The Centrality of the Gospel in Preaching 9
Aside from a Holy Spirit produced reformation, what is the church to do in maintaining the centrality of the gospel in preaching and reversing the downward slide towards apostasy? I submit that one biblical text providing an answer is Romans 1:16-17.
In striving for, and guarding the accuracy of, the centrality of the gospel in preaching the church must always delight in the Gospel, remember the power of God is contained in the Gospel, recognize the righteousness of Christ is revealed in the Gospel and live consequentially by faith because of the Gospel.
To fully understand what the apostle is saying in vs. 16-17, there must be an acknowledgement and understanding of the immediate preceding context found in Romans 1:1-15. It is within these previous fifteen verses that Paul explains the following:
- The Source of the Gospel. It is the gospel of God. “Paul, a bondservant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God” (English Standard Version, Romans 1.1). God originated and owns the gospel.
- The Promise of the Gospel. It is found in the Holy Scriptures. “…which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures,” (Romans 1.2).
- The Central Figure of the Gospel. It is Jesus Christ. “…concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 1.3).
- The Nature of the Gospel. It is by grace of God. “…through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ. To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 1.4-7).
- The Impact of the Gospel. It is the source of genuine, saving faith. “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world” (Romans 1.8).
- The Fellowship because of the Gospel. It is mutually encouraging and binds believers to each other. “For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine. I want you to know, brothers, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles” (Romans 1.9-13).
- The Obligation to the Gospel. To preach it! “I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome” (Romans 1.14-15).
Therefore, because the gospel belongs to God, is the central theme throughout the Scriptures, is the vehicle of God’s grace, impacts sinners, binds believers together, and is to be preached, the church must first of all find its delight in the centrality of the gospel.