FamilyLife Today® Podcast

5 Ways to Keep the Gospel Your Family’s First Thing: Jared C. & Becky Wilson

with Jared And Becky Wilson | April 12, 2024
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How do you make the gospel the heart of your family? Jared C. Wilson and his wife Becky are all about deepening your family's love for Jesus and how it can inspire others along the way. Check out 5 sneak peeks from Jared's book, "Love Me Anyway" to see how grace fits in, even in the chaos!

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • Dave and Ann Wilson

    Dave and Ann Wilson are hosts of FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s nationally-syndicated radio program. Dave and Ann have been married for more than 38 years and have spent the last 33 teaching and mentoring couples and parents across the country. They have been featured speakers at FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway since 1993 and have also hosted their own marriage conferences across the country. Cofounders of Kensington Church—a national, multicampus church that hosts more than 14,000 visitors every weekend—the Wilsons are the creative force behind DVD teaching series Rock Your Marriage and The Survival Guide To Parenting, as well as authors of the recently released book Vertical Marriage (Zondervan, 2019). Dave is a graduate of the International School of Theology, where he received a Master of Divinity degree. A Ball State University Hall of Fame quarterback, Dave served the Detroit Lions as chaplain for 33 years. Ann attended the University of Kentucky. She has been active alongside Dave in ministry as a speaker, writer, small-group leader, and mentor to countless wives of professional athletes. The Wilsons live in the Detroit area. They have three grown sons, CJ, Austin, and Cody, three daughters-in-law, and a growing number of grandchildren.

How can you make the gospel the heart of your family? Jared C. Wilson and his wife Becky are all about deepening your family’s love for Jesus, inspiring others along the way.

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5 Ways to Keep the Gospel Your Family’s First Thing: Jared C. & Becky Wilson

With Jared And Becky Wilson
April 12, 2024
| Download Transcript PDF

Jared: “Hey, you’ve got the Holy Spirit inside of you if you’re a believer. You can walk in that truth. You have the power to defeat this sin. You have the power to battle this sin. So, let’s figure out how we can do that together.” That’s the more positive way of saying—it’s not saying, “Your sin doesn’t matter,” it’s not saying “There are no consequences or there are no rules;” it’s just saying—“Hey, you have the power, actually, to walk this route. Let’s walk it together. Let’s figure this out.”


Shelby: Welcome to FamilyLife Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I’m Shelby Abbott, and your hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson. You can find us at

Dave: This is FamilyLife Today!

Dave: Alright, FamilyLife Today: “Friday Five.”

Ann: Woo-hoo!

Dave: We’ve got another “Friday Five,” where we give you the five most life-changing, life-altering, deep,—

Ann: —biblical.

Dave: Yes, it’s going to change your life. You cannot turn this thing off right now. [Laughter] We’ve got Jared and Becky Wilson—

Jared: —that’s a lot of pressure.

Dave:back in the studio.

Ann: No pressure though, you guys.

Dave: You talk about good. It’s going to be beyond good; it’s going to be the greatest of the greatest because it’s “Wilson squared.”

Jared: That’s right.

Ann: That’s right.

Dave: I just came up with that.

Ann: Jared and Becky Wilson; Dave and Ann Wilson.

Dave: And no, we’re not related. They have a lot more hair than we do [Laughter] –or than I do. It’s something like that! We’ve had you guys on the last couple of days. Thank you. It’s been awesome. It’s really been awesome. We’ve got to let our listeners know [that] this is just out of nowhere. We came up with this at the end of the session yesterday.

Ann: Because we know it’s going to be rich.

Dave: Yes. This morning, Jared, you did a devotional for our team here—the audio team at FamilyLife—about five essentials for a gospel-centered life, I guess. You gave us three. Somehow, in the next 20 minutes Ann and I have to come up with two. [Laughter] But we’re going to call today—

Jared: It’s going to be good. You’ve already said it’s going to be rich and life transforming so—

Dave: —it’s going to be rich.

Jared: —I can’t wait.

Dave: How about overpromise, underdeliver? How about that one?

But it’s five essentials today. It’s going to be “Five Essentials for a Gospel-Centered Marriage and Family.”

Ann: Let’s stop there, because we talk about gospel-centered, gospel-rich.

Jared: Yes.

Ann: We just throw out those terms, and some people are thinking, “What does that mean? What do you mean by that? Because I hear those words all the time, but what does it really mean?”

