A gospel culture blooms in soil that is enriched both by sound doctrine and God’s love. There is an ever-growing love relationship between the believer and the triune God. “We love Him because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). This love then spills over to all people in acts of generosity and kindness. “As we have opportunity let us do good to all,” Paul wrote, “especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10). While the world may not share our values they desperately want to see our gospel culture work. They want the church to act like the church. It is both to their benefit and ours. In his book The Gospel: How the Church Portrays the Beauty of Christ, Ray Ortlund addresses this clearly. “The test of a gospel-centered church is its doctrine on paper plus its culture in practice. . . . If a church’s gospel culture has been lost, or was never built, the only remedy is found at the feet of Christ. That church needs a fresh rediscovery of his gospel in all its beauty. It needs to prayerfully reconsider everything it believes and practices. Nothing is gained by merely repackaging the church in forms more attractive to outsiders. . . . Any church in any denomination today that falls short of the gospel of Christ in either doctrine or culture will inevitably collapse under the extreme pressure of our times.”
To that I echo a hearty amen. The gospel’s power is best seen when the love of God is best seen. We are to use God’s power to display God’s love. “The love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:5).