2008-07-12 - Why I Preach the Gospel
Isaiah 45:22, "Turn to Me, and be saved, all the ends of the Earth; for I am God, and there is no other."
Every week I preach a sermon, and every week that sermon includes the Gospel of Salvation as it is found, and found only, in the Lord Jesus Christ through His Atonement for sin on the cross. It is the central point I am trying to make: Repent of your sin, and turn to Christ for all your hope and trust. I admit that sometimes I think the congregation gets sick of hearing about forgiveness from sins in Christ. I feel like a broken record, repeating the same thing over and over. Sometimes the thought crosses my mind, "Maybe someday I will have something else to talk about, and they will be interested in that." It is then that a second thought thankfully has also immediately come into my mind, "If I ever get beyond preaching Christ, and salvation in Him alone, it is time to find something else to do." Why is that? I have to ask myself that first, but I ask you to consider why, if the preacher does not preach the Gospel, he should stop preaching altogether. It is an important question.
First, this is because the Gospel is for both those who have come to Christ, and those who will come to Christ. We proclaim salvation in Christ to those who already place their hope in Him, because it is an important reminder of where their hope is. It confirms to them, after a week in a world that does not generally speak of the things of salvation in Christ, what they know to be true already in their hearts. The Gospel is a great encouragement to the believer in Christ. When all is said and done, the Gospel is his/her only real encouragement. We proclaim Christ to the one who does not yet trust in Christ, to make known to them that there is hope in no place else. Most have sought for release, peace from a nagging conscience, and forgiveness from their sins in all sorts of various places. We tell them that they will never find it, until they come to Christ. They know of their despair of eternal hope, fear of death, and even greater fears of Hell, and we confirm these things. The preacher says, " All those fears you have are true, but there is one place you may come to turn those fears into hope and joy. Come to Christ." I have to remind myself that the Gospel is both for those who have come to Christ and those who will come to Christ, and so I continue to preach the Gospel of salvation in Christ alone.
Christ didn't die on the cross for the righteous. He died for sinners. "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners," 1 Timothy 1:15. The Gospel is not really for good people. The Gospel is for sinners. It is the Gospel that makes sinners good. The truth is, if we were really good, as God defines good - which is perfect - we would not need salvation. But all those who fall short of perfection are not good in God's eyes, thus they are sinners, and profoundly in need of salvation in Christ. The person who thinks he/she is good will never understand this. They don't think they are sinners, and if they do admit they are sinners, they will always think that they are not bad sinners, and that God plays with sin, accepts a little bit of sin because He is a God of love. God doesn't actually play with sin. And God is a God of love. He loves holiness. None of us are holy in ourselves. We must come to Christ to be holy. We must have Christ's righteousness, because we have only sin in ourselves. God condemns sinners to hell, He condemns even sinners who think they are good sinners, who do not turn to Christ, to Hell.
This is why I preach the Gospel. You are not good if you are a sinner, and we are all sinners. The Gospel is that Christ came to save sinners from their sin. We can be good, but not outside of Christ. It is the New Birth, or commonly called regeneration, that gives us a new heart, a new inward principle, and without it we are still in our sins. Christ gives us His goodness (His righteousness) and makes us good. Left to ourselves, and anyone honest will admit this, left to ourselves, we will never be good in a final sense. We sin. Sin is our regular experience, and thus we need Christ. Even those who have trusted Christ need to run to Christ for fresh supplies of His grace and mercy, because while we continue to breathe, we continue to sin. The Christian still needs to continue to walk and breathe in the forgiveness Christ freely offers, because the Christian also still sins.
I have to preach the Gospel of salvation. The first person I always preach my sermon to is myself. I am a sinner in need of that grace moment-by-moment, second-by-second. There is a standing rule with preachers, that if the Gospel is not preached in the sermon, a sermon has not been preached. It is true that sometimes I think people get tired of hearing the Gospel, but they shouldn't. It is either where all their hope already rests, or where all their hope needs to rest. By God's grace, I pray that I never stop preaching the wonderful good news of the Gospel of salvation to those who trust in Christ - and also to those who will trust in Christ.
Soli Deo Gloria,