Preaching Christ 1

I Cor 1:17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void. 18 For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written, “I WILL DESTROY THE WISDOM OF THE WISE, AND THE CLEVERNESS OF THE CLEVER I WILL SET ASIDE.” 20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22 For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, 24 but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men… 30 But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, 31 so that, just as it is written, “LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD”.

The doctrines of the Reformation flowed from Scripture, but they were also illuminated by the non-biblical way that Rome had taken things and applied certain teachings. Rome focused on baptism and the mass instead of Christ. Rome thought it had grace given to it (the Church) and it could dispense grace as it pleased. Rome had Christ bound (so to speak) in its traditions and in its sacramental system. It basically repeated some of the great errors of the Pharisees. Whenever man tries to step in and take control of the truth and then interpret it according to his own fallen reason, the supernatural aspects of it are taken away and man is now in control (he thinks) of his own salvation.

Paul lived in a day where men were wise in their own eyes and others looked for miracles and power. That is really nothing new and so he took the Pharisees and the Judaizers on. Paul was called out and chosen by God to preach Christ, the cross, and a free-grace in the face of legalism and man-centered approaches. Luther, though in a different way, was called out by God to stand up to Rome and preach Christ, the cross, and free-grace in the face of legalism and Arminianism. In our own day the same theories of men are running free again and are finding little resistance. It seems as if many in our day have fallen into the notion that they must not stand against Arminianism and as such they are not going to stand against legalism in all of its forms either.

Paul was sent to preach the Gospel and He was sent to preach Christ and Christ crucified. Luther preached Christ, though indeed he is known for justification by grace alone through faith alone, but that was his way of preaching Christ. In the modern day it is rare to find someone who truly preaches Christ. Some will preach doctrines about Christ, but that is not preaching Christ. Some will speak of Christ or speak of the cross here and there, but that is not preaching Christ. It is not preaching Christ when one gives a learned discourse or a learned lecture on a subject. It is not preaching Christ to tell people how to keep the law or how to be moral. It is not preaching Christ to fill people with stories of Jesus and His miracles and healings. Some try to preach Christ as if they were giving an academic lecture. Christ is not preached in those ways.

Paul was sent to preach the Gospel (the Gospel of Christ, the Gospel of the glory of God, the Gospel of God) and he was not sent to baptize. Paul was sent to preach the Gospel, though not in cleverness of speech. He gives us the reason why he was not sent to preach with cleverness of speech. If he did so, the cross of Christ would be made void. In this context, it appears to be impossible to preach the Gospel if one does so with clever speech. The Gospel is opposed to baptism and the Gospel is opposed to preaching the Gospel with clever speech. The Gospel of a crucified Savior must be preached plainly and clearly. This is another way of saying that it takes a crucified man to preach a crucified Christ.

Here is one conclusion that we can draw. Uncrucified men cannot preach the Gospel of a humble Christ. Uncrucified men cannot preach the Gospel of the broken Christ. Uncrucified men cannot preach the Gospel of the glory of God when in fact they are seeking their own glory. The Gospel is all about Christ and how Christ saves sinners to the glory of God. When men preach in a way or with the intent (regardless of how hidden it is to themselves or others) where the glory comes to men or the glory of Christ is hidden to some degree, those men are not preaching Christ but are preaching things about Christ in order to declare themselves. It does not matter how well men can speak and how well they know their doctrine, until they die to themselves they will not preach Christ. A man who has not died to self will only preach Christ for the sake of self. Regardless of how well his speaking gifts are and how well he knows orthodox doctrine, apart from death to self he will only preach for self.

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