Galatians 2:11-21 has been unsettling me for forty years. Paul rebuked Peter publicly — for what? They agreed on gospel doctrine: “We know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ” (verse 16). But they disagreed on gospel culture: “How can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?” (verse 14). For that, Paul rebuked Peter publicly, openly, bluntly.
Gospel culture is not an optional add-on. It is as necessary to our orthodox integrity as is gospel doctrine. And if that is so, then nothing is more essential to our churches than building them as gospel cultures. If we must preach the gospel in our church doctrine, then equally, we must embody the gospel in our church culture. If we neglect the fullness of this pastoral responsibility, we risk allowing our churches to settle for the truth in theory but a lie in practice, as is terribly obvious in the photograph above.
Two years ago I presented a paper at The Gospel Coalition national gathering in Orlando: “How to build a gospel culture in your church.” The PDF is here: GDGC. I hope it helps.
This post was originally published on The Gospel Coalition