The church should never presume the gospel. Just the opposite. We should presume the fragility of the gospel. It is a delicate flower, easily wilted by religious pride, one that only flourishes where careful attempts to humble the church have been consistently applied. According to the great Scottish divine, James Buchanan (1804-70), Luther “knew that men would invariably grow indifferent to [justification by faith alone], in proportion as they became less impressed with a sense of sin, and less alive to the claims of the Law and Justice of God.”[i] In other words, the gospel is a shy bird. It flits away wherever and whenever the Bad News is not emphasized.
[i] James Buchanan, The Doctrine of Justification, (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1867, reprinted 1997) pg 153, emphasis mine.