“For while I was with you I resolved to know nothing except Jesus the Messiah, and Him crucified.” -1 Cor. 2.2
“Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.” -Acts 8.5
Every true preaching will lead its hearers to a higher vision of Jesus Christ, and the centrality and supremacy of His cross. When we set up camp around superfluities or even biblical doctrines, however crucial they may be, yet fail to proclaim them in a manner that points the hearer Christ-ward, we fail in the high calling of true proclamation.
Nearly every religion on the earth has some measure of light and truth; some paradigm or thought that could be beneficial for living. But they all fall short of the glory of God, they do not impart life, and not one of them can deliver a salvational reality. Only the proclamation of “Christ, and Him crucified” brings to bear the truth of God, for “there is no other name given under heaven by which men can be saved.”
No other supposed faith can hold a candle to the glory of the Man, Christ Jesus, and none of them can answer the ancient problem of mankind; namely, the universal dilemma of depravity and sin. To preach Jesus in the apostolic sense is not merely to give a “Roman’s Road to Salvation” presentation. It is to declare things which “angels long to look into,” the mystery of God as the merciful Judge, and the remarkable desire of Jesus Christ to be reconciled and related to those who believe. Only the Gospel reveals the eternal God as He is, and only the Gospel deals with the issue of sin.
The missionary message is the limitless significance of Jesus Christ as the propitiation for our sins, and a missionary is one who is soaked in that revelation.
The key to the missionary message is the remissionary aspect of Christ’s life, not His kindness and His goodness, and His revealing of the Fatherhood of God; the great limitless significance is that He is the propitiation for our sins.
A missionary is one who is wedded to the charter of His Lord and Master, he has not to proclaim his own point of view, but to proclaim the Lamb of God.
(Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, October 15th selection)
Missionary work, ministries, movements, or “revivals” that stray from the proclamation of “Christ, and Him crucified” will ultimately fade into nullity. Even if they flourish numerically, they will fade in the age to come. “That which is born of flesh is flesh,” and only the foundation of Jesus Himself will endure to the glory of God. He must be the center, the nexus, the capstone of our proclamation and vision. Even other necessary biblical views will fade into nothingness unless they are postured in such a way as to lead us to “Christ, and Him crucified.” We need not to set forth our “own view, but to proclaim the Lamb of God.”
We are struggling back to God, and that is the peculiar thing that characterizes our own ministry. Instead of being occupied with the formalisms and superfluities, our endeavor is to come back under the light of the Spirit of God, to the real truths of God; to have them settled down in our hearts, branded upon our souls, and stamped upon our conscience, that we may walk in truth and power and strength as servants of God.
-John G. Lake
A man may preach about eschatology, the issue of Israel, divine healing, or even the cross itself, without preaching Jesus Christ. If it is only categorical and canned as a message, he may even expound on 1 Corinthians 2.2 without actually preaching “Christ, and Him crucified.”
In turn, a man sent by the Lord will expound on the same subjects in such a way that it leads to the centrality and glorification of Jesus Christ in the heart of the Church. Everything depends on whether or not the proclaimer is ascribing the glory to God in his own soul. If we are puffed up about knowledge, wanting to be clever, hoping to receive a certain calculated response from our hearers, we are disqualified from preaching Jesus Christ. Our own souls must be ever and always ascribing glory to the Lamb of God, or all our speech becomes suspect and dubious.
Thus, a radical and total jealousy for Christ Himself to be glorified is at the heart of true proclamation. Philip preached Jesus; which is to say, he didn’t only speak of Him, but his proclamation was an actual conveyance of the Person and work of Christ Himself. Something of the substance of the Lord was transmitted to the hearers, and salvation ensued immediately. For Paul it was the same reality, and even the prophets of old preached Christ in this manner, though their subject matter was not as descriptive.
We need to see to the restoration of preaching Christ Himself, and not merely speaking of Him in a superficial or skin-deep manner. Down to the “marrow” of the soul, we must be infused with an active jealousy for the glory of Jesus Christ. Preaching and living from that place is preaching Christ indeed.
Have I “resolved to know nothing except Jesus the Messiah, and Him crucified,” or am I frolicking on the periphery of Christian theology and thought? He must be the center, dear saints. The world shall be in want of a true proclamation of the Gospel unless we give Him the preeminent place.
The more the Church holds to its central message- Jesus Christ Himself- the more effective it is.
Posted in The Kingdom of God Tagged with: Acts, Jesus, John G. Lake, Oswald Chambers, Paul, proclamation, prophets, restoration
“Therefore, those who had been scattered went about preaching the word.” -Acts 8.4
A man’s adherence to a doctrine or Christian theme in an ideal religious atmosphere can be a very dubious thing. When we are in our preferred sanctuaries, listening to our preferred worship songs, and standing alongside our preferred co-members, there is little to test the reality of the faith that we profess.
Western Christianity, which usually functions along utilitarian, humanistic, and convenient lines, is radically removed from the kind of gritty and authentic faith that was the experience of the early Church. If all the glitter and all the facades were removed, we would find in the Church a corporate character quite different than what we may have appreciated and even boasted of when we could only see on a surface level.
The line of inward consecration has been deviated from, the experience of raw faith in the realm of actual life has not been a chief emphasis, and the overall condition of truth and reality has been too infrequently realized by the best of our Church going members.
The depth and profundity of our life in God is not revealed amidst the choruses and events as much as it is revealed when the press of everyday experience is bearing down upon us.
When Saul of Tarsus spearheaded the movement of persecution against Jewish believers in the first century, a great scattering took place. But what was the response of these saints who had been displaced, losing their homes and their possessions while simultaneously being disowned by their own relatives?
“Therefore, those who had been scattered went about preaching the word.”
What would our response have been?
When the real press of life bears down upon us, when conflict increases and opposition arises against us, it is in that moment that we see the degree to which our hearts have been given to Jesus Christ. It may not be in a city-wide persecution against the saints, though I’m convinced that those kinds of realities are likely to increase in the Western world.
It may be in the press of financial challenge, or being misunderstood by a family member, or being falsely accused at work, or being touched with depression or confusion about life or calling. It may be in some other pressing issue; something minor like a bad look from a brother in the Church, or something heavier like some type of life tragedy. Whatever the press may be, the manner of our response is itself the revelation of our true character. Our mouths and minds will reveal the real state of our hearts.
These saints, when displaced and disowned, hated and rejected, went into the uttermost parts of the earth proclaiming that Jesus Christ was crucified and raised up, for their view of life was not earthbound, but preeminently God-centered. We need to be delivered from the power of self-centric living, and lifted into the heights of true worship, where the line of consecration is drawn in truth and reality, and where God gets the glory out of the nit and grit of our everyday lives.
The apostles knew no other brand of the faith than that which was lived upon the lines of total inward consecration to Jesus Christ, and that is why “great glory” attended their lives. Do we wish for some cheaper brand of Christianity?
Posted in The Kingdom of God Tagged with: Acts, calling, character, consecration, faith, preaching, the church, Western Christianity, worship