Tuesday, June 25, 2013


Is there too much gospel-talk these days? too much cross-talk? I have seen and read some discussion about current Christianity's use, or perhaps overuse, of terms that involve gospel and cross and the like.

My first thought when I read these articles, blog posts, and various other forms of communication is: what is the alternative? Should we not be talking about the cross and the gospel? Should these things not be the focus of our conversations and communications? Unlikely.

What I think concerned Christians are getting at is the idea that it seems easy these days to talk about the gospel, to fit gospel into a catchy title for a conference, or liberally season our writing with related phrases and vocabulary. And when it is easy and hip and cool to speak/write/think a certain way, it can often be done so in a less than genuine way.

And I think the more important issue in this case is the integrity with which we use the words as opposed to the frequency with which we use them.

J. C Ryle wrote on this many years ago in his classic book on sanctification called simply Holiness:
True sanctification then does not consist in talk about religion. This is a point which ought never to be forgotten. The vast increase of education and preaching in these latter days makes it absolutely necessary to raise a warning voice. People hear so much of Gospel truth that they contract an unholy familiarity with its words and phrases, and sometimes talk so fluently about its doctrines that you might think them true Christians. In fact it is sickening and disgusting to hear the cool and flippant language which many pour out about “conversion - the Saviour - the Gospel - finding peace - free grace,” and the like, while they are notoriously serving sin or living for the world. Can we doubt that such talk is abominable in God’s sight, and is little better than cursing, swearing, and taking God’s name in vain? The tongue is not the only member that Christ bids us give to His service. God does not want His people to be mere empty tubs, sounding brass and tinkling cymbals. We must be sanctified, not only “in word and in tongue, but in deed and truth.” (1 John iii. 18.)
As is evident, Ryle played hardball. But again, he is not condemning the accurate and honest use of the words. What he contends against is the "cool and flippant" employing of phraseology that sounds Christian when there is a lack of Christian sanctification evidenced in the life.

So, I say keep using the words. Let our speech be seasoned with talk of the cross and let our writing be permeated with gospel this and gospel that. But let our words, whether in our mouths or on our screens, be spoken with authenticity.

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