Less Gospel, more Christ please

“David, how is Shona?”

“Oh, the marriage is great. It goes from strength to strength. It enriches, edifies, and encourages me no end. I’m just so humbled by it. I feel so privileged.”

“And Shona?”

“I tell everyone that being married is so amazing. I don’t know why more don’t try it. I suppose you have to experience it to really know.”

“Yes, David, but how about Shona?”

“Well, I’ve written a book about false marriages. And I have a few conferences ahead where I hope to speak on marriage-centered homes and churches. O yes, I just love marriage.”

“Eh, is Shona still alive?”

Too much Gospel, not enough Christ?

I’m concerned. I’m hearing and reading the word “Gospel” at least ten times more than the name of Christ.

Let me give you a sample of the kind of phraseology that is beginning to worry me. This is just a selection from recent reading: “the finished work of the Gospel,” “marinated in the Gospel,” “the Gospel of justification,” “the grace of the Gospel,” “promoting the Gospel,” “the Gospel-centered life/marriage/home,” “contemplation of the Gospel,” “the church that loves the Gospel,” “the Gospel for Christians,” “talk to non-Christians about the Gospel,” “preach the Gospel message,” “I love the Gospel,” “the Gospel of grace,” “enjoying the Gospel,” “a radical Gospel,” “give them the Gospel,” “empowered by the Gospel.” I could go on and on.

“Well, what’s wrong with these words?”

These are indeed wonderful words. They all come from the pens and mouths of good men and women who love the Lord. But they appear in almost Christ-less contexts. For all the talk of the Gospel, there is often little or no mention of Christ.

I’m sure that writers and speakers are often thinking of Christ when they use these phrases. But why not use Christ’s name? That’s what worries me. Is the name and person of Christ being replaced by a soteriology?

I’m not sure why this is happening. I know it’s not intentional. Could it be a bit of embarrassment? Are we more comfortable speaking about loving the Gospel than about loving Jesus? Are we more comfortable commending the Gospel than pressing Christ on our hearers?

But surely that’s what we are all about – we’re about the Christ of the Gospel (or the Gospel of Christ.) And it’s Christ I want preachers and writers to give me. I want to meet Jesus and walk away with Jesus.

So, the next time you are tempted to say or write “Gospel,” may I suggest that you consider using the name of Jesus Christ instead, at least sometimes. Try to redress the present imbalance.

I’m challenging myself here as well. I know from experience that it’s fearfully possible to preach a soteriology but not the Savior; to preach a set of principles, but not a person. The Devil is able to take one of the best words in the world (“Gospel”) and use it to obscure, or even replace, the very best person in the world.

Let’s not have people leaving our churches, articles, blogs, and conferences wondering, “Eh, is Jesus still alive?”

Children’s Bible Reading Plan (18)

Some were finding the double-column landscape layout a bit difficult to print double-sided. So change of format to portrait and single column. Morning and Evening notes here. Single use notes here. For previous notes, click Bible reading tag below.

Any questions on prayer for Joel Beeke?

Tim Challies and I will be interviewing Joel Beeke tomorrow for the first in the new season of Connected Kingdom podcasts. Dr Beeke has recently published two books on prayer, and will be speaking on the same subject at the Desiring God conference next week. So if you have any questions about prayer, submit them today in the comments below, or via Twitter (@davidpmurray) or Facebook.