Gospel Preaching 36

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.

He should also open his mouth vigorously and confidently, to preach the truth that has been entrusted to him. He should not be silent or mumble but should testify without being frightened or bashful. He should speak out candidly without regarding or sparing anyone, let it strike whomever and whatever it will. It is a great hindrance to a preacher if he looks around and worries about what people like or do not like to hear, or what might make him unpopular or bring harm or danger upon him. (Martin Luther)

“Preach Christ, let your end be to glorify him, to render him amiable and precious in the eyes of his people; to lead them to him as a sanctuary to protect, a propitiation to reconcile, a treasure to enrich, a physician to heal, an advocate to present, as righteousness to justify, as sanctification to renew, as redemption to save, as an inexhausted fountain of pardon, grace, comfort, victory, and glory.” (Edward Reynolds)

Preaching the Gospel is really preaching Christ since the Gospel is all about what Christ has accomplished to the glory of God. While some may not understand that the statement by Reynolds above is preaching the Gospel since he speaks of preaching Christ, one cannot preach the true Person and works of Christ without preaching the Gospel of Christ to some degree. Look at how Christ-centered the statement by Reynolds is. Christ is to be the substance of preaching, the goal of preaching, the desire of preaching, and His work is to be set out for His glory.

In this it seems that Reynolds is hitting at something about preaching that our day has missed. We are not just to preach the Scriptures, and that in an academic way, we are to preach Christ in order to preach the Scriptures. We are not just to preach these canned messages to get people up an aisle or to get a paycheck, but God sets men apart in order to preach Christ and His Gospel. There is no preaching of Christ unless Christ and His glory is the greatest end and purpose of the sermons. Jesus prayed (John 17) for the Father to glorify Him that He may glorify the Father. Preachers should preach Christ and seek the glory of Christ before God and the people. We are used to glorify God when we glorify Him through preaching Christ and His Gospel.

Reynolds says that preachers should preach Christ in such a way as to render Him amiable and precious in the eyes of His people. This is a vital point! It is a vital point in preaching to preach to God’s people in a way that exalts Christ and shows how He is greatly to be desired and how beautiful and glorious He is. This means that we are not just to preach the facts about Christ, but we are to labor and strive to set forth Christ in His beauty and glory. The labors of the preacher are not just to understand a text, but they are to seek the Lord for grace that the preacher may declare things about Christ that the people of God may be fed with strong food and sweet food.

One important thing, even an utterly essential thing to notice at this point, is that preachers must seek the Lord that He would show Himself beautiful and glorious to them. If this has not happened to the preacher, then he will not be able to preach this to the people. As one has said (Alexander MaClaren), it takes a crucified man to preach a crucified Savior. It also takes a man who has tasted of the Lord and sees that He is good to preach a Christ to others and describe what He tastes like and what it is to see that He is good. The Gospel is not just about the facts, but it is about the beauty and glory of God through Christ in those facts. There is a spiritual knowledge that preachers must be taught and the only One who can teach that knowledge is Christ and His Spirit.

We live in a day where orthodoxy is not valued by many, but among some it is valued to a high degree but valued in the academic way only. Anything more than the facts and what the intellect can grasp is thought to be mystical. However, the glory of God in Christ is far more than just words, it is the beauty and wonder of God shining in and through Christ so that the people of God will have their affections drawn to Christ. Part of being a human being is to have affections and as such we should preach with that awareness. The affections of the people will be exercised on something, so this should teach us to preach with the affections and desires of the people in mind. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy and so on, not just giving the facts of the matter. Biblical and spiritual preaching that benefits the whole soul of the people of God will strive to set out Christ in a way where He is seen and tasted so that He is better than the whole world to the intellect, the will, and the affections.

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