Preaching Christ 6

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 Trinity, 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)

John 15:4 “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. 5 “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.

Preaching Christ is either a fruit of the Spirit or it is a fruit of the flesh. It is clear from Galatians 5 that love, joy, peace, patience and so is a fruit of the Spirit. In other words, if one is to preach with joy and love then one must have the Spirit work those things in the soul. It is not just a matter of preaching sound words or orthodox words, the soul that preaches must preach by the power of the Spirit which is to say with the work and fruit of the Spirit. If the text of Scripture just above (John 15) is correct, then there can be no preaching unless the preacher is abiding in Christ and Christ is abiding in him.

Huntington’s comments above have a powerful implication as well. A person can preach a lot with all mysteries and knowledge, yet be destitute of the spiritual application of the law and of the gospel of the kingdom. This is another way of stating John 15 which teaches us that apart from Christ we can do nothing (spiritual or truly good). In other words, for us to do anything spiritual at all it must come from Christ first. All spiritual fruit is from Christ and that means that true spiritual preaching must come from Christ as well. The preacher can fill the brain with all sorts of information, even if the information is correct and orthodox, but apart from the preaching being the fruit that comes from Christ that preaching is dead.

This should awaken and alarm preachers. They can give themselves to reading history, theology, and to commentaries, but unless their preaching is spiritual fruit which can only come from abiding in Christ and His abiding in them, their preaching is the fruit of the flesh. A sharp mind can figure out many of the external teachings of the Bible, and this can be seen by the Pharisees and by many men who have been ministers for years before they were either converted or they apostatized. It is not that hard to make up speeches from the Bible and about the Bible, but preaching as a fruit of the Spirit is something far different. Preaching that is the fruit that comes from the Vine is something that no natural man can attain.

While it may sound radical and even mystical, it takes Christ to preach Christ. It takes a man who is abiding in Christ and has Christ abiding in him to preach Christ. It takes a man who receives all from Christ by grace alone to truly preach Christ. It takes Christ as the person’s life to preach a true and living sermon. A sermon that is the fruit of the Spirit is a spiritual sermon and is fruit that glorifies God in and through Christ. A sermon that comes from Christ Himself will be to the glory of the Father through Christ. The Lord Jesus was the very manifestation of the Father and strove to manifest and glorify the Father in all He did while on earth. There will no nothing different (in that sense) in the preaching of those He dwells in and works to glorify the Father through. Preaching, then, does not depend on how smart or even how orthodox a man is, but instead it depends on how humbled and broken the man is in order to receive all from Christ so that the preaching is truly Christ Himself working His words and Person in and through the human instrument who is said to preach.

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