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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Should the Gospel be in Every Sermon?

I've had some pretty intense conversations lately as to whether a preacher should be expected to preach the gospel during his sermon. While some seem to believe it is safe to neglect a gospel proclamation, it seems to me that this is poor preaching.

I found it interesting that after having this conversation, our elders began their study in Romans. It seems obvious from the first chapter of Romans that Paul wanted to visit the gentile believers in Rome, that he wanted to preach to them, and that his content he wanted to preach was the gospel.

If that is not enough to remind pastors that the believers in the congregation desperately need to hear the gospel, D.A. Carson also offers this thought (in his message, What is the Gospel? from the Gospel Coalition Conference):
Perhaps more common today is the tendency to "assume the gospel"...whatever that is, while devoting creative energy and passions to other areas. Marriage. Happiness. Prosperity. Evangelism. The Poor. Wrestling with Islam. Bioethics. Pressures of Secularization. Dangers on the Left. Dangers on the Right. The list is endless.

But this overlooks the fact that our hearers inevitably are drawn toward that of which we are most passionate. Every teacher knows that. My students are unlikely to learn all that I teach them. I've resigned myself to that for a long time. They are most likely to learn what I am excited about. If the gospel is merely assumed, while relatively peripheral issues ignite our passion, we will train a new generation to down play the gospel and focus in on the periphery. It is easy to sound prophetic from the margins. What is urgently needed is to be prophetic from the center. What is to be feared, in the famous words of T.S. Elliot, is that the center does not hold.

Moreover, if in fact we do focus on the gospel and understand it aright, we shall soon see how this gospel, rightly understood, directs us how to think about and what to do about a vast array of other kinds of issues.
Where are the pastors who echo with Paul:
For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!--1 Corinthians 9:16


  • At 7:53 AM, Blogger Noel said…

    What do you think about the weekly bible study teacher? Obviously there will most likely be Christians present. Should the gospel message be woven into each lesson?

  • At 8:48 AM, Blogger Zach Doppelt said…

    The fact that our present situation requires this question may be scary... but yes, yes, yes we need to preach the gospel in every sermon.

    As far as Noel's question and statement... I think this brings up a powerful point... even if there are believers in the Bible Study, don't we need to keep our focus on the cross? Maybe we all need to do a better job of integrating the Gospel in all our teaching.


  • At 9:17 AM, Blogger Darby Livingston said…

    If I could recommend a few books:

    "Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture" and "Gospel Centered Hermeneutics" by Graeme Goldsworthy
    Also "Him We Proclaim" by Dennis Johnson

    All preaching should flow from the gospel and point back to the gospel. But not every sermon is to be a Billy Graham evangelistic sermon. The gospel is far broader than that.

  • At 11:44 AM, Blogger danny2 said…

    as i believe romans one states, and as i stated in the post, the believers' ears need to regularly receive the gospel as well.

    i used to preach the gospel gauged on the crowd (saved or unsaved), i have since seen that as folly. what aspect of the gospel is unneccesary for the believer?

    i would encourage you noel that the gospel should be presented in your class as well. not because an unbeliever may be present (though Scripture suggests there quite possibly could be...even one you don't realize is), but because it is the proper hermeneutic of the passage. none of The Book makes sense apart from Christ, and we must present it that way.

    i agree with darby as well. i am not saying that every sermon should be turned into an evangelistic crusade. but woe to the pastor who thinks he can preach on marriage, parenting, being a good employee, sanctification (or any other topic for that matter) and does not think it should be done within the framework of the gospel. our people need to hear God's standard, realize their failure, and fall at the feet of the One Who met that standard daily...let alone once a week during the sermon.

  • At 12:22 PM, Blogger Darby Livingston said…

    Well said, Danny.

  • At 12:26 PM, Blogger Noel said…

    Good point. I think not only is it edifying for the listener to regularly hear the Gospel, but as a teacher or preacher, we develop such a deeper understanding when we discover each section of Scripture and how it relates to Gospel truth. The entire Bible is the gospel, not just Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.


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