By Dennis C. Abernathy
I, for one, believe with all my heart that we are to “preach the cross,” that we are to “preach Christ and him crucified.” There is good reason for that belief. Read, if you will, 1 Corinthians 1:23; 15:1-4; 2:2; 1:17-18; Gal. 6:14. But, my friend, we must remember what is involved in “preaching the cross.” We might say that it is the foundation facts of the gospel of Christ, but it is not all of the gospel. The gospel reveals the cross and the crucified one to us and sheds illuminating light upon that event and makes it meaningful to us.
Some say, “Just preach the cross, and not baptism all of the time.” “If you will just preach the cross, people will understand the rest and be led to obey it.” “We need to just preach the cross and not argue so much about baptism, etc.” Someone else says, “We need to preach the cross and not jump right to the conditions of salvation.”
Now I realize that good is intended by such remarks and in a sense these things are true, if properly understood, if one does not go to the extreme with it, and if one does not just teach the death of Christ and ignore the conditions of salvation. When I talk about preaching the cross, I am talking about preaching the facts of that event and making the application of such to one’s life. It is rather naive to think you can preach the death, burial and resurrection of Christ and not preach baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and the church. Will people automatically understand they are to be baptized for the remission of their sins if we do not teach it to them? Do not be deceived! Most accept the facts of the cross, but when it comes to the application of the facts (Christ’s blood appropriated through baptism) the battle is on. Read Acts 2. The cross was preached – but so was baptism. Read Acts 8 (the account of the Ethiopian man). Jesus was preached – but so was baptism. To the Corinthians, Paul preached “Christ and him crucified,” but he also taught baptism, (Acts 18:8).
I do not know how to preach Christ, the cross, and the blood of Christ, without preaching baptism, obedience, etc. They go hand in hand. Let us never under-emphasize the cross, but let us never be afraid to preach baptism for the remission of sins. We will be in good company, for the Lord and His apostles did just that (Mk. 16:16; Rom. 6:1-4; 1 Pet. 3:20-21).
Truth Magazine XXIV: 18, p. 298
May 1, 1980