Whatever Happened to the Gospel by David Nicholas. Bloomington, IN: Crossbooks, 2010. 148 pp. paper $13.95.
David Nicholas, longtime pastor of Spanish River Church in Boca Raton, Florida, is concerned about how the gospel is presented, especially in pastoral preaching. He calls his approach the Bad News/Good News and insists that both must be presented clearly, and in detail, in every sermon.
The author’s gospel presentation is clear and biblical. He decries approaches such as Rick Warren’s (pp. 32-33) and rejects the views of the emergent church leadership (pp. 86-89). At the very least Whatever Happened to the Gospel could serve as a good primer, and/or reminder, of what the gospel message is.
The one area that I would question is the mandate, as Nicholas sees it, to present the gospel in full at every service of the church. I can find no biblical warrant for preaching the gospel each time to the church gathered. Neither by precept nor example do we see this model presented in the New Testament. The church gathered is the people of God who have come to be nurtured in the Word; it is not principly a place for evangelism. I take no issue with regularly presenting a portion, or all, of the gospel on occasion during sermons. However, to make this an obligatory part of each message goes beyond what the New Testament teaches. Instead the New Testament paradigm is found in 1 Corinthians 14:23-25. In this passage we find an unbeliever attending a gathering of the church. He is not directly evangelized, but he falls under conviction as he discovers that God lives among His people. It is at that point that the unbeliever is ready for the gospel message. This falls back on the purpose of the church. When the church gathers it is for the purpose of the worship of God and discipleship. It is primarily when the church scatters that evangelism is done. This is the teaching and pattern found throughout the New Testament.
However, I appreciate Nicholas’s insisting on the clarity of the presentation of the gospel and on his desire to see people come to Christ. This volume is most helpful in these two areas.