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We don’t need better preachers… [repost]

preacherWe don't need better preaching, we need a better gospel.

Yes I'm being provocative and hyperbolous.  Let me remind you that this is a blog.

What I mean is this: there's a lot of focus on becoming better preachers.  The real need is to preach a better gospel.

These thoughts were prompted by a Spurgeon comment as quoted by CJ Mahaney at T4G 2008:

"Whitefield and Wesley might preach the gospel better but they cannot preach a better gospel."

Spurgeon's point is that the power is in the gospel, not the preacher.  Amen.  But if the gospel preached aint the gospel, then we need a better one.

'Better gospel?' you ask - how can you improve on the good news?

Well you can't improve on the biblical gospel.  But you can darned well improve on the gospel preached by some.  Here's a false one I hear around the traps (there are others, but this is the devil I know best):

'God is power.  We must submit.  Since we don't, God has a plan B.  It's a wonderfully clever mechanism called penal substitutionary atonement.  For those who profess faith in penal substitutionary atonement (and submit the whole of their lives to God in total self-surrender and who pass on this 'gospel' and persevere to the bitter end), then... well... they will avoid hell.  Probably.'

Lord save us from well illustrated and applied, passionate, persuasive and prayerful preaching of this 'gospel'.  Remember that the evangelism of the Pharisees made converts twice as much sons of hell as they were. (Matt 23:15)

What a thought! The perversion of a false gospel is multiplied in those it converts.  Preachers - don't work on your preaching, work on your gospel.

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9 thoughts on “We don’t need better preachers… [repost]

  1. John B

    The difficulty seems to be with the word "penal". I'm assuming that there's no problem with the idea of "substitutionary atonement"; just whether it's "penal". I don't think there can be any doubt that the "wrath of God" is a biblical concept. I take it to be an anthropomorphic metaphor for God's view of sin. While accepting the idea of God's wrath as a model of His attitude towards sin, I think that the notion of propitiation is, frankly, pagan. By the Atonement in His blood, Christ makes those who belong to Him holy by the removal and cleansing of sin, which has caused enmity with and separation from God. It is not God who is acted upon, but rather sinners who are the recipients of the grace of Christ.

    A lot depends on the translation of the Greek words "hilasmos" as used by John and "hilasterion" as used by Paul and Hebrews. But even aside from the specific translation of these four verses, the sweep of Scripture is that God's favor toward His people is seen in the expiation that He provides for their sin.

  2. Theo K

    Glenn,

    Can you elaborate a bit on what you call a false gospel? Are you against penal substitutionary atonement?

    Thanks!

  3. Theo K

    So Glen, you accept (and I imagine you rejoice as well!) that
    Jesus on the cross absorbed the righteous wrath of the
    Farher, in our place?

    Thank you for the clarification on preaching, I now see what you mean.

  4. Glen

    Amen Theo. Jesus stood at the head of His people and bore the curse in Himself. And so we have borne it in Him. He has also burst through to resurrection vindication - and we also receive that in Him.

    As we proclaim this I think it's important to make the Person of Jesus - in whom we are put to death and raised up - at the centre, rather than a more abstract teaching about a "swap".

  5. Theo K

    Thank you Glen!

    I fully agree.

    By the way, I find your perspective on the trinitarian nature of the OT fascinating.

    May
    God bless your efforts brother :)

  6. andyharker

    Thanks for a timely warning Glen - especially to someone like me involved in training preachers. I listened to two sermons last week - one Kenyan, one British - both were not only well-illustrated, applied, passionate etc., they were also very clearly concerned to be biblical and expository. They had obviously spent a lot of time prayerfully studying the text for its message. What they both sadly lacked was any reference to Jesus, let alone the gospel of grace. It reminds me that my core job is to point people back to the gospel and Jesus and exhort us to preach Him.
    On your example of a false gospel - I agree with you that this is not the true gospel and I agree that it is always best to examine ourselves and our own constituency before rushing to point fingers at others. I also agree that it's important to notice subtle perversions and I'm convicted that I have strayed into this one myself and make Jesus more a cypher in a scheme than a living, personal saviour. But having said that, as I'm sure you know, there are far worse gospels out there in the UK and here in Kenya there are some 'gospels' that would make your hair stand on end (try Googling 'helicopter of christ ministries').

  7. Christian church yorba linda

    Glen i agree with you to some extent. I don't think we need better gospel i think we need preachers who understand the gospel properly because i think the gospel is one of the most misunderstood books. So we need better preachers.

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