Cross-less Preaching and the Gospel
A little rushed this morning. My going-into-kindergarten daughter has some sort of "entrance exam" at school this morning, so in getting her and myself ready, I lack the time to compose something original in this space. (Maybe this afternoon.)
But here's something good to chew on from one of my favorite blogs, GospelDrivenLife:
A friend of mine attended a worship service not too long ago and made this simple comment: The message was given and there was a strong invitation to receive Christ but there had been no discussion of Jesus death on the cross for sin. That is frightening at best . . . .
When I think of all the battles there are to fight, the top of the stack is this: to make sure the Gospel is explained clearly and understandably in any evangelistic context. I do not think it is a minor issue. I think it is quite common for things to be vague. If even my few visits to other churches is a skewed selection or the messages I have heard on tape are not an accurate sampling, I know this -- there is very little clear Gospel explanation in what I have heard. I have heard a truncated, therapeuticized Gospel -- I have heard protracted pushes for people to invite Jesus into their hearts -- but I have not heard thoughtful explanations of the Gospel . . .
The fruit is simple: hundreds of "decisions" and few "disciples" --a whole generation thinks this is normal because this practice has become so common. I am not talking about making saving faith difficult or requiring people to memorize Romans to be invited to faith -- but . . . I must be a faithful shepherd of souls and make sure they understand the Gospel as much as possible. And that is where the call of God lies -- for pastors and evangelists to be examples of careful preaching and the care of souls.
Tom Schreiner, in a recent issue of the Southern Baptist Theological Journal, notes the same:
Our ignorance of biblical theology surfaces constantly. I can think of two occasions in the last ten years or so (one in a large stadium by a speaker whose name I cannot recall) where a large crowd was gathered and people were invited to come forward to receive Christ as Savior. The sermon in the stadium was intended to be an evangelistic sermon, but I can honestly say that the gospel was not proclaimed at all. Nothing was said about Christ crucifi ed and risen, or why he was crucifi ed
and risen. Nothing was said about why faith saves instead of works. Thousands came forward, and were no doubt duly recorded as saved. But I scratched my head as to what was really happening, and prayed that at least some were truly being converted.
. . . [T]he Gospel is content. We believe the truth not a Jesus of our own making.