Question: “You have advised me to find a ‘Gospel preaching church.’ How do I know that a church is preaching the Gospel?”
Answer: This is a very important and serious question. Obviously, no one can provide a foolproof measuring stick for evaluating churches and their preaching. There are many important issues for determining the faithfulness of a local church to its Scriptural obligations. I can only suggest several very crucial characteristics that I believe one should look for in a church. Historically, the Protestant view of the marks of a true church were: 1) preaches the Gospel of Jesus Christ; 2) administers the biblical sacraments (baptism & Lord’s Supper); 3) practices Biblical discipline. Because of time and the question at hand, I will focus on the first one. This does not mean the last two are not very important. I will write on these later. But, for this space we will look at preaching the Gospel as the first mark of a true church.
It is the truth that makes the Church. The Gospel is the bare minimum of what determines a faithful church. I am not so concerned whether the church has a Boy Scout troop, a dynamic, interactive Sunday School curriculum, a quality contemporary pre-service warm-up band, the top speakers in the Evangelical circles, a Promise Keepers men’s group, or a gymnasium for youth sports. Honestly, these are not only peripheral things, some are fads which are not much more than blips on the radar screen of church history. The Church has survived every known weapon of Satan through two thousand years, and for most of its existence, the Church has survived without any of the above. But, take away the Gospel, and the Church is dead where it stands. “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but are mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds” (2 Corinthians 10:4). May we hold to the one thing that will never fail or fall–our gracious Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The Church that pours its energy into exalting Christ and telling the world about His grace is a good place to make one’s home.