Something that’s been on my mind a lot lately is the preaching content of pastors across America as they take the pulpit every Sunday. As they go to the stand to preach, there are dozens of people that are hurting, suffering, and dying, both spiritually and physically, in the congregation. Every time the pastor of the church preaches, he has a chance to radically transform someone’s life through Jesus Christ. And as I think about the messages these pastors are preaching, I wonder…”Do they ever run out of sermons?” There is only so much information in the Bible. Obviously it would take years and years for one pastor at one church to preach from every book of the entire Bible (I want to go to that church!), but really; isn’t it possible that an elderly person who knows the Bible exceptionally well already knows the story before the pastor speaks it? I struggle with this; I want to tell something new. Something educational. Something that people have never heard before. But this is where the Gospel comes in.
Paul writes this in 1 Corinthians 1:23-“but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness.” He writes in Romans 1 that the Gospel is the power of Christ to all who believe-for the Jew as well as for the Greek. Going back to 1 Corinthians, Paul says he preaches Christ crucified. Note he doesn’t say Christ resurrected or Christ exalted-because there’s no resurrection without the crucifixion. Christ crucified-the crucifixion of Jesus-is just as important to the story of the Gospel as his resurrection. I want to be someone who preaches Christ crucified! The crucifixion of Christ is beautiful because it says we do not have to be good enough for this world; but “Christ has overcome the world.” 1 Corinthians 2:2, “For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” I do not want to know anything but Christ, and Christ crucified. Then I want to preach Christ crucified. This is the beauty of the Gospel-how simple yet complex it is. Pastors: the message doesn’t have to change because the truth has stayed the same.
David Wells, from an excerpt of a book I’m reading, offers this about the Gospel: “In its biblical setting…the gospel does not give us a choice between its simplicity and its profundity. It is both. It is both so simple that everyone can understand it and so profound that no one can fully plumb its depths.” Christ crucified is so simple-Christ was crucified for me-yet it’s also as complex: someone died for me. Why did he do that? To this day, I still don’t understand.
But Paul later on talks about the importance of preaching Christ crucified. Galatians 1:8 says, “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.” Another translations says “let him be anathema.” Anathema is a word that means accursed, damned, attested, loathed. It is so important that we come to know nothing else but Christ crucified and to preach nothing else but Christ crucified. The Gospel has never changed, it never will, and it’s power will always be eternal.