Why Pastors Should Preach the Gospel in Every Sermon
Believe it or not doing something as simple as giving the Gospel in every sermon can literally transform your church. Although I now lead an evangelism training ministry for teenagers called Dare 2 Share, for ten years I was the preaching pastor at a church I helped to plant in the Denver area.
The very first Sunday I made a public commitment to give the Gospel in every service at some point during the sermon. What happened as a result? People began to bring their yet-to-be-reached friends, neighbors, classmates and co-workers to church!
Within ten years God blessed our church with over a thousand people attending on a regular basis, the vast majority of which came to Jesus through the people of our church. Our mission savvy congregation knew that every Sunday the Gospel would be clearly given so they relentlessly and relationally invited their co-workers, friends and neighbors to come check out our church.
Today the church is over 3,000 strong and is making and multiplying disciples in a massive way. My life-long friend, co-church planter and the current lead pastor of this Gospel advancing church, Rick Long, continues to “gospelize” every sermon and has seen outstanding results. This church is well known in our city for its excitement for evangelism.
So, in addition to building your church with new disciples, why preach the Gospel in every sermon? Here are four more solid reasons:
1. It honors Jesus.
Describing his preaching style Charles Spurgeon once said, “I take my text and make a beeline for the cross.” The scarlet thread of redemption, which starts in Genesis and goes all the way through to Revelation, takes every reader straight to Jesus, his blood stained cross and an empty tomb. It is the preacher’s job to study a passage, find that thread, pull it and then preach it.
There’s not a page of Scripture that doesn’t point to Jesus in some way. So to be true and accurate expositors and faithful and effective preachers demands that we explain the Gospel in every sermon. To fail to do so is like a lawyer making a case without a closing argument or a comedian who sets up a joke but never gives the punch line.
We honor Jesus when we honor his Gospel. We honor his gospel when we preach it clearly (Colossians 4:4), compellingly (2 Corinthians 5:11) and consistently (1 Corinthians 2:2.)
2. It transforms the Christian.
1 Corinthians 1:18 makes it clear that “The preaching of the cross is foolishness to the perishing but to those of us who are being saved it is the power of God.”
I love this passage because it refers to Christians as those “who are being saved.” Sure, we’ve already been saved from the penalty of sin (eternal death in hell) but we are also being saved from the power of sin in our day-to-day lives.
This means that there’s never a point in a Christian’s life when the Gospel should get old. It is new every morning. It is needed every night. The same Gospel that saves us also sanctifies us.
Why else would Jesus instruct his disciples in Matthew 26:26-28 to consistently remember his broken body and shed blood through the ordinance of communion? His shed blood and broken body on the cross are to be central to our church services.
Some believe (like me) that when the disciples broke bread in Acts 2:42-47 it was a daily thing. By the time we get to the church of Corinth in 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 it seems like Communion is at the minimum a part of the weekly gathering of believers.
My point isn’t to say how often you should do communion in your church services. Do as the Spirit of the Lord directs you. My point is that, if it was done weekly in the early church (which there is every indication that it was) then the Gospel was given in every service. Those unbelievers attending their services (1 Corinthians 14:24,25) would always be exposed to the Gospel message when communion was given.
Communion shows the lost person that the way of salvation comes through the cross and reminds the believer that the pathway to sanctification is through the cross! Giving the Gospel in every sermon does the same powerful thing.
3. It “gospelizes” the church.
Tell me if this doesn’t sound exciting, “After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly. All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them.” Acts 4:31-34
The focus on mission by the early church led to their gatherings being fueled by prayer, filled with the Spirit, and flowing with excitement! There was an atmosphere of anticipation for the miraculous! The early believers were fully gospelized and they were committed to gospelize others!
Their focus on advancing the Gospel produced a brand of deep-seeded unity that most pastors would only dare dream of! It resulted in jaw-dropping generosity and Christ-like selflessness among the early believers that caused the watching world to pause. When the people in your congregation rally around the Gospel message and mission they will begin to get “gospelized!” This will accelerate this same kind of unity, generosity and selflessness that defined the early church.
4. It moves people from death to life.
“I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.” Acts 26:17,18
When we give the Gospel we are literally being used by God to bring the lost from death to life, from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to the kingdom of God. Think about it this way, if you had the cure to cancer and there were those in your life who had the cure to cancer, would you tell them? Not only would you tell them the cure you’d do everything in your persuasive powers to get them to take it. If they resisted you’d persist until they ingested or injected the cure.
In the same way there are those who attend your church who are ravaged by the cancer of sin. Call out to God on behalf of their souls and then do everything in your persuasive powers to get them to say “yes” to the cure…Jesus!
Does all this mean that the only thing you preach on Sunday morning is the Gospel? Of course not! But it means that, no matter whatever subject you are preaching on, you make a salvation segue to Christ and him crucified at some point and extend to the audience the opportunity to put their faith and trust in Jesus.
You, like Spurgeon, take your text and make a beeline for the cross!