Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Please Stop Banging Out Only One Gospel Note

There’s a great quote by Martin Luther in the sixteenth century. He had a church that he was the pastor of and some came to him and said, “Pastor, why is it that week after week after week all you ever preach to us is the gospel?” – implying that “we’re ready to move on to something else. Certainly we know this by now.” Luther’s response was, “Well, because week after week you forget it, because week after week you walk in here looking like a people who don’t believe the gospel. And until you walk in looking like people who are truly liberated by the truth of the gospel, I’m going to continue to preach it to you.” And, until his dying day, he did.

That’s a quote from a Derek Webb house show. Here’s another similar Luther quote:

“So essential is it, that we must first know it well ourselves, preach it to others, and beat it into their heads continually.”

These words from Luther are great justification for preaching the gospel continually. It is true, we never move away from the gospel. I appreciate the gospel emphasis of such men like Jared Wilson. He always finds ways to strike different chords but essentially proclaim the gospel.

But I have to be honest. There are some popular blogs that I’ve largely stopped reading. I know they are pretty solid. The article I skip will certainly be something good about the gospel. But if I am being honest I am bored.

I’m bored because they are beating the gospel into our heads continually but they are only playing one note. “Jesus saves us from the law!” “Jesus gives us freedom from works”. “Jesus is better than religion”. It’s the same note. Over and over and over again. It’s a good note. A necessary note in the beautiful gospel tapestry. But by itself it’s incomplete.

I agree with Luther that we need to bang the gospel in our heads continually. But the gospel is more than one note. Let’s be certain that we are playing all of the notes. The gospel is multi-faceted. There is an eternity in Jesus for us to exult in. The gospel is not only that Jesus frees us from the law. There is not a legalist under every bush. Nor is the gospel’s sole task to rescue us from legalism.

Forgive me if I sound like a big Sponge-Bob Grouchy-Pants. My main intention in writing this is to encourage a generation of gospel-centered writers and preachers to intentionally bang the drum on every gospel note.


We are cheapening the beauty of the gospel if we only emphasize one particle of it. There is enough in Jesus for you and I to write a world full of books. No need to be fixated on one aspect.

Let’s get to work playing the full gospel song.


After a conversation with a dear friend I realized that I ought to clarify a bit. I’m not intending to say here that there aren’t seasons when we need to emphasize a particular point of the gospel that is being neglected. What I am saying is that even in those times we have to be cautious not to make everything about that one-note.

What I am against is diminishing the multi-faceted gospel into that one issue.

1 comment:

  1. Law/gospel.

    The law to kill us off (to the self-justification project)...and the gospel to raise us up again, and give us new life in Christ.

    We need to hear these Words, until our dying day.

    Thanks, very much.



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