The most important thing to hear is the accurate, explicit Gospel message that Jesus Christ is Lord, savior, truth, life, creator and our way to God the Father.
Yet how often do church preachers, Christian authors, TV preachers and other Christian message-bearers skip over the actual biblical, Gospel teaching of Christ? What is taught is something either more “relevant” to our modern cultural predilections or more “in line” with longstanding congregational expectations.
The Apostle Paul had this problem in the first century, and we have it today.
Paul battled pagans, Judaizers and others who “just didn’t get” the Gospel truth of Christ. Paul of course didn’t have New Testament scripture on hand or even an organized church. He did, however, have Damascus Road, profound faith, a towering intellect and live eyewitnesses to the ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus.
Today we have the Bible available in thousands of languages, 2,000 years of scholarship and tradition, well-documented and time-tested philosophical development, thoughtful and well-organized churches everywhere … and plenty of congregations being taught something other than the explicit message of the Gospel.
Thankfully, savvy Dallas preacher Matt Chandler has written “The Explicit Gospel,” a book I’ve begun reading that is scratching a particular itch I’ve long suffered.
Chandler opens by describing the all-too-common absence of the preaching and teaching of the real, accurate, biblical, “explicit” Gospel of Jesus Christ. In some cases, Chandler charitably suggests this might be because ministers assume their congregants already know the Gospels so they preach on other subjects. But Chandler also very accurately nails the self-help, culturally sensitive and PC obeisant preaching of those who think the Gospel is too controversial or unbelievable to draw a crowd, hold its attention or hasten a tithe. Chandler’s point is: Teach the real Gospel. Do it now.
My “itch” is seeing people everywhere “substitute worshipping” something other than Christ. In the secular world it may be money, power, fame, education, family, sports, sex or many other things. Among believers, we see all that plus Christians making the mistake of worshipping a specific church, a pastor, a style of worship, a ministry or a hundred other things that are peripheral to the center of Christian worship.
As we all know, that center is Jesus Christ, and His message is in the Gospels.