Mission drift is a silent killer. Long before most churches close their doors, they had been subtly, slowly, and almost imperceptibly drifting away from their purpose.
- A key task for church renewal leaders is stopping this drift and re-centering the church around its reason for existing. While every church has a unique calling, I believe that the ultimate mission of all churches is to proclaim the gospel and to make disciples.
- If you are a lead pastor or a teaching pastor, one key way to keep your church centered on the gospel is to keep your sermons centered on the gospel. Here are a few reasons why this is so important.
Five Reasons to Preach the Gospel in Every Sermon
Reason 1: The Gospel is the Main Message of Scripture.
Because God is the ultimate author of Scripture, all of the Bible has a unifying theme and message. That message is how God graciously rescued us from the punishment we deserve by sending his Son to pay our debt. Everything else flows out from that overarching message.
- For a sermon to be biblical, it must take the passage’s context into account. The ultimate context is the grand narrative of Scripture.
- At my church, we’re in the middle of a sermon series called “Rooted” that is designed to help people see the gospel throughout Scripture.
Reason 2: The Gospel is in Every Part of the Bible.
- When Jesus met two disciples on the road to Emmaus, he explained that his death and resurrection are at the center of every part of Scripture (Luke 24:27).
- The Old Testament Scriptures look forward to Jesus. In them he is poetically described, prophetically proclaimed, and even creatively foreshadowed through tabernacle architecture, temple furniture, priestly duties, and yearly feasts.
- The New Testament looks back on Jesus. The Gospel writers clearly record the events of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. The epistles explain how the cross affects our lives. Revelation shows the how the story ends with Jesus fully victorious over all evil.
Reason 3: Every Single Text Can Point to Jesus.
- The gospel has three basic parts — sin, salvation, and service. Because every passage of Scripture fits into one or more of these categories, every Scripture can point toward Jesus.
- If a passage is about sin, it shows us our need for a Savior. If a passage is about salvation, it teaches the way God rescues us. If a passage is about service, it shows us that faithful living flows out of gratitude for God’s work in our lives and out of the Spirit’s powerful work transforming us.
Reason 4: The Alternative is Self-Help.
- Many preachers stop short of proclaiming the gospel in their sermons. Instead of sharing the Good News of what God has done for us, the message inevitably becomes good advice on what we should do to make life better: Be brave like Daniel. Be faithful like David. Don’t mess up like Adam and Eve.
- This type of teaching belongs on the self-help aisle at the bookstore because it’s the same basic message as every other book located there. People have plenty of choices if they want self-help already and they’re coming to see it doesn’t work. Let’s give them an alternative with transformative power!
Reason 5: The Gospel Meets People Where They Are.
- The people in your pews are weary from living life in a fallen world. They find judgment and condemnation everywhere else. They are thirsty for mercy, grace, and love. Let’s fulfill the mission Jesus has given us and not drift away toward a lesser purpose!
- Centering your church’s mission on the gospel may start in the pulpit, but I pray it will quickly grow to include every corner of church life!
Putting This Week’s Newsletter in Action
A Real-Life Example:
- I preached on Genesis 3 this weekend, a text that is all about sin and its devastating consequences. Still, I found no less than six possible paths to the Gospel.
- I ended up tracing the prophecy about the offspring of the woman forward to Luke 3 and to Jesus’ work on the cross. Here’s a three-minute clip.
- A great resource I used was Preaching Christ from Genesis: Foundations for Expository Sermons by Sidney Greidanus.
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