The Centrality of the Gospel in Preaching 3
The centrality of the gospel in preaching that brought an understanding and embracing of the imputed righteousness of Christ to the souls of Augustine, Luther and Wesley is currently under attack. Realistically, the gospel has always been under attack from the sinful and fallen culture. As the Apostle Paul explained in I Corinthians 1:18-30:
For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:18-31 ESV)
Yet, the centrality of the gospel in preaching, which the outside culture has always hated, is tragically now also under attack by those professing to belong to the church. The assault against the centrality of the gospel in preaching has reached extensive and far-reaching proportions so that many churches and pastors no longer preach the gospel at all, let alone proclaim the whole counsel of God. Expositional preaching is now the exception rather than the norm. Ironically, para-church ministries are developing to teach people in the church God’s Word in large part because the church no longer does. How has this happened?
To begin with, there is the growing emphasis within the local church on entertainment. Many churches no longer concern themselves with preaching the gospel because it is more concerned with pursuing amusement. This vision of ministry is “often” accomplished with cutting edge worship bands, uncomplicated and theologically inept worship songs, stand-up comedian type humor, video montages, political commentary, and/or innocuous and inoffensive devotionals from the pastor that prove to be only transitions to the worship band’s next number or adjournment to the cappuccino bar. When asked why he began attending a mega-church in a neighboring city, a friend of mine matter of factly replied, “the music!”