Banners are hung, social media announcements made, newspaper ads run, and invitations printed. Gospel meetings are about to begin. A tremendous amount of energy (and money) is often expended in our efforts to reach out with the gospel. But are we reaching out with the gospel? Are we preaching the gospel?
We often emphasize that the word “gospel” literally means “good news.” Are we preaching good news? Would unbiased visitors conclude after sitting in a gospel meeting that what they have heard is indeed good news, or is the majority of the 60 minutes or so of preaching bad news? Is a large percentage of our content stressing judgment, hell, the lake of fire, false professions, or the dread of being left behind at the Rapture? To be sure, these are real issues that face sinners without Christ, and gospel preaching, of necessity, must indeed include such realities. But is this what should occupy the majority of a “good news meeting”?
Are we preaching Christ crucified (1Cor 1:23)? Are we preaching Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, which is how Paul summarized the gospel itself (1Cor 15:1-4)? Are we preaching the great gospel themes of atonement, justification, redemption, forgiveness, and reconciliation?
Apart from remarks made to the Jewish rulers who condemned the Lord Jesus to be crucified, a glance at the content of messages preached in Acts is enough to show that the apostles did preach overwhelmingly good news. In Acts 2, Peter preached the cross of Christ, His resurrection, His exaltation, salvation, and forgiveness. The next chapter finds Peter repeating the same themes, adding that God sent His Son Jesus “to bless you” (3:26). Philip “preached Christ” in Samaria (8:5) and “Jesus” to the Ethiopian (8:35). Acts 9 says that Paul “preached Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God” (9:20). In Acts 10, the gospel is graciously extended to Gentiles, and Peter emphasizes themes of peace (10:36), Christ’s work (10:38-40) and forgiveness (10:43) once more. Chapter 14 finds Paul and Barnabas in Iconium preaching “the word of His grace” (14:3). To the jailor in Philippi, Paul and Silas unitedly declared good news by saying, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (16:31). Other passages include summaries such as, “And there they preached the gospel” (14:7), or, “this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ” (17:3; see also 18:5, 28). The preaching of “good news” dominates the book of Acts. Does it dominate our gospel preaching today?
Older men encouraged us to preach man’s ruin, God’s remedy, and man’s responsibility. Perhaps an even balance of those three would help us to emphasize the “good news.” So let’s look over our notes. Let’s analyze what we hear and say in our preaching and prepare accordingly. The Lord’s people work hard to bring people to hear “good news.” What a shame if we should be accused of false advertising.