I have for the last few days been caught up in a passage by Henry Drummond. Drummond was a natural science lecturer in the late 1800’s. He lived only 45 years, but was a Gospel preacher and writer as well, impacting the world marvelously in areas of science and faith.
His writing stands on its own, but in this post, I will share excerpts from his 1890 work, “The Greatest Thing in the World,” and then comment sparingly.
“The Gospel offers a man life. Never offer men a thimbleful of Gospel. Do not offer them merely joy, or merely peace, or merely rest, or merely safety; tell them how Christ came to give men a more abundant life than they have, a life abundant in love, and therefore abundant in salvation for themselves, and large in enterprise for the allevation and redemption of the world.”
Sometimes in order to meet a person’s felt need at the time, we shrink-wrap the Gospel into a version that will be most appealing, most pressing, most relevant to the hearer. We want to show how Jesus makes a difference in specific ways.
But in highlighting just one reward of the Gospel—unconditional love, enduring grace, for example—we may be in danger of leaving out the full potency of the reward—full abundant life itself—and once the felt need has passed, the Gospel may seem irrelevant because we spoke to the need and not the person.
“Then only can the Gospel take hold of the whole of a man, body, soul, and spirit, and give to each part of his nature its exercise and reward. Many of the current Gospels are addressed only to a part of man’s nature. They offer peace, not life; faith, not Love; justification, not regeneration. And men slip back again from such religion because it has never really held them. Their nature was not all in it. If offered no deeper and gladder life-current than the life that was lived before.”
How we can fall prey to partial gospels! You can see the Apostle Paul addressing this multiple times in his New Testament letters. He chides the believers on how quickly they’ve left the true Gospel and followed other ones.
We are easily led astray by sweet sounding words, chest-rising flattery, and promises of material prosperity instead of the Gospel which calls us to deny ourselves. And yet these false gospels, which may indeed offer a portion of the Gospel, lack the deeper and gladder life-current that is available.
“Surely it stands to reason that only a fuller love can compete with the love of the world. To love abundantly is to live abundantly, and to love for ever is to live for ever. Hence, eternal life is inextricably bound up with love.”
So let us offer the fuller love that the Gospel offers because we ourselves have become undone by it and we cannot stand that anyone would live a day with only the love of the world and not the love of God in Christ Jesus.