I have just finished reading a book by Thabiti Anyabwile, a pastor serving a baptist church in Washington DC, titled, The Faithful Preacher. In the book Anyabwile shares brief biographical sketches of three African-American pastors from our nation's history and then includes a few of their sermons. I was challenged and helped by each of the sermons, but the final one in the book by Frances Grimke was particularly encouraging to me.
Frances Grimke was also a pastor in Washington DC in the early decades of the 20th century. So he was serving during a time in which many churches and denominations where moving away from emphasizing God's Word as inerrant and authoritative. It was also a time when rather than emphasizing the need for transformed lives brought about through repentance and faith in Christ, churches were looking to charitable social programs as a way to bring in the kingdom. Pastor Grimke recognized that churches were forsaking the very program that Christ had commanded and instituted for saving the world, which was the preaching of the gospel.
Here is a brief portion of Grimke's sermon, "Christ's Program for Saving the World" which he preached almost exactly 82 years ago on February 28, 1936. As you think about his words, you may find that we are in a similar situation today within contemporary Evangelical Christianity.
One of the things that Jesus lays down as fundamental in His scheme of redemption is that men must realize that they are sinners, that they are not living as they ought to live - a God-centered instead of a self-centered life.The fact of sin in Christ's scheme of redemption is fundamental and must be kept to the front. Men must not be allowed to forget the fact that they are sinners and that the wages of sin is death.This is a doctrine that men don't like to hear about. They know that they are sinners, but they try to forget it. This is why often they plunge into all kinds of frivolities in order to get away from the serious thought of sin and its fatal consequences. This is why, unfortunately, in order to comply with or not to offend that kind of sentiment, many pulpits have little or nothing to say about sin.One thing we may be sure of: as this aspect of man's condition drops out of our preaching, things will steadily grow worse, and men will become more and more set in their evil ways. For if there is no such thing as sin, or no evil consequences to follow, then there is no reason why we shouldn't open all the floodgates of passions and evil inclinations and desires and let things go at full speed, no reason why we should not adopt as our philosophy of life the motto, "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die." It is to save men from that stupid, foolish delusion that Christ makes imperative in His plan of rescue the necessity of stressing, and stressing with ever-increasing emphasis, the fact of sin as man's most serious problem.The other thing that is included in the gospel message is the publication of God's plan for the saving of sinners - namely, repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. . . . Jesus says it is the spreading of the knowledge of this great and glorious fact that must go on as a part of His plan for the saving of the world, for bettering conditions.