Why Pastors Must Proclaim the Gospel to the Congregation
Although the gospel is God's power to save souls and the mandate for gospel proclamation applies to all believers, there may be a temptation for preachers (guest preachers and pastors) not to proclaim the gospel to the congregation. Some reasons for not preaching the gospel might include the assumption that the entire congregation is saved, the preacher's indifference to unbelievers, or a belief that the gospel is solely for unbelievers. Sadly, these reasons may be rooted in ignorance or apathy and do not justify a preacher's reluctance to proclaim the gospel. On the contrary, here are a few reasons among many why we as preachers must proclaim the gospel to the congregation:
1. We Cannot Assume that the Entire Congregation is Saved. Preachers must not assume that everyone is saved simply because they are present on Sunday (or other occasions) or because their name is on the membership roster. The apostle Paul told the Corinthians to test and examine themselves regarding the genuineness of their faith (2 Corinthians 13:5). The apostle John identified apostates who defected from the church (1 John 2:19). In the case of the Corinthians, they would have been considered "members" of the church. Therefore, while the congregation that gathers may primarily consist of believers, preachers must consider that one or more visitors, or even members, might be unsaved.
2. Believers Need to Hear and Rehear the Gospel. Preachers must proclaim the gospel to the church (and be willing to communicate it in various ways). By taking the time to unpack the gospel's rich truths and blessed rewards, preachers teach the members how to evangelize, edify the saints, and highlight the gospel's priority in the church. The apostle Paul stated that he was ready to proclaim the gospel to the believers in Rome (Romans 1:15). This is a fascinating statement. Paul's passion for the gospel fueled his willingness to proclaim it to Christians! If preachers are passionate about Christ and His gospel, they must be ready to proclaim it, even to believers. Moreover, preachers must remind Christians that believing in the gospel should translate into godly living (Romans 12-16). For pastors, may it not be said that believers fail to see the gospel's relevance to their lives or cannot proclaim it because they rarely hear their pastors proclaim it.
3. Preachers Need to Practice how to Proclaim the Gospel. Preachers should aim to grow their ability to proclaim the gospel in at least two ways. First, they should always work at bridging the verse or passage they preach to people's need for salvation. Look for ways to connect the passage to God's character, humanity's depravity, man's need for reconciliation with God, and the gospel. For passages that prove to be more challenging than others, preachers should ask themselves how are God's attributes on display, man's sin evident or suggestive, or Christ pictured or foreshadowed (John 5:39, 46; Luke 24:27).
Preachers must avoid the temptation not to proclaim the gospel to the congregation. Unbelievers' souls are in jeopardy, the sanctification of believers is at stake, and pastoral ministry requires it. Therefore, by God's grace, preachers must proclaim the gospel to the glory of God, the building up of the saints, and the salvation of unbelievers. Moreover, as preachers teach and proclaim it, they can exhort believers to live godly lives based on Christ's work. May we not let indifference or presumptions about the congregation prevent us from proclaiming the gospel.