Archive for the ‘Gospel Preaching’ Category

Gospel Preaching 35

June 20, 2015

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.

He should also open his mouth vigorously and confidently, to preach the truth that has been entrusted to him. He should not be silent or mumble but should testify without being frightened or bashful. He should speak out candidly without regarding or sparing anyone, let it strike whomever and whatever it will. It is a great hindrance to a preacher if he looks around and worries about what people like or do not like to hear, or what might make him unpopular or bring harm or danger upon him. (Martin Luther)

The Lord Jesus Christ is the very shining forth of the glory of God and He is the express image of His person. For a person to have truly seen Christ was for them to have seen the Father. The Lord Jesus came to reveal the Father and in and through Him there is no real sight of the Father. There is no Gospel other than that of the glory of God that shines in the face of Christ. It is Christ who is the way, the truth, and the life and is the only way to the Father. It is in Christ and Christ alone that we are given all spiritual blessings. It is only in the name of Christ that we can offer a prayer. How, then, can we speak of one being a Gospel preacher if one is not preaching Christ?

While Christ was on earth He was hated because He spoke and lived the truth of God and about God. When men are at enmity with the true God, they will hate hearing about Him. They will love to hear false things about Him, but since they are at enmity with Him they will hate the truth that shines forth in Christ. But instead of bowing to the venom of men toward the true God, the Gospel preacher will preach the truth of God in and by Christ. The true Gospel preacher is called of God and is supposed to preach the truth of God and that truth can only be preached when the true Christ is preached. Preachers must not be worried, at least to the point of it changing the message, of what people say or if it might bring him less honor (or no honor or even dishonor). They must preach the true Christ in such a way that the glory of the true God shines forth.

Part of the great enmity which men have toward the Gospel of Christ alone is that it leaves them helpless and unable to do anything to earn merit with God. One cannot preach grace alone without preaching that men have no merit before God and that they even have ill-merit before Him. Grace will only be given to the humbled and until men are humbled (in a legal way at first) they are not ready or able to even understand true grace. Proud man hates God, hates Christ, hates the Holy Spirit and hates grace because man loves himself and values his own sufficiency out of self-love. The Gospel is a humbling message and requires men to be stripped of all their hope in self and the efforts of self so that they can go through the narrow gate. The only way to go through that narrow gate is to be stripped of all and not trust in self.

When a true Gospel preacher preaches the glories of God in the face of Christ, unregenerate men will hate that. Unregenerate men can be very religious, but they will always be stirred at the hearing of the true Gospel and of the true God. It is in light of the true God that man sees the true man and he does not like a view of the true man and so sets out to destroy and ridicule the idea of the true God. It is in the true preaching of Christ that men see their inability and their total insufficiency to do one good thing and so this drives them to behold the glory of God and His grace in the face of Christ. But preaching of this type is not for unbroken and unhumbled men who would rather please men by building them up in the strength of self rather than seek to destroy self that men would look to Christ alone. Gospel preaching is to preach Christ which is not to preach humanism. Gospel preaching is to preach Christ which is to show men their sinful hearts and their total inability in spiritual things. But this requires broken men who preach only out of the fear and love of God. Gospel preaching is ultra-rare because there seems to be few men who fear God and not men and seek His glory rather than the glory of men.

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Gospel Preaching 34

June 17, 2015

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.

He should also open his mouth vigorously and confidently, to preach the truth that has been entrusted to him. He should not be silent or mumble but should testify without being frightened or bashful. He should speak out candidly without regarding or sparing anyone, let it strike whomever and whatever it will. It is a great hindrance to a preacher if he looks around and worries about what people like or do not like to hear, or what might make him unpopular or bring harm or danger upon him. (Martin Luther)

The Gospel is the good news of what God has done in Christ to glorify Himself in the salvation of sinners. It is a message to helpless sinners, dead sinners, and sinners who are unable to contribute to their own salvation. It is a message to those who have absolutely no ability to help themselves. This is to say that the Gospel is good news to those who are poor in spirit or who have come to the point of seeing themselves as desperate sinners who have absolutely zero hope in self and so can only look to grace alone. In other words, the Gospel can only be apprehended or appreciated by those who are so lost that they know they cannot help themselves. This requires bold preaching and a preaching that is not concerned about hurting the feelings of men and is not concerned about gaining honor among men.