Jared: That’s the concern, and why I have these three implications for the substance of gospel centrality is because it’s become more of a cultural identifier. It’s become sort of trendy jargon to say, “We have gospel-centered messages, and we go to our gospel groups and have gospel pizza with our gospel friends—" [Laughter] “–on our gospel Thursday nights.”

Dave: You drink gospel milk from a gospel cow.

Jared: Exactly.

Dave: Right.

Jared: I’m one of the worst offenders. I’ve got numerous books with gospel as an adjective in the title. I think that’s fine, so long as we don’t miss out on what the substance is.

To be gospel-centered is an alternative to other ways of being centered. What are the primary ways that we are usually centered in the Christian life? If you’re looking at the historical evangelicalism, we have the distinction between law and gospel as the important contrast that we see in reformational Protestantism.

So, to be gospel-centered is the alternative to being law-centered, to being centered on the commandments of God versus being centered on the promises of God or the indicatives of God. It’s not to say that the law is bad, or the commandments are bad or anything like that. I like to tell my students quite a bit: “To be gospel-centered is not to be gospel only. It’s to be gospel-centered.” Gospel centrality is not gospel only-inism. It is just gospel centrism.

That’s the first distinction to make, but to get into the substance of it gets us into these five essentials that we are going to talk about, right?

Dave: Do you want to start with 1 Corinthians 15?

Jared: For sure. The first place that I would take somebody, if they said, “Where is this in the Bible this gospel-centered thing?” The phrase is fairly new, and I’m not married to a phrase, but the concept is biblical. In 1 Corinthians, chapter 15, where Paul tells us what the gospel is first of all, which is super-helpful in days of confusion and murkiness about what the good news is.

He said it’s “that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, and that He rose again on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” [1 Corinthians 15:3-4, Paraphrased] He goes on to talk about the appearance of Christ after the resurrection to the multitudes in the rest of the chapter. First Corinthians 15 is about the implications of the resurrection, and the theology of the resurrection, and those sorts of things.

But just in the first four verses of the chapter, we have, not just the summation of the gospel, but an indication that it’s bigger than we thought it was; that it is richer than we thought it was.

The first implication that I like to share is that the Bible is all about Jesus; that the entire Bible is all about Jesus. Because Paul said there, “Christ died in accordance with the Scriptures,” and that “He rose again in accordance with the Scriptures.”

He’s telling us that the crucifixion of Christ [and] the resurrection of Christ were foreshadowed, were retold; were according to the plan of the Bible. “The Scriptures” for Paul in 1 Corinthians 15, refers to what we call the Old Testament. It’s telling us the Old Testament is about the gospel.

That’s not the first place or the only place that we see that, of course. We have Jesus, throughout the Gospels, reframing everyone’s interpretation of the Scriptures around Himself. He reads from Isaiah in a synagogue there, and He says, “Today this is fulfilled in your hearing.” [Luke 4:21, Paraphrased] He tells the Pharisees, “You search the Scriptures thinking you are going to find eternal life in them, but they testify to Me.”

When you look at the apostolic preaching from Peter onwards, after the ascension of Christ, what they are doing is taking an Old Testament text—the very first Christian sermon, in Acts, Chapter two; this is Peter’s sermon at Pentecost. He’s reading from the Psalms and Joel, and he’s preaching those texts in the light of Christ. We have the whole book of Hebrews that tells us how Christ is the center, the culmination, of the Old Testament, of the Old Covenant.

For families who are interested in doing family devotions or just raising their children in the admonition of the Lord, you are looking to the Scriptures; you’re looking to the Bible, of course, for your instructions, for your inspiration, etcetera. We need to remember that the importance of the Bible is not just that it tells us what to do. The most important thing about the Bible is that it tells us what God has done in Christ; that the whole thing is about Jesus. So, when we’re sharing Scripture with each other, reminding each other of the Scriptures, we need to be reminding each other of Jesus, as well.

Dave: Alright, give us number two: we’re going to make you do all three of them.


Ann: The number one was “the Bible is all about Jesus.”

Jared: Yes, the whole Bible is all about Jesus. The second principle of gospel centrality is people change—the one is a little bit more controversial; that people change—by grace and not by law. The kind of change that matters—and in families, we’re so interested in behavioral change, aren’t we?

Dave: Oh, yes. “Now! Right now.”

Jared: We think we know how to get that behavioral change. Sometimes, we do know. We’ll get behavioral change, but it’s not the ultimate win. If you think about it, you want your kids to pick up after themselves. Wives want their husbands to put their dishes in the sink or to pick up their dirty clothes and put them in the hamper or whatever it is.

