and those who have experienced gospel wakefulness don’t tire of hearing it!
Either way, the gospel is the answer.
(This is an excerpt from Gospel Wakefulness, coming from Crossway in October.)