Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Loosing Our Grip on The Gospel

God willing, the following article will appear in the January 13 edition of The Wilson Daily Times.

Loosing Our Grip on the Gospel

The most serious issue facing the local church is the removal of the most important thing from the most important place. In 1 Corinthians 15:3, Paul says the gospel is “of first importance.” The gospel is the most important reality in the universe and should take premier importance in the life of the church.

The church has been commissioned by God to guard and preserve His gospel for His glory. However, we often see churches elevating other messages and programs to the primary place. John Stott writes, “All around us we see Christians and churches relaxing their grasp on the gospel, fumbling it, and in danger of letting it drop from their hands altogether.” I see two primary evidences of this tragedy today. Before we look at these evidences, let us make sure we understand how the Bible defines the gospel.

The gospel is the good news that explains how we as sinners can be accepted by a holy God. He created us to glorify Himself. However, none of us have lived for God’s glory. We have all trampled on Him by our sin. The Bible says that we not only sin, but we are sinners by nature. We are corrupt in our very essence. God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to live a perfectly righteous life, die a substitutionary death, and rise from the dead for sinners like us. In order to have our sins transferred to Christ and His righteousness credited to our account, we must repent of our sins and believe fully in Christ. Only by faith in Christ can we be clothed in His righteousness and have our sins paid for. It is this gospel that is necessary for our salvation and ongoing sanctification.

Now, on what basis can I say that we are loosing our grip on the gospel today? First, I am noticing more ignorance of the gospel than ever. Most people are not able to articulate the gospel, much less live in its power. The tragedy is that many of these people have been members of a church for years. Ask fifteen people to summarize the gospel today and you may get fifteen contradictory answers, if you get any answer at all. This is tragic!

I believe the reason fewer people have a firm understanding of the gospel lies in the second piece of evidence, namely, the lack of clear gospel preaching. Preachers have resorted to preaching on current events, funny stories, self-esteem, morality, and a host of other things. When was the last time you heard a sermon on the depravity of man, the perfect righteousness of Christ credited to us through faith, or the necessity of repentance for salvation? You are probably more likely to hear what’s going on in the news, how to have a better life, or a challenge to “try harder” this year. If the gospel is “of first importance,” it should at least take that place in preaching.

No matter how many years we have been a Christian or how long our church has been in existence, we still need the gospel. Without it we are nothing more than a social club, patting each other on the back for what a great job we are doing. I agree with Mark Dever, who wrote, “Our power is not in having small groups, or meeting the felt needs of our target audience, or using the right evangelism program, or having funny skits, or providing plenteous parking…Our power is in our unique message—the Gospel—not in our innovations. As such, our primary method must be to clearly communicate that message as widely as possible.”

3 comments: said...

I would like to nail this on the door of our church.

Anonymous said...

Hi! Justin,

I am looking forward to see this in the newspaper. Thank you for writing it for other to read it.

Thank you for preaching His word and challenging us to memorize Psalm 34.

Eating His word,
Bold Lion

Chase said...

Good words.