Gospel-less sermons regenerate no one

How important is it to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ preached each and every Sunday?  That we would even need to ask this question nearly 2,000 years after the Church was first established is heartbreaking to me.

I’ve been told by Christians and even pastors that it is not realistic to expect to hear the Gospel preached in every sermon message. “Sometimes we’re talking about a different subject,” they tell me, or “it doesn’t fit in with section five of our 10-part sermon series.” Or this one: “If you think you need to hear the blood sacrifice being preached in every message, you’re  not going to be happy in any church.”

Really? Am I that demanding that I’ve placed an unfair, unrealistic expectation on our poor pastors who are just trying to reach the lost?

Imagine Paul, or Peter, or John, or even Jesus Himself sitting in a typical seeker-driven service on any given Sunday morning and not hearing the message that martyrs still die for: That we are born sinners into sin-filled world at odds with God and that while we still hated Him, He came to earth as a sinless sacrifice, whose blood on the cross atoned for our sins and the punishment we deserve. He rose from the grave and appeared to hundreds of witnesses, who saw Him ascend to heaven, and those witnesses have been sharing that Good News ever since, that those who believe in Him can repent of their sins and be reconciled to God forever. It is through Christ alone that we are offered Mercy and Grace. Only In His perfect sacrifice, He exchanges His righteousness for our Sin.

In the time I took to read that, 30 seconds have passed. Surely 30 seconds of these life-giving words of the Gospel is the message that we all must hear over and over again. Not just so that we can be saved, but so that we can have real life to the full. A Sunday service without the Gospel regenerates no one.

It is good to talk about making good choices, or treating each other in love. It’s good to sing worship songs and teach about putting God and money in proper perspective. But not at the expense of  The Gospel.  Because if I am still steeped in my sins, unrepentant without knowing who Jesus is, and I’ve just sat through your sermon series on how to have a good marriage or how to feed the hungry, I am still going to Hell when I die.

English: Titian's Ancona Crucifiction, 1558. Unfortunately, many Christians today don’t know what the Gospel is. If you were to ask, they might say that the Gospel is about loving our neighbor, or loving God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength. And while important, these are not the Gospel, but are the essence of the Law. And yes, we need to walk the narrow path and live out what God commands.  But His truth also tells us that as hard as we strive, we can’t love God as perfectly as He commands. And by the way, how did you do at loving your neighbor last week? I fell extremely short.

That’s why we need the Gospel, even as we grow into mature Christians. We hear the Gospel so that we can be reminded of how good He is, and how wretched we are apart from Him. And when we do break the Law – any of them –we can repent of our sins and be forgiven.

As writer Mike Ratliff put it so powerfully, God will not tolerate a perversion of the Gospel because it is the only truth:

However, in our time the Gospel has been retold in all sorts of unbiblical ways. Some are outright lies while others are more subtle, for instance, there is the lie that is mostly true in which the Gospel is given, but that part about repentance and the lordship of Jesus Christ being necessary is left out. People want to make the narrow gate wide and easy, but that has never been God’s way. They want to remove the offense of the Cross, but it has to be there. Preaching against sin “puts people off, offends their sensibilities, puts them on the defensive, and makes them uncomfortable” is being cut from most churches in our time to make them more “seeker friendly.”

1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins  2 in which you once walked according to the world system of this age, according to ruler of the authority of the air, the spirit now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among whom also we all conducted ourselves once in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and we were by nature children of wrath, as also the rest. (Ephesians 2:1-3)

Paul, speaking to Christians, told them and us that they were once just the rest of the world, which was dead in their own trespasses and sin in which they once walked according to the world system. There are no exceptions t this. A “Gospel message” or “theology” that does not address this is not biblical. In fact, it is false teaching. Those who teach these false teachings are teaching a different Gospel, and God will judge them for it.

The only Gospel is, “Trust in Jesus’ blood as the only redemption from sin.”       (Source: Possessing The Treasure)

In those last four seconds is packed an eternity of truth.  No, I don’t think I’m being demanding by asking to hear the Gospel each and every time. How can we expect anything less for our families, our friends and for a world that does not know Him?  Churches, pastors, Christians: It’s time to step up. Let’s not just squeeze these in around our three main principles or five action points. No, let’s make the Gospel the center of every message, and the rest can flow from Christ’s amazing, perfect love.

