The Apostle Paul said to the church in Corinth, “Now I make known to you, brothers, the gospel which I proclaimed as good news to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I proclaimed to you as good news, unless you believed for nothing.
“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).
On Monday, I made the following post on social media:
America’s most critical need is not:
- Less debt
- Better laws
- Fewer taxes
- Higher taxes
- Quality schools
- Larger churches
- Social programs
- Stronger families
- Safer communities
- Affordable healthcare
- Competent leadership
America needs the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Now, if you have a good reading acumen, you can see that I am not saying any of those other things are unimportant. I have made numerous appeals to the need for stronger families. I have preached this year and last on the importance of husbands loving their wives and wives submitting to their husbands. I have always been critical of godless leadership, inside and outside of the church, on both the left side of the aisle and the right.
But all of the things on this above list are social concerns. They are not our most critical need. The most important thing for this nation full of sinners is that we need a Savior, and Jesus is that Savior, “He who was delivered over on account of our transgressions, and was raised on account of our justification” (Romans 4:25). Whoever believes in Him will not perish under the judgment of God but will have everlasting life.
I occasionally make posts like the one above—this has not been the first time. As Christians, we face many issues in our daily lives, with varying levels of importance and manners of address. I take on a multitude of subjects going on in the church and the world through my social media accounts and my podcast. But no matter is more crucial than our need for Christ and His word.
When Peter preached the gospel for the first time at Pentecost in Jerusalem, he did not address temple religious abuses, the neglect of the poor, oppression by the Romans, or the political corruption of Herod or Pilot. He warned that the judgment of God was upon his hearers, and the Jesus they crucified “God has made both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36), the Savior that they needed.
The outcry against my post was pretty amazing—and not from the people you might think. When a social media post of mine becomes especially controversial, it’s usually unbelievers who are upset by it. In this case, most of the push-back came from Christians, especially among self-described Christian Nationalists.
One of the most “liked” arguments came from an anonymous account called Eighth Century Woodchipper. He (or maybe she?) posted an image of a house on fire and said, “Please help! My house is on fire!” He then depicted me as someone cutting the hoses of firemen saying, “No, their most critical need is the gospel.”
Ben Zeisloft of the Republic Sentinel responded, “How is [Gabe] cutting their hoses?” Woodchipper said, “With big Jesus Juke scissors.”
In case you don’t know, a Jesus Juke is when a person brings Jesus into a conversation to appear more holy or pious. So Woodchipper’s claim, in judging my heart, is that I want to cut off and cease any effort to help save people from a proverbial burning building just so I can look holier than thou.
But again, I’m not even remotely suggesting any other issue is unimportant. I had recently shared posts about the joys of marriage and parenting, an encouragement to attend church, the demonic appearance of the LGBTQ+ agenda in Austin’s public school system, and I had done a poll of Christians asking what they believe about the death penalty.
Just today I posted an article addressing a potential link between marijuana use and teen suicide, and I shared Zeisloft’s criticism of Christianity Today’s partnership with Francis Collins—a man who oversaw the grafting of aborted baby scalps onto lab mice. Clearly there are many social issues I believe should matter to Christians. So how am I suddenly a hypocrite because I said our most critical need is the gospel of Christ? Is Woodchipper really a Christian or just a social activist?
Another popular criticism was made by Stephen Wolfe, author of the book The Case for Christian Nationalism (which I do not recommend, and you can read Brian Mattson’s brutal takedown of the book on this site, The Square Inch). Wolfe made fun of me by quipping, “Man’s most critical need is not: food, water, [or] shelter. Man needs the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Now frankly, I couldn’t believe Wolfe said that when I read it. Wolfe is not an idiot. He has a doctorate in political philosophy, and he has said, “My teaching philosophy is oriented toward the formation of Christian wisdom.” And yet, has he not read that Jesus directly spoke to exactly this concern?
In Matthew 6:31-33, Jesus said, “Do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For all these things the Gentiles [or pagans] eagerly seek; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
Other criticisms were made by AD Robles, The Daily Genevan, and the director of Conservative Christians of Tennessee. The majority of disagreement came from anonymous Christian Nationalists. (Why are so many of them anons, I wonder? If I was a conspiracy theorist, I might think some of them are feds attempting to stir up… Nah, that would be crazy.)
There were many who came to my defense as well. Ekkie Tepsupornchai, pastor and co-host of the Truth Be Known podcast, emphasized, “America’s ‘most critical need’ is the gospel. This shouldn’t be controversial, regardless of where you stand on implications and outcomes.”
Author Thomas Coutouzis said, “The replies to this are horrific. If you as a professing Christian cannot get behind what Gabe said here, can you really consider yourself a Christian?”
Lauren in Canada said, “If this is a controversial ‘mid-eva-Jesus juke’ post, then the state of the church is in worse shape than most thought! Gabe clearly said ‘most critical need,’ so reading anything else to his intent is—dare I say—intentional dishonesty!”
A wise young man named Brennan said, “The push-back against this is really concerning. Are all of these serious issues? Yep. But as Christians, we should understand that the need for regenerated souls is far greater than any temporal need, and that there is no hope for these problems without Christ. A lot of the replies here seem to be deliberately missing the point. When Jesus said that man does not live by bread alone (Matthew 4:4), He was not saying that man doesn’t need bread.”
Brady, an elder in IL, said, “The responses to this fundamental true statement show how many have begun to include good works (and political strategy) into the salvific content of the gospel. Key word is ‘most critical.’ If you can’t draw a line around the gospel, you have another gospel.”
Neal from South Carolina said, “The replies prove the most critical need is the Gospel.” Amen, Neal.
Now, when I saw the objections and that most of them were coming from Christian Nationalists, I got an idea for another post. I said, “Do you want a Christian nation? Preach the gospel.” While most of my respondents agreed, it also unleashed a whole new outpouring of criticisms, which I may save for another article.
The next day, a pastor friend of mine sent me a private message and said, “I logged on this morning to see how bothered the Christian Nominalists are by focusing on the gospel.” Indeed, it’s sad. There many professing Christians—even among the Reformed—who have traded the power of the gospel for the primacy of social activism. How is this any different from Wokeness?
Now, I’m not saying that any of the names of my critics I’ve mentioned here are unsaved or have abandoned the faith. But there has been enough push-back against the preaching of the gospel that should cause a Christian to pause and examine themselves. What is your greatest need today? Even as a Christian, it’s still Christ. What is of first importance to you? It should still be His gospel.
Paul said at the start of his letter to the Corinthians, “For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God. For it is written, ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the clever I will set aside'” (1 Corinthians 1:18-19).