What separates the preaching of today’s celebrity preachers like Joel Osteen from some of the great preachers of history like Charles Spurgeon?
A lot separates them for sure but when it comes down to it there is one core difference that places these preachers on opposite ends of the homiletical spectrum.
Namely, it is the focus they place or don’t place on the clear Gospel message of Jesus Christ!
In this episode of Now Is the Time I share with you why we need more sermons with more Gospel and more preachers who, like Charles Haddon Spurgeon make the Gospel of Jesus Christ central every time they preach.
In the News
- Pray for our coworker John Taylor who fell last week and injured his neck and shoulder. They were scheduled to fly out of Ukraine but had to postpone their flight because of the injury.
- Pray for Christina and the translation team as they are working towards finishing the translation of the Biblical counseling material for the Pro-life ministry.
- Pray for our refugee outreach this Sunday and Tuesday, pray they will respond to the Gospel. Pray also for heat in their building.
- Pray our online Spiritual Formation class coming up.
I’m Here to Share Good News With You
This past summer a team from our Church started regularly doing outreaches to a group of refugees who live not too far from us. As I started preaching there it became evident that these people needed the simple truths of the Gospel.
I shared with them about How God created everything from Genesis and I shared the Gospel.
I shared with them how Adam and Eve sinned and I shared the Gospel.
I shared how God made a covenant with Abraham and I shared the Gospel.
Yes, I realized that the Gospel needs to be included in every sermon. It was refreshing to preach the Gospel like this and then I started asking myself,
“Why do my sermons often lack Gospel in other contexts?”
I came to the conclusion that there needs to be more Gospel in all of my preaching.
Spurgeon’s Gospel Focus
Then I picked up this short book by Stephen J. Lawson called “The Gospel Focus of Charles Spurgeon” I had already started writing this podcast episode before I read the book. However, after reading it I was that much more convinced of the need for more Gospel in my sermons.
7 Reasons Why We Need More Gospel in Our Preaching
1. Jesus preached the Gospel.
When Jesus came to earth he preached and his preaching didn’t just include the Gospel, it was Gospel!
“Jesus came into Galilee proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, The time has been fulfilled, and the kingdom of God draws near. Repent and believe in the gospel.” Mar 1:14-15 (Also Mat 4:23, Luk 8:1)
Jesus’ preaching condemned people for their sins and called for repentance, he also exhorted them to believe in Him as the only way and invited them to become disciples.
For a great study on how the Gospel Jesus taught and the Gospel Paul taught fit together I recommend you take a look at this article from John Piper called, “Did Jesus Preach the Gospel of Evangelicalism?”
2. The early Church preached the Gospel
Acts starts with Jesus giving the Church a command to “be my witnesses” (Acts 1:8).
Peter preaches the Church’s first Gospel sermon in Acts 2.
The Church made a practice of preaching the Gospel wherever they went.
“And every day they did not cease teaching and preaching the gospel of Jesus the Christ in the temple, and house to house.” Act 5:42
Throughout the rest of the book you find Gospel preaching in almost every corner. Check out these texts Act 8:4, Act 8:12-40, 10:36, 11:20, 13:32, 14:7-21, 15:7, 15:35, 16:10, 20:24
3. It helps you avoid theological drift
I wrote a full blog post on this about a year ago here. Theological drift tends to happened when the Gospel is removed from it’s proper place in the center of our ministry and life.
To simplify things the progression often looks something like this:
- Preacher starts out solidly on the foundation of the gospel.
- Preacher continues with some success.
- Preacher slowly gets out of the habit of rigorous study.
- Preacher, without even knowing it, starts preaching his own opinion instead of God’s Word.
- Preacher moves away from preaching about gospel topics like sin, repentance, hell and salvation.
- Preacher begins to focus exclusively on practical matters like marriage, money and success.
- Preacher compromises the gospel message in an effort to “win” more people’s approval.
