Mike Hess, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, Mount Pleasant, Iowa, led a challenging workshop called “How to Make the Gospel Relevant in Your Preaching” on Tuesday, June 24, during the GARBC Conference. He began by pointing out that the gospel is relevant every time it is preached.

The gospel keeps us from being moralistic, manipulative, and man-centered in our preaching, he says. “The gospel has a ripple effect; it affects how we view every passage of Scripture.” The gospel helps people see the holiness of God in light of the sinfulness of man.

Connecting the gospel with progressive sanctification is important in preaching, Mike told the pastors and laypeople in attendance. We should not preach the gospel as unconnected with our growth in Christ as believers. The apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is an excellent example of this, he says. Paul presented the truth of the gospel before presenting the implications of it. Mike walked through Ephesians 4—6, illustrating how the gospel presenting in Ephesians 1—3 is the background and basis for the imperatives found in Ephesians 4—6.

Pointing to 2 Timothy 4:1 and 2, Mike concluded by giving everyone some helpful questions to ask to test whether their preaching is gospel-centered: Is it teaching? Is it training? Is it testing? Is it exhorting?

Ken Floyd, executive director of the Michigan Association of Regular Baptist Churches, was appreciative of the workshop. He says Mike “effectively shared how gospel application flows through the text in an effective, unforced way.”