How important is it to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ preached each and every Sunday? That we would even need to ask this question nearly 2,000 years after the Church was first established is heartbreaking to me.
I’ve been told by Christians and even pastors that it is not realistic to expect to hear the Gospel preached in every sermon message. “Sometimes we’re talking about a different subject,” they tell me, or “it doesn’t fit in with section five of our 10-part sermon series.” Or this one: “If you think you need to hear the blood sacrifice being preached in every message, you’re not going to be happy in any church.”
Really? Am I that demanding that I’ve placed an unfair, unrealistic expectation on our poor pastors who are just trying to reach the lost?
Imagine Paul, or Peter, or John, or even Jesus Himself sitting in a typical seeker-driven service on any given Sunday morning and not hearing the message that martyrs still die for: That we are born sinners into sin-filled world at odds with God and that while we still hated Him, He came to earth as a sinless sacrifice, whose blood on the cross atoned for our sins and the punishment we deserve. He rose from the grave and appeared to hundreds of witnesses, who saw Him ascend to heaven, and those witnesses have been sharing that Good News ever since, that those who believe in Him can repent of their sins and be reconciled to God forever. It is through Christ alone that we are offered Mercy and Grace. Only In His perfect sacrifice, He exchanges His righteousness for our Sin.
In the time I took to read that, 30 seconds have passed. Surely 30 seconds of these life-giving words of the Gospel is the message that we all must hear over and over again. Not just so that we can be saved, but so that we can have real life to the full. A Sunday service without the Gospel regenerates no one.
It is good to talk about making good choices, or treating each other in love. It’s good to sing worship songs and teach about putting God and money in proper perspective. But not at the expense of The Gospel. Because if I am still steeped in my sins, unrepentant without knowing who Jesus is, and I’ve just sat through your sermon series on how to have a good marriage or how to feed the hungry, I am still going to Hell when I die.
Unfortunately, many Christians today don’t know what the Gospel is. If you were to ask, they might say that the Gospel is about loving our neighbor, or loving God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength. And while important, these are not the Gospel, but are the essence of the Law. And yes, we need to walk the narrow path and live out what God commands. But His truth also tells us that as hard as we strive, we can’t love God as perfectly as He commands. And by the way, how did you do at loving your neighbor last week? I fell extremely short.
That’s why we need the Gospel, even as we grow into mature Christians. We hear the Gospel so that we can be reminded of how good He is, and how wretched we are apart from Him. And when we do break the Law – any of them –we can repent of our sins and be forgiven.
As writer Mike Ratliff put it so powerfully, God will not tolerate a perversion of the Gospel because it is the only truth:
However, in our time the Gospel has been retold in all sorts of unbiblical ways. Some are outright lies while others are more subtle, for instance, there is the lie that is mostly true in which the Gospel is given, but that part about repentance and the lordship of Jesus Christ being necessary is left out. People want to make the narrow gate wide and easy, but that has never been God’s way. They want to remove the offense of the Cross, but it has to be there. Preaching against sin “puts people off, offends their sensibilities, puts them on the defensive, and makes them uncomfortable” is being cut from most churches in our time to make them more “seeker friendly.”
1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked according to the world system of this age, according to ruler of the authority of the air, the spirit now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among whom also we all conducted ourselves once in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and we were by nature children of wrath, as also the rest. (Ephesians 2:1-3)
Paul, speaking to Christians, told them and us that they were once just the rest of the world, which was dead in their own trespasses and sin in which they once walked according to the world system. There are no exceptions t this. A “Gospel message” or “theology” that does not address this is not biblical. In fact, it is false teaching. Those who teach these false teachings are teaching a different Gospel, and God will judge them for it.
The only Gospel is, “Trust in Jesus’ blood as the only redemption from sin.” (Source: Possessing The Treasure)
In those last four seconds is packed an eternity of truth. No, I don’t think I’m being demanding by asking to hear the Gospel each and every time. How can we expect anything less for our families, our friends and for a world that does not know Him? Churches, pastors, Christians: It’s time to step up. Let’s not just squeeze these in around our three main principles or five action points. No, let’s make the Gospel the center of every message, and the rest can flow from Christ’s amazing, perfect love.
- What the Gospel Is, and What It Is Not (airocross.com)
- We Need an Explicit Gospel, but Chandler’s Isn’t Perfect (steakandabible.com)
- Rick Warren: “We Must Build Bridges of Friendship and Love” So Jesus Can Walk Across (christianresearchnetwork.org)
- Yes, Pastor Mark, There Are Worse Things than Being Happy and Encouraging (christianresearchnetwork.org)
- Rick Warren: “We Must Build Bridges of Friendship and Love” So Jesus Can Walk Across (donotbesurprised.com)
- Hopeless Hindu Ceremony Seeks to Wash Away Sins Without the Blood of the Lamb (donotbesurprised.com)
- Steve Chalke Stuns British Evangelicals By Coming Out in Support of Same-Sex Relationships (christianitytoday.com)