Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you . . .
– 1 Corinthians 15:1
As a pastor committed to gospel-centrality, it can be frustrating and distressing to re-learn every day how difficult it is for people to “get it.” Every day in gospel-centered ministry is a new lesson in “Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive” (Is. 6:9).
This is not a deficiency of pulpit preaching, because a) people seem very good at remembering the parts they want to remember, and b) the gospel is the primary message of everything else I/we do, from counseling to children’s talks to friendly chit-chat to Facebook page status updates and the like.
Still, many seem pathologically devoted to anything warm and fuzzy that is not the gospel. “If I just stay positive, things will be okay.” Well, no, they won’t. And I’ve told you that a billion times. “If I just pray more, my life wouldn’t be so difficult.” Are we reading the same Bible? “Just keep hoping; that’s all we’ve got.” That doesn’t even make sense.
My least favorite times are when those who hear the gospel clearly articulated on a regular basis couldn’t tell you in their own words what the gospel is.
In the Scriptures we find this phrase “lay it to heart” or “take it to heart.” We find that there are many who hear the words of God, but they never lay them to heart. We’re still failing to do that, and I think every fleshly bit of us is still attracted to anything shiny. We’re like babies this way, or cats. Anything that smells of the cross activates the reverse polarity of our flesh.
So. We must force the issue. With ourselves first and then with our churches.
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus…
– Hebrews 12:2 (NIV)
Here I must take counsel of the gospel. I must hearken to the gospel, which teacheth me, not what I ought to do, (for that is the proper office of the law), but what Jesus Christ the Son of God hath done for me: to wit, that He suffered and died to deliver me from sin and death. The gospel willeth me to receive this, and to believe it. And this is the truth of the gospel. It is also the principal article of all Christian doctrine, wherein the knowledge of all godliness consisteth. Most necessary it is, therefore, that we should know this article well, teach it unto others, and beat it into their heads continually.
– Martin Luther