The Heart of the Gospel and The Gospel Project: The Atonement
In spring of next year, The Gospel Project team will release the seventh volume of our new curriculum. You may have heard that the Gospel Project recently passed half a million weekly users.
It's a crazy thing—God is using The Gospel Project around the world, in different denominations, to make a difference.
It's a bit intimidating, really, but so encouraging. Just last night, I worked through some edits of this upcoming release. I can't tell you how excited I am.
When we put the Gospel Project together, we talked to a group of advisors for their input and suggestions. They helped shape the topics covered, what we call "scope and sequence." In other words, what should be included and how to best make it flow. We are thankful for out Advisory Council (D.A. Carson, Matt Chandler, James MacDonald, Daniel Akin, J.D. Greear, Eric Mason, Kimberly Thornbury, Jay Noh, Joe Thorn, Juan Sanchez, and Collin Hansen). Partly becuase of their input, we have a three-year cycle with highlights around themes like the atonement. Though the group was a one-time advisory group when we created the curriculum, we are indebted to them for their time and the ideas that shaped the structure we have today.
So, the section we are editing now is focused on the atonement. The heart of the gospel—and, thus, the heart of The Gospel Project—is tied up in the atonement. The atonement has been in the news lately—see this Christianity Today story for more information.
As we work through the three-year cycle of The Gospel Project, we are going through a sequence to cover all the major theological areas in which Christians need to be grounded. We believe that such planned approaches are simply better for stewardship and provide more theological grounding than the hit-and-miss approach of following sermons or doing one-off studies.
Trevin Wax and I will also be taking off our editor caps and also writing some of the lessons for the first time. Needless to say, we think the topic of the atonement is pretty essential. Last week, we finalized our "opening letters" for the series and I thought I'd share them with you. If you'd like more information about The Gospel Project, click here.
Also, we are currently looking for a team leader for The Gospel Project for Kids. We want to enlist someone who is passionate about raising up the next generation, someone who wants to see kids grow in their knowledge of the Scriptures and exhibit a personal, passionate trust in Jesus as Savior and Lord. If you are interested or have recommendations, email Trevin and let him know.
A Word from the Editors
Ed Stetzer—General Editor of The Gospel Project and President of LifeWay Research
Atonement is not a popular topic in society today. It calls to mind the evil that sin is and the necessary wrath that God has toward sin. Who wants to be reminded of their sin? Who wants to hear about a God who hates their sin? Who wants to see themselves as needing forgiveness for their sin? For these reasons, it seems as though talk of atonement has fallen out of favor.
But the atonement, as taught in the Bible, calls even more to mind the unfathomable love of God to send His Son to take away our sins. The amazing grace of God to cover over our sins with the precious and perfect blood sacrifice of the Lamb of God, for that is what atonement means, "covering."
The atonement is indeed a bloody business. Countless animals were slaughtered in the Old Testament to cover the sins of God's people, but this theme of Scripture—this atonement thread—shows the blood of Jesus alone can cover over sins and wash them clean away. Now recognize that the message of God's atoning love is not for us only. We are to call everyone everywhere to behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29).
Few spiritual topics are more divisive and more unifying at the same time. But a biblical understanding of the atonement unifies the Church across tribes, languages, nations, and even time in its mission to make the atonement of Jesus Christ known throughout the world.
Trevin Wax—Managing Editor of The Gospel Project
On December 31, 1961, at 7:30 in the evening, well-known pastor W. A. Criswell began a sermon that would last into the wee hours of the night—"The Scarlet Thread Through the Scriptures." Beginning in Genesis and moving through to Revelation, Criswell traced the theme of atonement through the Scriptures, showing how the Bible is one big story with the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ at the center.
Criswell wasn't the first pastor to trace the theme of atonement through the Bible. And he certainly wouldn't be the last. Throughout the history of the church, pastors and scholars have shown how the stories of the Bible unite to tell one great story of God's glorious plan to seek and save the lost. Seeing how the Bible fits together helps us shine a spotlight on the beauty of Christ's finished work for us. In this volume, we are following the thread of atonement from the garden of Eden all the way to the garden city at the end of the Bible.
From the sacrifices of the Old Testament to the blood-washed robes of white in Revelation, we see the unfolding drama of God's redemption. It's our hope that the significance of the cross of Christ will become clearer and all the more dazzling to you as you walk this journey with your group. May you be empowered, as God's blood-bought saints, to join His work of seeking the lost that others may find salvation in Christ's name.
We're excited and look forward to encouraging 500,000 people in a biblical theology of the atonement.