Gospel Preaching 44

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.

“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)

There is spiritual wisdom in understanding the mysteries of the gospel, that we may be able to declare the whole counsel of God, and the riches and treasures of the grace of Christ, unto the souls of men. See Acts 20:27; I Cor 2:1-4; Eph 3:7-9. Many in the church of God were, in those days of light, growing and thriving; they had a great insight into spiritual things, and into the mysteries of the gospel. The apostle prays that they might all have it, Eph 1:17-18, “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him; the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints.” Really it is no easy thing for ministers to instruct in such kind of duties. If there be not some degree of eminency in themselves, how shall we lead on such persons as these to perfection? We must labor ourselves to have a thorough knowledge of these mysteries, or we shall be useless to a great part of the church. There is spiritual wisdom and understanding in the mysteries of the gospel required hereunto. (John Owen, Sermons to the Church)

The Gospel of Jesus Christ and the glory of God in Jesus Christ is not simply a few propositions that are to be mentioned on occasion. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the Gospel which is about Jesus Christ and shines forth the wonder and glory of Jesus Christ. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is about His humanity, but let us never forget it is also and perhaps primarily about His Divinity. It is also about how the Father shines forth in Christ. Clearly, then, the Gospel has spiritual meanings and spiritual truths that are to be preached. If the preacher is just focused on the physical things or the words and things that the natural man can explain and understand, then the preacher is not preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

If God has given His people all spiritual blessings in Christ (Eph 1:3), then unless the preaching involves the things that are spiritual the preaching will never reach the souls of men and it will never get at the heart of the Gospel. Yes, it is true, this sounds so mystical to some. However, the Scriptures are quite clear that there is a spiritual knowledge, a spiritual wisdom, and spiritual blessings. These things cannot be dismissed so easily if we are to be faithful to Christ and the Gospel of Christ. If there is nothing spiritual, then what of the things of the Holy Spirit and how we must be illumined in order to understand the things of God? The Gospel is not just two or three points and the Gospel is not something the natural man can understand. The Gospel is spiritual and it is spiritual food to spiritual people. This is also to say that spiritual people (people who are regenerated by the Spirit and have the fruit of the Spirit as He dwells in them) will not be fed apart from having spiritual food. True preaching that is faithful to the God who is spirit must be spiritual.

In our own day we see many men and women who are on the televisions who think that the blessings of God are primarily health and financial. They have failed to understand the nature of spiritual blessings and so they focus on the only blessings they can really understand. While this may seem obviously wrong to many, it is not so obvious when people focus on the externals of Christianity and do not preach the spiritual things of Christ and of His Gospel. As Jesus taught so clearly, a person must be born from above in order to see or enter the kingdom. It is not just information given joined with some urging for the people to make a decision, there has to be preaching regarding spiritual things.

The Gospel is not something that the natural mind can just hear and understand. The Gospel is a great mystery and it cannot be understood unless the Spirit opens the hearts and minds of souls and reveal the spiritual things of the Gospel. Apart from preaching the spiritual things of God and the Gospel the whole counsel of God cannot be declared as that is cutting off the primary issues of the Gospel. This is once again pointing to a great error of our day. We are so afraid of mysticism that we are focused on things that the carnal man can understand and so we have chased the biblical Gospel out of the churches out of fear. The Gospel is a Gospel of spiritual blessings and of spiritual beings (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) and so the Gospel cannot be preached apart from spiritual understandings.

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