FORGET NONE OF HIS BENEFITS
volume 17, number 41, October 18, 2018
“I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”
-1 Corinthians 2:2
Preacher, You Must Preach Christ Crucified!
Historically speaking, it has always been difficult for preachers to the keep the gospel bus squarely on the road. Various forms of liberalism have always appeared, seemingly out of nowhere, to block a preacher’s destination to Zion, the city of the living God, to hinder those to whom he is preaching, tempting saint and sinner alike to look for something less than the pure gospel of Christ crucified. And preachers have been altogether too ready to oblige them.
Today, of course, is no different. As only one contemporary example, take Joe Carter, a Senior Editor at the Acton Institute, an editor for The Gospel Coalition, and a communications specialist for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. In his blog of March 31, 2015 Carter is singing the praises of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, one of which is to halve extreme poverty (living on less than $1.25 per day) by 2015, which was accomplished five years early. Sounds great, doesn’t it? After all, who wants to see anyone suffer in poverty? Carter and many other evangelicals like him are pushing Christians to invest in this sustainable development program of the U.N. You know, however, that the United Nations is driven by a “one world government”, utopian, Malthusian, leftist ideology. For evangelicals to get in bed with the U.N. will not end well. Population control (aka abortion) and human rights (aka the homosexual agenda) are deeply embedded in the U.N. program. Perhaps unwittingly, Christians will be supporting an agenda with which they firmly disagree.
The emphasis on ending world hunger, if accomplished with a market driven economy, is a noble goal. This, however, is not our calling. Our calling, as preachers and as church members, is not to “reweave the culture” or to promote human flourishing. Jesus made clear our marching orders (Matthew 28:18-20). We are to disciple. How? As we are going to the world around us, we disciple by baptizing (baptism is the result of evangelistic work) and by teaching them to observe all that Jesus taught us. Mercy ministry, helping the weak and needy, inside and outside the church, is always downstream from evangelistic work. Just check out Jesus and the apostles’ ministries for verification.
So preacher, you must preach Christ crucified. This was Paul’s burden and calling (Acts 9:15,16, 20:24, 1 Cor.1:18-2:5, 9:16, 2 Timothy 4:1-8), and it must be yours as well. If you do not have that burden, then do yourself and your people a favor and leave the ministry.
Let’s unpack this briefly. You, yes you, called by God, gifted for ministry, have been set apart by the Holy Spirit to proclaim the excellencies of Christ. You must. You are under obligation. You have a mandate from God. You have no choice in the matter. You must preach. To preach means to proclaim, like the town crier of old who had received a message from his sovereign. He was to announce his king’s message without equivocation. The preacher has authority from on high. The sovereign Lord of glory has your back. You do not come apologetically, timidly, cautiously, casually, with hat in hand. You come in the name of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
Furthermore, you must preach Christ. Who is this Christ whom you are called to preach? Ah, my friends, He is glorious beyond measure. He is the Sweet Rose of Sharon, He is the Lilly of the Valley, He is the Root of David, He is the Rod of Jesse. He is the Living Word. He is the Bread of Life, the Light of the World, the Good Shepherd, the Open Door, the Resurrection and the Life, the Way, the Truth, and the Life, the Vine. He is the Morning Star, the Faithful Witness, the First Born from the Dead, the Ruler of the Kings of the Earth. He is the One Who Loves Us, the One Who Released Us from Our Sins by His Blood. He is the Lord, the King of Glory. He is Jesus, the One who will save His people from their sins. He is the Christ, the Anointed Prophet (the One who is the Word and who gives us His word), Priest (the One who saves us by His blood and who always intercedes for us), and King (One who rules over us and the entire world).
You are not to preach yourself (2 Cor.4:5). You are not to preach politics. You are not to preach socialist theory. You are not to be silly but sober-minded. Instead you must preach Christ crucified. This has always been a stumbling block to the world and to the preacher who cares too much about what the world thinks of him. The preacher is to glory in the cross of Christ to which the world is crucified to him and him to the world (Galatians 6:14). He is to preach the propitiating, expiating, redeeming, reconciling, justifying, sanctifying, and glorifying death of Jesus on Calvary’s cross. He is to preach the blood of Jesus which was shed for the forgiveness of our sins, which satisfies the just condemnation and wrath of God, which washes away our sin, guilt, and shame. He is to preach the blood of Jesus which redeems us, buys us back from slavery to sin, death, and judgment. He is to preach the Christ who removes the enmity between God and us, the enmity which, if not removed, would surely and eventually send us to hell fire. He is to preach the Christ who was delivered up because of our transgressions and was raised for our justification. He is to preach the Christ who was raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep that He might give us glorified bodies which will live with Him on the New Earth forever and ever.
People have always mocked the simple preaching of the cross, and preachers are tempted to soften the message, to remove the blood and gore, the suffering, the rejection, and the repudiation which our Lord Jesus experienced. To preach Christ crucified means the preacher is willing to be called untrained (the Greek word is “idiot”), unlearned (the Greek word is “non-writer”, Acts 4:13), a spectacle to the world (the Greek word is “theatre”), a fool (the Greek word is “moron”), the scum of the earth and the dregs of all things (1 Cor.4:9,10,13).
Preacher, are you preaching the simple, pure, unadulterated message of Christ crucified? If not, then repent. Are you preaching social justice? Are you preaching world hunger? Are you preaching moralism? Are you preaching politics? If so, then repent. Are you preaching with passion, zeal, boldness? Are you preaching as a man possessed by God? Are you fearless? If not then repent. Keep the gospel bus on the road.
And Christian, pray for your pastor that he will fearlessly, unequivocally preach Christ crucified in the power of the Holy Spirit.
1. <blog.acton.org> Can We End Extreme Poverty by 2030?
3. Acton notes that in 1981, 65% of the Chinese population lived in abject poverty. By 2007 the number had been reduced to 4%. In 1990 51% of the population of India lived in extreme poverty. Today that number is 22%. Ironically, and may I say rather humorously, Acton admits that the dramatic decrease in extreme poverty in India and China is because of free trade and market oriented economies. He does not cite UN policies as having done anything to alleviate poverty in India or China, yet he is still calling for income redistribution schemes. Moral of this story-let the engines of the free market economy run unfettered and the poor will be lifted out of poverty.