Reading Preaching the Whole Bible As Christian Scripture: The Application of Biblical Theology to Expository Preaching by Graeme Goldsworthy today, and I came upon some wonderful truth about what the Gospel of Jesus Christ is and is not—all on page 95.
Regarding the fact that Gospel is the hermeneutic of all of Scripture, Goldsworthy states “… while there is much in the Bible that is strictly speaking not the gospel, there is nothing in the Bible that can be truly understood apart from the Bible.” He goes on to say, “all preaching, to be true to the biblical perspective, must in some sense be gospel preaching.”
In turn he discusses the fact that trying to “induce” a decision for Christ is not actually preaching and proclaiming the Gospel.
My concern about evangelism is that sometimes there is a greater emphasis on the need for some kind of response than on the clear exposition of the gospel. Telling people the need to come to Jesus, that they must be born again, that they should commit their lives to Christ, and so on, is not preaching the gospel. It is, at best, telling them what they ought to do or, in the case of the new birth, what has happened when they have received the gospel. It is a remarkable thing in Acts 2 that Peter’s sermon contained no appeal. The appeal came from the congregation: “What should we do?” It was the power and clarity of the gospel message that impressed them with the need to do something about it.
Regarding assurance it must be based on Christ’s finished work not some prayer or profession that a person supposedly made at one time.
… telling people that they can choose either heaven or hell is not telling them the gospel. Telling them as Peter did, that repentance and faith go hand in hand with the gift of the Holy Spirit is important, but it is not the gospel. Whenever people’s sense of assurance of salvation is expressed in the first person, something is amiss. When the question “How do you know God will accept you?” is answered by “I have Jesus in my heart,” “I asked Jesus into my life,” “the Holy Spirit is in me,” and so on, the real gospel basis for assurance needs to be reviewed. We rejoice when the answer comes in the third person: “God gave his only Son to die on the cross for me,” “Jesus died, rose and is in heaven for me.” When the focus is on the finished and perfect work of Christ, rather than on the yet unfinished work of the Spirit in me, the grounds for assurance are in place.