Written by: Pastor Don Robertson (Senior Pastor of Faith Community Church in Pearland, TX). I have a 4 yr. degree in Biblical Studies from Covenant College and a Master of Divinity Degree from Covenant Theological Seminary with honors.
Context: This email letter was written in response to someone who questioned whether the Gospel should be preached to believers in a Sunday worship service. This person said they have no problem sharing the Gospel to people on the street but didn't feel it is feeding the sheep to preach or teach the gospel to believers who already believe the Gospel. I fully disagree with this perspective and provide the following response below in letter form without reference to the individual. I hope to encourage everyone reading this email to better appreciate the Gospel, especially if they have received similar criticisms for sharing the Gospel with believers particularly in a worship setting. If my response encourages you, please feel free to share this article with those who need to hear it. It is my hope that every church service and teaching opportunity would be filled with the Gospel which I believe God uses to save and sanctify souls. You can also encourage your critic to call me at Faith Community Church in Pearland, TX and I will be glad to further explain what I believe is a Biblical position on this issue. My phone number is 281-997-3660
So, here's the letter:
Jan. 1, 2011
From Pastor Don
Regarding your comment about giving the gospel (i.e. to believers), consider some of these thoughts:
One of three marks of a Biblical church is, "the pure preaching of the gospel..." (Article 29 of the Belgic Confession).
Dr. John Piper said in his sermon on Romans 1:16-17, "I say it with Paul: I, John Piper, am eager to preach the gospel to you who believe - exactly to you who believe - because this gospel which is laid out in the book of Romans, is the power of God to save you. You believers need to hear the gospel in order to be saved. And Paul labors mercifully for 16 chapters to tell us the gospel and how it works to save believers."
Notice in Romans that Paul was eager to preach the gospel to the saints in Rome (Rom. 1:7) whose faith was being reported all over the world (Rom. 1:8). He says, "... I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are at Rome" (Rom. 1:15). Note that he is not ashamed of the gospel for the salvation of everyone who believes (this is present tense) which refers to not only unbelievers but even believers who should continue believing the gospel.
In 1 Corinthians 2:2 the apostle Paul said, "For I resolve to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified."
In his wise article "The Gospel Driven Life," Dr. Harry Reeder (Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church) said, "The Gospel message brings you to Christ as the sure foundation for eternal life. The Gospel message provides direction for the formation of your new life. The Gospel message provides the primary motivation for a maturing life. The importance of living a Gospel-driven life is why Paul reminded the Corinthian church that when he was "with them" he was determined to maintain their focus upon the Gospel, by preaching "Christ and Him crucified." Adding emphasis, he declared, "I did not come to baptize, but to preach the Gospel" (see 1 Cor. 1:17). He was not demeaning baptism, but rather underscoring that the Gospel is essential to evangelism and disciple-making. Early in my Christian life, I thought the Gospel was the message to win people to Christ, then, in disciple-making, one moved on to "deeper things." What a fallacy! You never move beyond the Gospel. You go deeper and higher with the Gospel, but never beyond the Gospel. The Gospel is what defines how to be a Christian man, woman, spouse, parent, and citizen. The Gospel brings the reign of Christ's kingdom to our hearts and throughout the world. The Gospel blessings give joy to the Christian life and the ability to rejoice even in suffering. The Gospel imperatives direct our new desire to lovingly obey our Lord. The Gospel provides the foundation, the formation, and the motivation as it ignites our loving obedience to Christ as we discover the transforming truth that "He first loved us" (1 John 4:19)" (http://www.ligonier.org/blog/gospel-driven-life/).
Dr. Martin Luther said, "We need to hear the gospel everyday because we forget it every day."
Having read Luther's commentary on Galatians, I wholeheartedly agree with his thoughts about the Gospel. When we think we have mastered the Gospel, we have only just begun in the faith or really do not understand it. It is not a sign of spiritual maturity but immaturity when we think we know the Gospel so well that we need to move beyond it. Everything in theology is centered on the Gospel of Grace. Any theology we have simply crumbles like a house of cards if we remove the Gospel from our daily considerations, especially during the times when we preach or teach the Word of God. Dear critic, it greatly saddens me to hear you say that when I share the Gospel you feel it is not feeding the sheep. The sheep need to hear the Gospel constantly because they constantly forget to appreciate the Gospel. They are inclined towards sin and works-righteousness. They are inclined towards arrogance and pride in their own self-righteousness. The sheep of God in the NT church are no different than the Covenant people of Israel whom God constantly had to call to remember His acts of redemption. Have we mastered the Gospel as sheep so well that we often share this precious gift from God as we breathe the air? Do we so understand the Gospel that every act we carry out is based upon the Gospel of grace? Are we gracious to others in the way we speak before them and behind their backs because we have mastered the Gospel? Do we believe the Gospel so much that our daily thoughts are constantly full of the joy of salvation? Do we know the Gospel so well that we need to move beyond it to better things and greater wisdom? Are we so sure that everyone to whom we preach or teach in the church truly believes the Gospel unto salvation? Have we become so enlightened with infinite wisdom that we can say with certainly that all who meet with us for worship know Christ and trust in Him alone for their eternal life? I think you know the answer to these questions. These questions apply to believers or at least to those who claim to be believers since they should ponder whether the gospel should be preached or taught. Dear critic, if you wish to be fed, I encourage you to feed upon the meat of the Gospel.
Your servant in Christ,