Preaching Christ 12

He bore what? The sins of all His people. The curse and wrath of His divine Father due to their crimes, with which He was charged as their Surety. He bore up under all these weights, and by His sufferings, sacrifice and death, He made a full atonement for sin, obtained a complete victory over sin, Satan, death and hell. He satisfied divine justice perfectly, and bore away for ever out of the sight of God, the sins of all His church and people. And God beholds His children clothed in the immaculate righteousness of His beloved Son, and completely cleansed from all their sins through the inestimably precious sacrifice and blood-shedding of Jesus. The God-man bore the curse of the broken law to deliver us from it. He is now in glory making a presentation of Himself continually in the holiest of all, as the finished righteousness and atonement of His people. And “if when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life” of intercession. (Samuel Eyles Pierce, Letters)

Underlying the truth of what it means to preach Christ is also the vast failure of ministers to preach Christ even if they are orthodox. It is only those who feel the weight of their sins who have any real idea of what it means to have Christ as Savior. It is only when the Spirit has convicted men of their sin, of their lack of righteousness, and of the coming judgment that men will feel the weight of their sin. It is a slight view of sin that leads to a slight view of Christ and the cross of Christ. This is to say that there is a lot of other teaching that is the foundation on which the truth of Christ rests. It is also true that the view of sin and of the cross depends on how people behold God in His glory. This, while vital, is something that seems to be virtually unknown in our day.

It seems that no one thinks that he is not a preacher of Christ, but one can preach much of Christ in a sense and simply not preach the true Christ. Saying the word “Christ” many times in a “sermon” is not what it means to preach Christ. Preaching Christ can only come from a heart that Christ has taught the truth by experience and so the preaching is the conviction of the soul. However, it is hard to find a man who thinks that he does not preach Christ and the Gospel of Christ. After all, that is what the man is paid to do. But we must be very, very careful at this point. The seminaries are pouring out men who preach the text in an orthodox way and in an expositional way, and so they think that they are doing what is needed.

Again, orthodox doctrine does not mean a person is converted and does not mean that a preacher is preaching Christ. Expositional preaching can be done when one fits it into a pattern and Christ is not the center of the sermon. Expositional preaching that is not an exposition of Christ is an utter failure in terms of the true preaching of Christ. It is also not preaching Christ when the true Christ is not preached and the true work of Christ is not brought into focus. It is also not preaching Christ when there is no effort to show men their utter depravity and inability so that the glory of Christ can be seen in His sufficiency.

Preaching Christ requires the preacher to spend time in prayer with God with a broken and humbled heart looking to Him for true words and the sufficiency to preach Christ. Preaching Christ cannot happen as long as the preacher is in the natural realm (so to speak), but can only happen when the preacher is elevated and illuminated with things from above. It is in beholding the glory of God in Christ that the preacher is enabled to behold that glory and is changed into that image from one degree of glory to another. It is then that the preacher is given a heart and a tongue to speak those things in such a way that the natural man cannot do and even converted preachers cannot do either. It is something that God alone can do.

This will sound mystical to some, but it is simply to say that God alone can teach a preacher in the inward man and make the man His mouthpiece rather than a lecturer of things about the Bible. It is God alone who can grip the soul and give the preacher a sense of His presence, His glory, and His power that can make the preacher really preach. There is something about true preaching where the preacher must be a witness to how good the Lord is and how the Lord tastes (taste and see that the Lord is good). There is something about true preaching where the preacher is gripped with an invisible power and sees things that cannot be seen by the natural senses. We have a lot of lecturing and a lot of talk about the Bible, but little preaching. We have many men who are orthodox about the doctrines of Christ, but few who have been taught in the inward man and so speak the Gospel from experience.

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