The Church's great calling, really the church's only calling, is to preach the gospel. This is certainly the intent of the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19. Few, however, seem to know any more what the gospel is.
We should remember that the word gospel means literally "good news" or in the words of the angel who announced Christ's birth, "glad tidings." And indeed, the content of the gospel is the best and most glad news that has ever been heard in this sin-filled world. It is good news because it speaks of salvation by free and sovereign grace.
Yet, there are many who change the message of the gospel so that it is no longer good news. By their errors the gospel becomes no better news than we read in the daily newspapers. This is especially true of those who pervert the content of the gospel in one way or another as to make salvation depend on our own works. That is very bad tidings, since the Bible assures us that all our works are evil (Acts 5:38; Ps. 14:1) and our righteousnesses as filthy rags (Is. 64:6; lit. "menstruous rags").
The gospel is no longer good news either, when it is suggested either in the message or in the way that message is presented, that salvation depends on the will, choice, and decision or the sinner. That is horrible news to changeable, indecisive, unwilling, disobedient creatures such as we are (Jn. 5:40; 6:44; 8:44).
Equally disturbing news, often published as the gospel, are such teachings as that Christ died for everyone and that God loves and wants to save everyone without exception. The former proclaims as "good news" that some for whom Christ dies end up in hell; the latter that God is not able to do or does not do what He wants. The former is bound to destroy all our confidence in Christ, the latter all our confidence in GOD. Good news?
Equally disturbing is the practice of reducing the gospel to a few truths, usually preached over and over again at evening worship, hung on different text each week, and addressed to the unsaved who may or may not be present. Related is the equally bad practice of avoiding certain truths as being inappropriate for the preaching of the "gospel."
There are several problems with this practice. First, all Scripture is gospel. There is no difference between "teaching" the truths of Scripture and preaching the gospel (cf. the Matt. 28:19, "go ye therefore and teach all nations;" and the example of the Apostles, Acts 2, 7, 13, 17, where Bible history, doctrine, poetry and prophecy are all preached as 'gospel' and every doctrine from the sovereignty of God over the wicked - Acts 2:23, to the doctrine of creation and providence - Acts 17:24, 28). Any truth of Scripture is good news to God's people because it announces Who and What God is in all the works of His hands.
Second, all God's people need to hear all the truths of Scripture. They need to be called to repentance and faith as much as the unsaved, and as long as they are sinners and their faith is weak, that is, as long as they are in this world. They must be comforted by its promise, admonished by its warning, and instructed by its precious truths. May God restore such preaching in the churches.
- Volume: 6
- Issue: 17
Rev. Ronald Hanko (Wife: Nancy)
Ordained: November 1979
Pastorates: Wyckoff, NJ - 1979; Trinity, Houston, TX - 1986; Missionary to N.Ireland - 1993; Lynden, WA - 2002Website: www.lyndenprc.org/sermons/
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