is a blogger, pastor, and author. His latest book Gospel Wakefulness
I’m grateful to Jared for taking the time to be interviewed.
The gospel is earth-shaking. Why is it so easy to become numb to it?
Because we are stubborn and flesh-fixated. Because we’re sinners and have to reset to gospel mode every day. I also think we get trained to think that the gospel is just relevant at the earth-shaking of conversion, so we reason that the Christian life is about moving on, or graduating, to “normal” spiritual things.
How did you become so fixated on the gospel in your own life and ministry?
Out of the train-wreck I made of my marriage. I had killed my marriage with secret sins and selfishness, and when I realized I had lost what was most important to me, I also began drowning in a depression that led me to think off and on about taking my own life. I spent a lot of time just crying out to God. He should have been my first hope, but it wasn’t until all other hopes had been taken away that he became my only hope. And in one vivid repentant moment of crying out to him, face down on the guest bedroom floor where I had banished myself, I heard the Spirit say to my heart, “I love you and I approve of you.” I knew of course that God did not approve of what I had done or of my sinful self, but I knew he approved of me in Christ. Like the prodigal son in the pigsty, I “came to myself” in that moment. And while I am still a sinful, struggling, idiotic person, I know a joy in Jesus now I had not before, and it has shaped my life and drives my ministry today.
What would you say to someone who thinks that “gospel-centered” is a passing fad?
That they could be right. Only time will tell. I don’t think it is a fad, however, because of the variety within the movement of various movements, denominations, generations, and organizations. And the similarity it bears to historical recoveries of the gospel. But, yes, it’s quite possible that in seeking gospel-centrality in the church, we are deceiving ourselves with a sort of sloganeering gospel-centered-centrality. We have to be on guard about that and remember to delight in Jesus more than a movement. I don’t think it’s a passing fad, but I want to be cautious and realistic about human nature.
How does “Gospel Wakefulness” apply to some of the recent controversies about how we’re sanctified?
The way I develop gospel wakefulness in the book upholds the passive nature of salvation — that we are saved totally by God’s grace received through faith — while rebuking any passivity in worship. In other words, this is not the Keswick type “let go and let God” kind of thing. Two chapters in particular hone in on identifying idols, killing sin, and embracing the spiritual disciplines of Scripture reading and prayer. Wakened people “move.” Nobody becomes holy by accident. Gospel wakefulness comes at sanctification from the angle that justification drives sanctification; that our part in the work of holiness must be a worshipful response, what awed people do in response to that awe.
Can you tell us about your next book with Matt Chandler?
It’s called The Explicit Gospel
, but it’s not my book with Matt; it’s his book. I was just privileged to assist in the organizing of the material and some of the shaping of his message. But it’s really helpful in that Matt approaches the gospel from the two angles many have turned into a false dichotomy — Creation/Fall/Redemption/Consummation and Man/Sin/Christ/Response. Matt calls these The Gospel in the Air and The Gospel on the Ground and shows how we need both approaches to be faithful to the biblical portrait of the good news of Jesus. He also shows what dangers lay in neglecting one or the other. It releases from Crossway/Re:Lit in April, and we believe it will be a valuable contribution to the gospel-centered movement and the evangelical church at large.