No one can say it like Charles Spurgeon. During one of his sermons, he expressed great astonishment at preachers whose sermons were not centered on Christ. And he gave this stunning exhortation: “No Christ in your sermon, sir? Then go home, and never preach again until you have something worth preaching.”
Jesus is worthy to be preached. Christ should be clearly and powerfully proclaimed in our sermons, brethren. If He is not, our sermons simply aren’t worth preaching. We who preach Sunday after Sunday (should) recognize the importance of preaching Christ. In our expositions, there should always be a connection with the person of Christ, the teaching of Christ, or the work of Christ. But why should we preach Christ in the first place? Why should pastors make effort to preach Christ in their sermons?
In his monumental work, Preaching Christ from the Old Testament, Sidney Greidanus gives us six reasons for preaching Christ.¹ Here they are:
1. Preach Christ Because the Apostles Did
The New Testament gives us dozens of instances where Peter, Paul, and the other apostles powerfully and consistently preached Christ. In fact, the book of Acts records that every sermon they preached was always centered on Jesus. Jesus was the shining light in their message, whether it was Peter’s sermon at Pentecost, Stephen’s sermon to the Sanhedrin, or the numerous sermons preached by Paul. Greidanus explains, “The heart of apostolic preaching is Jesus Christ . . . The New Testament church preached the birth, ministry, death, resurrection, and exaltation of Jesus of Nazareth as the fulfillment of God’s old covenant promises, His presence today in the Spirit, and His imminent return.” We need to follow the example of the apostles and preach Christ in our sermons. The reason we may not have the results the apostles did when they preached is that we do not model our preaching after them.
2. Preach Christ Because Jesus Commanded It
Every believer knows the chief mission of the church is to make disciples who will follow Christ in obedience. Jesus commands us, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:18-20). There is a lot to say about this passage, but one thing to notice is that every component of the Great Commission is centered on Christ. Disciples of Christ are to be made. They are to be taught to observe all that Jesus commanded. And the presence of Jesus will be with us as we do.
Disciples will be produced when we teach people to observe all that Jesus promised, warned, taught, and commanded. Just like the disciples of Jesus’ day, we are commanded by our Lord to preach Him today. His command is an enduring one and nothing has changed about the mission of the church since the day Christ uttered these words. Greidanus comments, “Christian preachers today also live under the command to preach the name of Jesus Christ, for the command to preach Christ reaches far beyond the first apostles and Gospel writers – it reaches ‘to the end of the age.'”
3. Preach Christ Because It Is Exciting
What could be more exciting than preaching Christ? What Christ accomplished for His people is the greatest thing in history. It is only logical to preach Christ because of the nature of the message. I love how Greidanus put it: “Even today when a President or a Queen visits a city, the arrival itself is a newsworthy event. No one needs to command broadcasters to tell the story, for the story itself begs to be told. If this is true for the arrival of a President or a Queen, how much more for the arrival of ‘the King of Kings.'” Yes! We need to preach the story of Christ because it has to be told.
4. Preach Christ Because It Is Life-Giving
We need to preach Christ because of what God does when we do. God saves people through the hearing and preaching of the gospel (Rom. 10:14-17; Eph. 1:13). Our sinful world is spiritually dead, cut off from God, and headed for an eternity in hell. The message of Jesus Christ gives people spiritual life, reconciles them to God, and guarantees a new eternal destination. Because of the life-giving nature of preaching Christ, we are compelled to preach Christ. Woe unto us if we don’t preach Christ (1 Cor. 9:16)! Greidanus powerfully illustrates this point: “When there was an outbreak of polio in British Columbia, Canada, in the 1970s, the government wasted no time getting out the message to all parents to have their children inoculated against polio. It was a vital message; it needed to be broadcast immediately. The need to tell was obvious in the light of the disease and the availability of an antidote. [In the same way] People need to be told about the cure [the gospel].”
5. Preach Christ Because It Is Exclusive News
The need to preach Christ is also seen in the exclusive nature of the message. We need to preach Christ because, “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). There is no other message available which saves people from their sins. There are not “many ways to God,” and if there were, preaching Christ would be no big deal. It would just be one path among many. But the Bible teaches that Christ is the only path – the only way to God (John 14:6). Therefore, Greidanus says, “If Jesus were one of many ways of salvation, the church could relax a bit, hoping that people might find some other way to be saved from death. But now that Christ is the only way, the urgency of preaching Christ is all the more pressing. There is salvation in no one else but Jesus.”
6. Preach Christ Because Our Culture Is Anti-Christ
Finally, we need to preach Christ because we live in a non-Christian culture. As our culture continues to move on from Judeo-Christian values, the need for preaching Christ continues to increase. This culture shift unfortunately affects both believers and unbelievers. We cannot assume that believers know Jesus as we think they do, or that unbelievers know that the Jesus we worship is the Bible’s Jesus. More than any other time in history, our culture is in desperate need of preaching Christ. Greidanus observes, “The early church, in the nature of the case, addressed people living in a non-Christian culture. People needed to hear about Christ and the difference he makes. But contemporary preachers equally address people living in a non-Christian or post-Christian culture. If contemporary hearers were living in a culture saturated with Christian thinking and action, one might perhaps take for granted that people hearing a sermon would sense how it is related to Christ.” But we cannot, and therefore should not, assume this.
- Greidanus, Sidney. Preaching Christ from the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1999), 10-14.
Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their two dogs, Susie and Aries.