The Preaching of the Gospel
***** SERMON MANUSCRIPT*****
Melburn H. Hardin, D.Min. Kerrville, Texas
TITLE: The Preaching of the Gospel
SCRIPTURE: 1 Corinthians 2
SERIES TITLE: The Church God Calls Together
INDEX NUMBER: SF 1306
DATE PREPARED: 2005/07/18
DATE PREACHED: 2005/07/24
PLACE PREACHED: Kerrville Sunrise Baptist Church
- Why, do you suppose, this pulpit is placed right here at the center of the stage?
- You probably have visited other houses of worship, where the pulpit was placed over to one side or the other, and an altar, or a Communion Table was placed on center stage.
- You may have visited a meeting house that had very contemporary worship, where there was no pulpit at all—perhaps a set of drums or an electronic keyboard was on center stage.
- Most Baptists—and various other groups of believers—place the pulpit at center stage because we believe that the preaching of the Gospel is the most important element of Christian worship. Because it is through the proclamation of the Gospel that men and women are saved from sin and death.
- 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22 For indeed Jews ask for signs, and Greeks search for wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block, and to Gentiles foolishness, 24 but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. (1 Corinthians 1:21-24)
I. THE PRIMACY OF PREACHING
- Music and the singing of praises are wonderful elements of worship. I disagree very much with those who forbid the playing of instruments during worship. From the days of the Old Testament to our day, the flute, harp, lyre, guitar, organ and piano have been used by God’s people to magnify and beautify our praises.
- But the proclamation and teaching of the Gospel through preaching must ever have the primary place in Christian worship.
- This is God’s purpose and God’s plan.
- Preaching is the primary method that God has chosen to communicate His good news to mankind.
- Preaching is God’s means of effecting salvation. (Romans 10:17) “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
- The observance of the Lord’s Supper is a significant element of worship. The bread and the wine represent the body and blood of our Lord, as he died for our sins, but only through preaching can this symbolism be understood.
- The baptism of believers in water is a significant element of worship. Placing the candidate under the water and then raising him up out of the water represent Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection—but preaching is required for this symbolism to be understood.
II. THE POWER OF PREACHING
- There is an undeniable power inherent in the preaching of the Gospel. This is the power of the Holy Spirit of God.
- Spoken words—whether they are true or false—can have tremendous effect on those who hear them. The Devil is a master in his ability to incite crowds of people with false proclamation. In the past century the Devil used men like Adolph Hitler, with his loud, impassioned speeches, to make war mongers of an entire nation, and thereby the whole world was embroiled in a terrible war that destroyed the lives of many millions.
- The power inherent in Gospel preaching is not found in the eloquence of the preaching—however eloquent and skilled he may or may not be.
- The power inherent in Gospel preaching does not come from the wisdom of the preacher—however wise or unwise he may be. Paul tells here that his preaching to the Corinthians was not with “wise and persuasive words.”
- The power that lies in Gospel preaching does not come from the self-assurance or poise of the preacher. The Apostle Paul here reminds the Corinthian congregation of his weakness and fearfulness, even trembling, when he preached the Gospel to them.
- Paul was fearful—not for his life or safety, but—that he would not handle the Word properly. At stake were the eternal souls of men and women (everyone who heard him preach).
- No, the power in Gospel preaching is not in the preacher or his ability—rather it is the power of the Holy Spirit of God. Through preaching the Holy Spirit convinces and convicts the hearts and minds of the hearers. The Holy Spirit causes a person to believe the Gospel is true; he causes a person to believe that he is a sinner, in dire need of the forgiveness of God. The Holy Spirit encourages the sinner to confess his sins, accept the Lord Jesus and be saved.
- The Spirit uses the Gospel Story to move human hearts.
- Barclay tells about Old King Clovis of the Franks, when a Christian missionary first came preaching to them Christ and Christ crucified. As the old pagan king listened to the story of how the Son of God was spat upon and nailed to a cross, his hand grasped the hilt of his sword and he cried out to the preacher, “If I and my Franks had been there, we would have stormed Calvary and rescued Jesus from his enemies.”
- There is power in the telling of the Gospel! Something strange and wonderful happens in the human heart when the Gospel message is heard.
III. THE PROOF OF PREACHING
- Here Paul testifies that his preaching in Corinth, even though he was weak and trembling, was attended with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power. Many were saved; a church was born. God and Christ were glorified in human hearts.
- This was the proof of his preaching; this is what demonstrated its authenticity. Through his preaching lives were drawn to God and saved.
- There is a sense in which everyone who hears the Gospel has a life-changing experience. Not always for good; some hearts rebel against the Spirit and the message. Such hearts become hardened. But there is no way one can hear the Gospel and remain unconvicted, unchanged.
- Here Paul is speaking of the very positive change that came over the Corinthians who believed his preaching. He is reminding them: you know firsthand what the preaching of Christ can do. You know what it has done! Your lives were changed for God!
- Something new, something divine, something antiseptic, something re-creating had entered the polluted, corrupt society of Corinth. It was the Holy Spirit; it was the Christ of God who had taken residence in the lives of many of those Corinthians.
- There was a Welsh miner who had been a reprobate and a drunkard. He trusted Christ when he heard the preaching of an evangelist. His workmates ridiculed him greatly. They said to him, “Surely a sensible man like you cannot believe the miracles the Bible tells about. You cannot believe, for instance that this Jesus of yours turned water into wine, can you?” The illiterate, newborn miner replied, “Whether he turned water into wine or not, I do not know; but in my house I have seen him turn beer and ale into food and clothing for my family.”
- That is not what a preacher can do. But that is what the Holy Spirit does when lost folk hear the Gospel preached—and they respond to it with their hearts.
- But preaching is not only for the lost people. The Holy Spirit uses to bring believers to maturity. Paul here (2:6) writes “We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age…”
- He is writing about God’s secret wisdom “that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began…
- “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him—but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.”
- Only God’s Spirit knows the deep things about God. Through preaching the Spirit reveals these things about God—but only to those believers who have the Spirit in their hearts and minds. If an unsaved person hears the deep things of God, they seem as so much foolishness to him; they can only be discerned by the spiritual man—the one led by the Spirit of God.
- So the proof of preaching is, first of all, the salvation of lost persons who hear and believe.
- Secondly, the proof of preaching is the spiritual growth and maturity of Christians who hear and believe.
- “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18).