“The gospel is the foundation for everything we believe. It should be the basis for everything we teach.”
A sermon without the gospel is like a boat without water. It may sound and look good, but you’re going nowhere.
The gospel is what separates Christianity from just good advice.
I was reminded of this recently when I heard a veteran pastor preach.
His sermon style was great. His illustrations were on point. But when I came to applying the key point of the sermon, he missed the mark.
He forgot the gospel.
THE GOSPEL CONNECTION MAKES A DIFFERENCE
The message was about gratitude—how we should count our blessings and remember all that we have to be thankful for.
By all accounts, it was a good, positive message that people needed to hear. But as he was wrapping up, I could only think about how he left some loose ends.
While counting our blessings is a good thing, the gospel is the main reason we have to be thankful.
If our gratitude is built on our health, our family, our job, our money or a sunny day, these things will all fade in time, and our gratitude will go with them.
The number one reason that we have to be thankful is that Jesus saved us.
We have been adopted into the family of God. Even if Satan were to utterly destroy everything we hold dear in life, as he did to Job, we would still have reason to thank God for his mercy and forgiveness.
Because of the gospel, we can receive the ultimate gift that we do not deserve. Nothing should make us more grateful than that.
Now, I’m not trying to pick apart this pastor’s sermon. As I said, he made a lot of good points, and I’m sure he would agree with me here.
It was a simple mistake that I see far too often.
The gospel is not just a side point; it is the point.
The gospel is the foundation for everything we believe. It should be the basis for everything we teach.
We should anchor every principle that we teach our congregations to it.
If we’ve not thought deeply about how the gospel impacts the message we preach, our sermon has loose ends.
EXAMPLES OF GOSPEL CONNECTIONS
Think about some of the topics we often preach about and how the gospel affects them.
Love: We love because God loved us so much that he sent his son, Jesus, to die for us (1 John 4:19).
Joy: We have joy because in Jesus we’ve already won, and sin and death have lost their power (1 Cor. 15:55–57).
Patience: We should be patient because God is patient with us despite our many sins.
Forgiveness: We forgive others because God has forgiven us even more (Eph. 4:32).
Generosity: We give to others because Christ gave his life for us (John 3:16).
Perseverance: We can endure persecution and suffering because Christ endured more for us.
Fear: We do not need to be afraid, because in Christ we are guaranteed eternal life, and nothing can separate us from him (Rom 8:37–39).
Humility: We should humble ourselves, because Jesus humbled himself by leaving heaven, taking on human flesh, and dying on the cross for us (Phil. 2:5–11).
I could keep going, but you get the point.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll continue to say it: In every sermon, preach the gospel.
The gospel is more than just an altar call or something you tack on at the end of a message. It is the message.
For over two millennia, Christians have had just one message with a million applications.
Remind your people how the gospel is the foundation for everything we believe, and seize the opportunity every week to introduce them to the good news.
Brandon Hilgemann is a pastor, the founder of ProPreacher.com (where this article was originally published) and the author of Preaching Nuts & Bolts: Conquer Sermon Prep, Save Time, and Write Better Messages.