4. It goes to the root of the problem.
I’m not against preaching about how to have a good marriage, how to be successful at work, or how to break addictions and bad habits.
I am against making this type of preaching the main staple of any congregation. I’m also against any preaching that sidelines the vital importance of the Gospel in any of these issues of life.
Ultimately why do we have problems with our marriage or anything else in life?
It’s because of sin.
The Gospel goes to the root of our problems and changes us from the inside out.
5. It alone has the power for real life change.
Everyone wants change and as a preacher I’m eager to offer people a way they can change their life, that’s why it’s tempting to give them “7 Secrets to Living a Fulfilling Life” or “9 Keys to Raising Happy Kids.”
Unfortunately the best advice without the power of the Gospel behind it just adds another layer of make-up to the corpse.
Real and lasting change only ever happens when the Holy Spirit sparks life in that cold heart.
“who also made us able ministers of a new covenant, not of letter, but of Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit makes alive.” 2Co 3:6
6. It keeps you and your people from losing their first love.
There’s nothing worse than a Church whose theological acuity and hermeneutic accuracy has so pierced their hearts with spiritual pride that there is left no room for the simple and raw preaching of living hope to dead sinners.
Rather than shed tears over their arrogant disposition they would prefer to spar on the high theological ground of some unpronounceable word.
Yes, we need theologians who dig deep into the mysteries of the Word but we must never stray so far that we lose our awe of Gospel truth. Pursuit of theological truth should lead us to a deeper sorrow over sin and more acute knowledge of God’s goodness in the Gospel.
7. It brings an eternal perspective to your life and ministry.
All too often we suffer from short-sightedness in ministry. Our tendency towards a temporal mindset often tempts us to focus on the transient over the timeless and the fleeting over the forever.
The Gospel helps us to see through our finite problems to the infinite solution. The Gospel gives us an unchanging outlook on a changing world. It anchors us to the imperishable while life all around us perishes.
When the Gospel is woven in and through our preaching it changes our perspective and helps us to view our lives and the lives of those we minister to from an eternal point of view.
7 Quotes from Charles Haddon Spurgeon on the importance of Gospel preaching.
Note: You can find all of these quotes in Stephen J. Lawson’s book, “The Gospel Focus of Charles Spurgeon (A Long Line of Godly Men Profile)”
“To preach the gospel is not to preach certain truths about the gospel, not to preach about the people, but to preach to the people. To preach the gospel is not to talk about what the gospel is, but to preach it into the heart, not by your own might, but by the influence of the Holy Ghost—not to stand and talk as if we were speaking to the angel Gabriel, and telling him certain things, but to speak as man to man and pour our heart in to our fellow’s heart. This I take it, is to preach the gospel, and not to mumble some dry manuscript…. To preach the gospel is to proclaim with trumpet tongue and flaming zeal the unsearchable riches of Christ Jesus, so that men may hear, and understanding, may turn to God with full purpose of heart.”
“Avoid a sugared gospel as you would shun sugar of lead. Seek that gospel which rips up and tears and cuts and wounds and hacks and even kills, for that is the gospel that makes alive again. And when you have found it, give good heed to it. Let it enter into your inmost being. As the rain soaks into the ground, so pray the Lord, let his gospel soak into your soul.”
“Preach the gospel, the gates of hell shake. Preach the gospel, prodigals return. Preach the gospel to every creature, it is the Master’s mandate and the Master’s power to everyone who believes.”
“This is the sum; my brethren, preach Christ, always and evermore. He is the whole gospel. His person, offices, and work must be our one great all-comprehending theme.”
“The more gospel we would preach, the more of Christ we must proclaim.”
“The preaching of Christ is the whip that flogs the devil. The preaching of Christ is the thunderbolt, the sound of which makes all hell shake.”
“If I had only one more sermon to preach before I died, it would be about my Lord Jesus Christ. And I think that when we get to the end of our ministry, one of our regrets will be that we did not preach more of Him. I am sure no minister will ever repent of having preached Him too much.”