There are many who would tell us that the “preaching of the Gospel” means to preach Christ and Him crucified. They would frown on the preaching of judgment or hell, the two roads and two destinies, or even sin and repentance. That is all too “hard.” We must be more loving and preach the love of God in our meetings. While I would not disagree that there is much room for improvement when it comes to being more loving and compassionate, we must still give both sides of the Gospel story. A one sided message is not acceptable. The Gospel preacher, to be scriptural and effective, must be balanced.
The heart of our message is the cross and the Lord Jesus Christ who died there, who was buried and who rose again the third day. But why a cross? Why death? Why the darkness? Was it not for sin? Was He not the sinless Christ? I think you can see that I am leading up to the great subject of Man’s Sin, not as an abstract thing, impersonal and universal, but rather personal, and the guilt it brings to the individual sinner. There is no question that the Lord Jesus, in speaking to the woman at the well, carefully, wisely, but very definitely brought her to face her own personal sin. Her account of His dealings with her shows this. “He told me all that ever I did” (John 4:29). When we stress “sin” in our preaching we are aiming at the conscience. The Spirit of God can then use that to convict sinners of their sin and guilt before God. The cross is God’s remedy for man’s sin.
One might ask, why such an extreme price for man’s sin? As a fallen race we have almost no concept of God’s absolute holiness. Even as believers we become accustomed to sin. We shrug our shoulders to the declining standard of the world. We see and allow things today at which, a few years ago, we would have been shocked. God is not like us; “Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity” (Hab 1: 13). The holiness of God is something that the sinner must face. God’s holiness was not compromise at Calvary. It was expressed there. The answer to the Lord’s cry from the darkness, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” is given in Psalm 22:3, “But thou art holy.”
Anne Ross Cousin expressed it so beautifully in her hymn:
“The Holy One did hide His face;
O Christ ’twas hid from thee!
Dumb darkness wrapt Thy soul a space,
The darkness due to me.
But now that face of radiant grace
Shines forth in light on me.”
We can never forget what took place when we saw ourselves as guilty sinners before God! It was there, from that position, that God by His Spirit through His Word, revealed Christ and His finished work to our souls! Should we not stress truths that God has used? These are the effective, Scriptural, time honored principles that have been the means of many coming to repentance.
I have brought out only two of the many important principles that we stress in the Gospel: Man’s Sin, and God’s Holiness. I trust that the Lord will use these few thoughts to help our younger brethren in their preparation for the assembly Gospel meetings.