Gospel Preaching 45

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 apostle Paul prayed for the believers in Ephesus that the Father of glory would give them a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. He prayed for them that the eyes of their understandings would be enlightened and that they would know what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints really are. This is something that should shock us and grab us. Paul prayed for spiritual understanding for the people. Surely he would not pray for this if they (or us) could understand things simply by reading a commentary style book that explained the words of the text. It takes spiritual insight to understand spiritual things.

Gospel preaching, therefore, should be preaching that is focused on spiritual things. Gospel preaching cannot be attained apart from the minister giving himself to prayer and the Scriptures looking for spiritual things in order to preach spiritual things to spiritual people. If the preaching of the Gospel requires spiritual preaching, then the study of the preacher in his preparation must include seeking spiritual understanding. Spiritual understanding cannot be found in a commentary and it cannot be found by doing what carnal men do. Spiritual understanding can only take place when spiritual men seek the Spirit to give them light as it shines out in Christ and His Gospel.

Owen notes that this is not an easy thing for preachers. In order for the preacher to preach and guide people into spiritual things, the preacher must be spiritual himself. The preacher must long for and seek the Lord for insight and light into these mysteries of the Gospel or the preacher will be of no help to the people. This should be a great insight into the true nature of preaching and the true nature of preparation. The true nature of preaching is what is taught of the Spirit in the soul of the preacher during the week so that the preacher is doing more than just lecturing on words. The preacher of the Gospel must seek these things from the hand of God and he must seek them on the basis of grace alone.

The preparation of the preacher for preaching the Gospel must no longer be simply the use of commentaries and the study of works, but it must be an entering into the mysteries of the Gospel in a spiritual sense. The preacher must know what it means to understand spiritual things of the Gospel. The preacher must understand how to be taught spiritual things of the Gospel. The preacher must understand how to point people to Christ who must teach the people spiritual things. This requires the preacher to seek a broken heart and a humble heart before God that he may seek understanding by grace alone. It is only when Christ by His Spirit has taught the preacher in the inner man the Gospel that the preacher will preach the Gospel.

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