Why Not Preach the Whole Gospel Every Time You Preach the Gospel?
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is glorious (1 Tim 1:11). The Bible (Apostle Paul) assures us that the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation (Rom 1:16–17), which is the promise given to those who believe it (Gal 3:22). He saved us (Tit 3:5), and it is my argument that we should know the details of this good news, from beginning to end. My further contention is that not only do Christians not know the whole Gospel, but they are fed a steady diet of other things. Often when bits and pieces of the Gospel are presented, they are rarely connected to the whole. Where there is no correlation of doctrine, there is no understanding.
The Gospel is of God and it pertains to our salvation, from election to glorification. God’s people need to be given the knowledge of salvation (Lk 1:77). The sign out front may say, “Jesus saves,” but we need more information than that pithy expression. We need to be reminded of it every time we meet. The fact that most Christians would be hard-pressed to explain the whole Gospel in five minutes or less is proof positive that this is the reform we need in the church.
How many Christians can explain the Gospel, by taking another person through Scripture text addresses and do the same? I am not referring to the “Romans Road,” but if I asked, “Ok, show me three verses you would refer me to if I asked, ‘What is regeneration?’ or ‘What are some of the aspects of Judgment Day?’” How many Christians could direct me to the texts to support any one doctrine?
The doctrine of election is the fountain from which the rest of Bible doctrine flows. If one does not have a right view of election, he will misconstrue whatever doctrine he is studying. For instance, the biblical doctrine of predestined election assures us that the Lord knows those who are His (2 Tim 2:19). We are also informed that Jesus and the Father will lose none of those who belong to Christ (Jn 10:28–29; 1 Cor 3:23). Do you see how this produces blessed assurance for the Christian?
Now, imagine there is no mention of election in a sermon (May it never be!). The assumption is that God does not know who He has chosen, nor does He know who are His, nor who belongs to Christ because He is waiting…not wanting anyone (including the Antichrist?) to perish, but for everyone to make a decision. People are pressed by a pitch man, not a preacher, to make their choice. People who are not tethered to the doctrine of sovereign election, live on the slippery slope of Open Theism.
Let us consider another doctrine that is easily dismissed in most sermon deliveries: regeneration. How many Christians understand this doctrine of new life by the Holy Spirit (Jn 3:1–8; Rom 6:4; Eph 2:5; Col 2:13; 1 Pet 1:3)? If it is not taught properly, as an act of God’s sovereign grace, men will imagine they have the spiritual power to self-generate faith in Christ.
Self-generated faith will then convince men that anybody, even everybody, has the potential to be justified before God. The doctrine of reprobation is shunned or ignored. Instead of proclaiming the truth, the pulpit salesman will try to convince you that goats, wolves, and lions can be converted into Christ’s sheep. The weeds are just blind to their potential as wheat.
Everyone is a sinner and Jesus came to save sinners, even to seek and to save those who are lost (Lk 19:10), that is, to save His people from their sins (Mt 1:21). What? Did you think I was writing about everyone, everywhere, and at all times? How easy it is to forget to include those passages that clarify exactly who God sent His Son to save (Mt 1:21; Jn 10:11, 15; Eph 5:25; Tit 3:5; 1 Pet 2:24).
That brings us to redemption, which Jesus performed to purchase His bride, His church (1 Cor 6:20; 7:23). Jesus laid down His life for His sheep (Jn 10:11, 15), gave Himself for His bride (Eph 5:25), the holy nation of royal priests (1 Pet 2:9), chosen in Him before the foundation of the world (Eph 1:4). In Him, we — not the world — have redemption (Eph 1:7), the purchase of His blood of the covenant (Mt 26:28; 1 Pet 1:18–19).
Who believes our report? The born again of God, granted repentance (Acts 5:31) and granted the gift of faith (Eph 2:8–9; Phil 1:29)…they believe the Gospel preacher’s report. They believe that Christ died, was buried, and raised from the dead (1 Cor 15:3–4). They know He ascended into heaven (Eph 4:8–10) and was enthroned at the right hand of Majesty (Heb 1:3; 8:1), to rule and reign over all (Mt 28:18), as Lord of all (Acts 10:36). Believers are sure Jesus is coming again to judge the living and the dead (Acts 10:42; 2 Tim 4:1; 1 Pet 4:5), even the whole earth (2 Pet 3:10–12), with the Word/Sword of His mouth (Jn 12:48; Rev 19:21).
It is the preaching of what I am writing to you here that calls out, in the hearing of all people, the command for Christ’s sheep to obey and come to Him. They hear the Gospel call; they come; and they continue to follow their Good Shepherd (Jn 10). Those who do not belong to Him will never come to Him (Jn 5:42, 47; 8:37, 47; 10:26; 12:48; 14:24).
The Christian life is also part of this whole Gospel message. Sanctification by the Spirit (2 Thess 2:13) is the good news that although the believer fails to keep the Law because of the flesh (Rom 7), the Holy Spirit is at work (Rom 8), maturing the called, regenerate, justified, believer into conformity to Christ (Rom 8:29). Because Jesus Christ has become our righteousness and sanctification (1 Cor 1:30), our trust is entirely in Him and His finished work.
Death comes for the believer and unbeliever (Heb 9:27), but the resurrection will be vastly different for these two distinguishable groups on the last day (Jn 5:28–29). Glorified bodies, designed to last for eternity have been ordered for those to be resurrected to life (1 Cor 15), but not for the reprobate, unregenerate, unbeliever, who will be raised to judgment, that is, sentencing to eternal punishment in the hell of the lake of fire (Mt 25:46; Jude 7; Rev 20:14–15).
The promise of eternal life has a pledge from God (2 Cor 5:5). The Holy Spirit, indwelling every saint (Rom 8:9, 11), is the token of love from God for His chosen people (Rom 5:5; 1 Pet 2:9), who have heard the good news and believed it because they were appointed to life (Acts 13:48).
There it is in five minutes of reading. The Gospel with all of its component parts. Even a 20-minute sermonette could hold 15 minutes of non-essential rhetoric, in addition to these explanations of key doctrines regarding so great a salvation. Why even listen to the preacher if these key doctrines are consistently missing?
The simple Gospel should be preached, but woe to the preacher who neglects these basic, yet essential elements that bless those gathered for the singular purpose of hearing the Gospel of God. Preach the Word (2 Tim 4:2)!
Spokane Valley, Washington
February 16, 2021