Preaching Christ 3

They doat about the letter of the law, but are strangers to the spirituality of it; and, as far as the glorious gospel of the blessed God, they cannot preach it. They may talk about the one God, about the Holy Tirinity, and the trinity in unity; about the divinity of Christ, and the unity of two natures in him; about the ancient settlements of eternity, and preach up what they may call the important doctrines of election and predestination, particular redemption, and effectual vocation, regeneration, justification, and sanctification, efficacious grace, and final perseverance, and yet at the same time be as destitute of the gospel of Christ as Satan himself. Men may speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and be nothing (I Cor 13:1-2). Yea more, be destitute both of the law and of the gospel; and be no more than the letter of the law and the word of the gospel. But the law is spiritual, and that is more than letter; and the gospel of the kingdom stands in power, and power is more than word. (William Huntington, 1745-1813)

In this particular section it is clear that Huntington is saying that a person can have some form of belief in the doctrines of grace and yet be destitute of the Gospel of Christ. Having a belief that what is true is true is not a guarantee that one is converted. This is most likely shocking to some, even many, but the Gospel of Jesus Christ does not tell us that if one believes the things that are true are true that one is converted. This points us to a great error in modern preaching. The speaker assumes that faith is simply a matter of intellectual belief and as such speaks to people in order to inform them and try to get them to believe facts.

As Huntington pointed out earlier, however, a person can be a stranger to the spirituality of the law when that same person goes on and on about the letter of the law. In the same way a person can go on and on about the letter of the Gospel or about the letter of the doctrines of Christ, yet that person can be a stranger to the spirituality of those as well. It is possible for men to be able to speak of justification in the letter of it and the doctrine of it and yet not be justified. This may sound strange to some, but it is possible to believe that the doctrine of justification is taught in the Bible and that it is true and yet not be a true believer, that is, one that has been regenerated by the Spirit and as such be a true believer who is justified. One is not justified by believing that what is true is true, but one is justified by Christ Himself.

Oh how the Scriptures teach us these things and yet we don’t want to admit them. If it is true that men may speak with the tongues of men and of angels and still be nothing, then men may speak of the things of Christ from a pulpit in truth and be nothing. If it is true that mean may have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge and be nothing, then it is true that men can have a great understanding and knowledge of the Bible and the doctrines of the Bible and be unconverted themselves and unable to preach the Gospel. The disciples walked with Christ for three years and yet they did not understand Him until He revealed it to them. It is not the academic understanding of Scripture that is a true and spiritual understanding of Scripture and thus men are able to preach from the heart, but it is only the spiritual knowledge that Christ gives that enables men to preach from the heart and to the souls of men.

Since the heart of the law is spiritual, and we might add that in the New Covenant it is internal, the heart of Christ is also internal and He is the life of the soul in the New Covenant. As the law cannot be truly preached apart from love and apart from spiritual things, so Christ cannot be preached apart from love and spiritual knowledge of Him. We are told that we are to worship in spirit and truth (John 4:24), so surely Christ is to be preached in that manner as well. It is not enough to preach the truth, Christ must be preached in and to the inward part of man as well. The Gospel of Christ is the Gospel of the kingdom of God and that is the reign and rule of God. The reign and rule of God is with power and it is far more than just the power of words, so the Gospel of the kingdom of God is also with power and not just words that are true. The Gospel is not just good news about facts, it is good news about what God does in sinners and how Christ saves sinners. It is about what God actually has done and continues to do, it is not just about historical facts. True preaching recognizes that and preaches the living Christ.

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