The Gospel is a fact, therefore tell it simply; it is a joyful fact, therefore tell it cheerfully; it is an entrusted fact, therefore tell it faithfully; it is a fact of infinite moment, therefore tell it earnestly; it is a fact about a Person, therefore preach Christ.
It is not the main part of [the evangelist] to tell men to make their peace with God, but to tell them that God has made peace with the world. At bottom, the Gospel is not good advice, but good news. All the good advice it gives is summed up in this – Receive the good news!
The redemption of an eternal soul is one sale that I, in my own strength, cannot accomplish. I need to know that, not so that I won’t preach the Gospel, but so that I won’t allow my presentation of the Gospel to be molded by what I think will finally get a response and close a sale. Instead of using all my powers to convict and change the sinner, while God stands back as a gentleman quietly waiting for the spiritual corpse, His declared spiritual enemy, to invite Him into his heart, I’m going to preach the Gospel like a gentleman, trying to persuade but knowing that I can’t convict and convert and change the sinner. Then we’ll see clearly just who can really call the dead to life.
Clarity with the claims of Christ certainly will include the translation of the gospel into words that our hearer understands, but it doesn’t necessarily mean translating it into words that our hearer will like. Too often, advocates of relevant evangelism verge over into being advocates of irrelevant nonevangelism. A gospel that in no way offends the sinner has not been understood.
The default condition of our flesh is “earn it.” We enter the world in love with legalism. We are convinced that we can merit God’s favor. We love moralism, but we resist the gospel. Parents who understand this never cease preaching the gospel to themselves and their children.
In the Puritan tradition George Whitefield wonderfully exemplified in his preaching a stable understanding of divine sovereignty and human responsibility. He used to place lost sinners in a vice. He pressed home the necessity of repentance. But the lost sinner is a slave. He cannot repent. Yet to be saved he must repent. He cannot. He must. His only recourse is to look away from himself to the one who can save. His escape route is cut off. There is no help in himself. His only hope is to call on God for mercy. And a God of mercy will never cast out those who come to Him in faith.
Any fool can write learned language. The vernacular is the real test. If you can’t turn your faith into it, then you either don’t understand it or you don’t believe it.
The glorious good news of the gospel is that the sin-devastated relationship between lost sinners and the holy God can be restored. That at first glance seems impossible. God’s perfect, infinite, righteous justice demands the punishment of all who violate His law. Standing before the bar of His justice are helpless, guilty sinners, unable either to satisfy God or to change their condition. But through God’s plan of reconciliation all the hostility, animosity, and alienation separating the Holy One and sinners vanishes, and those who were once His enemies become His friends. The high calling and noble privilege of preaching this message of reconciliation is the most important duty in the world, since it deals with eternal destinations.
It is a myth to think that because I’m somebody famous or well-known or because I’m slick or clever, or because I package my little presentation in lingo and terminology that’s kind of at the core of contemporary vernacular that somehow this influences people. You know what gets people saved? Not that kind of influence. What gets people saved is a recognition of who Jesus Christ is and an honest evaluation of their condition and the need for the Savior. What we need is not more people trying to influence society. We need more people preaching the gospel. It’s confrontation, not influence.
Simplicity in expression is of utmost importance. The teacher should speak so that even children and people who cannot read may be able to understand him, as far as the natural mind can comprehend the things of God. Every congregation has people of various educational and social backgrounds. The expounder of the truth of God speaks for God and for eternity. It is unlikely that he will benefit the hearers unless he uses plain speech.
The Autobiography of George Muller, 1984, p. 34. All quotations taken from books published by Whitaker House are used with permission of the publisher. Whitaker House books are available at Christian bookstores everywhere. Get this book!
The gospel does not say, “There is a Savior, if you wish to be saved;” but, “Sir, you have no right to go to hell — you cannot go there without trampling on the Son of God” (John Duncan).
Trying to make the Gospel relevant is like trying to make water wet (Matt Chandler).
Our business is to present the Christian faith clothed in modern terms, not to propagate modern thought clothed in Christian terms… Confusion here is fatal.
While our heart for social justice grows out from the gospel, social justice by itself will not communicate the gospel. We need gospel proclamation, for as much as people may see our good deeds, they cannot hear the good news unless we tell them. Social justice, though valuable as an expression of Christian love, should, especially as a churchwide endeavor, serve the goal of gospel proclamation.
Social Justice by Darrin Patrick taken from Don’t Call it a Comeback, edited by Kevin DeYoung, copyright 2011, Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton Illinois 60187, www.crosswaybooks.org, p. 158.
Each generation of the church in each setting has the responsibility of communicating the gospel in understandable terms, considering the language and thought-forms of that setting.
Explain the Gospel as perfectly as possible and they sadly just do not see it. The problem is not necessarily the presenter. The problem is definitely not the Gospel! Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:4 that the Gospel is “the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” That’s impressive, as good as it gets! But because of the spiritual blindness of the individual (2 Cor. 4:3-4), unable to see the Gospel’s greatness, there is simply no desire without God’s enabling power. And add to the blindness, a spiritually dead heart (Eph. 2:1), and there is absolutely no way a person on his or her own will ever desire Jesus Christ. In other words, people are not blinded because they chose to renounce the Gospel. Rather people renounce the Gospel because they are blinded by the evil one.
The Gospel is “Good News,” but we can’t get to the good news until we talk about the bad news because apart from the bad news we will see no need for the good news. Awareness of our sinfulness is the motivation to seek the cure of forgiveness found only in Christ.
Don’t go where it is all fine music and grand talk and beautiful architecture; those things will neither fill anybody’s stomach, nor feed his soul. Go where the gospel is preached, the gospel that really feeds your soul, and go often.
He who talks upon plain gospel themes in a farmer’s kitchen, and is able to interest the carter’s boy and the dairymaid, has more of the minister in him than the prim little man who keeps prating about being cultured, and means by that – being taught to use words which nobody can understand.
If offense is to be taken at the gospel, let it be because of the gospel, not the one who proclaims it.
The communion of the gospel is by seeing as well as by hearing. This double strand runs all through the Bible: image and word, vision and voice, opening the eyes of the blind and unstopping the ears of the deaf. Just as Jesus is the Word of God and the Image of God. The Word become visible, the Image audible… We are familiar enough with the verbal element of evangelism. Where is the visual?