Defining the Gospel

May 05, 2008

Thom S. Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources, has a Baptist Press column that critiques pastors for not preaching the gospel correctly. However, his own definition of the gospel seems to fall quite short. Without giving any examples or fully explaining what he means, Rainer claims that "pastoral malpractice ... is practiced weekly without inhibition" by pastors. He then explains the gospel he wants pastors to preach:

I mean ministers who stand and preach a gospel other than God's rightful need for punitive justice against our sin and His wrath being appeased by pouring out upon Christ judgment intended for us. He in turn sets us in right legal standing before Himself, through faith in what Jesus has done, while simultaneously giving to us His holy righteousness.
There seems to be a huge and critical error in his definition in that it is missing a very important four-letter word: love. The most memorized verse in the Bible explains salvation by starting "For God so loved ..." Instead, Rainer offers a cold and technocratic definition that misses the most important part. His error seems to be a problem that often occurs in practice as some preachers forget to tell people about the love of Jesus and focus instead just on the judgment. Thankfully, the true gospel message is one of the amazing and incredible love of Jesus. That is truly good news!