Musings 102

1 Corinthians 2:1 And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. 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. 6 Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; 7 but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; 8 the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory; 9 but just as it is written, “THINGS WHICH EYE HAS NOT SEEN AND EAR HAS NOT HEARD, AND which HAVE NOT ENTERED THE HEART OF MAN, ALL THAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM.”

I continue to be virtually confounded and amazed at the lack of preaching on the cross of Christ. While Paul was so clear about this, modern preaching is devoted to a form of exposition that misses the centrality of Christ and His cross. The Law is preached a lot, but it is not preached as the Bible sets it out. The purpose of the Law is to show us our sin and drive us to Christ. The purpose of the Law is not for us to give ourselves to law-keeping in our own strength, but instead we are to set out Christ as the Lawgiver, the Law-keeper, and the One whose very life is lived as the Law on display as the very glory of God.

When the cross of Christ is not preached in its depths and glories, then the character and beauty of God is not preached in its depths and glories. The heights and peaks of the glory and beauty of God are seen in Christ in such a way as they are not seen in any other location. The heights and peaks of the glory and beauty of God are seen especially in the cross of Christ. Paul told us that we were to boast about nothing but the cross of Christ. No one is to boast about his preaching or about his ministry or about his salary or anything else. It is an incredible pride in the human soul that would have a man be more proud of his preaching than the cross of Christ. What arrogance it is for a man to preach so that people would be aware of his preaching rather than preach so that people would glory in God as beheld in Christ and the cross.

It is the cross of Christ that is part of the one and only Gospel. Apart from preaching the cross, men will not come to know God and cannot truly believe the Gospel of grace alone. Sinners have no hope for the wrath of God being removed from them because of their sin apart from the cross, so why will men not preach the cross of Christ? The Lord Jesus Christ has suffered the wrath of God and there is no other sacrifice that will fully satisfy the wrath of God. So why will men not preach the cross? It is so hard to understand why ministers of the modern day will not preach the cross since it is so central to the Gospel and of practical living.

It may be that men do not preach the cross because they don’t preach the true nature of sin and a real hell. It may be that men do not preach the cross of Christ because they don’t really believe that God is perfectly just and that His wrath abides on all those outside of Christ. While one Puritan period preacher set out 72 sermons on Isaiah 53 and the cross, men today seem to hardly be able to mention the cross much less preach a real sermon on it. It seems to be without question that one cannot preach the Gospel, a real propitiation for sin, and a completed justification by Christ apart from preaching the cross of Christ. It is the cross that offends and it is the cross that a crucified Savior must be lifted up so that men will be drawn to Him.

Perhaps the real issue is in the previous paragraph. The cross offends men and so preachers who want to be winsome will not preach such an offensive thing as the cross, a wrathful God, and the heinous nature of sin that would require the cross. The very root problem, then, is that men are more afraid of offending men than they are of being unfaithful to God. Paul stated clearly in Galatians 1:10 that “If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.” Men cannot truly be servants of Christ is they are driven by trying to please men. When ministers want to please men so badly that they do not preach the cross, then those men are not servants of Christ. When ministers want to please men and will not preach the true nature of sin and of a wrathful God who is only satisfied at the cross, these men are not servants of God. It is hard for men to be crucified to the point where they preach to please God. Only then will men preach a sovereign God who saves by free-grace.

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