How the Puritans Preached the Gospel (Proverbs 19:11)
Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense. —Proverbs 19:11
In his book A Quest for Godliness, J. I. Packer explains how the Puritans had a comprehensive understanding of the gospel. He writes:
The importance of all this is that it challenges our modern idea that preaching ‘gospel sermons’ means just harping on a few great truths—guilt, and atonement, and forgiveness—set virtually in a theological vacuum. The Puritan view was that preaching ‘gospel sermons’ means teaching the whole Christian system—the character of God, the Trinity, the plan of salvation, the entire work of grace. To preach Christ, they held, involved preaching all this. Preach less, they would tell us, and what you do preach will not be properly grasped.
What the good news of a restored relationship with God through Christ means for religion cannot be understood further than it is seen in this comprehensive context. Gospel preaching centres always upon the theme of man’s relationship to God, but around that centre it must range throughout the whole sphere of revealed truth, viewing the centre from every angle of vision that the Bible provides.
In this way, they would say, preaching the gospel involves preaching the whole counsel of God. Nor should the preaching of the gospel be thought of as something confined to set evangelistic occasions, as if at other times we should preaching something else. If one preaches the Bible biblically, one cannot help preaching the gospel all the time, and every sermon will be, as Bolton said, at least by implication evangelistic.