A word to fellow-workers
“. . . that I might preach him among the heathen . . .” (Galatians 1:16).
Many years ago I was about to speak at a meeting for young People. Taking me aside for a moment, a servant of God whispered to me “Speak well of Him.”
The words have echoed and re-echoed in my mind through nearly half a century. Now I pass them on to my fellow-Christians and fellow-workers, in “the gospel concerning His Son.”
Is there not a danger of our preaching some IT instead of preaching HIM? The “IT” may be precious indeed and valuable beyond words to express. But while through it the conscience may be reached and purged, the heart may be left unattracted by and unattached to Him who is the true centre of the gospel story.
It is important to preach repentance (this is often overlooked, see Luke 24:47 and Acts 20:21), forgiveness of sins, justification, peace, eternal life and other glorious truths but all these should be made subservient to Himself—for He is the gospel, and the blessings proffered in the glad tidings are through Him and in Him.
After Pentecost the apostles ceased not teaching and announcing the glad tidings that Jesus was the Christ (Acts 5:42). In Him the prophecies had their fulfilment. He the Messiah was their subject. The crucified now glorified Jesus was He. So in Samaria Philip preached the Christ to them (Acts 8:5). They knew that Messiah was to come (John 4:25). He had come and the blessing was for them as well as for the Jews.
To the treasurer of Candace the same evangelist preached Jesus (Acts 8:35). Jehovah-the-Saviour the subject of the Scripture the eunuch was reading was announced as glad tidings to this seeker after God.
Saul of Tarsus having had the vision of the Lord of glory and being filled with the Holy Spirit “straightway in the synagogues preached Jesus that He is the Son of God” (Acts 9:20). The full personal glory of the One he had scorned was revealed to him and now communicated to others. The Son of the Father come to bring the saved one into a new glorious relationship was proclaimed.
Peter in the home of Cornelius the Gentile presented Christ in His life of service among men, in His death, in His resurrection and in His appointment as Judge of living and dead. And then declared how all the prophets bore witness that whosoever believed on Him should receive the remission of sins. HIS person was the object of faith (Acts 10:38-43).
So Saul, now Paul, at Antioch spoke of the bringing by God to Israel a Saviour Jesus, of His rejection and rising again and of His being witnessed to them. Then testifying that through this Man remission of sins is preached and that all believing in Him are justified (Acts 10:38-39). At Thessalonica he opened up and laid down that the Christ must have suffered and risen up from among the dead, adding, “This is the Christ, Jesus whom I announce unto you” (Acts 17:3). To the Athenians he announced the glad tidings of Jesus and the resurrection (Acts 17:18).
In the epistle to the Romans—the great treatise on the gospel—we find God’s glad tidings concerning His Son (come of David’s Seed according to the flesh, marked out Son of God in power, according to the Spirit of holiness by resurrection of the dead) Jesus Christ our Lord (chap. 1:3-4).
There we learn how the word of righteousness refers to Him as come down into incarnation and death, then raised from the dead and made Lord. And that confessing Him as Lord with the mouth and believing that God has raised Him from the dead brings righteousness and salvation (chap. 10:6-9).
Addressing the Corinthians Paul could say “We preach Christ crucified. . . God’s power and God’s wisdom” (1 Cor. 1:23). Among them he judged it well to know only Jesus Christ and Him crucified. The Person and His rejection by the world were prominent (chap. 2:2). “We preach not ourselves but Christ Jesus the Lord,” he avers to them later (2 Cor. 4:5).
Writing to the Galatian converts he says, “Whom God. . . was pleased to reveal His Son in me that I may announce Him as glad tidings.” And in this epistle solemnly warns against any pseudo gospel (Gal. 1:8-10; 2:15-16). “Christ in you the hope of glory whom we announce” he writes to the saints at Colosse (Col. 1:28).
While at Rome, a prisoner, he rejoiced that Christ was preached even though by some it was in a spirit of envy and strife. “Christ is announced whether in pretext or in truth,” he exultingly declares (Phil. 1:17-18). “Christ is preached raised from among the dead” (1 Cor. 15:12). He, God manifest in flesh, justified in the Spirit, has appeared to angels, has been preached among the nations (1 Tim. 3:16).
Other Scriptures might be referred to but enough have been referred to to show how the glorious person of the risen Son of God, Jesus Christ was the preacher’s theme and that in Him all was Yea, and Amen, of the promises of God to the glory of God (2 Cor. 1:19-20). Paul’s glad tidings and the preaching of Jesus Christ lead on to the revelation of the long hidden mystery now made known.
It has been said that faith in the Person of Christ the Son of God is spoken of a hundred times in the New Testament while faith in His work is mentioned but seldom.
In conclusion may I add a word on “We preach not ourselves” (2 Cor. 4:5). Is there not a danger of making ourselves prominent, in telling of wonderful conversions through our ministry, of remarkable conversations we have had with this one or that one, of surprising results through our preaching here or there and so forth? If we fall into this peril we may leave our hearers occupied with the preacher rather than with the Son of God the Saviour, to their serious loss.
Let us concentrate on Christ in preaching and teaching and announce HIM as glad tidings to all—so will He be glorified.