When are we to preach the Gospel?
By Daniel Shultz
The lack of a clear Gospel message has ruined many a church. From liberal mainline churches to modern mega churches the Gospel is getting less and less about the clear biblical truth that through faith in the atoning sacrifice of Christ our sins will be forgiven to some nebulous concept of a “relationship with God.” Whether it’s through a "special purpose" that God "gives us" or a focus on God’s love over His holiness, wrath, and justice the result is always the same, the Gospel gets lost. It goes away and with it goes any sense that the Christian can have of true peace.
The modern church must think that the gospel is the key to get us to the law of God because they are always preaching what the Christian must do; finding their purpose, having a better relationship with God, being a better you. All these things have one thing in common they are utterly and completely Christless. There are two categories in the bible law and grace.
Law is the command in which God gives us, (his moral law i.e. the ten commandments, or the Christian life) the purpose of the law includes the ability to point out and convict men of their sin. God’s law is good, it is an extension of the very character and nature of God, it is holy and righteous and we are to follow it, but by nature of sin we have no ability to do so. When the focus of the preacher is put upon God’s law the tendency of man is to be convicted of their sin and fall into despair or to trick themselves into believing that they can perfectly uphold the law. Both of these are equally sad outcomes of the Christless message.
The other category in the bible is Grace, also called the Gospel. Biblical Grace is the forgiveness of sins offered through faith in Jesus Christ. The love, mercy and grace of God are the very truth that every single person needs to hear.
It is sad that so often we overlook the examples that God gave us in the Bible, whether it is Christ’s own example of being forthright about people’s sin as with the woman at the well. “Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” Or the example of the apostolic proclamation, which included pointing out the very act of killing Jesus, “ Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” The point of the bible is that sin is prevalent, it is pervasive and everyone does it. And then with that knowledge of one’s sin the biblical proclamation must then be taught. As Jesus did with the woman at the well:
“You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”
And like Peter said directly following his convicting sermon:
“Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
The truth of the gospel is that although we are sinners Christ died for us. But sin is a part of the gospel message; its eradication is the purpose of the Gospel, without sin there would be no need for Christ to suffer in our behalf. It is a sad day when a pastor can get in front of a congregation and preach nothing but conviction without the true peace of forgiveness of sins. It is necessary for those pastors who do not preach the whole of the bible and its core message to remember what God said through the apostle Paul.
“2 And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 2:1-5