Archive for the ‘Preaching Christ’ Category

Preaching Christ 20

February 10, 2017

Isaiah 6:1 In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. 2 Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called out to another and said, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.” 4 And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke. 5 Then I said, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.”

John 18:1 When Jesus had spoken these words, He went forth with His disciples over the ravine of the Kidron, where there was a garden, in which He entered with His disciples. 2 Now Judas also, who was betraying Him, knew the place, for Jesus had often met there with His disciples. 3 Judas then, having received the Roman cohort and officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, came there with lanterns and torches and weapons. 4 So Jesus, knowing all the things that were coming upon Him, went forth and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” 5 They answered Him, “Jesus the Nazarene.” He said to them, “I am He.” And Judas also, who was betraying Him, was standing with them. 6 So when He said to them, “I am He,” they drew back and fell to the ground.

John 18:1-6 is a rather uninteresting narrative on the surface and even after one reads it for a bit. It seems to be something to give some background to the rest of the story. However, when one looks at this from the biblical concept that main reason Jesus took human flesh and walked on this planet at the very tabernacle of God, this is a revealing text and one that is very instructive for preaching. The text starts off with Jesus going to a garden with His disciples. That is not a very exciting start. But now look at how the drama unfolds. Judas, who John has already revealed (by the words of Jesus) as the traitor, knew that place and took some people with him to that garden.

But look at how the story unfolds in a dramatic way if we have eyes to see. Look at all these armed men that Judas led to arrest Jesus! A cohort was 480 men. If that is not enough to get the dramatic juices flowing, they were armed and were accompanied by officers of the Jews. Hundreds of armed men were coming to arrest Jesus. The text then moves to tell us that Jesus knew all that was coming upon Him and so He went forth and asked them whom it was that they sought. But again, picture the drama in this story. Hundreds of armed men were sent to arrest one man. That one “man” knew what was going to happen and so He went out to them. If we think of this story but for a moment, how the Divine work in Christ must have strengthened Him for this moment. Jesus walked out to face hundreds of armed men who came to arrest Him.

We have to ask the question as to who was in control at that moment. Was Jesus in control or could it have been the 500 to 600 armed men in control? What we have to say with complete confidence is that God was sovereign over each and every moment of that exchange. The text tells us that Judas was also standing there. What happened next should have rocked the entire universe. Jesus asked who they were looking for and they said “Jesus the Nazarene.” When Jesus responded with “I am He,” they drew back and fell to the ground. Imagine what just happened! Jesus speaks two words in Greek and all these armed men and Judas drew back from Him (the one they came to arrest) and fell to the ground.

Why did all these armed men draw back from Jesus and fall to the ground? It was because the glory of God came shining through Him and for a brief moment they saw something of His glory. They had but a brief moment of what Isaiah went through for a longer time in Isaiah 6. Isaiah wailed about his being undone and what a sinner he was, the several hundred armed men “recoiled” from being in the presence of the Holy One and they fell to the ground because their knees would no longer hold them up. It is no wonder that Scripture speaks of every knee bowing before God on judgment day. It only takes a brief sight of His glory for the strength and courage of men to leave.

This is the same Jesus now as He was then, but perhaps He has even more glory now in one sense. It is the Jesus of glory that must be preached and it is the Jesus of glory that people must hear of sermon after sermon. When that glory is beheld, a church will not be the same. When Christ is preached and Christ is truly sought, people are changed by the very seeking. When Christ comes, people will not be unmoved and untouched. In the history of revivals this is what has happened. People came to know that they were in the presence of the living God and they wept and they had to fall or be seated. In the presence of His glory armed men fall. In the presence of His glory the enmity men have toward Christ comes to the fore and men see that they cannot win against such a holy God. In the presence of His glory men begin to understand their great need of grace. Christ must be preached!

Advertisements

Preaching Christ 19

February 8, 2017

Isaiah 6:1 In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. 2 Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called out to another and said, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.” 4 And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke. 5 Then I said, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.”