But more than that, we don’t just want them to do that, we want them to want to do that. [Laughter] We don’t want to have to tell them to do that.

The way we think change comes about is, number one, we tell people to change; and when that doesn’t work, we raise the volume. We tell them in a louder way. When that doesn’t work, we tell them more often, and we bring in consequences. We have a word for how this works out in the household, right? It’s called “nagging.” [Laughter]

The reason we know it doesn’t work is because we have that special word for it. If it worked, we would say, “I told him.” It would just be telling. “I told them, and they did it.” We call it “nagging” because you have to keep telling them and telling them, over and over again. You get frustrated.

But then, even if you get someone to change that way—behaviorally, it’s still not the win. You want them to change at the heart level. Because if you nag hard enough, people will think, “I’m just tired of hearing it. Yes, I’ll pick my clothes up,” right? But then they’re doing it out of frustration or bitterness or just so you’ll shut up.

That’s not the change that we want. We want change at the heart level. The Bible says that kind of change doesn’t come about through the Law. It doesn’t come about by telling people to change and bringing in consequences. It actually comes through the Holy Spirit working through the message of grace.

So, in 1 Corinthians 15, Paul says of this gospel, “you received it,” right? Your conversion experience, past tense. He says, “you are standing in it,” present tense. We’re going to come back to that. But he says, “You are being saved,” present-future tense.

So, somehow, the work of progressive sanctification, becoming more like Christ over time, is empowered by the Good News. The announcement that the work is done somehow empowers us to work, which is so counterintuitive. It’s so counter- the flesh; it’s so counter-natural. It’s a supernatural idea, but you see it all over the Scriptures, in fact.

In Titus, Chapter two, Paul says it’s grace that trains us to renounce ungodliness, to live repentant lives. It’s grace that does that, not the Law. In 2 Corinthians 3, Paul says it’s by seeing the glory of Christ that we are changed. [2 Corinthians 3:18, Paraphrased] It’s not the Law that does that. It’s seeing the glory of Jesus in the gospel that changes us.

Somehow, we have to understand that—especially sinful behavior, not just behavior that you and I don’t like because it’s inconvenient, but stuff that’s actual sin—sinful behavior comes from disbelief of some kind. Every sinful action is the result of disordered worship. The way to rightly order our worship is to see the glory of Christ in the gospel.

Ann: I’m thinking of the people that wanted to be around Jesus. They weren’t clamoring to be around any of the Pharisees or the Sadducees; but these sinful people were clamoring—they couldn’t wait to be with Jesus. It’s not out of the Law, because the Pharisees were doing that.

Jared: Right.

Ann: But I think it was out of His grace, exactly what you’re saying. They couldn’t wait to be with Him because it was so radical, especially in that time, to see any kind of grace and a man of God giving and offering grace. Who wouldn’t want to be with Him?

Dave: How do we balance that as parents, because there has to be a sense of law and rule and boundaries? We all know that as parents, but then we want to be grace-giving. So, there’s that tension.

Jared: Yes, again, this is not gospel only-inism. We understand that the Law has a place, and that we just need to keep it in the right place. We have rules; we have the rules of the household; we have the expectations, obligations, and accountability in place for good guard rails, but we understand that the real win is not just well-behaved kids who don’t have hearts for us, much less for Jesus. Because, again, the Pharisees were very well-behaved. We want hearts that are changed.

We see the Law, then, as a response to the goodness to God. It’s our worship that we give to God, not as a means of earning. We placate those that we fear. Some Christian households would be perfectly content: “I want them to fear me, and therefore, they’re going to act right.”

Ann: Obedience is the ultimate.

Jared: Yes; we’ll placate those that we fear; but we’ll want to please those that we love.  I think the fear is: “If I center love, then they will just go do what they want,” right? Like Paul is countering the argument, “You preach grace enough [and] people will just go sin. You’re going to give them license to go do whatever they want.” Someone who acts that way doesn’t really understand grace. They actually haven’t been transformed by grace.

The laws are there, the rules are there, in a household to give us the road to go down. But the love is there to give us the energy to go down that road, and when we stray off the road, it’s there to help us see that “there’s no misbehavior that is going to put you outside of my approval of you. You are my son, you’re my daughter. I love you no matter what. Daddy and Mommy, we mess up on rules all the time. We go afoul of God’s rules, and yet, He never withdraws His love from us. So, we’re never going to withdraw our love from you. These rules are there to keep you safe. They’re ultimately for your happiness, whether you know that or not. But we want you to know that you following these rules is not what’s going to get me to accept you or to love you.”

