Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 3, 1952
NUMBER 34, PAGE 1,5c

The Preaching Of Christ

Roy E. Cogdill

I know of no general passage of scripture or text that could serve for every sermon in a gospel meeting better than a few verses from Paul's statement to the church at Corinth. He said, "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."

Surely there could be no more comprehensive statement concerning gospel preaching than the one given here. It sets forth the very attitude that the preacher himself ought to have toward the preaching he is doing, as well as the purpose and aim of that preaching. Paul was determined to know nothing in Corinth "save Jesus Christ, and him crucified." That did not mean, nor does it even suggest, that he would preach on no other theme save the crucifixion of Christ, that he would discuss no other event. It meant, rather, that the gospel he would be preaching would be that which emanated from, originated with, was authorized by, and revealed in a Christ who was crucified. That was the gospel he intended to preach; no other gospel was he willing to discuss.

Not only in the subject matter, but in the particular of his own attitude Paul felt a tremendous responsibility. He said, "I came unto you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling." The preaching of God's word carries with it a heavy weight of responsibility. The souls of men are at stake. James said, "Be not many of you teachers, for thereby shall your condemnation be increased." Paul said to Timothy, "Take heed to thyself and to thy teaching, for in so doing thou shall save both thyself and them that hear thee." A man is responsible for that which he teaches others. To fail to teach the truth might lead some hearer to believe something other than truth, and believing a lie, the hearer might be eternally lost. It is the truth that saves. Jesus said, "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." To lead a man then to believe something which is not the truth is certainly to lead him into condemnation—or, at least, is to prevent his being made free by the power of truth.

Paul felt keenly his responsibility as a gospel preacher; he knew under what a heavy obligation he was to preach the truth, and nothing but the truth. To the Galatians he wrote, "I marvel, brethren, that ye are so quickly removed from him that called you in the gospel of Christ unto a different gospel; which is not another gospel: only there are some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach unto you any gospel other than that which we preached unto you, let him be accursed." The anathema of God rests upon the soul of any preacher who would preach anything that has not been revealed in the gospel of Christ. There is no new message to be preached. When any man begins to preach something new, he condemns himself as well as those who believe his preaching.

What the world needs today, and what the preacher should preach, is the same old gospel story that was preached of yore—just as beautiful and true now as it was then, just as full of Jesus' power to save in our day as it was when it was new in the earth. And that gospel is all that is able to save any one of us. This is the preacher's responsibility; it is also the responsibility of the hearer to weigh the words that are spoken and judge them by the eternal standard of truth, God's word.

Further indicative of Paul's attitude are his words, "My speech and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom." There was no demonstration of Paul's wisdom or learning. He was not interested at all in trying to make the people think he was the smartest, or most learned, or best educated, or most eloquent preacher they had ever heard. It would seem the Corinthians were peculiarly susceptible to the temptation of becoming attached to a certain preacher; some championed Paul, some Cephas, and some Apollos. They were sadly mixed up in their values; they betrayed a carnality of spirit, and were exalting men above the truth, hence Paul's sharp reminder to them of the manner of his first preaching in their presence. It was "not in words of man's wisdom," in "demonstration of my power or ability as a preacher," but rather he had come in weakness and in fear and in trembling, preaching to them nothing "save Jesus Christ and him crucified." He had done that "that your faith might be in God, and not in man." The faith of all of us must be in God, in the power of God, and in the word of God. We cannot put faith in the wisdom of men, nor in the judgment of men, nor in the ability of some man. Our faith must be in God. When men are over lavish in their praise of the preacher, it is a pretty good indication that they have not as much praise for the preaching, the message, as they ought to have. The true "preaching of Christ" will lead the hearer to love and appreciate Christ, and not to venerate or exalt any preacher unduly.

Surely it would be well for us to preach much on the great central theme of the gospel—Christ, and him crucified. A whole gospel meeting can be held on such subjects as "Christ, The Subject of the Gospel," "The Transfiguration of Christ," "The Baptism of Christ," "What it Means to Preach Christ," "What it Means to Believe in Christ, or Christ Our Creed," "The Blood of Christ," "Christ and the Church," "Is Christ Divided," "The Second Coming of Christ," "The Trial of Jesus," "The Final Judgment of Christ" and many others. Such preaching as this will do more to strengthen the church, build up genuine New Testament Christianity, and bring men into the likeness of what God wants them to be than all the sensational and modernistic preaching can ever hope to accomplish. Preaching Christ, as Paul preached him, will produce faith in God, not in man. And that should be the aim and objective of all truly spiritual preaching.