February 28, 2024

Back-to-Basics: Why Pastors Should Use the Gospel to Empower Those Facing Doubt

Today’s blog will address those in the congregation who might be feeling challenged in their faith and why it’s important for pastors to emphasize the basics of the gospels for seasoned believers.

Noah Cecil

As Christians, we’re tasked with taking the complexities of a broken world and reacting as Jesus’s teachings guide us to. Although, the complexities of life may sometimes find us questioning God’s character or reasoning.

We may find ourselves getting lost in the weeds of asking complex questions, and having our faith challenged while trying to live righteously. In these times, it’s important to go back to the basics of the gospel and remember the importance of why Jesus calls us to live the way we do. 

Today’s blog will address those in the congregation who might be feeling challenged in their faith and why it’s important for pastors to emphasize the basics of the gospels for seasoned believers.

The Complexity of Living Righteously

Whether you were raised into it, or gave your life to Jesus many years later, every Christian should be familiar with the Gospel of Jesus. As we’re told in John 3:16, perhaps the most recognizable verse of the Bible: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” 

While the tenets of our faith may start with such a simple message of redemption, choosing to follow Jesus in a sinful world can be as challenging as it is rewarding. Like Matthew 7:13 tells us:

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

In our modern world, it can sometimes feel like the gate to life grows more narrow as the road grows broader. With the versatility of info we receive from mass media, along with the many discoveries of modern science and invention, as well as the many cultural revolutions of ideology (breeding even more sub-cultures of thought) –– it can be difficult to navigate the life God intended us to live. As we gain more awareness of the world around us, the questions were faced with become more complex. 

With the noise of the world that surrounds us on a daily basis, we can find ourselves facing one of two dilemmas when it comes to our faith:

  1. Becoming distracted from what God’s Word tells us
  2. Getting lost in the weeds of overanalyzing scripture 

Distraction from God’s Word

Between the exhaustion of work and personal responsibilities, accompanied with the frenzy of news stories, opinions, and messagings we receive on a daily basis –– many of us most likely want to simply go home and tune out at the end of the day. The noise of the world leads us not only to a sense of fatigue, but can easily serve as a distraction from God’s Word. Without the Word of God serving as our main guide, we begin to lean into our own understanding. Our own understanding, without God, falls victim to the noise of the world. 

As Jon Bloom of desiringGod tells us: “So many of the things that cause us the most difficulty and heartache in life, the source of so much of our anxiety, fear, doubt, and anger with others and with God, is the result of leaning on our own understanding.” It’s along these lines that the apostle Paul makes clear to us in Romans 8:6, “The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.” 

Overanalysis of Scripture

When I say “overanalyzing scripture,” the purpose isn’t to discourage reading the Bible by any means. Rather, what I mean here is in the context of trying to make scripture fit our own understanding, the way of the world, or desires of the flesh. 

We’re not only exposed to a barrage of information on a daily basis that might challenge what the Word of God tells us, but we’re also faced with the desires of our flesh. For these reasons, we might overanalyze the scripture to fit the desires of our own heart, or of the world, rather than submitting to God’s authority. By overanalyzing what the gospel tells us, we tend to obsess over the minutiae of interpretations or loopholes, similar to the way the serpent misleads Eve in the garden. When reading the Bible this way, we become myopic to the grand picture of God’s Word; we begin to focus only on what we desire. With this mindset, we can become those who the apostle Paul warns us of in 2 Timothy 3:3-4: 

“For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.”

On the contrary to this, the apostle Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 10:5: “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

Furthermore, over-analyzing scripture can even leave us with a sense of analysis paralysis. As we’re caught between the way of the world and God’s Word, we might find ourselves in a place of neutrality to how we’re supposed to live. 

What Can Pastors Do to Help Members of the Congregation Get Back on Track With the Gospel?

So, how can pastors help the congregation reorient through the noise and distractions? When we’ve lost the plot (focusing on things that distract us from God’s Word) it’s important to take a step back from ourselves, our situations, and the world, and go back to basics: what does the gospel of Jesus teach us and why? 

While the gospel narrative may seem like Christianity 101, getting back on track with the big picture of why we follow Jesus allows us to reevaluate the ideologies and desires we let into our lives. As Jesus puts it simply in John 6:63, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” Rather than only focusing on God’s redemption for new believers, seasoned believers can be encouraged by the gospel’s focus on a spiritually thriving life vs. being led by the flesh. 

While the gospel is the good news to the world, it can be even richer to those feeling lost and questioning their walk with Jesus. In the same way a good book might mean more to us the older we get; or the way a business refers back to its mission statement the more it grows; it’s important for Christians to always realign and refer back to the gospel of Jesus as we mature in our faith. 

A Helpful Tool For Pastors on Creating a Gospel Sermon That Inspires 

Recontextualizing the gospel to empower those of the congregation who are feeling burned out on their faith might look different than teaching it to new believers. Thankfully, pastors now have access to online sermon writing tools that can help tailor the right message that inspires. These tools provide pastors with the assistance of simplifying the research process, generating sermon outlines, and creating character studies or modern day examples of biblical topics. 

Don’t Lose Sight

The world looks a lot different than it did in Jesus’s day, but living righteously in a world of challenging ideologies and desires of the flesh has always been the same. While the noise of the world might have us questioning our faith, it helps to step back and return to the basics of the gospel to keep us reoriented in our walk with God.

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