We have three things to notice. Christ crucified, Christ's glory. He calls it a lifting him up. Christ crucified, the minister's theme. It is the minister's business to lift Christ up in the gospel. Christ crucified, the heart's attraction. “I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me.” His own glory; the minister's theme; the heart's attraction.
Now, the cross of Christ is Christ's glory. We will show you how. Man seeks to win his glory by the slaughter of others--Christ by the slaughter of himself; men seek to get crowns of gold--he sought a crown of thorns; men think that glory lieth in being exalted over others--Christ thought that his glory did lie in becoming “a worm and no man,” a scoff and reproach amongst all that beheld him. He stooped when he conquered; and he counted that the glory lay as much in the stooping as in the conquest.
Now, Christ won more love by the cross than he did ever win elsewhere.
Christ won glory by his cross. He was never so lifted up as when he was cast down; and the Christian will bear witness, that though he loves his Master anywhere, yet nothing moves his heart to rapture and vehemence of love, like the story of the crucifixion and the agonies of Calvary.
The laurels of his crown were sown in a soil that was saturated with his own blood.
Again: Christ looked upon his crucifixion as the completion of all his work, and therefore he looked upon it as an exaltation.
And, my hearers, Christ longed for the cross, because he looked for it as the goal of all his exertions. It was to be the place upon which he could say, “It is finished.” He could never say “It is finished” on his throne: but on his cross he did cry it. He preferred the sufferings of Calvary to the honors of the multitude who crowded round about him; for, preach as he might, and bless them as he might, and heal them as he might, still was his work undone.
And, once again, Christ looked upon his crucifixion with the eye of firm faith as the hour of triumph.
But, now, secondly, CHRIST HAS ANOTHER LIFTING UP, not ignominious, but truly honorable; there is a lifting of him upon the pole of the gospel, in the preaching of the Word.
Christ Jesus is to be lifted up every day; for that purpose he came into the world: “That like as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness,” even so he might by the preaching of the truth be lifted up, “that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Christ is THE MINISTER'S GREAT THEME, in opposition to a thousand other things which most men choose. I would prefer that the most prominent feature in my ministry should be the preaching of Christ Jesus.
Christ should be most prominent, not hell and damnation.
God's ministers must preach God's terrors as well as God's mercies; we are to preach the thunder of God's law. If men will sin, we are to tell them that they must be punished for it. If they will transgress, woe unto the watchman who is ashamed to say, “The Lord cometh that taketh vengeance.” We should be unfaithful to the solemn charge which God has given us if we were wickedly to stifle all the threatenings of God's word.
Did the loving Savior talk of the pit that burneth, of the worm that never dieth, and of the fire that can never be extinguished? It is ours to speak as he spake, and not to mince the matter. It is no mercy to men to hide their doom. But, my brethren terrors never ought to be the prominent feature of a minister's preaching.
There are more souls won by wooing than by threatening. It is not hell, but Christ, we desire to preach.
Again, the theme of a minister should be Christ Jesus in opposition to mere doctrine. Some of my good brethren are always preaching doctrine. Well, they are right in so doing, but I would not care myself to have as the characteristic of my preaching, doctrine only. I would rather have it said, “He dwelt much upon the person of Christ, and seemed best pleased when he began to tell about the atonement and the sacrifice. He was not ashamed of the doctrines, he was not afraid of threatening, but he seemed as if he preached the threatening with tears in his eyes, and the doctrine solemnly as God's own word; but when he preached of Jesus his tongue was loosed, and his heart was at liberty.”
Brethren, we would rather preach Christ than election. We love election, we love predestination, we love the great doctrines of God's word, but we had rather preach Christ than preach these. We desire to put Christ over the head of the doctrine, we make the doctrine the throne for Christ to sit on, but we dare not put Christ at the bottom, and then press him down, and overload him with the doctrines of his own word.
And again, the minister ought to preach Christ in opposition to mere morality.
Christ wants us not to preach learning, but to preach the good word of life in the simplest manner possible.
AND NOW WE GO TO THE THIRD POINT, WHICH IS, INDEED, THE ESSENCE OF THE TEXT, THE ATTRACTIVE POWER OF THE CROSS OF CHRIST. If Christ be thus preached, thus fully held forth, thus simply proclaimed to the people, the effect will be, he will draw all men unto him.
Christ draws like a trumpet attracting men to hear the proclamation. Christ draws like a net bringing men out of the sea of sin. Christ draws, also, with bonds of love. In the next place, Christ attracts like a standard, bringing all the soldiers round him, and, in the last place, Christ draws like a chariot.
You cannot expect people to be blessed by the preaching of the gospel if they do not hear it. One part of the battle is to get them to listen to its sound. Now, the question is asked in these times, “How are we to get the working-classes to listen to the word?” The answer is, Christ is his own attraction, Christ is the only trumpet that you want to trumpet Christ.
My good ministering brother, have you got an empty church? Do you want to fill it? I will give you a good receipt, and if you will follow it, you will, in all probability, have your chapel full to the doors. Burn all your manuscripts, that is No. 1. Give up your notes, that is No. 2. Read your Bible and preach it as you find it in the simplicity of its language. And give up all your Latinized English. Begin to tell the people what you have felt in your own heart, and beseech the Holy Spirit to make your heart as hot as a furnace for zeal. Then go out and talk to the people. Speak to them like their brother. Be a man amongst men. Tell them what you have felt and what you know, and tell it heartily with a good, bold face; and, my dear friend, I do not care who you are, you will get a congregation.
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible