The dedication page of Preaching the Gospel reads: For the next generation of preachers of the cross. Not preachers of baptism. Not preachers of spiritual gifts. Not preachers of covenants. Not preachers of methods. Not preachers of non-essentials. Preachers of the cross.
It’s not that baptism, spiritual gifts, or covenants are bad things. The point is that we should be united on the Main Thing – the gospel. Less than a week remains before the opening session of Together For the Gospel 08. It is a conference not “to showcase our differences,” as Mark Dever says, but to “highlight what we agree on–we came together for the gospel.” I will be there, joining with hundreds of others uniting together in the gospel.
A.W. Tozer is quoted in preface to Preaching the Cross, saying “one hundred worshipers meeting together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be were they to become ‘unity’ conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship.” Our declaration should like Paul: “Far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”
When all our boast, when all our aim, and when all our focus is on the cross – all else fades away. The world behind me, the cross before me.
The main thing – the gospel – is and must remain the main thing. But what is this gospel?
Is This The Gospel?
She was nervous and I could tell. You know the feeling in the air – something big is about to happen. I was taking her money through a drive-thru window. She was balancing a tract on her lap. “The change is 37 cents,” I smiled and said. She took the change and glanced down at the paper in her lap.
I was tempted to tell her I didn’t need it, that I was a Christian, and that I would probably write about her on my blog someday. But I didn’t. I watched and waited. Finally, she moved.
“Here’s just a little something for you to read on break!” She smiled and said. “It tells you how to get to heaven.” She took off in her van as I stared down at the paper in my hand. That’s it? I thought. I’m just trying to get to heaven? What about my problems here on earth? What about this brokenness around me?
I knew she was nervous and afraid, and I was glad she had the courage to give me that tract that day. But I was dissatisfied with the message I was receiving, even in the tract itself. Was this the gospel?
Let’s Define It
John Stott wrote, “All around us we see Christians relaxing their grasp on the gospel, fumbling it, and in danger of letting it drop from their hands all together.” That is frightening – and so true of many of our churches.
In his post “The Gospel,” C.J. Mahaney offered Jeff Purswell’s definition of the gospel:
“The gospel is the good news of God’s saving activity in the person and work of Christ. This includes his incarnation in which he took to himself full (yet sinless) human nature; his sinless life which fulfilled the perfect law of God; his substitutionary death which paid the penalty for man’s sin and satisfied the righteous wrath of God; his resurrection demonstrating God’s satisfaction with his sacrifice; and his glorification and ascension to the right hand of the Father where he now reigns and intercedes for the church”
Paul put it this way: “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins, in accordance to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures…” (1 Cor. 15:3-4 )
That is the gospel. That is what we are uniting together on. We are keeping the main thing, the main thing.