We could go page by page through the New Testament and show that there is one message that permeates the life of the church. It is this message that brings spiritually dead sinners to spiritual life. It is this message that builds up the saints so that they are not moved away from the hope of the Gospel. It is this message that impacts our marriages, families, friendships, and fellowship. It is this message that preserves and protects the church from error. It is the only message that God has given the church to inform and animate its ministry and mission. It is the message that will ultimately bring us safe to glory.
Over the past decade a floodwater of cultural change in our country has occurred, leaving a massive impact on the church in America. Twenty years ago, there was a push to address the issue of mercy ministry and evangelism in our churches. Much of this was, no doubt, a helpful corrective to a perceived deficiency in local churches.
Today, the loudest voices speak incessantly about issues related to social justice, intersectionality, and human flourishing. Time will most certainly tell whether this was a needed corrective or a toxic corrosive for the church. Movements and organizations spring up almost as fast as they whither. The leaders of many social and para-ecclesial syndicates wish to influence the church in such a way that the church will embrace the obligations they press on her.
There is a noticeable lack of focus on the Gospel in many churches today.
When I sit back and read the deluge of thoughts and opinions online about what the church ought to be doing, I sense a noticeable lack of focus on the Gospel. In the many Twitter rants that recur on a daily basis, there is a discernible deficiency with regard to Scripture and the Gospel. Any intellectually honest assessment of the content of so much that is bandied about on the Internet must necessarily lead to the conclusion that people are bored with the Gospel.
Either they don’t believe that it is “the power of God unto salvation for those who believe,” or they have convinced themselves that the Gospel is simply one among many messages that ought to take front seat in the message and ministry of the church. In either case, the only conclusion we can draw from the fact that the preaching of the Gospel is no longer the center of gravity in the message and ministry of many churches in our day is that people don’t believe the Gospel works. They are not astonished by the glory, majesty, unspeakable greatness of the message of Christ crucified and risen.
The central message of Scripture is the message of the Gospel.
When we turn to the Scriptures, we get everything necessary for life and godliness. We hear God’s voice in Scripture. “The Holy Spirit says,” “The Spirit said through…,” and “As the Spirit says,” are some of the most commonly used introductions to Old Testament citations in the New Testament. The whole of the Bible is the whole of God’s word. It is God speaking by the Holy Spirit to the church. The church is perfected by the washing of the water of the word and the proclamation of the whole counsel of God given by those men God has called and equipped to faithfully preach and teach the Gospel. Christ is the only head of the church and as such is the sole authority for how the church is to function in the world.
Jesus is also the great High Priest of his church and the perfect sacrifice for the salvation of the souls of his people. The central message of Scripture is the message of the Gospel—the good news of what God has done through the death and resurrection of Jesus for the salvation of his people. Surely, the message of the cross impacts more than simply the forgiveness of the sins of an individual, but it is not less than that. In fact, whenever the Gospel in preached by the apostles, that is the central message of the cross.