The Primacy of the Gospel

According to the Book of Church Order of the Presbyterian Church in America, “The Church, with its ordinances, officers and courts, is the agency which Christ has ordained for the edification and government of His people, for the propagation of the faith, and for the evangelization of the world.” (BOCO 3-5) We must be ever vigilant to focus on our primary responsibilities, and not get side-tracked by doing good things, and overlooking the best. We are called to proclaim the Law and Gospel, not to transform society. Granted, when people are redeemed from sin through the grace of Jesus Christ, it will affect the way in which they live within society, which may bring some changes to society, but our focus must be on the Gospel, not societal renovation.

Dominic Aquila has written an excellent article about what happens when the church focuses on the wrong things entitled, Engaging Culture to Heal It: Is this the Purpose of the Gospel? In it we find this paragraph which expresses well the dangers of a focus on the “social gospel:”

“The gospel, then, is not a program that has as its intent to change or transform the structures of society: building better houses, providing better education, placing a chicken in every pot, etc. Believers do work to make circumstances better, but if the souls of sinners aren’t saved, they will enter eternity with clean clothes, full stomachs, and graduate degrees but without the gift of eternal life. By making “everything” the gospel its meaning is diluted and distorted and will be of no effect; its power is negated (actually, the inherent power of the gospel is never lessened; however, the power of the gospel for ministry is abated).”

While we should always be ready to “give a cup of cold water” in Jesus’ name, our primary focus as the church must be pointing people to Christ as their only hope in life and in death.


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