The one who is preaching the Gospel must also preach the doctrines that correspond to the Gospel. For example, it is good news that God raises the dead, but if sinners don’t see themselves as dead they don’t really think of God raising the dead as good news. This means that Gospel preaching must include preaching about men being dead in their sins and trespasses so that the preaching of the Gospel of God can be understood and seen as good news. This means that Gospel preaching must include preaching about how men are not only sinners, but that they are sinners by nature. When men see that they are sinners by nature, they will understand that they need a new heart. So Gospel preaching declares to men that they are dead in sins and that by nature so that the glorious teaching of the new birth will be welcomed and sought. This takes boldness to preach and a desire to please God in the preaching rather than men.

Gospel preaching must never stress anything positive or Divine happening to the sinner apart from that happening by grace alone. The sinner must never look to himself or any other human being for help as the only help can come from above. The sinner must know that he can never do one thing good and as such he can never put God into his obligation. The sinner will only be saved if God is pleased to show grace to the sinner. Once again, in order to preach this and stress this with application to the hearts of sinners requires that the preacher be a man who speaks for God and not for the glory and honor that comes from man. A man cannot preach these things with earnestness and apply them to the hearts of men unless that man preaches for the glory of God in the salvation of sinners.

It is one thing to give a lecture on how the Gospel is by grace alone, but it is quite another thing to preach in such a way that sinners begin to see their own absolute need to be saved by grace alone. It is quite another thing as well to preach in a way where men can see that their only hope is in the grace of God and not almost all grace and a little something from them. A man can have a doctrine, philosophy, or a theory that states grace alone; but the practice of that man can be quite inconsistent with his theory. In our day it is not terribly unpopular in some circles to say that you stand for the doctrines of grace, but actually preaching the doctrines of grace with the doctrines that show how grace alone can save sinners is not as popular.

One can stay popular or at least in positions of power in denominations as long as you allow that there is room for differences, but one cannot remain popular in those denominations if one stands for grace alone and stands as well for there being no room for differences at this point. Gospel preaching cannot be popular unless God sends His Spirit to bring large numbers of people to a brokenness of heart to where they will not put up with anything but grace alone and the doctrines which go along with that. Gospel preaching is a proclamation of the glory of God in saving sinners, but sinners who are dead in sin and are sinners by nature and act. All the power and glory are His. Sinners, however, want some control and until their hearts are broken and crushed they will fight for the smallest amount of power left to them and some control. They will never honor a man who goes after the refuges that they have in their hearts so as to drive them out and leave them nothing but grace alone to hold to.

Gospel Preaching 33

June 16, 2015

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.

He should also open his mouth vigorously and confidently, to preach the truth that has been entrusted to him. He should not be silent or mumble but should testify without being frightened or bashful. He should speak out candidly without regarding or sparing anyone, let it strike whomever and whatever it will. It is a great hindrance to a preacher if he looks around and worries about what people like or do not like to hear, or what might make him unpopular or bring harm or danger upon him. (Martin Luther)

Gospel preaching requires and earnestness, most certainly, but it also requires that one speak without controlling concern of what other people will think if the message hits them hard. Due to our hearts which are not perfect, the preacher will have that concern or worry at times if not most of the time, but that concern is not to control him. It is the love of Christ that is to constrain him. It is the love of Christ and the true good of souls which is to drive the preaching of a Gospel preacher. The preacher is supposed to be a man that God has set apart and is to preach the truth as one that has been set apart for God and His glory rather than always being concerned about how sinful men will view what he says.

Paul teaches us in 2 Timothy 4:2 to “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.” What appears to be in vogue today is that men preach the word and are then reproved and rebuked for preaching the word, so men become nervous and so preach what is acceptable to men so that they will be praised rather than rebuked. Gospel preaching, however, cannot be controlled by men. The one preaching must never cater to himself or to anyone else, but instead the preaching is to be the truth of God and as such preached as truth with love for God first and foremost.

It is possible for men to preach and to lower the voice or slur through the hard things, but this must not be done and cannot be done in Gospel preaching. The Gospel is all about the glory of God and His Messiah and there is nothing to be quiet about and nothing we should not be bold in declaring. The Gospel is all about the wonder and majesty of what God has done in glorifying His name in saving sinners and there is no room for men to be frightened or bashful about those things. Instead, they are to proclaim those things to men and those things are to be trumpeted forth as the most wonderful things in the universe rather than tripped over out of the fear of men.

