Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 14, 1952
NUMBER 40, PAGE 4-5a

Christ -- The Subject Of Gospel Preaching

Roy E. Cogdill

If one were to preach an entire series on the general theme or subject of of Jesus Christ, he could find no text more admirably fitted for the whole series than Paul's word to the church at Corinth, "And I, brethren, when I came unto you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power; that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God." (1 Cor. 2:1-5)

No one can read the New Testament without realizing that the central theme of the preaching of apostolic days was Christ. That record occurs repeatedly in the book of Acts; and Acts is properly a history of the gospel preaching that was done under the supervision of the Holy Spirit in the beginning of Christianity. When the Spirit of God came to reveal in fullness the gospel of Christ, and to guide the ambassadors of the Lord in the preaching of that gospel to the nations, the preaching that was done is described over and over in the Book of Acts as "preaching Christ." When Paul declared, "I was determined to know nothing among you save Jesus Christ and him crucified," he did not mean that he would not preach on the virgin birth, nor on those other great facts of the gospel of a resurrected Lord. He did not mean that he would fail to preach concerning the life of the Lord of holiness, and would speak only of the resurrection. What he meant was that he would preach only that gospel which emanated from, was revealed in, and authorized by a Lord who was crucified in the interest of the salvation of the souls of men. It is indeed the gospel of a "crucified Christ."

Some one has summed the message of the whole Bible in the simple statement that the Old Testament tells that Christ is coming; the New Testament tells that he did come; and also that he is coming again. The entire message can be summed up then by saying that the story of the Bible is: Christ is coming; Christ did come; Christ is coming again. Thus Jesus Christ is the very heart and center of all the revelation of God.

Christ In Purpose

The Old Testament is filled with references to Christ. Not direct and by name, but references that show clearly that Christ was in the mind and plan and purpose of God as the Savior of mankind. Peter declares of him that he "was foreknown indeed before the foundation of the world, but was manifested at the end of the times for your sake." (1 Pet. 1:19) It was God's plan from all eternity that Jesus should come; it was God's purpose that Christ should redeem the souls of men and women. But while this was the eternal plan or purpose of God, Christ was not actually "manifested" or made known until the "fullness of time" had arrived. This was a time God himself had selected for the fulfillment of that plan or purpose.

Christ In Promise

Not only do you find Christ in purpose in the Old Testament, he is there also in promise. Even in the very first days of the human race God said to Satan, "and I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; He shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." (Genesis 3:15) God here, in a veiled and indirect way, yet nevertheless surely and unmistakably, was promising the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, the seed of the woman, the savior of mankind. He would be [he] who would "bruise" Satan's head, conquer his dominion, that man might be liberated and made free from his evil power, and might serve the God who had created him.

Later on, that promise of a coming Savior was made more definite and more specific. "Now the Lord said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will show thee: and I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and I will make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: and I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curse thee; and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed." (Gen. 12:1-3) This is the promise made to Abraham. It is the same promise that was made in the beginning; but now it is reiterated and expanded. In the New Testament Paul speaks of that promise, and affirms that it had reference to Christ. He says, "Now to Abraham were the promises spoken, and to his seed. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ" (Gal. 3:16)

So it was Christ whom God had in mind when he made that promise to Abraham; it was Christ who was to be the savior of both Jew and Gentile. It is in keeping with this that Paul again declares, "that the Gentiles are fellow-heirs, and fellow-members of the body, and fellow-partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel." (Eph. 3:6) God's promise was to the Gentile nations of the earth as much as it was to the Jews; Jesus, the seed of Abraham, was to become the Savior of all mankind, without respect or regard to race or the person of any man.

Christ In Prophecy

Not only do we find Christ in purpose, and in promise in the Old Testament scriptures, we find him also, and repeatedly, in prophecy. That is likewise affirmed in the New Testament. Peter declared, "Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and them that followed after, as many as have spoken, they have also told of these days." (Acts 3:24) Samuel was the last of the judges, and first of the great prophets. From Samuel to Malachi, every prophet that God raised up to lead Israel, and to bring her from her backsliding ways, that the purpose of God might be served—every one of these prophets had Jesus Christ as his subject. These men of God were not primarily interested (as some falsely supposed and taught) in foretelling or predicting the destiny of the various nations of earth; such was not the major burden of their message. But they were to lead Israel, God's people, and to prepare her for Jesus Christ. All their pleadings with Israel to return from her evil and backsliding ways were uttered that the nation might be such as God could use in fulfilling his purpose and his promise to bring Christ into the world.

It would be well for men in their study of the prophets to keep this truth in mind. Peter clearly had it before him when he testified in the house of Cornelius, "To him bear all the prophets witness, that through his name, every one that believeth on him shall receive remission of sins." (Acts 10:23) All the prophets had spoken of Christ and of his mission in the world. He is the reason why there were prophets; salvation through him for all the human race was the grand reason for the very existence of prophets, priests, and kings. Christ is the heart and center of Old Testament teaching on the purpose of God, the promise of God, and the prophecies which point to a fulfillment of that purpose and promise.