Preach the word

I recently read about someone who was giving a testimony and talking about how he took a group of high school students to a Christian conference many years ago. On the first day of the conference, hundreds of high school students crowded into the building to worship God and hear a message from the guest speaker. The speaker got up on stage and gave a compelling message about how much we should love other people. Even though what was said was true and good, the man who had brought his kids to this conference had a strange feeling after hearing the sermon. Something was wrong. Then he realized what was wrong: the preacher had not mentioned Jesus.

If you preach a sermon that does not point people to Jesus, then you have lost the focus of the biblical message and gone astray in your preaching.

For this reason, a preacher should not just preach about corruption, poverty, injustice, witchcraft and other social evils and encourage people to change their morals in order to create a better society. You can do all these things in your sermon, but if you fail to point people to Christ and his finished work as the only practical solution to any problem, you would have failed in your preaching!

Our preaching should therefore not just try to persuade people to change their morality and become better persons. The goal of preaching is not just to tell sinners to stop stealing and start working hard. You actually don’t need to be a preacher of the Gospel to motivate people to change their morals. Even a Muslim chief can encourage people to do the same thing in his village. Muslim teachers also zealously proclaim the importance of their followers improving their morality. So what should make a difference between a Christian preacher and all these other people?

No one desires to live in a lawless society, that’s for sure. We definitely need good morals in our society. However, Christianity is more than just having good morals. It is more than just turning away from sin. It is a change in direction and making a U-turn ‘from’ – ‘to’. It is making a 180 degrees turn, half of it away from ‘sin and half of it to Jesus.

Perhaps, the famous train analogy will illustrate this point better. Telling people to turn away from sin without directing them to turn to Christ is like telling a man to get off a train that is headed in the wrong direction. But if that was the only thing he did, he would still be lost. What he needs to do next is to board another train going in the right way. This right way is Jesus.

It is said 1 Thessalonians 1:9 of the believers in the Church at Thessalonica, that they “turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.”

So the goal of preaching or presenting the gospel is not merely to get people to behave well, but to direct them to Christ, and of course, behaving well will follow naturally as a result of being in Christ. But encouraging people to behave well as an end in itself when they are not in Christ is a distortion of the Gospel.

The ultimate purpose of Scripture is not merely to motivate us to improve our morality, but rather to point us and the people we minister to to Christ and his finished work as the practical solution to any problem.

Listen to the advice of the famous pastor, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, who is generally  recognized world-wide as the “Prince of Preachers” by many people today. Here is what he declared in a sermon he preached on July 9, 1876:

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.
— Charles H. Spurgeon

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…. 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.
— Charles H. Spurgeon
Using Scripture to demonstrate how it points to Himself is exactly what Christ did with his disciples. Instead of rushing to comfort his two troubled disciples on Easter Sunday, he spent the day walking with them to Emmaus and explaining how the Old Testament points to Him, as indicated below in Luke 24:13-27.

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ByJustus Musinguzi

Promoting the annual reading and study of the whole Bible, and teaching the treasures of God's truth that honors God, is saturated with grace, exalts Christ, and is driven by the gospel.

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