It is nothing but self-love and pride that moves men to keep their eyes on what men like and don’t like rather than keeping their eyes on God and what honors Him and His truth. Every man that stands in the pulpit is either preaching to please himself or God. If he is preaching to please himself, then he can be moved to preach to please others, though indeed that is nothing but preaching for the purposes of self rather than for the truth and glory of God. The man who is a true Gospel preacher will preach out of the love and fear of God as his primary motive knowing that what is truly out of the love and fear of God will also be what is truly best for men. When men try to preach what men want to hear, whether it is orthodoxy or a watering down of the truth, they are not preaching what men need to hear and as such are not preaching what is good for men.

Gospel preachers are sinful men too, but Gospel preachers are not controlled by what will make them popular or unpopular. It appears that the vast majority of modern preachers are controlled by what they think will make them popular and avoid being unpopular. It is better for the name of Gospel preachers to be smeared and spoken evil of than for them to back off of preaching the truth of God and His Gospel. When men choose the truth and being unpopular because of love for God and His truth, they are in the line of the prophets of old. Gospel preaching must be done regardless of whether it will make men popular or unpopular, though indeed some with a martyr’s complex (so to speak) may desire to be unpopular for the sake of their own self-righteousness. Gospel preachers appear to have a rod of iron up their spine, but that is just appearances. The real thing about them is that they love the glory of God, His shining forth in Christ, the power of His Spirit, and the triune Gospel. They are firm on that.

Gospel Preaching 32

June 15, 2015

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.

Gospel preaching has earnestness to it that dry doctrinal and/or moral lectures cannot have. Gospel preaching has seriousness about it that all the humor and anecdotes cannot have. Gospel preaching has a sense of eternity around it that light and frothy teaching cannot have. Gospel preaching is serious about the things of eternity and wants to press eternal things home to the conscience and to the depths of the soul. Paul was with the people “in weakness and in fear and in much trembling.” He was not there with the newest and most relevant joke or story. He was not there to give story after story and then bring it to a close with a shallow mention of Christ. Paul was serious and weighty in his message rather than being hollow and light.

The reality of eternity does not come into our consciences but rarely, yet it is the most important and vital thing in our future. We would consider it important if a person was to prepare for time away that lasted for five years. We would understand that person extensively planning and preparing for the time away. We would understand that the person needed to prepare for such a long absence and that s/he may not have time for frivolity. Yet each and every person on this planet will be in an eternal dwelling before long. Each and every person will face eternal judgment before very long. Shouldn’t it be the case that we should face that reality with more earnestness than we do?

Imagine a person that knew s/he would be in hell in one week (or less) and did nothing but spend time joking with friends, going to movies, and drinking a lot. While we may find that a bit strange of a person who will be in hell in a week or less, we seem to think that it is quite acceptable in those who have no guarantee that they will not be in hell the next minute. We want to be nice and smiling and entertaining to those around us, but perhaps we should have other things in mind both for ourselves and for others.

Gospel preaching should and must take eternity seriously and as such should take preaching and life seriously. When a person who has recently received news that s/he has a terminal illness attends a church service, that person does not want to hear and does not need to hear some abstract philosophy or some moralizing. That person does not want to hear a person in the pulpit telling jokes surrounded with many stories. That person should hear a Gospel preacher who is earnest in light of eternity and wants the listeners to be engaged with the living God around the Gospel of the glory of Christ.

When a person is faced with death, what type of preacher will that person need? While the person may be more comfortable around a positive person and one who is nice and speaking nice things, hell is full of people who were more comfortable around positive people and those who were nice. What kind of preacher should a person want to listen to when a person is on the way to hell? What kind of preacher should a person want to listen to when a person is headed before the judgment seat of Christ? What kind of preacher should a person want to listen to when that person is going into the arms of Christ? It should be self-evident that each person should want to listen to a man who is earnest about eternity and is earnest about the Gospel of the glory of God.

