Haddon Robinson, author of Biblical Preaching, once said something that’s bothered me ever since I heard it:
We don’t preach the gospel! As I listen to some preachers, if I were an outsider, I honestly wouldn’t know what I was to respond to … We want to reach people, but the clear terms of the gospel are seldom enunciated. It’s probably an exaggeration, but I don’t think in my lifetime I’ve heard twenty messages that I would say were clear gospel messages. If you didn’t know any jargon, didn’t have any religious background—if you came to church and wanted to know how to have a relationship with a holy God—the sermon would not tell you.
That scares me. Of all the things that could be said about us, one of the worst is this: “We don’t preach the gospel!”
I’m convicted by this, because I know it’s often true of me as well.
As we move closer to Fall, let’s commit to one thing: that we will preach the gospel. It may even be wise to get feedback from others about whether we’re doing this or not. A lot of us may assume we’re being clear when we’re not, or we may think we’re over communicating the gospel when we’ve hardly begun to express it.
Let’s not do this in a rote way either. D.A. Carson once pointed out that people don’t learn from what we say; they learn from what we’re excited about. If we tack on gospel facts to our sermons without passion, it won’t do much good either. But when gospel communication flows from our worship and awe, it preaches very differently.
Maybe we need to read and listen to others who do a good job explaining the gospel. What do they say? How do they say it? How do they explain it clearly and without jargon? How do they speak into the issues and longings of people today?
However we do it, let’s resolve that nobody could say of us, “We don’t preach the gospel!” Let’s heed Spurgeon’s advice this Fall:
Of all I would wish to say this is the sum; my brethren, PREACH CHRIST, always and evermore. He is the whole gospel. His person, offices, and work must be our great, all-comprehending theme. The world needs to be told of its Savior, and of the way to reach him…Blessed is the ministry of which CHRIST IS ALL.