Thursday, January 15, 2009

Woe Is Me If I Preach Not The Gospel

Woe Is Unto Me If I Preach Not The Gospel
Recently, while in route to a Bible class, I tuned into a Christian
radio station, and listened to one of the best explanations I’ve ever heard
of the “seventy weeks” of Daniel (Dan. 9:24-27). The preacher—who,
by the way, is one of the most revered and respected Bible expositors
around—rightly attributed the passage as prophecy to Israel, and his
explanation of what the “weeks” mean, and the mathematics of it were
absolutely right on, but there was something missing: the gospel.
The entire point, in my opinion, of expositing any scripture is to
use it to showcase the the “the gospel of Christ,” which is, “the power
of God unto salvation.” (Romans 1:16) The title of this tract, “woe is
unto me if I preach not the gospel” (1 Cor. 9:16), is taken from the
section of the Bible—the 13 epistles of the apostle Paul—in which this
gospel is exclusive. Paul understood and taught throughout his epistles,
that it is the words of the gospel that people must hear and believe in
order to be saved. Assuming that people will “figure out” what the
gospel is by exposition from other areas of Scripture, or that everyone in
the audience is saved, is the height of presumption. In Romans chapter
ten it says, “faith come by hearing, and hearing by the word of
God” (Romans 10:17), and faith must begin with salvation; and
salvation cannot occur unless one hears the gospel of their salvation, i.e.,
“that Christ died for our sins…that he was buried…that he rose
again the third day…for our justification” (1 Cor. 15:1-4; Romans
So why didn’t this preacher preach this? (I happen to know he
knows it, because I’ve heard him preach it on other occasions.) I really
don’t know. Maybe it was an oversight, but that is no excuse. If we,
those of us who are called to preach, fail to preach the gospel of Christ,
according to the title verse, we’ve utterly failed in our calling—“woe”
be unto us. Folks may be intellectually stimulated by a skilled
presentation, or emotionally moved by the passion of the speaker, but if
the gospel isn’t preached, nobody can be saved, and God’s will (1 Tim.
2:4) is not advanced.
This gentleman is not the only preacher guilty of not preaching
the gospel; the practice seems to be pandemic in the contemporary
church. I listen to quite a bit of preaching on radio and television, and
rarely ever hear it preached. Oh, I don’t doubt that a lot of preachers
think they’re preaching it by calling on people to “repent,” or to “ask
Jesus into your heart,” or “give your life to the Lord,” or “pray this
prayer with me.” Some of these things should be preached to those who
are saved. If you are saved you most likely need to repent of a lot of
things you do and believe. This is all a part of the edification process and
coming “unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:5); but it won’t
get anybody saved--only the gospel can accomplish this.
In the first chapter of the letter to the Corinthians Paul said,
concerning the gospel, “for the preaching of the cross is to them that
perish foolishness, but unto us which are saved it is the power of
God.” (1 Cor. 1:18) “The preaching of the cross” is the gospel of Christ,
and it says here that it is “foolishness” to them that perish, i.e., the
unsaved. I believe in this statement lies the primary reason why it (the
gospel of Christ) isn’t preached anymore by the Christian establishment:
because the vast majority of their audiences (which, if you’ve noticed,
are getting larger all the time), aren’t saved, and would therefore be “put
off” by the preaching of it. The unsaved, in order to keep them in the
pews, must be appealed to on a temporal basis, because it says later on
in that same letter to the Corinthians that, “the natural man receiveth
not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto
him…” (1 Cor. 2:14). This “natural man” doesn’t want to hear about all
this “cross” business; what he (she) wants to hear is: “what can Jesus do
for me now?” He’s broke, or sick, or depressed (or all three), and he
wants these things “fixed,” and preachers are all to eager to
accommodate him with what they call “the gospel,” which usually goes
something like this: “Jesus loves you, and has a wonderful plan for your
life. He wants you to be prosperous and healthy and happy. Ask Jesus
into your heart today.” This isn’t “the gospel of Christ.” Nowhere does
the gospel of Christ offer anyone any of these things. It says to
“Confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in thine heart
that God hath raised him from the dead, and thou shalt be saved.”
To be “saved” means to be delivered from the wrath of God, and assured
of eternal life with him in heaven. (1 Thessalonians 1:10; 4:13-18)
The usual response to this from “prosperity” gospel preachers (if
there is one at all) is: “If I were doing the wrong thing, or preaching
something contrary to God’s will, would I be prospering (with ever
larger congregations and followings) the way I am?” The fallacy in this
statement is in claiming God (almighty) to be the one doing the
prospering. These large followings are built, not by telling people the
truth (that they are dirty, rotten, lowdown, hell-bound sinners in need of
salvation; that Christ came to die for their sins, not to stuff their pockets
with money, or give them perfect health), but rather by finding out what
they want to hear, and then preaching it to them. The result of this is a
plethora of huge congregations, full of religious (but unsaved) junkies
who show up every Sunday and Wednesday to get their “fix.” Saved
folks, who happen to be in these churches are spiritually starved,
because there is little or no spiritual meat being dispensed there.
I believe one of the inner evidences of salvation is, when
someone who is truly saved hears the gospel of Christ--the gospel of
their salvation--they are comforted by it, and there is rejoicing in their
hearts; they never tire hearing it. Why? Because every time they hear it
they are reminded of their own salvation: that time in their lives when
they recognized their lost condition, and threw themselves on the mercy
of the Lord, trusting him to save them. In the same token, I believe it is
a sure sign that one is probably not saved when they become annoyed or
uneasy at the preaching of the cross. May I ask you, friend, is that you?
Are you religious but lost? Can you look back and recall that day you
trusted Christ for your salvation? Do you rejoice in your heart at the
preaching of the cross? Whoever you are, wherever you are, whatever
you’ve done or not done, you can be saved eternally now by simply
trusting the Lord Jesus Christ for your salvation, believing that he died
for your sins and was raised again for your justification. “Believe on
the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…and….sealed unto
the day of redemption.” (Acts 16:31; Ephesians 4:30)
Mike Schroeder
Questions and comments may be addressed to the Amazing Grace Bible
Study Fellowship, 1220 Airline, suite 130d, box 14, Corpus Christi,
Texas, 78412; or you may contact us by phone at: 361-993-2200; or online
at: All scripture references are from the King
James Bible.

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