Becky: The main issue there is tone. I don’t think you say to them, “Everything’s fine! Don’t worry.” [Sing-song voice] That’s not grace. I think you tell them the truth in love, but “the thing that you did was very irresponsible, so, you know, we need to deal with that. How can we go to the Lord together and ask Him to help you with this behavior? Because it’s not okay; it’s not good for you; it’s not good for our family.” So, I think it's more about the tone than the actual words. You don’t want to scream and yell at them. You want to say, “I have grace for you.” That doesn’t mean you say, “What you did is fine.” It’s not fine.

Jared: I think the tone piece is like your posture as well. You can stand above and bring the word of condemnation that: “You broke the rules,” etcetera, or you can be with them and say, “I’m not happy with you. I’m angry that you broke the rules, but,” as she just said, “Let’s figure this out together. There are going to be consequences for breaking the rules here; but I want to help you. I’m for you! You breaking the rules doesn’t set me against you as your condemner. It means, I want to figure out how to come alongside you and help you, because this isn’t healthy for you. If this goes unchecked—if we don’t have a rule about this—it is actually going to lead to a very unhealthy place, right? So, I want to be alongside you, and let’s figure this out together: how we can make sure this never happens again. I do that because I love you.”

Ann: Yes.

Jared: “Because there’s nothing you can do that’s going to put you outside of my love for you and my desire to be for you.”

Dave: I mean, in some ways, and maybe I’m missing it, it’s almost like when Paul says, “The law leads us to grace. It’s like a tutor.”

Jared: —a tutor, yes.

Dave: It’s sort of what we’re doing, and sometimes, we’re coming alongside.

Jared: Well, even think about when he confronts—he talks about in Galatians [when] he confronted Peter when Peter is being two-faced, sitting with the Gentiles until the men from James come. Then he said, “I don’t know those guys.”

Dave: Yes.

Jared: Paul could have said any number of things to him rebuking him to his face. He could have said, “You broke the rule about hypocrisy. You’re being a hypocrite.” He could have rebuked his sin there. Peter was being a racist in that moment. [Paul could have said], “You’re being a racist.” He could have said any of those things; but he doesn’t say any of those things. He says, “Your conduct is not in step with the truth of the gospel.” [Galatians 2:14, Paraphrased] He calls him back to the indicative, not to the imperatives, to say, “If you really believe this—if you actually are a Good News person— your behavior should show that; it should be conducive with the stuff we actually believe.”

I think that’s another piece of it as well with anyone, a child or anyone, [when] you’re trying to help battle their sin: to say, “You’ve got the Holy Spirit inside of you if you’re a believer. You can walk in that truth. You have the power to defeat this sin. You have the power to battle this sin; so, let’s figure out how we can do that together.”

That’s the more positive way of saying—it’s not saying, “Your sin doesn’t matter.” It’s not saying, “There are not consequences, or there are no rules.” It’s saying, “You’ve got the power to walk this route. Let’s walk it together. Let’s figure this out.”

Ann: That’s good.

Dave: I know (and we don’t have time to get into it, but our listeners have heard many times) [that] Ann tried to change me for decades with her words. Like you said, that didn’t work, so she got louder and said it more.

Ann: I was good at nagging.

Dave: She’s right. [Laughter] Yes, nagging, and I did the same thing; but the thing that changed me was grace. Again, it isn’t just “tolerate your sin, and it doesn’t matter.” No, it was, “You’ve got goodness in you. There’s greatness in you. I see this in you.”

[I thought], “I want to become a better man!”

Jared: That’s right.

Dave: It’s because of that grace.

Jared: It’s kind of like coaching. We think that way—we see that in coaching. Silly example, but I think of, in college, there were professors I had who, it didn’t matter what you did, they were always going to give you a bad grade. At some point, I realized, “I cannot surpass this bar.” I just gave up.

Ann: Yes.

Dave: “Why try?”

Jared: Then, I had other professors, it seemed like everything I did, they liked. They liked me, and it was a pleasant experience being in there. You would think that I would take advantage of that. Maybe some people did, but it made me want to please them.

Ann: You wanted to rise to the occasion.

Jared: I wanted to do better. I wanted to rise to the occasion. I wanted to be what they thought I was. I think it works that way sometimes.

Dave: We’re [doing] “Friday Five,” and we’ve only got two. [Laughter]

Jared: Okay.

Ann: And we’ve got three minutes left.

Jared: We’ve got to move quickly.

Dave: We might be “Friday Three.”