While humanistic thinking tells us that people who are dying want to be comforted by people who are positive and encouraging and have sweet morsels (of words) to help people, in fact all of those things can be nothing but assisting people to feel good as they go off into hell. Gospel preaching will not happen when preachers are preaching the doctrines of the Gospel, even if they are accurate teachings. Gospel preaching will only happen when men are gripped with the weight of eternity concerning themselves, others, and the glory of God. The weight of eternity must be upon our souls if we are going to be Gospel preachers. The weight of eternity must be upon our souls if we are going to speak to men and women about the true nature of eternity. The weight of the eternal God and His judgment must be upon us if we are going to preach the eternal Gospel of the eternal God in any measure as it should be preached. We cannot work this weight up and it cannot be just another correct theory, but instead it must be taught to us and put upon our hearts by Christ Himself.

Gospel Preaching 31

June 10, 2015

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.

A Christian, whether he is preacher or hearer, must be sure that he is speaking and hearing, not his own word, but God’s Word; otherwise it would be better if he had never been born, and preacher and hearer together must go to the devil. (Martin Luther)

If I shall come to glory, what a God shall I enjoy forever and ever! Into what blessed arms and bosom shall I cast my soul! And if I shall go to hell at least, can I bear up under the weight of God’s vengeance? Well, yet there is hope, God’s heart, the door of grace, and the gate of heaven, yet stands open. How would the damned in hell give thousands of worlds (if they had them) for my may be?

Can a person be given to Gospel preaching unless he is like a dying man preaching to dying men? Can a person preach the Gospel as he should apart from being rescued as a stick from the fire? Gospel preaching must have urgency to it rather than always be so calm and deliberate as if people had nothing to fear. Gospel preaching must realize and press upon men the glories of being in the arms of Christ and yet the awful state of falling into the wrathful hands of the living God.

Can the things of eternity be pressed upon sleepy souls with the greatest of calmness and a virtual detachment? This is not to say that bulging veins in the neck and virtual temper tantrums in the pulpit are what is wanted, but surely there is some warmth in the soul and some edge to the preacher who will warn people of the wrath to come. If indeed the damned in hell would give thousands of worlds if they could to have a time to seek the Lord or for just the slightest hope that they might escape the eternal torment and wrath that they are under, then Gospel preachers should set those things out with more than a dry giving of facts and with more than a monotone.

True Gospel preaching realizes that each sinner that is alive is on the precipice of eternity and God can yank the soul out of the body at any moment He chooses. Every sinner (as Edwards writes) is like the person walking around on a rotting canvas which has holes in it and is in danger of dropping in at every moment. The only thing that holds each sinner out of hell each moment is the hand of God and all unconverted sinners are in rebellion against Him and they hate Him. With every sin each sinner is casting sticks on his own fire which he will have to the utmost in eternity. The Scripture refers that to treasuring up wrath for the day of wrath.

The Scriptures are quit clear as to the weight of eternity and how this should instruct Gospel preaching. Every person in the entire world is presently building treasure in heaven or is treasuring up wrath for the day of wrath. With each sin the unbelieving sinner (whether a professing believer or not) is adding more wrath to his or her fire in the world to come. Shouldn’t Gospel preaching take that into account and shouldn’t Gospel preachers warn people about these things with some concern and some sympathy and perhaps some urgency? Do we really believe these things in our day?

If we truly believe these things in our day, then where is the urgency of our Gospel preaching? In the modern day preaching is focused on this world primarily and the eternity is not thought of that much, but the weight of eternity is rarely brought to bear upon the souls of sinners. Is it believed anymore that it is better for a person to be cast into the ocean with a large rock around his neck than it is to be a stumbling block? Do we teach sinners that they should not fear what men can do to them but they are to fear Him who can not only kill the body but cast the soul into hell? Do we press the dire state of sinners any longer?

Gospel preaching is not cold and without feeling while it simply states things that are true, but instead Gospel preaching stressed how utterly vital the cross of Christ is to sinners. Gospel preaching stresses how utterly necessary it is to have Christ as the only perfect righteousness and Christ as the only hope. Gospel preaching stresses the glories of heaven and the awful reality of eternal torments in hell. Gospel preaching drives men from any and all hope in self with feeling and urges them to behold the glory of God in the face of Christ.

Gospel Preaching 30

June 7, 2015

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.

A Christian, whether he is preacher or hearer, must be sure that he is speaking and hearing, not his own word, but God’s Word; otherwise it would be better if he had never been born, and preacher and hearer together must go to the devil. (Martin Luther)

There are many ways not to preach Christ and Him crucified. While many want to follow the command to preach the Word in some way, they should remember that to preach the Word one must preach the Christ of the Word. The Scriptures cannot contradict themselves and so we should understand that we cannot preach the Word in a way that contradicts Paul’s determination to preach Christ and Him crucified.

It appears that many are satisfied to call that preaching which is really just reading Scripture and adding a few words of comment on that. Of course they may offer a bit of application at the end, which may or may not be about Christ, but that is not the same thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified. John 2:23-25 teaches us that while many believed in the name of Jesus after they observed His miracles, they were not truly converted people. If these people were not converted by watching Jesus do miracles and preach while doing them, what makes us think that we can think we are preaching if we are just reading Scripture and making a few comments on the text? Let us not forget that Paul preached Christ and Him crucified to believers and unbelievers alike. There is no such thing as evangelistic preaching apart from preaching and expounding the Person of Christ and the works of Christ. There is no such thing as preaching to strengthen believers apart from preaching and expounding the Person of Christ and the works of Christ. Reading a small or a vast portion of Scripture while making comments on it cannot be viewed as preaching Christ and Him crucified.

Another way that men are deceived about their preaching is when they preach in a way that they think of as expositional preaching. Expositional preaching can be, if one examines it carefully, just another way of reading the text and making more comments upon it. People can either read through a text fairly quickly or spend a lot of time on a text examining it, but either way they miss the real point of the text if they do not preach Christ and Him crucified. In one sense an expositional way of preaching can be nothing more than an academic exercise about the text rather than a way of preaching Christ. For example, one can preach the Law as the Law and in its own context and yet not preach Christ. Yet the purpose of giving the Law (according to Scripture) is to show men their sin and to be a tutor to bring them to Christ. Using that as an example, it should be clear how expositional preaching can be a way of preaching a text and yet utterly fail at preaching Christ and Him crucified at all. While expositional preaching is all the rage in many circles, it should be understood and even self-evident that an exposition of a text is nothing more than an exercise apart from preaching Christ.

It is also true that both reading a text with comments and expositional “preaching” can be a way for men’s “faith” to rest on the wisdom of men rather than on the power of God. It is easy to simply read a text and it can be easy to practice exposition if one has the proper method and the proper tools. But with both of those methods, one can also trust in the method without seeking Christ Himself in the heart and in the text. When a preacher does not preach Christ from a passage or a text, it means that the preacher has not seen Christ in the passage or text. It also means that the preacher has not met Christ in that text or passage of Scripture and so the preacher is preaching from the wisdom of men rather than setting forth Christ. While there may be powerful speaking from the pulpit without a felt and known Christ in the heart of the preacher, there is no such thing as powerful preaching and Gospel preaching apart from a felt and known Christ in the heart of the preacher.

The real problem (to put it bluntly) with Christless preaching is Christless preachers. A preacher who has sought Christ and found Christ in his study will preach Christ from the pulpit. The preacher who has sought and found Christ in the study cannot but preach Christ in the pulpit. The preacher who has sought an academic knowledge or nothing but information about Christ may indeed give a lecture on Christ from the pulpit, but only the man who has sought and found Christ Himself can preach Christ in accordance with Gospel preaching. Preachers are not to be experts giving lectures to the people, they are to be men full of Christ who speak forth the glory and wonders of the Person of Christ and His Gospel of grace alone. Men must taste that God is good before they can really describe it. Men must taste the glory of Christ before they are fit to preach Him and His glory.

Gospel Preaching 29

May 30, 2015

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.

A Christian, whether he is preacher or hearer, must be sure that he is speaking and hearing, not his own word, but God’s Word; otherwise it would be better if he had never been born, and preacher and hearer together must go to the devil. (Martin Luther)

William Hauge describes the early eighteenth century church provocatively in his recent biography of William Wilberforce. He speaks of the diluted nature of the Christianity preached in British pulpits, and of the “hypocritical and lackluster way in which it was practiced.” He describes an ecclesiastical establishment “mired in a period of place-seeking, money-grabbing and moral irrelevance.” When William Blackstone, a renowned lawyer at this time, had heard every preacher of note in London he concluded that none of their sermons contained more Christianity than the pagan philosopher Cicero. After listening to sermons in York, Henry Venn similarly concluded that “excepting a single phrase or two, they might be preached in a synagogue or mosque without offence.” One historian of this period candidly asserts that the established religion was regarded by most politician, and many churchmen too, as merely a valuable form of police control over the lower classes. He goes on to conclude that, “It must be admitted that the Church of England during the eighteenth century is not an inspiring spectacle. Latitudinarian to a degree which makes it difficult to find any theological justification for its existence; at its highest it was an efficient instrument of statecraft, at its lowest it was a nest of pluralists and mundane divines.”

Gospel preaching is when the greatness and glory of God are preached as set forth and made clear in Christ, so Gospel preaching is what prevents “the diluted nature of the Christianity preached in British pulpits” or any other pulpits. It is Gospel preaching that draws forth the affections and desires of God in and through His men and causes preaching to be the opposite of hypocritical, which is to say that it is sincere. It is Gospel preaching that gives men a desire to proclaim God with power and prevents lackluster preaching.

When churches are more interested in money than preaching the true Christ, the problem is not that the ministers are preaching Christ but have a weak message, but the problem is that they are not preaching the true Christ at all. When building programs become the focus rather than Christ, most likely Christ is not being preached at any point either. People can preach something about Christ and yet do that in order to get the church to grow in numbers and dollars and that can be part of the building program as well. Christ must be preached for no other motive than love for the glory of God and His Gospel. It may be true that something can be seen about a person in how they spend their money, but it is also true that something can be said that it is a waste of money to give it to churches that are not preaching the Gospel of grace alone. Churches and ministers that are not preaching the Gospel of grace alone should not be supported much less build great buildings while they have the name of Christ on their lips and their hearts full of the love of self. We must have men who have died to self and the love of the honor of self either directly or through the building of buildings for the sake of self in order that they will preach Christ for the sake of Christ and His glory alone.

When a sermon in a Reformed pulpit could be preached in the average evangelical pulpit without a stir, there is a problem with. Christ crucified is an offensive message when it is preached in truth. When a sermon (so-called) can be given and yet liberals are not offended, there is a problem with that sermon. When Joel Osteen can have a few thousand Muslims attend “services” each Sunday and they are not offended, there is a deadly lack of preaching Christ in his sermons. The problem in America today is not that people have watered the message down a little here and there, but that Christ and Him crucified is not the center of the sermons and the church. Churches are run more like a business than as congregants who are members of the body of Christ. Until the ministers in our nation are broken from their hearts that love honor and esteem and get back to preaching the wonders and glories of Christ Jesus, the Church and our nation will continue to know little to nothing of the true Christ.

Gospel Preaching 28

May 28, 2015

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.

A Christian, whether he is preacher or hearer, must be sure that he is speaking and hearing, not his own word, but God’s Word; otherwise it would be better if he had never been born, and preacher and hearer together must go to the devil. (Martin Luther)

William Hauge describes the early eighteenth century church provocatively in his recent biography of William Wilberforce. He speaks of the diluted nature of the Christianity preached in British pulpits, and of the “hypocritical and lackluster way in which it was practiced.” He describes an ecclesiastical establishment “mired in a period of place-seeing, money-grabbing and moral irrelevance.” When William Blackstone, a renowned lawyer at this time, had heard every preacher of note in London he concluded that none of their sermons contained more Christianity than the pagan philosopher Cicero. After listening to sermons in York, Henry Venn similarly concluded that “excepting a single phrase or two, they might be preached in a synagogue or mosque without offence.” One historian of this period candidly asserts that the established religion was regarded by most politician, and many churchmen too, as merely a valuable form of police control over the lower classes. He goes on to conclude that, “It must be admitted that the Church of England during the eighteenth century is not an inspiring spectacle. Latitudinarian to a degree which makes it difficult to find any theological justification for its existence; at its highest it was an efficient instrument of statecraft, at its lowest it was a nest of pluralists and mundane divines.”

Preaching has no other chief end or primary purpose other than the glory of God. It is possible to preach in such a way that there is nothing or very little of true Christianity in the sermon, though of course at that point it is not a true sermon. It is possible for preaching to be twisted into such a thing where men seek honor for themselves and/or seek bigger churches for more money. The churches can have those in the higher positions be nothing more than corrupt men grabbing for power in the political realm or with those who have money. Gospel preaching requires men to be in the hire of Christ Jesus and not be hirelings who do it for any other reason. Gospel preaching requires men to be sold out to the kingdom of Christ and not to the politics of men. Gospel preaching requires men to preach the biblical Gospel and if so they will offend those who come from a synagogue or a mosque.

