I grew up on Christ centered preaching. G. C. Brewer, E. W. McMillan, and H. A. Dixon, the preachers I remember from childhood, preached Christ. They preached the essentiality of baptism, but they preach Christ first, baptism second, and Christ again, as the meaning and efficacy of baptism. They preached the church as the one, unsectarian body of Christ, but they preached Christ first, the church second, and Christ again as the head of the body and the source of its life. Jesus Christ: First, last, and always! That should characterize our preaching.
Preachers for popular modern denominations denied the necessity of baptism and the essential union of Christ with his church. Some of us may react to that by preaching baptism in the church while saying little about the person and work of Christ. Someone’s ignoring or denying one is not corrected by denying or ignoring the other. The inspired evangelist Phillip preached Jesus (Acts 8:35). He included baptism (Acts 8:36). If we preach Jesus biblically we must also do both.
Preaching about Jesus is not the same as preaching Jesus. The text, “I determined to know nothing among you save Jesus Christ and him crucified,” (2 Corinthians 2:1-4) is not fulfilled in preaching that we ought to preach Christ. It is Paul’s personal statement that he did preach Christ. We make his statement ours by preaching what he preached.
A tangent now taking attention away from Christ is the preaching of fulfillment, self-esteem, and experience. To know Christ is indeed an experience and he does promise satisfaction and fulfillment. But preaching joy and fulfillment instead of preaching Christ goes against Christ’s own words; “. . .for whosoever will save his life shall lose it.” (Matthew 16:35). We find life by losing it, by centering our thoughts and aims in him, not in what we expect from him.
Obviously, I speak of emphasis. I do not say that one should never preach on fulfillment and contentment. I am saying however if our emphasis is the fuller life, we will not find it. We must emphasize Christ, his work, his death, his resurrection, his person; not ourselves, and not our experience.
The church must always remember that it is about Jesus – not us. We need to tell others of “Wonderful Jesus,” (Isaiah 9:6-7). Tell the sweet story of Christ from the gospels. Set forth the utter loveliness of his life. Joyously proclaim from prophecy and the recorded eyewitness testimony that Jesus is raised from the dead. Priest Jesus as the One to obey, rather than just our need to be obedient.
Christ is our savior. Let’s preach him. Jesus is Lord. Let’s center our faith in him.
Cecil May Jr. Via the Magnolia Messenger
I KNOW HOW YOU FEEL
A sign on the lawn, “Puppies for sale, $5”, caught the eye of an excited boy who sauntered up the front walk and asked to see the litter. A man brought out five frisky puppies and one that limped. “What’s wrong with that dog?” asked the boy, pointing to the lame one.
“That puppy will live, but it will never run much because it was born without a hip socket,” the owner replied.
“The boy pulled out $5 and said, “That’s the one I want.” The man tried to dissuade him, pointing out the problems a lame dog would bring. “You want a dog you could chase and play with,” he told the boy.
“This one suits me fine,” smiled the boy, pulling up his pants leg to reveal a full-length brace.
“Insensitivity is something dealt with by all. Knowing that the Lord teaches us to treat other people as we would like to be treated it’s not often motive enough for us to act with sensitivity. Having a friend say to us, “I know how you feel,” when his life has been untouched by our particular brand of hurt simply serves as a reminder of the truth that the reality of an experience is the only adequate preparation for understanding others.
“Life is filled with various challenges, frustrations, hurts, and blessings. While traveling through on this pilgrimage, each of these will be encountered in turn. Successfully overcoming them results in genuine sensitivity. Now you know what it is like; Now you know how they feel.
“Jesus taught a similar lesson in choosing to live as a man on this earth. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15)
Ken Dye, via the Tara Church of Christ bulletin