Jared: —might be “Friday Three.”

Dave: Give us the third one.

Jared: The third one is that my validation—my ultimate validation—comes not from my work, but from Christ’s work on my behalf. I think so many Christians live their lives, functionally, as if the Lord is happy with them when they’re doing enough, being enough, accomplishing enough, and the Lord it displeased with them when they’re not; that they’re on some kind of scale that God is measuring.

What we see Paul say in 1 Corinthians 15 is, “No! This gospel, you stand in it,” present tense. The big theological concept for this is the imputation of Christ’s righteousness, which basically just means, what Jesus did is credited to us as if it is ours. “He who knew no sin became sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” [2 Corinthians 5:21] He takes our sin; He gives us His perfect obedience.

We’re clothed in that! When you wake up in the morning, God looks at you with favor. He’s not saying, “Alright, let’s see what you have got today, and I’ll render my verdict at the end of the day.” He’s not—at the end of the day, no matter how the day has gone—He’s not, at the end of the day, saying, “I thought you were better than this. This is not who I thought you were.” At the end of the day, His favor is over you because of Christ.

Now, imagine if we brought that into our households, that we are not waking each other up with, “Alright, let’s see what you’ve got. I’m happy with you if you produce for me.” That’s sometimes how we treat each other, but that’s not how the Holy God of the universe treats us, which is just amazing to me.

Ann: It’s miraculous, yes.

Jared: The only one with the right to do that says, “No, that verdict was decided on the cross. The work is finished; the record of debt is canceled. I clothe you with my Son’s perfect obedience, and that’s how I regard you every day of your life from here on out.”

Dave: That’s hard to do as a parent of a teenager, you know? [Laughter]

Jared: Well, sure.

Dave: You’re looking at them [as if to say], “Let’s see what you’ve got.” [Laughter]

Ann: “Because it’s not going to happen today, what happened yesterday.”

Dave: Yes, exactly.

Shelby: [Laughter] Dave Wilson with the necessary wet blanket there. But a true one; yes, a very true one.

By my counting, we’ve heard three out of the five essentials for gospel-centered families. We’re about to hear a fourth one in just a second. We may never get to the fifth, but you don’t listen to FamilyLife Today for exceptional math prowess, so who cares about the numbers?

I’m Shelby Abbott, and you’ve been listening to Dave and Ann Wilson with Jared and Becky Wilson on FamilyLife Today. It’s been a “Wilson day” by every sense of the word. It’s been incredible.

Jared Wilson has written a book called Love Me Anyway: How God’s Perfect Love Fills Our Deepest Longings. This book really explores the universal human longing for unconditional love through the lens of 1 Corinthians 13. If that is something that sounds like you want to pick up, you can go online to where you can find that book by Jared Wilson in the “Show Notes” section at the bottom of the page. Or you can give us a call at 800-358-6329; again, that number is 800- “F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”

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Alright, here’s essential number four and maybe five—you tell me if you hear it—for a gospel-centered family.


Dave: Well, I had this one thought—it’s in the beginning of 1 Corinthians 15:1: “Now, I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received.” In some ways, I think, as a parent, we just need to keep reminding ourselves and our family and our kids: “We’ve received Jesus.”

Jared: Yes.

Dave: Keep telling the story to your kids and keep living the story of the gospel in your life: “You’re going to fall, and He’s redeemed you. You’re going to step—He’s redeemed you. The resurrected Christ lives in you.” So, I think our kids should see that, that Mom and Dad are walking in this every single day, too. That’s what the gospel-centered mom and dad look like in a marriage, but it also permeates a home. It’s the aroma; it’s the environment of the home.

Ann: I think, too, to give our kids a vision of how they fit into the gospel. That God created them on purpose for a purpose, and it’s not by their own righteousness; it’s not by anything that they can earn, but there’s a place for them in the Kingdom that’s so much greater and more fulfilling than anything they will taste in the world. It’s His grace that sets them free, too.

Becky: Yes.

Jared: Yes, the reminder is really important, isn’t it: “I will remind you…” Even that is an important principle, because we don’t wake up in this grace mode. We wake up set on law, I think, so we have to intentionally reset in some way on the Good News.

Shelby: Now, coming up next week, what’s the power of gratitude? Letting go of worries and filling your mind with positivity. Well, one of FamilyLife Today’s favorites, Brant Hansen, is going to be here to talk about that and his new book, which is called Life is Hard. God is Good. Let’s Dance. That’s next week. We hope you’ll join us.

On behalf of Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Shelby Abbott. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

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