FULL GOSPEL—or half full?
It was a hot, still night, and the little church was packed. John Bookman felt beads of perspiration rolling down his forehead, and he was glad when the famous preacher began his appeal. He knew now that he would not have to endure the heat much longer.
"... and receive your Saviour's pardon here tonight!" concluded the penetrating voice. One by one five men and eight women walked steadily forward, and were led away into an ante-room. When the rest of the congregation were dismissed, and began to shuffle eagerly towards the fresh air. Bookman waited for the question that he knew was coming.
"Well, what do you think of our Gospel Service? Aren't you glad you came?" asked his friend Jim Missioner excitedly. They were out in the street now, and Bookman stopped walking.
"It was a stimulating experience", he said, "but one thing puzzled me." He raised his hand and tapped the notice board outside his friend's church. "It says 'Full Gospel preached here every Sunday Evening'. Would you say that your man preached a 'Full Gospel' here tonight?"
"Why, of course, and very effectively too! He spoke about our sin, and how Christ died to save us, and how his blood can cleanse us if only we will accept him. What's that, if it isn't the full gospel?"
"It certainly is a very important part of the gospel", replied Bookman, thoughtfully. "But somehow I think there is something lacking. Maybe what we heard tonight was a very ill-balanced gospel—rather like a dinner of all meat and no vegetables. Tell me, Jim, can you imagine a preacher who had never heard of the death of Christ, getting up and preaching the gospel?"
Missioner gaped at him. "Of course not. Are you serious? How could there possibly be any Christian gospel without the cross of Christ? Take away Calvary and there's nothing left—nothing at all."
"I'm not so sure, Jim. Let's see what the Book says." Bookman pulled a dog-eared Bible out of his breast pocket and thumbed over the pages. "Now what chapter is it?" he muttered. "Not seven, not eight,—ah, yes, here it is—Luke 9. Let's read through these verses together and then you tell me what you think.
Verses 1 to 6. 'Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power . . and he sent them to preach the kingdom of God . . . And they departed, and went through the towns, preaching the gospel.'
Verses 22, 44 and 45. 'The Son of man', Jesus said, 'must suffer many things, and be rejected of the eiders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain . . . The Son of man shall be delivered into the hands of men. But they understood not this saying, and it was hid from them, that they perceived it not.' "
Jim Missioner stared at the verses and read them again. Surely they couldn't say . . . and yet they did say it, so plainly that there was no mistaking it. First the disciples were given power; then they went and preached the gospel; and all the time they never even knew that Jesus was going to be slain!