I want to encourage every pastor reading this to keep preaching the gospel. Week in. Week out. Keep exalting, heralding, and lifting up our crucified Savior, risen from the dead, reigning in Heaven, saving all who will look to him and believe.
Gospel-centered sermons actually work. God’s at work in them. The Spirit takes the power of the gospel, the glorious truth of 100% forgiveness by the no-longer-deadness of Jesus, and he applies it the people of God. The gospel changes people.
I received this email from a lady at church:
“I appreciate your consistent presentation of the gospel message that saturates all that you preach on Sundays. I sense the Holy Spirit convicting and changing me slowly over time in places that really need it. I am being washed in the gospel weekly by God’s word through you.”
Amazing. That’s just amazing to me. Who’s actually at work in her life? Me? No. “I sense the Holy Spirit convicting and changing me.” Whoa. That’s divine. That’s supernatural.
I’m not targeting her in my sermons. I’m not thinking of specific applications for her. I’m just preaching Christ. He’s the power; I’m a proclaimer. We can all be that. That’s preaching.
Don’t entertain the idea that your church needs something else more than they need Christ. This has to be one of the chief temptations from the satanic powers for us preachers. You’ll be teased and taunted by another model, another message, another emphasis.
Now, you probably won’t abandon the gospel altogether; that’d be too obvious. Instead, you might preach marriage principles, finances, parenting advice, moral muster, and so on—and using Scripture, lots of it—and then sprinkle a little Jesus at the end. Brothers, that’s not Christian preaching. Sprinkles just sit on top of the ice cream; they aren’t a part of it.
Gospel preaching is where Jesus is the foundation, the center, the emphasis, the prize, the motivation, the hope, the power, and the joy of our sermons. We must be on guard against pimping out the gospel to meet our churches needs, or to prop up our sermons, or our desires. We are in danger of turning Jesus into a valet driver; he pulls the car around, nods, and then disappears into the noise.
Rather, Jesus is the engine. He’s the fuel. He’s the driver. It’s all Jesus. In every sermon, labor, fight, and work to keep Jesus central. When I’m prepping my sermons, I’ll write at the top of my notes, “Don’t forget the gospel, Doofus.” I need that reminder.
Heres’s a simple way to think about gospel-centered sermons:
What would people perceive to be of first importance in this sermon? Jesus or their actions? Three nails or three steps toward _____? An empty tomb or a debt snowball?
It’s decision time for us every time we enter the study:
What will you decide? “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2 ).
What will you proclaim? “Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ” (Col. 1:28 ).
What will make the saints strong? “Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ” (Rom. 16:25 ).
His word will not return to him void. He’ll accomplish his purpose. Preach the cross, the empty tomb, and the radical grace of God—Jesus will do the rest. This is why gospel-centered sermons actually work. Jesus is at work in them.