What Do We Mean by ‘Going Deeper’?

By Jared Wilson

John Calvin writes, “Christ is, as it were, a fountain, open to us, from which we may draw what otherwise would lie unprofitably hidden in that deep and secret spring.”1

This is the Jesus whose gospel we receive, and this is the Jesus we receive in the gospel!

When some friends and I were once leading a church’s young adult ministry, we were called to a meeting with our pastor. He was relatively new to the church and was getting to know the ministry leaders, and this meeting was especially important as we had some internal conflicts on our team regarding the focus of our ministry.

“What is it you want this ministry to offer?” the pastor asked us.

My co-leader, who is really the guy who founded the ministry as a Bible study in his living room, explained how he had begun by trying to respond to a need he discerned among college students and young adults to “go deeper.”

The pastor kinda-sorta flinched. Like many men in his position, he had heard this phrase plenty of times, usually as a part of criticism of his preaching or teaching. The underlying assertion is that what we normally receive at church is shallow or superficial. I have since heard and read plenty of pastors complain in their sermons or on their blogs about people in their church who want deeper teaching. These folks are usually derided and accused of being consumeristic babies or legalistic eggheads. Certainly some of those types have made this complaint.

The problem is that we think we know what deep is. We think “going deep” means studying the end times or the Calvinism/Arminianism debate. We think that deeper teaching means less application or more application. We think it means digging into the original languages and getting at the root of the root of the root.2

“What does ‘deep’ mean?” our pastor asked me. I was the ministry’s teacher, after all.

I said, “Deep means Jesus.”

I am afraid there weren’t many in the room who understood that, even after I explained that every teaching ought to center on or highlight Jesus, and that this could never get old or stale because Jesus can’t be boring. There’s too much of him. And not only is Jesus the person we’re supposed to be most interested in, he happens to be the most interesting person in the universe anyway.

The gospel is deep with grace abounding because Jesus is deep with grace abounding. This good news reflects the person and work of the One who is good—Christ, who is as perfect as he is complex, full as he is eternal, beautiful as he is omnipotent.

***

This excerpt is taken from Gospel Deeps by Jared C. Wilson, available now from Faithlife Ebooks. Copyright © 2012 by Jared C. Wilson. Published by Crossway, Wheaton, IL., www.crossway.org.

  1.  John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, ed. John T. McNeill, trans. Ford Lewis Battles, 2 vols. (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1960), 1:729.
  2. I highly recommend D.A. Carson’s Exegetical Fallacies (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1996) for the guardrails it provides for this kind of thinking.
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