Should Christians “Just Preach the Gospel”?

In certain circles, the phrase “Just preach the Gospel,” functions more as a conversation stopper rather than any kind of genuine appeal. “We need to talk about racial justice.” Just preach the Gospel. “Have we considered if our message and evangelism is contextualized to our culture while remaining faithful?” Just preach the Gospel. “I’m concerned that we are not doing enough to serve the poor.” Just preach the Gospel. 

You get the point. Now, to be fair, utilizing the phrase this way, doesn’t necessarily mean that an individual is saying those items don’t matter. The most generous interpretation that can be given to it is that an individual is saying that those items, while important, will all be fixed if we only focus on Gospel preaching. 

I find even this charitable interpretation far too simplistic of a methodology to walking faithfully, and holistically, as disciples of Christ. While the Gospel is of “first importance” (I Cor. 15), the Christian Scriptures are overflowing with teachings that are not directly teaching or preaching the Gospel. 

To be clear, I believe that the Gospel, that is that Jesus Christ died, was buried, and raised from the dead for the forgiveness of sins to all who put their trust in Him and confess Him as Lord, is the centerpiece and cornerstone for properly understanding every aspect of the Christian life. With that said, we must understand that we have a wealth of teachings within the Scriptures that relate to pursuing justice, serving the poor, defending the weak, items that may be called “social justice issues.” These matters must be understood in light of the Gospel and fleshed out through the lens of the Gospel, but they also must be taught as distinct teachings of Christ and the Apostles that need careful thought, charitable dialogue, and prayerful reflection.

When Jesus gave the Great Commission, he told his disciples to “make disciples” (presumably by preaching the Gospel), and to teach those converts all that He has commanded. Yes Christians must preach the Gospel, but we must not stop there. We must teach all that Jesus commanded as well. Yes the Gospel never loses its relevance nor its power in the Christian life. Yes we need to be reminded of it and live from it daily. But as we do, we are then working off of the proper foundation for being the salt and light of the world, being all of what Christ taught us to be. 


Thanks to Rebecca McLaughlin for inspiring this post in: Rebecca McLaughlin, The Secular Creed: Engaging Five Contemporary Claims (Austin TX: The Gospel Coalition, 2021), 19

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Related Posts:

Why MLK’s Letter From Birmingham Jail is a Timely Read

“Scars That Remain”: A Poem on Structural Racism and Christian Responsibility

5 thoughts on “Should Christians “Just Preach the Gospel”?

Add yours

  1. Chandler,

    Thank you for the thoughtful post. I completely agree that sharing the gospel and the salvation of souls is a Christians first priority.

    I also agree that “we must understand that we have a wealth of teachings within the Scriptures that relate to pursuing justice, serving the poor, defending the weak,” but I wouldn’t call these “social justice issues.”

    I think this is where many good meaning brothers and sisters are speaking past each other.

    How do you define Social Justice?


    1. Hello Tyler, thanks for the reply. I appreciate you sharing your areas of agreement and your recognition of how easy it is to talk past one another without taking the time to see what the other person is actually saying.

      Without writing an entire blog post on it, the simplest definition I’d offer is that it is working towards doing what is right, particularly for the oppressed and marginalized, within society. Giving them their due as fellow image bearers, if you will.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Chandler,

        I think the definition you have is what Dr. Ronald Nash is his 1983 book “Social Justice and the Christian Church” calls Universal Justice. Universal Justice applies to all people, in all times, and is what people would define as being just or as you stated, “working towards doing what is right.”

        However, from my understanding, Social Justice is a type of Particular Justice, which is applied differently based on the circumstances or situation. Dr. Nash lists three types of Particular Justice: Commercial Justice, Distributive Justice, and Remedial Justice.

        Social Justice is synonymous with Distributive Justice. It deals with the distribution of resources within a society. Any unequal distribution would be considered unjust. This is where many get the idea that any disparity between groups of people in society is an injustice. Further, this is where we are getting the idea of “equity” vs “equality.” This is seen in Websters definition of Social Justice as a “doctrine of egalitarianism.”

        And as Dr. Nash highlights, the problem with trying to achieve equity, is you have to “treat people differently. But if the egalitarian abandons his quest for equal results and concentrates instead on equal treatment, he must then be content with the unequal results that will follow.”

        In my mind, understanding when to apply Social Justice is key, as a form of Particular Justice it does not apply in all situations as Universal Justice does. For example, not all disparities are unjust. If a student in a class works hard and receives an A for their work, that is just grade. But if in the same class, an individual does not apply themselves and earns a D, then a disparity has been created, but it is not an unjust disparity, as it is based on merit. If a person applies social justice in all circumstance as Universal Justice, then this situation in class would be considered unjust, as it is not an equitable outcome.

        Something to consider brother. Since at least 1983 the Church has been debating the application of Social Justice in a biblical manner.

        Thanks for the engaging conversation.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: