Gospel Diagnostic Questions

Preaching the gospel to ourselves and to others is an art all of us must grow in if we seek real, lasting change in our lives. It is often assumed that the gospel is only for those who have not yet trusted Christ. This is a faulty view of the gospel and limits its work to a personal salvation experience rather than the explosive power and catalytic dynamic for renewal in our hearts on a continuous basis.

To sum up, the life of the Christian is one of continual repentance and belief, without which we slip into a boss/employee, earn/wage, work/rights relationship with our God.

It then becomes the loving responsibility for each of us to run gospel diagnostics to determine whether or not what motivates our heart and lives is “in step” with the gospel (Gal. 2:14).

Here are twenty gospel questions to ask ourselves:

(1) What is my greatest nightmare? What do I worry about most?

(2) What, if I failed or lost it, would cause me to feel that I did not even want to live? What keeps me going?

(3) What do I rely on to comfort myself when things go bad or get difficult?

(4) What do I think about most easily? Where does my mind go to when I am free? What pre-occupies me?

(5) What prayer, unanswered, would make me seriously think about turning away from God?

(6) What makes me feel the most self-worth? What am I the proudest of?

7) What do I really want and expect out of life? What would really make me happy?

(8) What position of authority do I desire to give me a sense of power?

9) Whose opinion of me do I hold so dear that if lost I would be undone?

(10) What type of financial loss or gain would change my sense of security?

(11) What one criticism would cause me to respond in anger (wife, children, work, ministry, family, friends, etc.)? What am I most touchy about when brought to my attention?

(12) If I had ______________, then I’d be truly happy and feel as if my life has meaning and value.

13) If I lost ______________, I would be undone.

(14) I’m impatient because I’m ____________.

(15) I’m critical because I’m _____________.

(16) I’m angry because I’m _____________.

(17) I’m unhappy because I’m ____________.

(18) I’m in despair because I’m ____________.

(19) I have hope because I’m ___________.

(20) I feel worthy because I’m ___________.

These are only a few questions to help us be truthful with ourselves about the gospel. There is no benefit answering these questions with the “right” answers at the expense of the “true” answers (how we really feel and think).

It is only when the “true” answers come to light that the “right” answers will have any power.

We must spend time excavating our idols by asking these questions. When we sin, we do so because some idol has promised us power, prestige, influence, joy, peace, satisfaction, security, pleasure, etc. - that is far more attractive than Christ at the moment. We don’t sin with a gun held to our heads. We sin willingly because it is overwhelmingly appealing.

We need to discover why sins are so appealing by asking these questions and then remind ourselves that idols:

  • are weak 
- can’t deliver when you succeed
  • can only raise the bar
can’t forgive when you fail
  • will only condemn you
  • are harmful to you and to others
  • hurt you spiritually, emotionally, and physically
hurt others by undermining your ability to love
are grievous to God

By pursuing this idol you are saying to God, “Jesus is not enough. I also need ______ to be happy.”

Our daily struggle is to realign ourselves with the truth of the gospel, to discover new ways to surrender our trust to Christ and grow.


David Fairchild was the co-founder and preaching elder of Kaleo Church in San Diego and now serves as the Lead Pastor of Mars Hill West Seattle as well as a founding member of The GCM Collective. He currently lives in Seattle with his wife, Grace, and their two children, Michael and Madison.