Why I Preach the Cross
Sunday, April 21, 2013
“We preach Christ crucified” (1 Cor. 1:23).
Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:17–23; 2:1–5
There are so-called experts today in the field of religious authority who believe that the day of preaching is gone. The sermon is looked upon as an uninterrupted and unchallenged monologue, and this is the day of the dialogue, we are told. To live and prosper in this day, some say we must swing our emphasis from preaching to ministry.
I say we must have both, for preaching and ministry are two arms of the same body. Jesus was insistent that he came to be a minister (servant), and he went about doing good. The Bible also says, “Jesus came preaching.” These are two sides of the same coin. I am pleased to observe that both of these roles are experiencing a resurgence of interest and response in our day.
Not only is there a renewed interest in preaching, but there has never been a greater response to the preaching of the cross. The apostle Paul could well have centered his preaching in philosophy, in the Old Testament Law, in the Prophets, in Jewish traditions and practices, or in a social gospel as an answer to the social problems of his society. Paul was a learned man, a scholar, but he chose to preach Christ crucified, and God blessed his preaching.
There are those who say, “Just preach Jesus.” But that is not enough. Satan is content with the preacher who proclaims Jesus as a good man, or even as the best man who ever lived. If the preacher leaves out the cross—the blood— his message is incomplete and impotent.
As we remember the death and resurrection of our Lord, I would like for this sermon to be a personal testimony to my own ministry of the cross.
1) I preach the cross out of gratitude.
A preacher named H. S. Kolb tells this story:
When I was a student pastor, a man in the church went to a physician who removed a skin cancer from his face. Few times in life have I seen a man so grateful. He told everyone who would listen how this surgeon had delicately removed the malignant growth from his face and he was freed from its terror. He would say to a person, “Do you have a cancer? Do you know anyone who has a cancer? I know a surgeon who can make that person well.” What would you think of a person cured of cancer who would withhold information and hope from another who was gripped with the same dread disease?
Christ, through his death on the cross, has provided a remedy for a disease far worse than cancer. No surgeon can remove this malignancy, and it is humanly incurable. It is called sin. The outcome of this disease, if not cured, is death, not only of the body, but of the soul. Out of gratitude to the Great Physician, I want everyone I meet to know about him. When I think of so many others still in the throes of this enslaving disease, I must not rest until they have all been warned of its consequences and informed of its cure. And that remedy is proclaimed in the preaching of the cross.
2) I preach the cross because it never grows old.
I want to preach a fresh gospel, and the story of the cross is always fresh news. You may read the account of the cross in any of the Gospels in just a few minutes, you may memorize parts of Scripture, and you may become familiar with the contents of the Bible; yet each time you read Scripture with your heart open to the illumination of the Holy Spirit, new truth will leap out of the inspired pages and new applications will be revealed for your life. If you wish to preach a gospel ever new, then preach the story of Christ crucified.
3) I preach the cross because of its adequate comfort to the human heart.
Pastor Kolb also told this story:
During the dark days of World War II, I was called to a home where grief-stricken parents had just received a telegram telling them that their oldest son had died in combat. As I sat with those parents, seeking to bring them comfort, I did not say, “We’ll get even with the enemy that killed your boy.” This would not have brought comfort. I told them that God understood, for he, too, had experienced the loss of his Son in the war against evil. I assured them that someday the war would be over and we could carry the message of the Prince of Peace to all the world with the hope that wars would cease.
One day a number of years ago, a young Korean exchange student at the University of Pennsylvania and a leader in Christian affairs on the campus left his room to stroll down to the corner to mail a letter to his parents. Eleven leather-jacketed teenagers came upon him, and without a word, they attacked him with their fists, blackjacks, and lead pipes. Then they fled, leaving him dead in the street.
The city where this heinous crime took place was shocked and incensed. An international incident seemed imminent as the story of this tragic, senseless murder was announced throughout the world. Then a letter was sent from Korea, signed by the parents and twenty other relatives of the student. It was addressed to the law enforcement authorities where the crime had taken place. It read as follows:
Our family has met together and decided to petition that the most generous treatment possible within the laws of your government be given those guilty of this crime. In order to give evidence of our sincere hope contained in this petition, we have decided to save money to start a fund to be used for the religious, educational, vocational, and social guidance of the boys when they are released. We have dared to express our hope with a spirit received from the gospel of our Savior, Jesus Christ, who died for our sins.
4) I preach the cross because it is the only means of salvation from
The night before Jesus died on the cross, he prayed, “O my Father, if it be possible let this cup pass from me.” In other words, he said, “If there be any other possible means by which people may be saved from their sins, then let this bitter cup of crucifixion pass from me.” God answered that prayer the next day when he allowed his Son to die on the cross. Forevermore it was declared, “There is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.” The way is Jesus Christ and him crucified.
Now in Conclusion
In the center of downtown London is a famous landmark called Charing Cross. It is often called “The Cross.” The story is told of a little boy lost in the London fog. A policeman sought to assist him. “Is there any building or monument that is familiar to you that is near your home?” he asked. A light came over the boy’s face as he said, “If you will take me to the cross, I think I can find my way home from there.” And this is our message—the preaching of the cross that has guided multitudes through the ages into the safety of the Father’s house.
God bless you, Pastor Mike