The true preacher of the Gospel is one who thinks it is more important for men to behold the glory of God in Christ than for men to behold the glory of the preacher. In fact, one cannot behold both of those two things at one time and a preacher cannot preach for his own glory and the glory of his master at the same time either. When a man begins to think of politics as more important than Gospel preaching, whether the man would say that or not, that man has become virtually worthless to the kingdom of Christ. Men do not need to hear politicians in the pulpit, they need to have Gospel preachers in the pulpit speaking of the kingdom of Christ.

A church and the Church must have Gospel preachers or it will be given over to political activity, social change, and moral activism. That has been shown over and over again throughout history. The Church becomes less like Christ and more like the world when it is given over to those things (political activity, social change, and moral activism) rather than what the Church is to be like and do. The Church is to be the pillar and support of truth, which is to say that it is to declare the truth of God to the world. When the Church is given over to other things, it has no positive Divine purpose in the world. The Church, when it is given over to the things of the world, though those things do have a rightful and positive place in the world; has stopped being salt and light in and to the world. The Gospel of God is the most glorious message of truth that there is in the world and Gospel preachers must be devoted to that. It is the true Gospel that changes society and its politics. It is the true Gospel that changes hearts and it alone can make men truly moral. When churches turn from the Gospel to the activities of the world in making things better, they have turned from God’s method of change to that of men. We must have Gospel preachers instead of moralizers and politicians. We must have Gospel preachers if we want God.

Gospel Preaching 27

May 24, 2015

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.

A Christian, whether he is preacher or hearer, must be sure that he is speaking and hearing, not his own word, but God’s Word; otherwise it would be better if he had never been born, and preacher and hearer together must go to the devil. (Martin Luther)

Matthew 7:28 When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching; 29 for He
was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.

When Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount, the crowds were amazed at His teaching because He taught as one who had authority. The scribes would walk around and quote the differing opinions of those who had been before them, but Jesus spoke on His own authority. He did not quote the scribes and He did not quote any authority. He spoke with power and He spoke using the Old Testament Scriptures as well.

In sermon after sermon and book after book we find the scholars and ministers of today doing what the scribes did in days past. The scribes had their authority by quoting many famous and brilliant scribes and today people have their authority by quoting the scholars. Pastors and scholars have no power today because they are not seeking the face of the Lord and they are not seeking Him to teach them. They have no confidence in their own views of Scripture and so they resort waffling about the character of God and the Gospel. As long as men continue to study, preach, and write like that they will have no power and there will be no “thus says the Lord” to the people.

Without knowing for sure the “inspiration” for Luther’s statement above, it could easily be Matthew 7:28-29 since what Luther wrote is certainly an echo of the works of Christ. There is no power in the pulpit in these days and men are giving learned lectures and educated talks, but they don’t appear to have spent time praying and seeking the Lord enough to be able to speak with authority and confidence that they are speaking the words of God. This is vital for there to be Gospel preaching. It is not enough for men to give their own opinion or the opinions of other pastors or scholars, they must be taught of the Lord Himself and then stand in the pulpit as if speaking for God because they are.

The man standing in the pulpit and proclaiming Christ must not just be saying what he has learned from the scholars, but instead he must be proclaiming the Christ who has revealed Himself to that man. It is not enough to dance around issues and speak with the firmness of a jelly fish, but a man must speak as if speaking from the Lord. The Gospel has to do with the eternal destinies of eternal souls and it has to do with the glory of God. If a man cannot preach this Gospel with some degree of conviction and declare it with authority, then he needs to get out of the pulpit and stop preaching. While the Bible speaks of a doubting Thomas, there is no place for a minister who has doubts great enough to hinder him from preaching the Gospel with authority. When one proclaims the Gospel from Scripture, what that man says is based on the authority of Scripture which is on the authority of God. It should also be said that the devil attacks people with fiery darts and tries to raise doubts in the minds of the people of God, so this is not to say that men are to be perfect in conviction each time they stand to preach. But even in their doubts they must use those doubts and fiery darts to drive them to the Savior who alone can give them strength to stand and declare the Gospel of grace alone to needy sinners.

