On the heels of the last post about resolutions, I've decided to actually make one. It's not a new one. It's not an original one. Hopefully it's not one that I can't follow through on. But it's one I think we (as in pastors) ought to make again and again. Whatever else we do, we ought to resolve to preach the gospel.
I recently picked up Paul Washer's new book "The Gospel's Power and Message" and didn't get past the introduction before this reminder hit home. I've had the opportunity to hear Bro. Washer on a couple occasions and I always walked away feeling both energized and convicted. Truth has a way of doing that. This book seems as if it's going to have the same impact on me.
Listen to what he writes in the introduction: "One of the greatest crimes committed by this present Christian generation is its neglect of the gospel, and it is from this neglect that all our other maladies spring forth. The lost world is not so much gospel hardened as it is gospel ignorant because so many of those who proclaim the gospel are also ignorant of its most basic truths."
As Voddie Baucham is known for saying: If you can't say "Amen", you gotta say "Ouch!" Again, this isn't anything new. Washer even quotes from Charles Spurgeon who said of his own day that "In this age, there have risen up in the church itself men who speak perverse things...and undermine the faith they are pledged to maintain." It's an ailment that has plagued the church time and again.
And yet, in many ways it does seem as though the American church is striving to top the list of "perverse things" being taught and "gospel neglect." As a pastor, it's my responsibility to examine what goes on in our church, what goes on in my own teaching, to ensure that we are not guilty of these same things.
Kevin DeYoung just posted a piece about "Things People Should Never Say They Never Heard in Your Church." Most of the truths he mentions are basic gospel truths. He reminds us that people can come and go in our churches for years, but that's no guarantee that they know the things they need to know. It may be that they just aren't listening, but as a pastor it's up to me to be sure that it's not because I'm not proclaiming it.
Paul's instructions to Timothy were pretty simple: Preach the Word (2 Timothy 4:2). Preach the Gospel. Not entertain, not build a reputation, not make people feel better about themselves. Preach the Gospel. Preach the Word of God in season and out, when it's popular and when it's not. Just preach the Word.
I'm looking forward to the rest of Washer's book, which in large part is simply a collection of his sermons edited for publication. I'm looking forward to being reminded of the central elements of this Gospel message we have been called to proclaim. I need to be reminded what my true task is. Too often I get sidetracked by the mundane issues of church life, and the temptation to feel burdened by the "never-ending-Sunday" issue many pastors feel (Sunday's coming and I've got to have something to say!).
But it's no burden. And we do have something to say. And it's something that people need to hear more than anything: the Gospel. And so I resolve that whatever else may happen in our church this year, the gospel will be proclaimed. If people walk away from this place not knowing the truth of Jesus Christ and Him crucified, may it never be because I failed to proclaim Him.