Why do so many Evangelicals only preach half the Gospel?

For a twenty year old, I’ve had a lot of experience of church. I’ve seen many of its failings, many of its successes, and I’ve been involved and listened to a lot of its politics. I’ve also been in a range of different denominations, from liberal Methodist, to conservative-nearly fundamental evangelical Calvinistic Methodist chapel. What I’ve observed of the more conservative brand of Christianity is that quite often, only half the gospel is preached.

What do I mean by that?

Well, if I were to go to a gospel service, a gospel presentation or a gospel ‘rally’ as the straightjacket Christian churches in Wales likes to call them, I will hear a lot of the following:

  • The world as originally intended by God
  • Original sin
  • The fall
  • Sin
  • Rebellion
  • Sin
  • More rebellion
  • More sin
  • Jesus being born
  • Fulfilment of the Old Testament
  • Jesus being perfect
  • Jesus being God
  • Jesus being crucified
  • Jesus dying for us
  • Being washed in the crimson tide
  • Jesus being the propitiation for our sins
  • Being washed in the blood of the Lamb
  • Sin
  • More sin
And then when all the talk about sin is over, there will be an invitation to die to sin, and come and accept Christ who died for you.
Similarly, when I visit churches, I like to tease out the theologies that pin down a particular church. Especially in Welsh, Evangelical Chapel (though I’m not blanketing all chapels in this statement, you understand) I often ask the preacher, minister or people in their crisp suits or dresses and hats what is their gospel message at the church.
And sometimes they answer in a proud, grand, smug, snotty response, ‘My boy, we preach Christ crucified!’ and, of course, because everything they say has to have Biblical evidence, they quote 1 Corinthians 1:23.
I’m afraid that’s not the whole gospel. Sin and death and Jesus dying for us is just half the story.
Jesus conquered the grave! As we say in the Communion at church every Sunday,

He loved us so much that he died for us; on the first Easter Day you raised him to life; and death and evil were conquered for ever.

Yes, Jesus didn’t stay dead. He rose again. This is such an important part of our faith. We don’t serve a dead, lifeless Messiah. We serve and worship a risen and reigning king.

I just don’t understand why we as Christians miss out this crucial truth when we communicate the gospel to people. Yes, Jesus died for us, and that means our guilt is taken away. But there’s victory too!

The same power that conquered the grave lives in us, says Paul. Do we really know that? Do we offer that to those who don’t know Jesus yet?

This is the other half of the gospel. That Jesus rose again. That there is victory for those who believe that Jesus has died in the resurrection of him.

Now that’s something to chew on, isn’t it?

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Dean Roberts

Dean is a Minister in the Anglican Church. Currently he is Curate in the parishes of Bedwas, Machen, Michaelston-y-Fedw and Rudry in South Wales. He was born and bred in Wales, is married to Megan, and has two dogs called Taliesin and Melyn, and two cats named Sinsir and Hâf. He graduated from Cardiff University with a BA Hons. in Theology & Religious Studies, and has studied for an MA in Theology, Ministry & Mission at Trinity College Bristol. He also holds a Cert.RSCM from the Royal School of Church Music. He loves playing music, walking, reading, blogging and horse riding as well as going to the cinema and theatre. Read More @ http://deanroberts.net/about

  • That’s a fair enough observation, but just be careful with the whole “before you try to take the plank out of your friend’s eye, take the speck of dust out of your own eye first!” thing that Jesus was so keen on!

    Like most caricatures or generalisations, I can recognise an element of truth in it – there’s certainly a tendency in some Welsh conservative evangelical circles to emphasise the Cross over the Resurrection. But I think that very few such churches, if any, neglect the Resurrection entirely. The balance might sometimes be skewed, but I’ve also heard some great sermons in this church context on the Resurrection.

    All of us have things we emphasise more, both as individuals and in particular church traditions. I think it’s important not just to criticise other’s blind-spots but to understand why people are passionate about certain things, and to consider what we can learn from them that corrects our own biases.

    Like you say, we should rejoice both in being forgiven by Christ’s sacrificial death, and in the new life we receive through his Resurrection. There are plenty more Bible truths where we need to learn to emphasise more than one thing at once. Having fellowship with people from different churches and theologies is a great way of getting a broader view of the Christian faith.

    • Amen to that Caleb, and definitely agree. Though this blog is meant to be controversial at times and is meant to be provoking. So I just want to publicly say that I do have my own emphases and that I’m just as susceptible to error as anyone else on this.

      Though, as many have rightly pointed out; if you’re doing a Gospel presentation, whatever you do, don’t split it into two sermons; one on the death of Jesus, and one on the resurrection. The two must be preached as one!

  • Good point. It is possible to slip too much into the other direction, though (but that’s probably just me being a typical fogey). Maybe someone should introduce a guideline that for every mention of sin, there’s a mention of grace, for every mention of death, there’s one of resurrection and so on…

  • A torture and execution device is a symbol of Christianity as a whole. You wear the cross around your necks. You place crosses on your churches, inside your churches and your homes and on your books. Often the graven image of a crucified and tortured Christ adorns those crosses, even those you wear around your necks. Some of his cults eat his body and drink his blood(symbolically, of course: the only sanctioned modern form of (potential) cannibalism is eating shark). Similarly, some of his cults are more about blood and death than they are about life: his, human, it doesn’t seem to matter.

    And you wonder why churches emphasize his death rather than his resurrection?

    • Good point – but this is a matter of Theology as opposed to symbolism and worship style!

  • Eva

    Love this. A focus on the fact that he rose is one of the things that majorly converted me. I did some research and decided that the Gospels can reasonably be believed, and that Jesus lived and did the things they say he did. In that case, omg! Jesus performed miracles and rose from the dead?! Why on earth shouldn’t I believe and worship him? He proved to be exactly who he says he was.