They are so poor in spirit that they cannot even deal with grace but by the help of the Holy Spirit. On His grace and power they are entirely dependent. They cannot even buy without His aid. One is so weak in sickness that he cannot tell the physician what is the matter with him. He can take no food nor drink, nor put such into his mouth. He cannot take them without help on his bed. So dependent are these on the grace of the Holy Ghost. And they know how easily quenched are His influences. How poor, when in one unwatchful moment they can deprive themselves of His gracious aid! “No man can come to Me except the Father who hath sent Me draw him.” Distinguish between those who think they are looking to the grace that is in Christ and yet seek no communication and those who seek this. (John Kennedy, 1819-1894, Expository Lectures)

The essence of preaching Christ is to have the Person of Christ and the work of Christ as the center of each sermon, or at least the sermon should lead to and then focus on Christ and His work. However, the essence of preaching the Person of Christ must include how the Father has manifested Himself in and through Christ. In Jesus the Christ, the second Person of the Trinity, the Divine nature and the human nature was joined. In order to truly preach Jesus Christ then a person must show the glory of God shining out in Christ. In preaching Christ a person should be able to say when Christ is preached that the Father was seen in Christ.

When the Christ in the previous paragraph is preached, sinners will see themselves as vile wretches in the presence of God and they will see themselves as they are, and that is that they are undone. They will see themselves as so sick that they cannot take the medication that the Physician prescribes, but in fact they are dead and cannot help themselves in the slightest. The Great Physician alone can raise them from the dead and He alone can apply life and what is needed for life. Dead sinners cannot feed themselves and Christ must feed them by His grace alone. Even those He has raised to life must have Christ give them every spiritual thing that they need by grace.

Those sinners that God has graciously opened their eyes to behold Him in Christ and to see the true nature of Christ and His work are those who see that they have no claim and no help but in Christ. When God opens the eyes of sinners, whether converted or not, they will see something of their utter dependence upon Christ and His grace. They see that apart from Christ they can do absolutely and utterly nothing spiritual or good. They see that they must have the Spirit work the fruit of the Spirit in them or they will have no true love and no true joy at all. All they will have will be pseudo joy and love.

In preaching Christ and His glory the preacher is enabled to speak of His favorite subject and His greatest love. When preachers speak often of themselves rather than Christ, they are showing that they are the focus and center of their own love. When preachers speak of Christ in a way where the glory of the Father is not seen, but instead Christ is treated as a mere doctrinal or intellectual subject matter, then preachers show that Christ is subject to them and they are more concerned with being orthodox than preaching the truth of Christ.

When preachers do not preach the wonders and glories of Christ, then preachers show that they are not concerned to break the hearts of sinners from self. Preaching the truth of Christ will make people uncomfortable since the natural man hates God. Preaching a Christ that does not reveal the hatred of the natural man for God is a way that preachers can avoid persecution and remain orthodox. Preaching a Christ who is sovereign in salvation will provoke the hatred of the natural man and it provides preachers another excuse for not preaching the glory of God in salvation. Christ should and must be preached in the glory of His Person and work or it is not true preaching.

Preaching Christ 18

February 7, 2017

Isaiah 6:1 In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. 2 Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called out to another and said, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.” 4 And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke. 5 Then I said, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.”

They are so poor in spirit that they cannot even deal with grace but by the help of the Holy Spirit. On His grace and power they are entirely dependent. They cannot even buy without His aid. One is so weak in sickness that he cannot tell the physician what is the matter with him. He can take no food nor drink, nor put such into his mouth. He cannot take them without help on his bed. So dependent are these on the grace of the Holy Ghost. And they know how easily quenched are His influences. How poor, when in one unwatchful moment they can deprive themselves of His gracious aid! “No man can come to Me except the Father who hath sent Me draw him.” Distinguish between those who think they are looking to the grace that is in Christ and yet seek no communication and those who seek this. (John Kennedy, 1819-1894, Expository Lectures)

The quote of James Kennedy (1819-1894) just above is a wonderful quote that describes what the sight and experience of being in the presence of a thrice holy God did to Isaiah. We can easily see that Isaiah was so broken and so utterly undone of his own righteousness and any hope in himself that he was indeed impoverished in spirit. He was so undone that he had no hope in obtaining grace in and of himself. All he could do was cry out that he was ruined and undone because he had seen the glory of God. This is what happens to sinners who come to realize what they are in the presence of a holy, holy, holy God. They are utterly undone in some way as Isaiah was.

While this in no way makes them worthy of grace, it does remove all hope in self from them. God gives grace to the humble and He dwells with the broken and contrite heart as Isaiah set out in Isaiah 57:15. He learned that God is opposed to the proud and yet gives grace to the humble. He learned that God dwells with those that are crushed in spirit and have lost all hope in themselves. Now it is true that a person can have a momentary feeling of being utterly undone, yet after that moment is over pride can rise up as the person can think that others have never been brought so low. The issue is not whether a person has a momentary feeling of lowliness and helplessness, but whether that is the general bent of the heart as the person goes through life. This is not to say that a person that has been broken in the presence of God will never have pride, it is just that now the person sees something of the nature of pride and hates it in him or herself.

A truly broken heart cannot happen apart from knowing that “I” am in the presence of a holy God. It is true that the Law is a tutor to lead a person to Christ, but a person will not know the true meaning of the Law apart from Christ teaching the sinner what it really means and doing that while the person is in His presence. It is not enough for people to teach commands and rules, people must come into the presence of the glory of God in the face of Christ. When this happens, not only do people come to see that they cannot keep the external law, but now they see that they are not able to keep the inner laws either. They begin to see just how wicked their thoughts are, their desires are, their motivations are, and just how selfish they have been their entire lives. In His presence they begin to see the utter emptiness of all their external religion and how filthy all of their religious acts have been.

A person that has been broken by the Law apart from coming into the presence of a thrice holy God will understand sin as breaking the outward law. The person may recognize that s/he has broken the inner law as well, but that person will never know what it means to be so broken that s/he knows that nothing can help them but the grace of God. This person will have nothing to do with those who tell him to pray or exercise faith from a free-will, this person has learned that apart from Christ s/he can do utterly and absolutely nothing. This person has learned from Christ and in the presence of Christ something of what it means to be utterly dependent upon Christ. This person does not look to anything from self, as self is nothing but the very heart of sin. This person simply and clearly casts himself before Christ and looks to Christ for grace and faith at His good pleasure as there is no other way to obtain these things. Until a person reaches the point of looking away from self in brokenness, and there is really no way for a second person to know that, that person will not look to Christ alone. Christ must be preached so that men will be broken from self and pride and so that the glory of grace would be seen in the Gospel of Christ.

Preaching Christ 17

February 6, 2017

Isaiah 6:1 In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. 2 Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called out to another and said, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.” 4 And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke. 5 Then I said, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.” 6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs. 7 He touched my mouth with it and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven.” 8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!” 9 He said, “Go, and tell this people: ‘Keep on listening, but do not perceive; Keep on looking, but do not understand.’ 10 “Render the hearts of this people insensitive, Their ears dull, And their eyes dim, Otherwise they might see with their eyes, Hear with their ears, Understand with their hearts, And return and be healed.” 11 Then I said, “Lord, how long?” And He answered, “Until cities are devastated and without inhabitant, Houses are without people And the land is utterly desolate,

The necessity of preaching Christ can be seen in many ways. There is no Gospel apart from preaching Christ. There is no food for the people of God apart from preaching Christ. There is no preaching the presence of God apart from preaching Christ. There is no forgiveness of sins apart from preaching Christ. There is no imputed righteousness apart from preaching Christ. There is no grace for sinners apart from preaching Christ. There is no standard of holiness apart from preaching Christ. There is no manifestation of the Father apart from preaching Christ. There is no true preaching, therefore, apart from preaching Christ. As is clear from the text above and how John interprets it for us (John 12), Isaiah saw Christ in His glory in the situation that the text above describes.

What was it that drove Isaiah to see his sin? It was a sight of the glory of the Father as it shone in and through Christ. Man is always judging himself by those around him, as can be seen in how people compare themselves to those around them. However, the light that shines from the character of the glory of God shows man who he is as that light shines in and shows man how dark he is. When man is in the presence of God and the light of God and His glory shines forth, man sees himself immediately and without any argument knows with inward anguish that he is a sinner and a vile sinner at that. Isaiah, a prophet and so most likely a holy man as compared with men, was instantly shattered and all of his self-righteousness unraveled. Isaiah was left with nothing but his own sin and he knew he needed a sacrifice because he has nothing to offer.

Not only did Isaiah need to have Christ preached to him in his inward man by Christ Himself, but he also needed to be cleansed from that sin. Not only did Isaiah see himself in comparison with Christ, but he needed to be delivered from self in order that he would now go and preach Christ quiet apart from what other men thought of him. Isaiah was given a message and he was sent to preach a message that was not like or loved. He was sent to preach a message that made him very unpopular. But it was the sight of Christ that prepared him to preach the truth. Not only did he need to see Christ, he needed to be prepared by Christ in order to preach Christ.

We see several tremendous truths in this text, though there is only room to mention a few. One, a preacher needs to be in the presence of God to be prepared to preach. It is not enough to read commentaries and it is not enough to know enough things about the text in order to preach. The heart of the preacher must be prepared by being in the presence of the living God. When the preacher is in the presence of the living God, he will learn a taste of that glory and not just some information in the head about it. When the preacher has been in the presence of the living God, he will know more of his own heart and of his own sin and so he is better prepared to speak to the people. When the preacher has been in the presence of God, he will learn just how much of Christ and His grace that he needs in order for his sin to be covered and so he will preach this from experience and not just some facts. When the preacher has been in the presence of God, he will preach the message God gives him and will not be so afraid of being in the presence of men. In order to preach Christ, therefore, men must seek to be in His presence and take care to remain there as much as possible. This will keep them from simply repeating information.

Preaching Christ 16

February 4, 2017

Isaiah 6:1 In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. 2 Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called out to another and said, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.” 4 And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke. 5 Then I said, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.” 6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs. 7 He touched my mouth with it and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven.” 8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!” 9 He said, “Go, and tell this people: ‘Keep on listening, but do not perceive; Keep on looking, but do not understand.’ 10 “Render the hearts of this people insensitive, Their ears dull, And their eyes dim, Otherwise they might see with their eyes, Hear with their ears, Understand with their hearts, And return and be healed.” 11 Then I said, “Lord, how long?” And He answered, “Until cities are devastated and without inhabitant, Houses are without people And the land is utterly desolate,

When Christ is faithfully and truly preached, that is, the true Christ who is the shining forth of the glory of God, the true God is beheld in His glory and holiness. When Christ is faithfully and truly preached, then men see themselves in contrast to His glory and holiness and they see themselves as falling short of His glory and they see just how unholy and ungodly they are. It is in His light that the darkness of men’s hearts is illuminated.

While it may sound odd to some, preaching Christ in this way is the best way for men to be convicted of sin. It is, after all, the work of the Spirit to exalt Christ and yet to convict men of sin. The preaching of the Law is indeed a tutor to lead to Christ, but the holiness of the Law is best seen in Christ. It was Christ who kept the Law perfectly and it was Christ who elevated the Law (in contrast to the Pharisees) in the teaching. Several times in the New Testament we read that men fell on their faces before Him. In His presence, when He is pleased to open eyes, the knowledge of the Law incarnate, perfect holiness, and the glory of the presence of God was seen and men could not stand. When His glory shone forth, even a disciple would say to Him, “Go away from me Lord, I am a sinful man” (Luke 5:8). In His presence many armed soldiers fell down in His presence.

John 18:3 Judas then, having received the Roman cohort and officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, came there with lanterns and torches and weapons. 4 So Jesus, knowing all the things that were coming upon Him, went forth and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” 5 They answered Him, “Jesus the Nazarene.” He said to them, “I am He.” And Judas also, who was betraying Him, was standing with them. 6 So when He said to them, “I am He,” they drew back and fell to the ground.

When preachers set themselves to seeking Christ from their own hearts and then preaching that Christ, at times the presence of Christ will be there and men will be struck down in their own hearts. This is one way (perhaps the best) to set before men that they may be struck down before God and be broken before Him. Men need to be deeply humbled before God and that is done by preaching the truth of Christ and His glory. When the Law is preached as a tutor, it should be preached as before the majestic God. When the Law was originally given it was given with thunder at Mount Sinai. Now the Law should be preached by showing men that they are in the presence of the Lawgiver.

Isaiah saw that he was undone and he had nothing to save himself with and he had no plea. Such is the case of men when God opens their eyes and shows them that their sinful lives have been lived in the presence of the all-knowing eyes of God. When Christ is truly preached in His glory and holiness, there will be something that happens whether men admit it or not. God has made it clear to men who He is and His basic nature (Romans 1:18 ff), so when Christ is truly preached the Father is made known and men know that they are in the presence of a holy God. When something of the Law is spoken, men know that they are guilty in the presence of the Lawgiver. They can hear many things and go on with life, but they need to hear the true Christ declared.

Preaching Christ 15

February 3, 2017

Isaiah 6:1 In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. 2 Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called out to another and said, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.” 4 And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke. 5 Then I said, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.” 6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs. 7 He touched my mouth with it and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven.” 8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!” 9 He said, “Go, and tell this people: ‘Keep on listening, but do not perceive; Keep on looking, but do not understand.’ 10 “Render the hearts of this people insensitive, Their ears dull, And their eyes dim, Otherwise they might see with their eyes, Hear with their ears, Understand with their hearts, And return and be healed.” 11 Then I said, “Lord, how long?” And He answered, “Until cities are devastated and without inhabitant, Houses are without people And the land is utterly desolate,

It is in preaching the true Christ which is the Father revealed in Christ and manifested by Christ that the true glory of God is seen. The Lord Jesus came in order to be the very tabernacle of glory on earth (John 1:14 “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth”). The Lord Jesus came in order to manifest or explain the Father (John 1:18 “No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him”). Preaching the true Christ means preaching who He really is and preaching the manifestation of the Father in and through Him.

What happens when sinners (who don’t know much of their own sin) hear the modern Christ preached? They think He is all about them and appreciates and values them as much as they do. They do not bow in awe and reverence, but instead their eyes and hearts are not moved from their focus on self and self-love. What happens when the true Christ is preached and God opens the eyes to see? People are caught up with the horrible sense of their sin. Instead of seeing their own value and focusing on their own goodness, now people see that they are completely and totally undone in the presence of the living God.

Isaiah, a prophet used of God, was surely a holy man in terms of what other men could see. But when Isaiah saw the Lord Jesus shining forth in the glory of the Father, he also could not help but see the filthiness of his own lips and heart. As a prophet, he spoke the Word of God to the people. Now he saw that the lips that he used to proclaim the words of God with were sinful and vile. He saw how unclean his mouth was and how he did not speak to the glory of God. He saw that he used his lips for himself and his selfish heart. He saw that he was dirty and defiled from the inside out. When he said that he was “ruined”, what he apparently meant was that he was coming undone. In other words, all of his outward righteousness and all of his actions as a prophet came undone and he saw that he had no righteousness at all. He felt the weight of his sin and he felt the agony of his sin. He felt the dirt and the vileness of his sin and the burden of it moved him to cry out with his guilt and sin.

It is important to point out that one can preach about sin to some degree and never really get to the issue of sin. It is also important to point out that a person can preach a lot about Jesus and never really preach the truth of Christ. It is important and even vital to notice the pattern of Scripture is to preach Christ and His glory (the Father shining in and through Him). One can preach things about the cross and never get around to really preaching the truth of the cross because the Father shining in Christ and sending Christ is not brought out. When one does not preach those things, then one is not preaching the background that the nature of sin will be felt in the heart. It is only when Christ is truly preached will sin be opened to the sinner and then truly felt. When Christ is not preached and sin is not seen and felt for what it is, then the grace of the Gospel will not be appreciated in the slightest. It is important to note at this point that Isaiah was deeply convicted of his sin and completely undone by the sight of the glory of God and His holiness. It was not the preaching against sin that did it, though that is needful as well, but it was a sight of the true Christ and His glory and holiness.

Preaching Christ 14

February 2, 2017

Isaiah 6:1 In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. 2 Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called out to another and said, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.” 4 And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke. 5 Then I said, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.” 6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs. 7 He touched my mouth with it and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven.” 8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!” 9 He said, “Go, and tell this people: ‘Keep on listening, but do not perceive; Keep on looking, but do not understand.’ 10 “Render the hearts of this people insensitive, Their ears dull, And their eyes dim, Otherwise they might see with their eyes, Hear with their ears, Understand with their hearts, And return and be healed.” 11 Then I said, “Lord, how long?” And He answered, “Until cities are devastated and without inhabitant, Houses are without people And the land is utterly desolate,

In this passage of Scripture we can see an important pattern and what it means to preach Christ and Him crucified. It is in preaching the true Christ, His Father, and the manifested glory that sinners see the true God. It is in preaching Christ that sinners see the very glory of God shining forth. We can see that with just a few references to the New Testament and how it puts these things.

John 12:37 But though He had performed so many signs before them, yet they were not believing in Him. 38 This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet which he spoke: “LORD, WHO HAS BELIEVED OUR REPORT? AND TO WHOM HAS THE ARM OF THE LORD BEEN REVEALED?” 39 For this reason they could not believe, for Isaiah said again, 40 “HE HAS BLINDED THEIR EYES AND HE HARDENED THEIR HEART, SO THAT THEY WOULD NOT SEE WITH THEIR EYES AND PERCEIVE WITH THEIR HEART, AND BE CONVERTED AND I HEAL THEM.” 41 These things Isaiah said because he saw His glory, and he spoke of Him.

Hebrews 1:3 And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,

John 14:8 Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father ‘ 10 “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works.

John 12 shows us that it was Christ that Isaiah saw in Isaiah 6. We see from Hebrews 1:3 that Christ is the very shining forth of the glory of God and so we behold the glory of God in Christ. John 14:8 shows us that if we know the true Christ we will know the true Father. The Son is in the Father and the Father abides in the Son. The works that the Son did were actually the works of the Father. The Gospel is set forth in II Corinthians 4:4-6 as the Gospel of the glory of God and yet the Father beheld in the face of Christ. Yes, it is possible to preach a form of Christ and yet not preach the very power of Christ. It certainly appears that to preach the true Christ one has to preach the glory of the Father shining in and through Christ. When this Christ was preached in Isaiah 6, Isaiah saw the very holiness of God and saw the depths of his sin to his utter horror.

What was it that Isaiah saw that filled him with horror about himself and his own sin? He saw Adonai on the throne and he saw he saw something of the majesty and glory of this Lord with the Seraphim standing above Him singing over and over “Holy, Holy, Holy is the LORD of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.” God is so holy that all He does is for His own glory. In his mind’s eye Isaiah saw such glory that he knew that the whole earth had the purpose of being for His glory and in fact that very glory of God shone in the whole earth. There is no place on earth or anywhere else for that matter that was not made for the glory of God and in some way shines forth the glory of God. The whole earth was made through Christ and for Christ, and Christ is the shining forth of His glory, so clearly the whole earth shines forth with the glory of Christ. This is the Christ who must be preached and this is the Christ who must be declared. It is in beholding this Christ that the Seraphim sang to Yahweh. It is only when men preach Christ in this way that the glory of God is seen and men see themselves truly.

Preaching Christ 13

January 29, 2017

Isaiah 6:1 In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. 2 Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called out to another and said, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.” 4 And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke. 5 Then I said, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.” 6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs. 7 He touched my mouth with it and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven.” 8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!” 9 He said, “Go, and tell this people: ‘Keep on listening, but do not perceive; Keep on looking, but do not understand.’ 10 “Render the hearts of this people insensitive, Their ears dull, And their eyes dim, Otherwise they might see with their eyes, Hear with their ears, Understand with their hearts, And return and be healed.” 11 Then I said, “Lord, how long?” And He answered, “Until cities are devastated and without inhabitant, Houses are without people And the land is utterly desolate,

In this passage we can see with great clarity and certainty that Isaiah saw the Lord in a way that went beyond hearing lectures (even if correct and true) about the Lord. The descriptions that Isaiah gives us have to do with his senses, or should we say things that would intimate that he was in a place where he actually saw and experienced the reality of these things. We then see Isaiah’s experience of what it meant to be in the presence of the Lord and it was not just hearing a lecture about the Lord. He was moved, broken, and deeply humbled by being in the presence of God. We then see that his sin had to be atoned for, forgiven, and taken away. It is only then that men are made willing to go and preach the message of God. Men want to hear pleasing things and so preachers are loathe to preach anything but that, so it is only the broken man who is willing to preach the hard things and become unpopular with the people. It is true that in certain circles the hard things can bring popularity in a way with a few, but Isaiah was without human help. He rested in God alone as his support and his message required that.

Preaching Christ and the glorious Gospel of grace alone is the same way. The true Gospel will bring hostility and opposition from the nicest of people, and mostly from the nicest and most religious of people. When Isaiah went and preached, he preached to a very religious people and they hated him for it. They tried to kill him, and at some point they evidently succeeded. Now it may be argued, and rightly to a degree, that Isaiah was preaching judgment and grace does not. However, the root of the matter is essentially the same. The self-righteousness of the Jewish people of that day governed their hearts and they hated the preaching that they were sinners and that they could not appease God by their religious works. The Gospel of grace alone is much the same. It teaches sinners that all of their self-righteousness is as filthy rags that that there is nothing in them and nothing that they can do to move God to save them. In both cases the people were and are utterly dependent upon the free-grace of God.

This is why the friendly Christ who stands weeping for people to make the right choice is a false Christ. This is why the friendly Christ who longs for people to be wealthy and healthy if only they will make the right choices is a false Christ. According to John 12, it was Christ that Isaiah saw in the text above. Preaching to the true Christ in His glory will result in fear or true reverence. Preaching the true Christ will move people to a great unease about themselves and their own comfortable existence. Preaching the true Christ will move people to see something of true holiness and they will see the magnitude of their sin and they will feel the burden and awfulness of their sin. Preaching the true Christ will help people see that Christ is absolutely the only way having the guilt of their sin removed from them. Preaching the true Christ will show forth true grace and as such show people that salvation is absolutely beyond them and totally in the hands of the living and sovereign God. It is the Lord alone who can prepare a preacher to preach Christ truly and use that preaching to open eyes and hearts of the dead.

Preaching Christ 12

January 28, 2017

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.

Preaching Christ 11

January 27, 2017

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)

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the Gospel of God and the Gospel of the glory of God. The Gospel is also the Gospel of free-grace. However, what Christ has done should not lead us to forget or ignore what He is doing for sinners even now. The cross of Christ is an inestimably precious truth, but let us not forget that there also has to be a Mediator who presents that sacrifice for us before the Father as well even now. If the Gospel took away our sin in some way and yet we had no perfect and sinless Mediator to present it to the Father, we would still be lost.

Part of preaching the whole Gospel is to show people their utter inability to pay for sin, but also their utter inability to present the sacrifice of Christ in their place. Let us not think that Christ is offering up something other than Himself, but instead He is presenting Himself as our sacrifice in the place of His people. Christ presents Himself as the One that bore the curse of the Law, as opposed to presenting a work He did. This little piece of the letter of Pierce is manifestly glorious as it points out the nature of the true preaching of Christ.

The curse of the law stands against all who are without Christ in truth and reality. The curse of the law still stands against religious people (even very religious people) who do not have Christ. The curse of the law still stands against many who profess Christ in words and yet are still unregenerate and strangers to Christ. The God-man had to bear that curse in reality for that curse to be broken and taken away from sinners. It was Christ who was sent from above to take human flesh and bear the wrath for all those that the Father had given Him. But now that the curse is broken, do we still need Christ each moment or are we on our own now?

We must have Christ each moment or we have no hope. It is Christ who stands in our place and pleads His own merits and His own holiness. It is Christ who is constantly presenting Himself to the Father and we know that the Father is well-pleased with the Son and His sacrifice for sinners. Let us not forget that we must have Christ each moment and for all things. We only exist by the hand of God and we only have the mercy and grace of God because of the sacrifice of Christ and His continual intercession for His people. How can those who have been awakened to their own sins even think for a moment that they can represent themselves before the Father? Perish the thought that we can present Christ to the Father or present ourselves! We need Christ to do this in our place.

Here is where the preacher who has “felt” these truths will seek to press these home to the people. The people need to be utterly stripped of all hope in themselves and all ability in the spiritual realm too. The people need to see themselves as utterly bankrupt apart from Christ and in utter need of Him each moment. The people must be brought to this by preaching of Christ and Him crucified, yes, but also of the risen Christ who stands in the Holy of Holies for His people. It is Christ who is constantly presenting Himself as the perfect sacrifice for His people and of His perfect righteousness in their place. The preaching of Christ includes this and it must be pressed home to the people. If not, they will continue on trusting in themselves in some way.