Why All the Talk About Front Loading the Gospel?
In some of my articles I have written about front loading the Gospel into all our relationships. Admittedly, the term can be a little on the confusing side and I have not always communicated the meaning well. My goal in this article is to elaborate on what I mean by front loading the Gospel.
I speak frequently about front loading the Gospel because it is tragically missing in Western Christian Culture(WCC). Consequently, I believe that we need deep personal reflection to determine the reasons for this tragic flaw.
What is it that has led to this? Moreover, how do we truly reclaim this tactic and where do we see it in Scripture? I am thoroughly convinced that the more that evangelical Christianity has sound perspectives placed before them, the more likely those perspectives will be adopted.
If we consider how we have come to such a sad state in WCC we will see it is through the repetition of bad teaching. Who hasn’t met people who quote men like Joel Osteen and Rick Warren as if they are Apostles? The messages and books of these men are treated like Holy Writ. This does not happen in a vacuum. The embrace of men like Warren and Osteen comes from embracing others before them. Some of those predecessors were worse and others weren’t.
If the current trend continues unchecked, the state of WCC will grow exponentially worse. We have already seen Andy Stanley insist that we unhitch the New Testament from the Old. These trends do not just poison the visible church; they negatively impact the preaching of the Gospel.
Furthermore, make no mistake, preaching the Gospel isn’t easy. Thus, anything we can do biblically, to assist in smoothing the road for advancing the Gospel is good and right and proper.
What Does Front Loading the Gospel Even Mean?
Front loading the Gospel should almost be self-explanatory. However, almost isn’t good enough.
Simply put, it means that each relationship that you enter is built on the premise of preaching the Gospel. Moreover, it means you recognize that there is a great eternal burden on you. This burden is to see friends, family members, co-workers, neighbors and acquaintances saved. Are you responsible to “get them saved”? Of course not. That can only happen through the work of the Holy Spirit.
However, recognizing this burden means you look to not merely build a relationship with the people around you. It means instead that you dwell intently on finding ways to bring the Gospel to bear on your new friend.
Does front loading the Gospel mean that the first comment you make when meeting someone must be, “Repent and believe!”? No. Not in the least. In the next section I will address what this may look like for us individually.
Speaking to an Old Testament Context of Front Loading the Gospel
In a previous article I spoke a little about how we as Christians introduce ourselves. Often, we fall into the societal trap of identifying ourselves by what we do occupationally or where we live. I suggested that we instead lead with who we are in Christ.
Consequently, my beloved readers, I want us to consider what this will look like for each of us. I was thinking about Psalm 71 and was struck by these verses:
“By You I have been sustained from my birth;
You are He who took me from my mother’s womb;
My praise is continually of You.
7 I have become a marvel to many,
For You are my strong refuge.
8 My mouth is filled with Your praise
And with Your glory all day long.”
This is, to me, a beautiful look at an Old Testament example of front loading the Gospel. Take a hard look at what the Psalmist says in verse 7. He has become a marvel to many because God is his strong refuge. This is a statement about salvation. This poet is in awe of God. People have taken notice that God is his redemption and refuge. How would he know that those around him are marveling at this if they were not speaking about it with him? More importantly, how would they know of his reliance upon God if he were not speaking boldly about it?
The writer says as much when he tells God that his mouth is always filled with praise for God. Yet, he doesn’t stop there. His mouth is constantly filled with the glory of God as well. This is not taking place in the privacy of the man’s house and gardens. This is happening in public places.
Is this describing you daily? It isn’t me.
Speaking to a New Testament Context of Front Loading the Gospel
The New Testament is replete with examples of God commending the front loading of the Gospel. In one instance we observe Peter telling people to always be ready to give an answer for the hope that lies within them. “But Todd,” you may be protesting, “That passage is about enduring persecution with meekness and longsuffering and then giving an explanation.” To that I grant a hearty Amen!
However, how does the true believer enter the realm of facing persecution for the sake of their faith? I would argue that persecution comes when people are bold about the Gospel and adhering to biblical truth. In other words, it looks an awful lot like the man from Psalm 71.
Consider Stephen in Acts 6 and 7. Stephen is selected to be a deacon in Acts 6. However, he isn’t consigned to ministering only to the widows. He is out and about preaching the Gospel and working miracles. This is taking place in the market places and streets around Jerusalem. Stephen is proclaiming Christ in the context of the people he is meeting on daily basis, some of them would have been people he knew prior to his conversion.
Consequently, what was the response? They lied about him and put him before the Council to be tried.
What of Paul? His custom when entering a new city was to first go to the local synagogue and preach Christ. Acts 17 records that he did this for three sabbaths. This is a powerful example of consistently front loading the Gospel.
It doesn’t end there either. Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch is a great example. Philip sees the man reading and asks, “Do you understand what you read.” Philip explains, and the man is converted.
Do you see it now? The early church modeled it!
Does Front Loading the Gospel Look the Same for All of Us?
I will be brief.
It does not look the same for each of us. As I recently told a group of Gospel-minded students, we will all go about this differently.
For some, it may look like asking a new friend or acquaintance if they would like to do a bible study. For others it may be the conversation over the backyard fence with the neighbor, asking them how you can pray for them.
I could give any number of examples and still not exhaust what it means for each of us to be about front loading the Gospel into our relationships.
What I want to stress is that whatever it looks like, the proclamation of the Gospel is the goal. The desired end is the conversion of every person that you meet.
If you are arguing that it is ridiculous to have the conversion of every person you meet as an end, please stop and think. Whose thinking is flawed? Whose thinking is biblical? What was the command of the Great Commission?
Please note the lack of dialog about actual evangelism in this article. Yes, there is an implicit responsibility to preach the Gospel when talking about front loading the Gospel. However, my goal in this article is more about setting the table so-to-speak, than it is about serving the food.
Not all of us are called to open air preaching. Furthermore, not everyone is particularly gifted in that way. However, we are all called to advance the Gospel into the world. Front loading the Gospel into each relationship that you have, will make an incredibly difficult task a bit easier.
Jesus first words of public ministry followed on the heels of his forty days of temptation in the desert. What does He say? “The time is fulfilled the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe the Gospel!” It would be too easy for us to dismiss these words as Jesus front loading the Gospel into his relationships. Of course, He did, He is the Gospel!
However, what about John. As John stood thigh deep in the muddy water of the Jordan river he saw Jesus coming out of the wilderness towards him. John immediately cries out, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” This is about as clear of a statement about front loading the Gospel I can make.
My beloved readers please do not perceive me as making a law where there is no law. The desire is not to lay a heavy legalistic burden on you. My desire is to compel you to joyful obedience to Gospel advancement. The groundwork for this is laid when you introduce yourself as a follower of Christ. When this is done, your neighbor will expect to hear the Gospel.
Soli Deo Gloria!