Summary: The five elements of Gospel preaching...what makes for a Gospel sermon? It isn’t style; it’s substance!
Bible Teaching Ministry of
CEDAR LODGE BAPTIST CHURCH
September 5, 2004
7Thus he showed me: and, behold, the Lord stood upon a wall made by a plumbline, with a plumbline in his hand.
8And the LORD said unto me, Amos, what seest thou? And I said, A plumbline. Then said the Lord, Behold, I will set a plumbline in the midst of my people Israel:
I will not again pass by them any more:
Amos 7:7-8 (KJV)
Plumblines are amazing. Until several years ago when Dad was cleaning out his toolbox, I had never even held one. I also never knew that things you built could actually stand straight. Before I had a plumbline, everything I’d ever put together looked much like the leaning tower of pizza. I have to face facts: Tools and I don’t mix well!
The Lord showed Amos a line, a plumbline He had drawn to show Israel where they had gone wrong. The nation of God’s people had grown cold and indifferent about serving God. They were also guilty of oppression of the poor. They were as cold and indifferent to people as they were to God. And the Lord wasn’t pleased. All of Amos’ prophecy is a warning of judgment to come; if you want to sleep after turning out the light, don’t read it at bedtime!
One thing about plumblines – they are always right. Gravity will always draw the weight directly to the center of the earth’s axis. You will always have a “straight-up-and-down” 90o angle; it will always divide perfectly. God’s plumbline for us is the same. That plumbline is God’s inerrant, infallible revealed truth, the Word of God.
This morning I would like to share with you that part of the plumbline we call “the Gospel”. In particular it is the preaching of the Gospel which we find (for the first time) in Acts.
Now, aspects of the Gospel can be seen from the first chapter of Genesis, all the way through the Revelation. But, the New Testament preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ began on the day of Pentecost.
16For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ:
for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. Romans 1:16 (KJV)
According to the apostle Paul, the centrality of the preaching of that Gospel is the cross, and the preaching of the cross has always brought about two responses of opposite nature; we either respond with unbelief or faith. Depending on a person’s response, it leads to equally opposite results:
18For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18 (KJV)
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is a plumbline; the cross of that Gospel is a plumbline. This plumbline requires that you line up on one side or the other of a perfectly divided choice. There are only two options, no fence upon which to sit:
• Option #1 is foolishness, which is responding with rejection to the Gospel. Every week, perhaps in every church in the world there are people who reject the Gospel as a foolish story…religion that has no relevance. People who do so eventually perish!
• Option #2 is responding to the Gospel in faith, which becomes the power of God to be saved from the kind of judgment Amos preached. And to receive the gift of eternal life and the indwelling of God’s precious Holy Spirit!
What exactly is the Gospel? There is a lot of confusion these days about what Christians believe. So many preachers; so many ideas – how do you tell which is genuine and which is false?
I read an article Joe Alexander sent me from a Lexington newspaper about a local man who has published books about Christianity and reincarnation. He believes Jesus taught it – that we die, then are reincarnated over and over. The man, a retired engineer, has a website promoting his views, and even rented a hall in Lexington last week to lecture on reincarnation as part of Christian belief, because, in his own words:
• "It’s the kind of atmosphere that we have right now," he said. "There are great differences politically ... The whole religious question is the most confusing it has ever been ... It’s the general picture that young people, more than ever, cannot make sense of religion. 
Now, friends, if this man thinks putting “…reincarnation and Christianity back under the same roof” [as he put it] will clarify Christian doctrine and make the Gospel of Christ more available, well, we have a lot of work to do!
The Bible clearly says that it is appointed once for a man to die – not die and live over and over again.