 

 

 

 

 

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4 Responses to Gospel-less sermons regenerate no one

  1. Dave Mosher says:

    Great post, Mike and Amy! I've been trying to stress this issue in my blogs. It is critical to emphasize the "bloody" message of our Saviour on Calvary, the message of "the Blood and the Cross", in every service. This is the core of the gospel – to ignore or downplay the doctrine of the Atonement is an abomination.

    Two passages come to mind. Paul said:

    "22) Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23) but we preach Christ crucified… (I Cor. 1:22-23a).

    And: "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed." (Gal. 1:8)

    I Googled the search string ["Jesus Christ, and Him crucified"] and found many great articles and sermons on the topic. Also, for me many old gospel hymns convey this message in a powerful way. Churches need to sing these hymns again, regularly: "There is a Fountain Filled With Blood", "The Old Rugged Cross", etc. I found this YouTube video about these old hymns that seemed appropriate:

    !

    I'm hoping to repost your blog (plus including a link to your original in my repost), with your permission. Again, God bless you and your ministry – Dave

    Like

  2. Dan says:

    The depth of the Gospel of Christ whom is named Jesus, God with us.

    The only God that there is. There is none other beside Him, the One whom made everything in the heavens and on earth and under the earth, this very God became man, putting on the flesh of man. Yes He who is called the Ancient of Days without beginning or end, the Eternal One. The Triune One, perfect in unity, perfect in Holiness, perfect in righteousness, the Self Existent One, The Living One, The Love that is. The One whom alone is perfect in Wisdom, perfect in Knowledge, knowing all things before they come to pass. Proclaiming things before they come to pass even the hidden things, working all things in accordance with His own counsel and none shall hinder Him.

    This God took our sins in His Flesh in Christ Jesus yes all sins past present and future. Yes even of those not yet born, who can do such a thing were He not God. Not only did He take our sins upon Himself and took the full wrath of God against sin even onto death, death on the Cross. He did this willingly even though He pleaded three times with the Father if it were possible to let this cup pass from Him. Yet He cried not my will but your will be done. So vulnerable, so weak, sweating blood so great was His despair, an angle was sent to strengthen Him so He could finish the job for which He came. This is the All Powerful One we are talking about, He whom commands the seas and they obey. He who treads the face of the deep. He who holds creation together by the power of His word. Yes Him! Sent to die for the ungodly and purchase freedom for a sinful race offering His own Soul for our sins, and covering our crimson stain by His own blood for without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins. His flesh wringing out the blood in it on the cross, such that His heart had no volume left to push and melted in Him like wax. His blood pouring out through the wounds inflicted by the wicked bulls of Bashan, soldier slaves operating under the authority of a wicked Government Rome.

    God's precious blood pouring out through those precious stripes made by the forty lashes which cleaved His flesh to the bone. The crown of thorns pressed into a shaved head, the bruising of the face, the beard plucked from the checks. Yes every possible path was used until all the blood was spent and it was finished, the full price paid. Nothing further is needed for the Eternal One declared it John 19:30. All of this occurred because God required it all, because of our sin, our offense against Him. Justice had to be served, someone had to pay an eternal price, a perfect price, the exact price for the one offended is perfect righteous and eternal.

    The redeemer had to be willing to do it, being fully aware of the complete cost that was required. Only God wrapped in humanity being found in every way a man yet without sin could do. There would be nor could be any other. Salvation is from the Lord. We must put our trust in Him and in Him alone. There is no other worthy, no other righteous, mankind in it entirety has become unprofitable but it has ever been this way since the fall when the one man Adam, defied the Holy edict and ate the fruit which was forbidden. The first treachery against the Eternal One, the Father of Lights, bringing death upon all mankind.

    As much as sinning against a Holy Righteous Just God breaks my heart it does not break it near enough.

    But how can we understand mercy if there was no offense. How can we understand the greatest of all Love if there is no redemption by His own Hand. How can we understand the gift of grace if there was no need for the Holy Spirits Power.

    We are only scratching the surface we have only begun.

    Like

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