by Malcolm L. Hill
We hear much these days about the relevancy of preaching or the relevancy of the gospel. Just what does the word “relevant” mean? Webster says, “Having something to do with the case being considered; pertinent.” Thus, when we talk about the relevancy of the gospel we are saying that the gospel has something to say to humanity now; that the gospel is pertinent as to the condition or state that man finds himself in today. We are saying that the gospel is not out-of-date but has a message for mankind in the 21st century.
But when it comes to the question of the gospel being relevant, it does not mean the same thing to all people. There are those who argue that the gospel is relevant but who insist that it must be changed if it is to accomplish that which God intends. We disagree with this view wholeheartedly. I believe that the gospel is so written and so adapted as to fit man and his needs in every generation. For one to deny this is to deny the gospel itself!
Christ said, “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). Notice that Christ said something was for “every creature.” What is that something? It is the GOSPEL (or, the Good News). To say the gospel is not for our generation is to deny the words of our Master.
Paul wrote this: “Every Scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, for proving sinners wrong, for correcting errors, and for training people to be right with God. Then the man of God will be proficient, prepared for any good work.” (2 Tim. 3:16-17, International English Bible). Was this written for those of the apostolic days only or also for all who should live thereafter? When we start twisting, changing, turning, and vacillating with the gospel, we question God’s intelligence and second-guess His wisdom. The whole gospel is all that we need for the whole creation in the whole world!
Paul charged Timothy to simply “Proclaim the message!” (2 Tim. 4:1-2, IEB). He did not charge him to preach “his theology” or his opinions. There is absolutely too much of this being done today, and all of it is without divine authority. We affirm again that the ancient gospel is adapted to man as he is. To deny this is to deny the gospel itself!
There are those who tell us that the first-century gospel is out-of-date for 21st century people. They tell us that Paul did not fly on a jet, nor know about nuclear war, nor see a rocket soar toward the moon. We agree. But these things have little or nothing to do with man’s nature. External circumstances may change, but man’s internal nature remains the same year after year, and century after century. Jet airplanes, moon rockets, and nuclear warheads have nothing to do with the nature and disposition and general make-up of humanity. Morality is taught and must be learned and does not come by external circumstances. Mankind has been guilty of all kinds of grievous crimes and sins since the days of Adam, and such will be the case until God’s children spread the gospel just as it is to a lost and dying race.
There is not a person living today who can name one new sin basically and fundamentally. If it were possible to go back to the ancient Babylonian civilization and see how they lived, we would find the same crimes, the same sins, the same heartaches, the same joys, which we see about us today. What mankind needs today is the gospel of Christ plainly and simply taught without additions, subtractions, or revisions. Let us preach it from the house-tops, on the street corners, in private homes, in public places, until the masses hear, until sinners repent, and until every accountable person is saved!