Gospel Preaching 42

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)

The duty of such an officer of the church—a pastor, teacher, elder of the church—…”is to feed the church with knowledge and understanding.” This feeding is by preaching of the gospel. He is no pastor who does not feed his flock. It belongs essentially to the office; and that not now and then (according to the figure and image that is set up of the ministry in the world—a dead idol) as occasion serves. But the apostle says, Acts 6:4, “We will give ourselves continually to the word.” It is to “labor in the word and doctrine” (I Tim 5:17). (John Owen, Sermons to the Church)

Whatever a pastor does or does not do, he is to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the Gospel of Jesus Christ that feeds the people. It is the Gospel of Jesus Christ that feeds the church with knowledge and understanding. It is the Gospel of Jesus Christ and of God that is what people must hear to be converted and is what they need in order to grow. While it may be thought and said that the Gospel is nothing but a little message that a person hears and is then converted, that is far, far from the truth. One can never outgrow the Gospel. One can never mature enough to where the Gospel is not needed.

When a church tires of hearing the Gospel, something is far, far off. The church would then be only a church in name or the person preaching is not preaching the true Gospel. True believers do not get tired of hearing the true Gospel of the true Christ. The true Gospel is not just some little message to be given here and there, but the true Gospel is wound in and around all the truths of Scripture and the whole of the glory and character of God is set forth in and by Christ in the Gospel. The Gospel is not just some little message that is given to get people to agree to it, but instead the Gospel is where the greatness of God is set forth in Jesus Christ Himself. In fact, one cannot preach the truth of who God is apart from preaching Christ and one cannot preach Christ apart from preaching the Gospel of God, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the Gospel of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

Owen tells us that a person that does not preach the Gospel is not a pastor because preaching the Gospel is essential to the office. If we take that one step farther, the preaching of the Gospel is necessary to a church being a church. The ramifications of what Owen sets out are enormous. The failure of a man to preach the Gospel consistently would then show us that the man is not a true pastor and the professing church is not a true church. The non-preaching of the Gospel would at the very least lead to a people being weak because they are not being fed with sound nutrition. In other words, the preaching of the Gospel sermon after sermon is necessary to a church being a true church, to the pastor in name being a true pastor, and for the church to be nourished and fed. As Owen sets out, “It belongs essentially to the office.”

We must at the very least take care of where we attend church and where we join. While we may not notice it, the souls of those who attend a church where orthodoxy is preached, where morality is preached, and good doctrine is set out is not necessarily a place where Christ and His Gospel are preached. It must also be pointed out that there is no preaching of the true Gospel apart from preaching Christ and there is no preaching Christ apart from the true Gospel. There is no other option for preachers and there is no other option for professing churches. The Gospel must be preached.

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