“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but it is God’s power to us who are being saved.” (I Corinthians 1:18)
Every year I attend a preaching conference in Charlotte, North Carolina. Some of the finest preachers I have ever known come to that conference and it is a time of refreshing and spiritual revival for me. I look forward to it every year. For the last several years, there has been a man who has attended every session and he sits on the front row. When the singing starts, you know he is going to have a good time! But when the preachers get started — this fellow REALLY has a good time! It doesn’t take long in the message before this fellow raises his hand, points his finger at the preacher and says, “That’s some good preaching right there my brother.”
Now saying that to a preacher is like saying, “Sic ’em” to a dog!” The preacher preaches a little harder and the fellow on the front row shouts a little louder.
If you ask people today about preaching, you find that people hold varying opinions. To some, unless the preacher is sweating and he rips off his tie — he hasn’t preached. To others, it’s all about eloquence and being dignified. To many — especially today — preaching is a “conversation” which is more illustrative than anything else and focuses on consumeristic themes.
As I have thought about preaching and the state of preaching in our world today, I went back to the Scripture to find out what “good preaching” really is. And the Apostle Paul answered my question in our verse today. He said that “good preaching” always points people to the cross of Christ.
In I Corinthians 1:17, the word for “preach” is used in terms of EVANGELISM. It means to cast the net. Paul said, “For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to evangelize (preach) — not with clever words, so that the cross of Christ will not be emptied of its effect.”
In verse 18, the idea of preaching is presented in terms of content — not method. And the content of our preaching is to be THE CROSS.
You see, the primary function of preaching is to bear a witness. Mark 16:15 says, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation.” Preaching is the essential function of my calling as a pastor!
And what am I to preach? Here are a couple of series titles I found that were actually preached somewhere…
“Purple People Leader”
“Visionary Love and Dream Sex”
“The Prodigy in Me”
I’m very much aware that creativity is important in our sermon preparation — but it seems that some guys spend too much time on the series title and not enough time on the content. So what am I SUPPOSED to preach?
Simple…preach about the cross. The death of Jesus is God’s sacrifice for sin and His power for salvation. Don’t be ashamed of the Gospel! Paul said in Romans 1:16-17, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel because it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek. For in it God’s righteousness is revealed from faith to faith, just as it is written: The righteous will live by faith.”
The preaching of the cross is proclaiming the message. We aren’t discussing philosophy. We are to proclaim the GOSPEL and the Gospel is a person — Jesus Christ. He is a person on whom we rely, not a system of truth to be understood. It is the message of redemption.
If you preach the cross, be prepared for division. To those who believe, the cross is God’s power to salvation. To the lost, the cross is foolishness. As I watch the church culture of today, I constantly remind myself — “Keith — you have ONE JOB — preach the cross!” Everyone who has experienced God’s saving power should tell the Good News. It is every Christian’s duty — but it also every Christian’s PRIVILEGE.
If you want to be saved, you must believe the message of the cross. Acts 4:12 says, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”
So…I’m not worrying about whether I am relevant or not because I don’t have to be. Don’t get so caught up in the culture that you kick the Holy Spirit out of His own house! The Bible is ALWAYS relevant and the message of the cross is ALWAYS appropriate for EVERY audience.
The message of the cross…
Believers — TELL THE STORY
Lost People — BELIEVE THE STORY and then go TELL THE STORY!
Have a great day.