We can imagine a doubting general giving orders to his troops. We can imagine a doubting businessman trying to gain finances for a financial venture. The general and the businessman in these illustrations may indeed be speaking of important things, but not even close to as important as the Gospel. A doubting general would most likely try to work himself up and come up with a confidence even if it was forced. A doubting businessman would probably just be turned down quickly. The point is that preachers must preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the authority of Jesus Christ. They must tell sinners on the basis of what God says that they will perish if they do not repent. They must tell sinners that if they have Christ they will never perish and they should say those things from the depths of their hearts. Gospel preaching requires men to spend time with the Lord and speak that way. Preaching that beats around the bush or is an easy on the ear preaching is preaching that will convince no one of anything about the Gospel. In other words, it has no authority and has no sanction from the Savior. We cannot preach the Gospel without the authority and sanction of Christ. We cannot preach the Gospel without hearts that have been humbled, broken, and then filled with Christ.

Gospel Preaching 26

May 18, 2015

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.

A Christian, whether he is preacher or hearer, must be sure that he is speaking and hearing, not his own word, but God’s Word; otherwise it would be better if he had never been born, and preacher and hearer together must go to the devil. (Martin Luther)

These are very sober words of Luther, though if they are not true then they can be dismissed. But how can these words of Luther be anything but true? Preachers are commanded to preach the Scriptures, preach Christ, and preach the Gospel and nothing else. But of course those three things are all one in reality. If one is to preach the Scriptures with the same intent as the intent of the Scriptures, then one will preach Christ and the Gospel. If one is to preach Christ, then one must find Him through the truth as set out in the Scriptures. If one is to preach the Gospel, then one must preach Christ and the Christ of the Scriptures.

Gospel preaching is not a man who is standing up and speaking of frivolities and inane things, but Gospel preaching happens when a man has been gripped by the fact that what he is preaching is the very Word of God and that he is speaking forth the very words that God has spoken. Gospel preaching is not one man speaking to another, but instead and in a very real sense it is a man that is speaking forth the words of God to men.

The Christ that is declared in Gospel preaching is not just one that a man has come up with in his own brain, but He is the Christ that God has revealed through Holy Scripture but has also opened the mind of the man and has shone His light of glory into. Those who have been given ears to hear are hearing the words of God though they are spoken through a frail and sinful man, but they are also hearing with ears that have been given to them to hear the words of God spoken.

The Gospel that is declared by a man set apart by God is not one that he has discovered because of his own study and brilliant (or not) intellect, but it has been shone into His heart by God Himself. The Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Gospel of the glory of God and the Gospel of grace alone is not just a few words about a few historical facts, but the Gospel is the whole Christ put on display in His work that He has accomplished out of love for the Father, to the glory of God, and in the place of sinners. The Gospel cannot be watered down and made to be man-centered because it is no longer the Gospel at that point. The Gospel preacher must have the Gospel taught to him by the Spirit and it must be the burden of his heart. The Gospel preacher does not preach just because he is paid to do so and not because he is expected to do so, but the Gospel preacher has an inward drive and desire to make known the wonders and glories of God in the Gospel and by the Gospel.

The Gospel preacher has a burden concerning men and wanting them to look to Christ rather than his own preaching and his own wisdom. As long as men look to the preacher for wisdom or trust, then will not be looking to the power of God alone. But instead the Gospel preacher has a message from God and that message must be accompanied with a desire for men to look to Christ and not the preacher or his preaching. It is deadly to the souls of men and women to look to the preacher and his wisdom and powerful speaking or anything else. Men and women must look away from the preacher and pray to behold Christ. The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation and it is not in the power of the preacher to do anything but speak as God gives the words and heart.

Paul had weakness and fear and was trembling in and of himself, yet the Gospel he preached was a demonstration of the Spirit and of power. It was not a demonstration of his own power because he had none. Instead, we see Luther’s words agreeing with those of Paul. The preacher must preach the words of God. The best of Gospel preachers will see themselves as the worst of sinners and see what a privilege it is to preach the Gospel. The best of Gospel preachers will know that they can say nothing good or spiritual unless it comes from God first. The best of Gospel preachers will have no hope in themselves and not trust in themselves but clinging to the cross themselves they will preach Christ and Him crucified. The best Gospel preacher is the most broken and the most humbled.