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6 Reasons for Preaching Christ

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.


  1. Greidanus, Sidney. Preaching Christ from the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1999), 10-14.

profile pic5Brandon 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.

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Review: Zeal Without Burnout by Christopher Ash

Burnout is a serious problem in Christian ministry. It occurs when you are at the end of your rope—when all of your emotional, physical, and spiritual resources have been used up and you are exhausted. It is a cunning problem too, both because we are often unaware of it until it is too late, and because we usually think we aren’t suspect to it at all. But anyone can experience burnout, especially those serving in ministry. Pastors like myself are keenly aware of this epidemic. We have experienced it in our own lives, and we have painfully witnessed it in the lives of others. Scores of pastors leave their places of ministry every year because of ministry burnout. On the other hand, some pastors get so close to the cliff that they nearly fall, but by God’s grace have been awakened and renewed.

Is there a way to maintain our ministry passion and work fervently without burning out? Or is there a way to recover from a serious burnout? Thankfully, Christopher Ash answers those questions in his book, Zeal Without Burnout. Christopher is himself a pastor who knows exactly the kind of damage that burnout can bring. Through solid theology, raw testimonies, wise counsel, and practical suggestions, Christopher tackles the problem of burnout. He makes us aware of the seriousness of burnout, equips us with tools to prevent it, and may even take some on a drive down the road of recovery.

Summary

The book’s main premise is simple: God is God and we are not. We are merely creatures of the dust and therefore we are fragile, very susceptible to the problem of burnout. And there are certain things that we need, which God does not. Chris says, “We need sleep, but God does not. We need Sabbaths, but God does not. We need friends, but God does not. We need food, but God does not” (p. 41). Preventing burnout starts with a recognition of these things that we need for day-to-day sustenance. Things such as sleep, Sabbaths, friends, and inward renewal are all things which God has given us to serve Him sustainably without fizzing out.

Chris introduces the book by describing his own experiences with burnout, then he makes a distinction between sacrifice and burnout—noting that they are different in nature. In other words, one can make a sustainable sacrifice for the Lord without burning out—burning out is not a sacrifice. Then Chris expounds on the truth of our human nature, that we are made from the dust of the earth, and the next four chapters are implications of that truth. First, Chris talks about how we need sleep and how lack of sleep can contribute to burnout. Second, Chris explains the need for us to take regular days off, or Sabbaths. If we work on Sundays (like pastors do), we need to intentionally plan whole days off for worship, rest, and refreshment. Third, he expounds on the need for us to have friends—friends that will help us share the load and recognize potential burnout in our lives. And finally, he speaks of the need for inward renewal, that we need both time with the Lord and time for leisure activity to refresh ourselves. He is worth quoting at length on this point when he says,

“It is good to develop a healthy self-knowledge about what energizes us—what the Holy Spirit uses to bring us that inward renewal. But these activities will never be enough on their own to bring us true spiritual renewal. Each of us needs our personal devotional times with God: times of Bible reading and prayer, times to be glad to be in Christ, times of thoughtful reflection before the Lord: times to be refreshed. It is not selfish to guard those times, any more than it is selfish for a firefighter to take a break before heading back into the fire. Indeed, if we do not give space for renewal, there will soon be nothing left of us to give” (p. 77).

The final portion of the book concerns a warning to stay away from self-centered motivation, an encouraging note to depend on the Lord for our labors, and an exhortation to delight in God’s grace and not in our performance. The conclusion of the book is perhaps the most practical part of the work—there, Chris suggests four simple and wise practices for preventing or overcoming burnout. There is one more chapter at the end of the book, which serves as sort of a footnote to the book—it’s a concise psycho-spiritual analysis of burnout. It helps with defining exactly what it is and it lists some of the warning signs that burnout may be approaching.

Conclusion

I give the book five stars because it is a biblical, concise, and real treatment of the issue of burnout. Also, you can’t go wrong with the length of this book. You could easily read through the entire book in less than a week – the book is mercifully short. That’s a good thing because the principles in this book need to be learned and implemented immediately. Finally, the book is very relevant. The book is filled with testimonies and real-life experiences. Testimonies impact you in a very unique way, and this book is replete with testimonies of individuals who have experienced and recovered from burnout.

It was like sitting down with a doctor—a doctor who’s had the disease before and is most qualified to treat it in others. I have begun to implement the principles of this book into my personal life and ministry so that I can remain zealous in my service without burning out. And I would highly recommend that all Christians read the book so that they can have a lifelong ministry of sustainable sacrifice without burnout.

You can purchase Zeal Without Burnout on Amazon in these formats: Kindle, hardcover, and audio CD.

The Destructive Repercussions of Avoiding Theological Terms

Back a few months ago, I sat among hundreds of students at a summer camp while listening to a widely-known speaker teaching theology. You could tell this guy had been doing this for quite some time – he had us on the edge of our seats as we were gripped by his stories, illustrations, and hand gestures. He was the full package, even using diagrams and object lessons in an attempt to teach us deep theological truths. I leaned in to listen and grow in my faith just like everyone else in the room. Eventually however, I was leaning in with one eyebrow raised. Most of what he was saying was helpful and biblically sound, but as he continued to speak I began to notice a pattern in his teaching – and it made me sick to my stomach.

Once he would come to a five-syllable theological term in the Scriptures such as justification or sanctification, he would immediately diminish its significance by describing the term as such: “This is a term that theologians use – oh ho ho ho (with a French accent).” Everyone laughed as you’d expect. He would then replace the word with something “simpler” and “easier to understand,” without giving a definition of the word or explaining its meaning. When it came to justification, he referred to it as something that only theologians talk about and then said what he preferred to call it. In an attempt to make the truth “easier” to understand, he avoided the use of the term altogether and sidestepped from defining and explaining the term.

There were students in this room that had never heard of justification or sanctification before, and now they will go back to their churches, schools, and families with the impression that big theological terms really amount to nothing. And sometimes, it is near impossible to undo first impressions.

This practice of avoiding the use of theological terms in preaching and teaching is theologically destructive. When this practice is followed, whether by speakers, Bible teachers, or even pastors, it is done so in hopes that their audiences will not be confused. But when they do this, it completely backfires and it creates a ticking time bomb ready to explode at the next hearing or reading of that theological term.

Those who do this really have good intentions, I truly believe that. They don’t want people to be frightened or confused by big terms. But avoiding the use and explanation of theological terms is fundamentally avoiding explanation of the Bible. Any person who teaches the Bible should use and explain theological terms because the Bible uses these terms. When we fail to do so, it’s a ticking spiritual bomb, waiting to explode within the Christian’s mind when he comes to the term the next time he reads it in the Bible. If we don’t use and explain the theological terms that the Bible uses, Christians will not know what they mean when they read them in the Scriptures. They will regard the terms as unimportant, run over them, and turn the page. It’s never a good thing when people consider terms in Scripture to be unimportant. This leaves them with a poor and unbiblical view of the Scriptures.

Bible teachers and expositors should use and explain terms such as justification, sanctification, glorification, propitiation, salvation, preeminence, redemption, substitution and a host of others because the Bible uses these terms. With that I want to encourage you, whether you are a parent, Sunday school teacher, youth pastor, lead pastor, Bible teacher, or a widely known speaker – labor much in the use and explanation of the theological terms replete in the Scriptures. We need to know what they mean, and our people need to know what they mean. We need resources like Bible dictionaries to help us understand and grasp the meaning of these terms. We need to labor much to explain the meaning of theological terms to our people. If we want to be faithful teachers of the Scriptures, we must explain all the Scriptures – every term included.