Pastor, do you want to see more people surrender their lives to the Lord Jesus Christ? Then stop preaching about the Gospel. Preaching about the Gospel does not save. Jesus did not call you to preach about the Gospel. He called you to preach the Gospel and to preach it every week. There is a difference. It’s a difference that makes it important enough for you to continue reading.
Here is a scenario to throw some light on this important issue: We go to church to worship. We sing, we pray, we give and we hear a message. The message may start off with a Scripture, or the Scripture is read during the message. So far, so good. The message continues; it may be a finely-tuned expository sermon from the Psalms or out of Paul’s letters. It could be a topical sermon on marriage, or decision making, using various Scriptures and biblical principles. That’s all good. The format is not really the issue. The issue is the Gospel.
The 23rd Psalm, for example, may be preached verse by verse and even word by word in expository fashion. The hearers will come to understand the historical/grammatical background of David’s Psalm. They may learn how God cares for His people as a good shepherd cares for the sheep. They may learn more of David’s personal relationship with God. They may learn of the many ways God looks after His children. They may learn a lot of things, but will they hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ preached in this message?
The question I ask of you pastor is this: Are you really preaching the Gospel or are you just preaching about the Gospel? Go back and look at your sermons over the last few months. Where in the sermon did you present the sinfulness of the human condition, the holiness of God, the love of God in sending His only Son Jesus Christ, the obtaining of eternal life for believers through the bloody cross of Christ and the empty tomb and the application of that through repentance and faith in a living Lord? Where in your preaching was this specifically done? Pastor I love you, but making reference to the Gospel is not preaching the Gospel. You are doing a disservice to your church and to the Kingdom of God, and it must stop. It must stop for your own soul’s sake. It must stop for the sake of your reward.
I know you love Jesus. I know you believe every word of the Holy Bible. I know you are saved by the blood of Christ and the regenerating power of the Spirit. I know you believe that there is no other name under heaven whereby men and women, boys and girls are saved. I don’t doubt this a moment. But something has happened. The Gospel of Christ has gotten lost in all of our verbiage.
I was a lead pastor for 18 years. I’ve worked in various denominational positions for 13-plus years. I’ve preached a lot of sermons, and I’ve sat and listened to many more. The trend I am noticing is pastors referring to the Gospel many times, but actually preach it just a few. Pastor, when you give an invitation to accept Christ at the close of your message, we who are sitting on the other side of the pew need you to have preached the Gospel first. I find it personally frustrating to hear a very fine message on some topic, with no Gospel presented, then for the pastor to ask a person to accept a salvation they have yet to hear. Either put the Gospel in your message or make the invitation a time to respond to what was already in the content of that message.
Here is the remedy I propose for our failure to keep our preaching Christ-centered. It’s rather simple, but useless if not practiced. Pastor, I suggest when you write your sermon, you go back and look at it with the lens of the major points of the Gospel: Who God is, God’s purpose, who man is, man’s problem, God’s solution and man’s choice. There should be an intersection somewhere in the message for a point of the Gospel. You can start at any point and then work your way around. But the question you can ask as you prepare your sermon draft is this: Where in this message is the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ going to be delivered?
The Apostle Paul wrote: “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (2 Tim. 4:1–5, ESV).
There are many ways you can do the work of an evangelist, but you are the only one who can put the Gospel in your Sunday message. I implore you to examine yourself and your teaching. Do the work of an evangelist. Preach the good news of Jesus, preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ!