IT’S STILL ALL ABOUT JESUS!
“when He, the Spirit of truth, is come ... He shall glorify ME...” (John 16:14 )
CHRIST is still the only foundation upon which His Church can be built:
“For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is JESUS CHRIST.” (Paul, 1 Cor. 3:11)
“And daily in the TEMPLE, and in EVERY HOUSE, THEY NEVER STOPPED TEACHING AND PREACHING JESUS CHRIST.” (Acts 5:42)
“For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.” (1Cor. 2:2)
“For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord...” (2 Cor. 4:5)
“Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.” (Acts 8:5)
“For OF Him, (the Source)
THROUGH Him, (the Medium)
and TO Him are ALL things” (the Goal) (Rom. 11:36))
“ROOTED in HIM...BUILT UP in HIM...” (Col. 2:7))
“We preach ‘CHRIST’...” (Paul)
Charles Spurgeon wrote,
"No theme so moves the heart, so awakens the conscience, so satisfies the desires and so calms the fears. God forbid we should ever fail to preach Jesus Himself! There is no fear of exhausting the subject, nor of our driving away our hearers, for His words are still true, “I, if I am lifted up... will draw ALL men unto Me.”- C.H.Spurgeon
The very concept of a Christless sermon was appalling to Charles Spurgeon. The concept was a bane he confronted repeatedly in his sermons. Although sometimes stated to the extreme in order to make his point, his words are still a healthy challenge to every preacher today, even more than 100 years after his death.
Here is a small collection of quotations from him:
“The motto of all true servants of God must be, ‘We preach Christ; and him crucified.’ A sermon without Christ in it is like a loaf of bread without any flour in it. No Christ in your sermon, sir? Then go home, and never preach again until you have something worth preaching.” [7/9/1876; sermon #2899]
“Leave Christ out? O my brethren, better leave the pulpit out altogether. If a man can preach one sermon without mentioning Christ’s name in it, it ought to be his last, certainly the last that any Christian ought to go to hear him preach.”[undated; sermon #768]
“Leave Christ out of the preaching and you shall do nothing. Only advertise it all over London, Mr. Baker, that you are making bread without flour; put it in every paper, ‘Bread without flour’ and you may soon shut up your shop, for your customers will hurry off to other tradesmen. … A sermon without Christ as its beginning, middle, and end is a mistake in conception and a crime in execution. However grand the language it will be merely much-ado-about-nothing if Christ be not there. And I mean by Christ not merely his example and the ethical precepts of his teaching, but his atoning blood, his wondrous satisfaction made for human sin, and the grand doctrine of ‘believe and live.’” [10/23/1881; sermon #1625]
“I know one who said I was always on the old string, and he would come and hear me no more; but if I preached a sermon without Christ in it, he would come. Ah, he will never come while this tongue moves, for a sermon without Christ in it—a Christless sermon! A brook without water; a cloud without rain; a well which mocks the traveler; a tree twice dead, plucked up by the root; a sky without a sun; a night without a star. It were a realm of death—a place of mourning for angels and laughter for devils. O Christian, we must have Christ! Do see to it that every day when you wake you give a fresh savor of Christ upon you by contemplating his person. Live all the day, trying as much as lieth in you, to season your hearts with him, and then at night, lie down with him upon your tongue.” [3/6/1864; sermon #558]
“Sooner by far would I go to a bare table, and eat from a wooden porringer something that would appease my appetite, than I would go to a well-spread table on which there was nothing to eat. Yes, it is Christ, Christ, Christ whom we have to preach; and if we leave him out, we leave out the very soul of the gospel. Christless sermons make merriment for hell. Christless preachers, Christless Sunday school teachers, Christless class leaders, Christless tract distributors—what are all these doing? They are simply setting the mill to grind without putting any grist into the hopper. All their labor is in vain. If you leave Jesus Christ out, you are simply beating the air, or going to war without any weapon with which you can smite the foe.” [2/11/1866; sermon #3288]
“The Spirit of God bears no witness to Christless sermons. Leave Jesus out of your preaching, and the Holy Spirit will never come upon you. Why should he? Has he not come on purpose that he may testify of Christ? Did not Jesus say, ‘He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you’? Yes, the subject was Christ, and nothing but Christ, and such is the teaching which the Spirit of God will own. Be it ours never to wander from this central point: may we determine to know nothing among men but Christ and his cross.” [5/30/1880; sermon #1540]
“Where there is nothing of Christ, brethren, there is nothing of unction, nothing of savor, and a man is quite right not to attend such a ministry as that. Leave Christ out of your preaching, and you have taken the milk from the children, you have taken the strong meat from the men; but if your object as a teacher or preacher is to glorify Christ, and to lead men to love him and trust him, why, that is the very work upon which the heart of God himself is set. The Lord and you are pulling together.” [4/17/1887; sermon #2409]
“Christ not only supplies the necessities of his people, but he gives them abundant and superabundant joy in the luxuries of his grace. You do not really preach the gospel if you leave Christ out; if he be omitted, it is not the gospel. You may invite men to listen to your message, but you are only inviting them to gaze upon an empty table unless Christ is the very center and substance of all that you set before them.” [6/16/1878; sermon #2787]
(End of Spurgeon’s quotes)
SHOULD MINISTERS PREACH CHRIST IN EVERY SERMON?
Should a minister preach Christ and the Gospel in every sermon? Or the question may be asked, “Does God expect a minister to preach Christ from every text of scripture?” The first question can be answered quite easily: If we want people to be saved we should!
The second needs to be more carefully addressed. I have recently heard several ministers express that it is sufficient to mention the Person and work of Christ in the liturgy–whether it be song, or scripture reading or the assurance of pardon–but not in every sermon. Which begs the question, “Why do we need to mention Him in the liturgy at all?” If it is a matter of indicative and imperative, let us not forget that the apostles couch every imperative in the indicative in their letters. Sure, someone may be able to pull three verses in a row that do not explicitly mention Jesus, but look at the context properly and you will find that even James couches it in the Gospel (e.g. “Do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality”). If we are committed to preaching doctrines remember that the apostle Paul, the most doctrinal of all the New Testament writers, said, “I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” Paul was committed to preaching the Person (Jesus Christ) and the work (Him crucified) of Christ to the church. Was this hyperbole, as some suggest.? Only in so far as Paul was intimating that every other doctrine must be understood in light of Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
When he wrote to the Romans who had heard and accepted the Gospel Paul explained that he longed to come and preach the Gospel to them! Paul reminded the Colossians that the Gospel had continued to bring forth fruit in them since the day they first “heard and knew the grace of God in truth.” Believers need the Gospel continually preached to them for pardon and power. Do we preach the precious imperatives of the Gospel to our people? Hopefully not without the message of the cross coming along side them. It is the power of God, and the word of pardon for Christians when they fail to keep those imperatives in their daily lives.
Ministers are often zealous to move on to “bigger and better things,” like Sabbath Day observance, family worship, godly marriage, faithful parenting and a Christian response to suffering. Jesus and the Apostles were concerned with these things as well. Jesus said that He was “the Lord of the Sabbath.” He is the one who gives rest to the soul. Paul told the Ephesians that husbands were to love their wives as Christ loved the church. When he dealt with a Christian’s response to suffering, Peter explained that believers are to have, “a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God” (I Peter 3:16-18). Do we want to preach holiness and Christian living? Paul tells Titus, “The grace of God which brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously and godly in this generation.” There is no imperative that does not flow from and operate within the confines of the indicative.
Someone might object that Jesus frequently gave commands without giving the Gospel. This is to read the Bible atomistically, forgetting that Jesus is the Gospel. He was heading [toward] Calvary the entire time He was on earth. Everything He said must be understood in light of what He came to do. (italics and word in brackets mine. JRA)
The real breaking point for many ministers is the Old Testament. I have often heard men argue a position against preaching Christ in every sermon from the standpoint of preaching through a book of the Old Testament. The fear of redundancy is the central reason behind their rejection of a robust biblical-theological approach. But consider preaching the first five chapters of Romans. Is there a risk of redundancy? Would it be possible to preach any text in Romans 1-5 ... without mentioning justification by faith alone? I don’t see any way around it. The minister must work diligently to make the old truths fresh in each sermon. The same is true with a book like Judges or Ezra. A Vossian approach keeps the text in the larger context of the canon. The first rule of hermenuetics is “context, context, context.” We must always study the text in the immediate context of the chapter, the larger context of the book, and the largest context of the canon. When a minister refers to a certain book of the OT in order to prove that he does not need to preach Christ in every sermon, he is inevitably denying the inspired hermeneutic of the Apostles. Every time the apostles appealed to a portion of Scripture from the Old Testament, it was understood spiritually with reference to Christ and/or His government of the New Testament church, and there is no government without the Gospel. The Apostles set the authoritative example of hermeneutics. It may not be easy to follow their precise pattern at times, but this does not change the fact that their pattern of interpreting the OT was a pattern of Christocentricity. They were not, in one sense, revolutionaries, when it came to biblical interpretation. They were giving the intended meaning–a meaning that focused on the redemption that we have in Christ.
Finally, some have raised the issue of Theocentricity. Do we need to be Theocentric? Absolutely. The Apostles were as Theocentric as they were Christocentric. But Theocentricity without Christocentricity equals judgment. Jesus said, “No one comes to the Father except through Me.” “There is one God and one Mediator between God and man, the Man Christ Jesus.” Jesus must be preached so that He may “in all things have the preeminence.” He is the center of God’s redemptive revelation, because He is the God-Man. He is the ladder that Jacob saw reaching up into heaven. He is the Angel of the LORD who appeared to His people throughout the Old Testament era. He is the One in the fire with Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego. He was sitting on the throne of God in Ezekiel’s vision and Isaiah’s calling. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. He is the firstborn over all creation. He is the Word of God. He saw Satan fall from Heaven like lightning. He is the One sitting on the throne of God at present. He is, even now, being crowned with praises:
"Thou art worthy ... for Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth."
(Above quoted from post by Nicholas T. Batzig on March 16th, 2010 from FEEDING ON CHRIST web site: “Should Ministers Preach Christ in every Sermon?”)