Preaching that does not offer gospel, will be merely moralistic. Moralism is preaching that calls us to be better people – to be better Christians who pray more, read their Bible more, and do more because it is right and good. These are worthy aspirations, but they will not be sustainable if we have never met with God. Morality is a poor substitute for the gospel. Moral suasion requires us to be strong enough and resolved enough to be whatever we believe we need to be. We might be able to carry it off for a little while, but in the end we will fail because that is what human beings do. Even young people grow tired and weary (Isaiah 40:30). We all have our limits. We can only be so moral for so long. We will all fall short of the glory of God’s expectation (Romans 3:23).
This is why we need the gospel. We need an objective solution – a resource that is above and beyond the weakness of our personal limitation. Humans can run fast, but only so fast. Someone might shave a tenth off of the world record 100 meter time at this year’s Olympics, but they will not shave a minute. It is safe to say than no one will ever run the 100 meters in 4 seconds. No one will ever swim across the Atlantic ocean. No human will ever broad jump the Mississippi. We can do better, but we will never do everything that we can hope for or imagine, except that God should intervene.
The gospel could have only come from heaven. It is objective in the sense that it is the heaven-constructed solution for all of human-kind. It is like discovering an alien metal or an other-worldly element. The gospel could not have been conceived or created by humans because it is the product of heaven. Whenever we come to see this we are gob-smacked. Encountering gospel conviction is always a stop-in-your-tracks, smack-in-the-face kind of moment that arrests us, enthuses us, and redirects us in the way that we should go. Without this gospel, we are doomed to the merest moralism.