Gospel Preaching 30

I Corinthians 2:2 For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.
3 I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, 4 and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.

A Christian, whether he is preacher or hearer, must be sure that he is speaking and hearing, not his own word, but God’s Word; otherwise it would be better if he had never been born, and preacher and hearer together must go to the devil. (Martin Luther)

There are many ways not to preach Christ and Him crucified. While many want to follow the command to preach the Word in some way, they should remember that to preach the Word one must preach the Christ of the Word. The Scriptures cannot contradict themselves and so we should understand that we cannot preach the Word in a way that contradicts Paul’s determination to preach Christ and Him crucified.

It appears that many are satisfied to call that preaching which is really just reading Scripture and adding a few words of comment on that. Of course they may offer a bit of application at the end, which may or may not be about Christ, but that is not the same thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified. John 2:23-25 teaches us that while many believed in the name of Jesus after they observed His miracles, they were not truly converted people. If these people were not converted by watching Jesus do miracles and preach while doing them, what makes us think that we can think we are preaching if we are just reading Scripture and making a few comments on the text? Let us not forget that Paul preached Christ and Him crucified to believers and unbelievers alike. There is no such thing as evangelistic preaching apart from preaching and expounding the Person of Christ and the works of Christ. There is no such thing as preaching to strengthen believers apart from preaching and expounding the Person of Christ and the works of Christ. Reading a small or a vast portion of Scripture while making comments on it cannot be viewed as preaching Christ and Him crucified.

Another way that men are deceived about their preaching is when they preach in a way that they think of as expositional preaching. Expositional preaching can be, if one examines it carefully, just another way of reading the text and making more comments upon it. People can either read through a text fairly quickly or spend a lot of time on a text examining it, but either way they miss the real point of the text if they do not preach Christ and Him crucified. In one sense an expositional way of preaching can be nothing more than an academic exercise about the text rather than a way of preaching Christ. For example, one can preach the Law as the Law and in its own context and yet not preach Christ. Yet the purpose of giving the Law (according to Scripture) is to show men their sin and to be a tutor to bring them to Christ. Using that as an example, it should be clear how expositional preaching can be a way of preaching a text and yet utterly fail at preaching Christ and Him crucified at all. While expositional preaching is all the rage in many circles, it should be understood and even self-evident that an exposition of a text is nothing more than an exercise apart from preaching Christ.

It is also true that both reading a text with comments and expositional “preaching” can be a way for men’s “faith” to rest on the wisdom of men rather than on the power of God. It is easy to simply read a text and it can be easy to practice exposition if one has the proper method and the proper tools. But with both of those methods, one can also trust in the method without seeking Christ Himself in the heart and in the text. When a preacher does not preach Christ from a passage or a text, it means that the preacher has not seen Christ in the passage or text. It also means that the preacher has not met Christ in that text or passage of Scripture and so the preacher is preaching from the wisdom of men rather than setting forth Christ. While there may be powerful speaking from the pulpit without a felt and known Christ in the heart of the preacher, there is no such thing as powerful preaching and Gospel preaching apart from a felt and known Christ in the heart of the preacher.

The real problem (to put it bluntly) with Christless preaching is Christless preachers. A preacher who has sought Christ and found Christ in his study will preach Christ from the pulpit. The preacher who has sought and found Christ in the study cannot but preach Christ in the pulpit. The preacher who has sought an academic knowledge or nothing but information about Christ may indeed give a lecture on Christ from the pulpit, but only the man who has sought and found Christ Himself can preach Christ in accordance with Gospel preaching. Preachers are not to be experts giving lectures to the people, they are to be men full of Christ who speak forth the glory and wonders of the Person of Christ and His Gospel of grace alone. Men must taste that God is good before they can really describe it. Men must taste the glory of Christ before they are fit to preach Him and His glory.

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