Recently we had a chance to sit down with Jackie Hill Perry when she was in town for the PIA tour. (AMAZING—if you haven’t seen it yet, do!) We jumped at the chance to connect with Jackie because she said some pretty profound things in the forward she wrote for Jeff Vanderstelt’s Gospel Fluency, and we wanted to find out more. We hoped to learn from Jackie and to hear how her own practice of fluency impacts her day-to-day life. As usual, Jackie didn’t disappoint.
My discipler was the one who told me, “Jackie, the gospel doesn’t just save you; it keeps you.”
Saturate: What does gospel fluency mean to you?
JHP: When I think of the word “fluent,” an example that comes to mind is sarcasm. I’m very fluent in sarcasm. I don’t really have to think about being sarcastic, it just comes out. That doesn’t make my use of sarcasm good, but it’s easy for me. It comes out of me because it’s in me. When I consider gospel fluency, I think of the same thing. If the gospel is in me, it will come out of me and impact all of my life. I should be able to see evidence of it in my discipleship, in my parenting, in my hospitality, in my modesty, in my motherhood. The gospel should inform whatever I’m doing in any context.
Saturate: When you look at the church in America today, what do you see as one of its primary struggles when it comes to understanding the gospel?
JHP: I think the American church struggles when it comes to gospel fluency because I think people have a limited view of the gospel. I think many see the gospel only as a means of evangelism and not discipleship. I’ll have conversations with people, and they speak of the gospel as if it was only something that happened once. They heard what Jesus did on the cross and received it as truth. They learned of the resurrection from the dead and believed and repented in His name, but then when I say, “Okay, how does the gospel inform your temptations?” they have no answer for that. I feel like in some ways the church has failed to equip people to understand that the gospel applies to everything in our lives.
Saturate: Why do you think the American church has lost sight of the gospel and its application to our daily lives?
JHP: The gospel doesn’t just stop at salvation; it continues. It changes the way I look at everything. For instance, if we look at a new believer who maybe just last week received the gospel, repented, and believed, he or she needs the gospel just as much today as he or she did last week. When I’m facing a temptation, a struggle, a job, or a decision, seeing this sufficiency of Christ on the cross and how that relates to me daily is huge. I think the church just needs to get back to what the Bible demonstrates. The Gospel was everywhere. It was in Genesis and Revelation and everywhere in between. Who are we to think it shouldn’t be consistent throughout everything in our own churches now? I think my only assumption would be they’ve lost sight of the gospel because they’ve lost sight of God.
Saturate: What can be done about the disconnect between the gospel believed for eternity but not day-to-day? What is our way forward in recapturing the gospel in everyday life?
JHP: If you don’t have a right view of God, that distorts how you view the Gospel. In my own life, my neediness and thirst for God in all of life means I have to go back to the clearest example of God’s person, and love, and grace, and wrath, and justice, and fairness, and acceptance, which is in the gospel. I think the church needs to be weened off of other idols, of lesser versions of God, and back to just God Himself. If we once again recognize God is everything we need, then that would move us into seeing God and the gospel are inseparable.
Saturate: Often our churches and communities focus on the gospel as a concept we can study in a laboratory. What would happen to us if the gospel came to our daily lives?
JHP: I think one thing is that when people read their Bible, they wouldn’t assume it’s about them. I think they read Romans or Psalms and miss that the Bible is about God. If we begin to study the Bible and study it looking for God, then we’ll preach it exalting God. We’ll speak it to remind each other of God. That will change the dynamics of how we approach gospel fluency because now it becomes a God-thing, and not a me-thing. Now the gospel affects me and impacts me, but ultimately it has to be about God first and foremost. He is the Alpha and Omega; I’m not. I need Him. We just get back to the word of God being the word of God and seeing it for what it is: a book that reveals the glory of God. The glory of God changes how I see me, see sin, and see life. Then I think we’re starting down the right track.
Saturate: What can someone expect to happen when they themselves understand the scope of the gospel?
JHP: When I first began to recognize how the Gospel impacts my everyday life, I was being discipled. At that time, I was really dealing with a lot of temptation. I didn’t really know how to fight. You know, you’re a new believer, just figuring things out and have been giving in so long, you don’t know what to do. A woman who was discipling me told me, “Jackie, the gospel doesn’t just save you; it keeps you.” She was like, “Trust God. That sin you’re dealing with, that temptation that you’re dealing with, it was literally placed on Him on the cross. God poured out His wrath on that, and Jesus went to the grave and defeated it. You can look at Jesus and know you don’t have to give into this. If Jesus is risen from the dead, then surely you can walk away from this sin.” That was revolutionary to me. I had no idea that the gospel could affect me, not only on Sunday, but on a Tuesday.
How would you rate your own gospel fluency?
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