Tuesday 16 July 2013

The Preacher's Motto is ...

Different men may give slightly different answers, but Paul the apostle give us his motto for pastoral preaching. Where do we find it? It is 1 Corinthians 1:23: "But we preach Christ crucified". This is short, terse and oh so important. Let us break this down in a little more detail.

We preach: This is the Greek verb κηρύσσω which means to preach, to announce, as in to make a public announcement in the manner of a herald. Paul uses this phrase in the present tense because he is explaining that this is what he gave his energies to do. The apostolic method was "we preach" and nothing can replace preaching in the church. Men come along and say that we need so many other things, things other than preaching, but this is not God's method. We should not be surprised if preaching comes under attack, because the Serpent from the Garden of Eden onwards, has sought to undermine God's intended purpose and to deceive people. Therefore, "we preach" and this should be the pastor's motto.

We Preach Christ: The Lord Jesus Christ is the sum and substance of our message. Therefore the central person who is to be exalted in preaching is Christ, the second person of the Trinity who became man for our sakes and for our salvation. What a glorious message! It is not the preacher's job to artificially introduce Christ at every twist and turn of every passage that is being dealt with, but the text must be handled responsibly, which should lead to Christ who is the alpha and omega (Rev. 1:8, 21:6, 22:13). Christ is the end goal of redemptive history, therefore Christ should be introduced with ease. A friend of mine has a bronze plaque on his pulpit which reads "Sir, we wish to see Jesus” (John 12:21). This says it all.

We preach Christ Crucified: It is not enough to preach because the preaching could be man-centred and full of doctrinal error. It is not enough for minister's to preach Christ according to Paul, but we must "preach Christ crucified". This is the preacher's motto. The cross of Christ is God's wisdom, God's power and God's way for the church. Christ crucified is the way of salvation for needy sinners and this truth must be constantly placarded before the minds of God's people. Our faith is to be in Jesus Christ and His shed blood as a propitiation for our sins (Romans 3:22, 25). The verb Paul uses here for "crucified" is the perfect passive participle of the Greek verb σταυρόω meaning "to crucify". The perfect tense in Greek is most important and interesting because it refers to a "past event with present effect". We preach presently says Paul the message of Christ and him crucified. The unsearchable riches of Christ's crucifixion is a completed action in the past, but this is what is needed today, it has power today, that is when it is preached.

Let us pray for this motto to be a joyful burden for our preachers today, as Paul the apostle elsewhere wrote to the Corinthians (9:16): "For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!".

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