Graham: No matter the text, make a beeline to the gospel

FRISCO?Whatever the preacher’s text, he should take it and make a “beeline to the gospel” because it is the primary, permeating message of the Bible, Plano pastor Jack Graham of Prestonwood Baptist Church told the 2011 Empower Evangelism Conference.

Citing W.A. Criswell’s famous “Scarlet Thread of Redemption” sermon, Graham said the gospel runs “like a Red River of Redemption” from Genesis to Revelation and must be preached not only to the lost world but to ourselves, daily, as a reminder of God’s work in us.

Graham closed the first session of the meeting, held at the Dr. Pepper Arena in the north Dallas suburb of Frisco, on the topic “The Supremacy of the Gospel.”

The Empower Evangelism Conference is an annual event sponsored by the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.

With 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 as his text, Graham said despair in the culture seems more prevalent now than ever before in his ministry. “But we share the greatest good news that a dying world has ever heard,” Graham declared.

“It is the message of the death, the burial and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Unless you are preaching the gospel, you are just preaching sermons, you are just talking?until the gospel is proclaimed. The gospel records the most important events in human history and radiates throughout all of God’s Word.”

In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul described the gospel as primary or “of first importance,” Graham explained.

“We never get over the gospel,” Graham added. “It is the same gospel that brought us to Christ, that saved us, that secures us and keeps us, and I personally believe we ought to preach the gospel to ourselves every day, this beautiful message of salvation.

“The gospel is not incidental. It is fundamental to our faith. There is nothing more important than the gospel. We talk about many issues. The Word of God addresses many subjects such as marriage, family and ethics, happiness and apologetics and church and morality. But all of these are temporal issues. The gospel is the everlasting gospel of Christ?. Everything else we say is secondary to the gospel of Christ.

“We must always, always, always, ladies and gentlemen, be passionate about the gospel. May the gospel never be secondary, may the gospel never be ‘oh, by the way’ in our messages, in our preaching, in our teaching, in our living.”

Emphasizing the power of memory, Graham said: “Teaching is not so much instructing as it is reminding.”

The gospel is not only primary, according to 1 Corinthians 15, but it is powerful, Graham said. Paul writes of “this gospel by which we are saved.”

“Our sins are the reason that Jesus died ? sin is a defiance. It is shaking a fist at a holy God?.”

Graham added: “And yes, there is a Hell. A well-known minister has, yesterday, apparently produced a book that claims there is no Hell, that God’s love will prevail, that all will be saved. How cruel it is to tell people who are on their way to Hell that Hell doesn’t exist. Hell exists, because of the depths and depravity of human sin. The gospel shatters our rationalizations about sin, doesn’t it?”

Sin is not cured by education and cannot be merely excused as a series of moral lapses, Graham reminded.

“Sin is so tragic, sin is so damning that it takes the precious blood of Jesus to transform a sinner into a saint.”

But it is the burden of the bad news that makes the good news so good, Graham said.

“The gospel tells us that Jesus died for our sins. Preach that to yourself every day. Don’t get over that, don’t get beyond that.”

Important also is that he really died and was buried. Why? “To bury our sins with him. Our sins are buried in the grave of God’s forgetfulness?. Baptism signifies this truth of the burial. Every time we baptize an individual in the testimony of faith it signifies the death, and yes, the burial of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

And the gospel tells us that he rose again, “and because Jesus lives, we will live also. Now, can anything matter more than this? If Jesus is still in that grave nothing really matters, but because Jesus Christ came out of that grave nothing else really matters.”

Graham added: “Spurgeon was the one who said, ‘I take my text from anywhere and make a beeline to the cross.’ Whatever our subject, whatever our theme, it is always ultimately and finally and fully the gospel.”

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