I had the privilege of meeting a Pastor by the name of Jonathan Dodson a few weeks back at the Lausanne Movement North American Young Leader's Gathering in Madison. Jonathan is a Pastor of a church of creatives, thinkers and professionals comprised of famlies and singles in Austin, TX. I've followed his online posts for a while, and was really looking forward to meeting him and getting to know him more. Since then, I thoroughly enjoyed his book Gospel Centered Discipleship. It was one of those books I knew I was going to love before I even read a word. And I did. I want to share with you the foreword to Jonathan's book, by another Pastor named Matt Chandler:
"As a Pastor, I constantly pray and engage the people of the Village Church to keep what is "of first importance" at the center of their thinking, in both their justification and their sanctification. Over the years, I have become painfully aware that people tend to drift away from the gospel soon after their conversion and begin to try their hand at sanctification. In other words, they operate as if the gospel saves them but doesn't play a role in sanctifying them. In the end, people become exhausted and miss out on the joy of knowning and walking with the Spirit of God. They miss out on intimacy with Jesus.
This is why I think Paul keeps preaching the gospel to people who already know it. He does it in Romans, 1 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians. Over and over, he preaches the gospel to people who know the gospel. Why does he do that? He tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:1-2: "Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received" - past tense - "in which you stand" - perfect tense - which tells us that the Corinithians disciples stood in the gospel in the past and continued to stand in the gospel. We see that the gospel was recieved, and now it is holding them up. So the gospel not only saves me, but it also sustains me. Paul continues: "and by which you are being saved." - present tense. The gospel is good news for our past, it continues to be good news for the present, and will remain that way for all eternity.
The book you are holding is of significant help in keeping the gospel of first importance. Jonathan is going to clearly and biblically unpack how the gospel plays the lead in not only how we are saved, but also how we are sanctified. I have used the material in small group discipleship for over a year and am grateful that it is now being published. I have witnessed a great deal of fruit in my life as well as in the lives of those I walk closely with. The chapter on the Holy Spirit was especially powerful for me, and I have found myself going back and reading it over and over again.
As a Pastor and a man who desires to lead other men into maturity, I wish there were more resources like Gospel Centered Discipleship. Dodson's Spirit-led, gospel-centered, organically relational, and authentic book is such a rare jewel. I am grateful for Jonathan. He is a good friend and an even better ally in the gospel. God has used him to teach me much, and I pray the Spirit would use this book in your hands to challenge and change your heart and the way you view and do discipleship."