Last week’s post on What is the Gospel got some really inspiring and helpful comments, so many thanks to everyone who’s helping me in my journey to find out what the gospel is exactly.
Today I want to close off this short series with some thoughts on what it means to preach the Gospel. I don’t think I’ve found a definitive answer to the question what the Gospel is, but we could devote another 50 posts to this and still not write everything there is to say about the Gospel.
With every theological topic you run the risk of focusing more on theological differences than on what binds us, and I have no desire whatsoever to bring division instead of unity. So today we’ll focus on what binds us all in describing the Gospel: Jesus our Savior.
Whether you believe the gospel is the entire Biblical narrative, the life, death and resurrection of Jesus as the promised Messiah or God’s ‘salvation plan’, one thing is clear: the Gospel is centered around Jesus Christ, God’s Son and the Savior of the world. Jesus Christ is at the heart of the Gospel and it should be all about Him. Preaching the Gospel therefore means preaching Jesus.
What does it mean to preach the Gospel?
Preaching the Gospel is preaching Jesus as the promised Messiah, as God’s Son, as our Savior. It means preaching everything you preach through that lens, that filter. Christ should be front and center, not as an easy solution or a quick fix for all our problems, but as our Redeemer who deserves all the honor. The gospel is never about us, what we need or want or desire. It’s about Jesus and what He has done for us.
Even when you’re preaching from the Old Testament (and you should, because it’s important to preach the whole Bible), you can and should still preach Jesus. He is there, for He was present before the foundation of the world, and the entire Old Testament is an announcement of His coming. Every story in the Old Testament shows our need for a Savior, God’s love in providing for means for us to live with Him and His faithfulness in promising and providing the Messiah.
As the famous preacher Charles Spurgeon once said:
“Let this be to you the mark of true gospel preaching – where Christ is everything, and the creature is nothing; where it is salvation all of grace, through the work of the Holy Spirit applying to the soul the precious blood of Jesus.”
I love how Spurgeon worded it: true Gospel preaching is where Christ is everything and creature is nothing. Jesus Christ should be exalted in our preaching and man should be made to what he truly is: a creature in need of a Savior, because he is unable to save himself.
Preaching a pure Gospel
When we preach the Gospel, we have to be very careful about how we present it. Obviously, I’m balancing in the edge of a very dangerous discussion of the whole grace versus works issue, which I have no desire to get into. But I do want to say this: think very, very carefully about how you present the Gospel, or the plan of salvation if you prefer that term.
It’s not the sinner’s prayer that gets a person saved.
It’s not ‘giving your heart to Jesus’ that gets a person saved.
It’s not coming forward, raising your hand, putting your name on a list or doing anything else that gets a person saved.
We are saved by faith alone through the grace of God and any action you ask from people should be an outward expression of that inner faith. Altar calls and such can be very helpful means, but they should always be used within the context of a message of being saved by faith.
In an upcoming post I’ll share some more on how you can present the ‘salvation plan’ in your sermons, because you may have discovered as I have that it can be a challenge to keep that part fresh!
How do you approach preaching the Gospel? Do you agree that it’s about putting Jesus at the center or do you have a different interpretation?