By Jarrod Jacobs
There is a cry today by some saying that we need to preach Christ, and not the church. Some say let us preach a Savior, not a system. Even though I am a young man, I believe that I am assessing the situation correctly when I say that you cannot preach Christ without preaching the church. You cannot preach about a Savior without preaching about a system. I am not alone in this either, for the apostle Paul said this when he wrote: “To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: Whereunto I also labor, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily” (Col. 1:27-29). What is involved in “preaching Christ”?
Warning Every Man
The first thing that Paul says is that when preaching Christ to people, we must warn them. What warnings should we give? (1) Warn of the coming of false teachers (Acts 20:29-31). (2) Warn people of the coming judgment (Acts 17:30-31; 2 Cor. 5:10). (3) Warn others that God wants them to give their all in obedience (Rev. 3:15-16). (4) Warn people that if we do not stand up for the truth, we are as guiltyas the ones who partake in error (Rom. 1:32). Warning others is a very important and necessary part of being not only a sound gospel preacher, but being a solid and sound Christian.
Teaching Every Man in All Wisdom
If we are going to preach Christ, we must “teach every man in all wisdom.” Notice the all-inclusiveness of this statement. It is not enough to teach a few people! We must teach every man! There are many things that people need to learn. The question is where to start. Not everyone is where we are as far as knowledge is concerned. Thus, we need to teach them by starting where they are. This is what Paul did in Acts 13. In talking to this company of Jews and proselytes, Paul began with the exodus of Israel from Egyptian bondage (v. 17), and brought them forward to the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ (vv. 35-37).
How should we teach others? We need to start where they are. We are not going to talk to someone about how to be saved if he is already a member of the church, are we? Nor are we going to get into the qualifications for elders and deacons with someone who is not a saved. Please understand, I am not saying that we do not talk about it, and touch on some points when necessary, but there is no need to belabor certain points that will not affect them right now. Only with time can one go from milk to strong meat (Heb. 5:13-14).
Present Every Man Perfect in Jesus Christ
When one will preach Christ as he should, the end result is to present them to Christ. The word “present” means, “to bring, or lead to” (Thayer, 489). In other words, when preaching Christ, we should warn and teach others with the end result being that we bring them to Christ. Are we really doing that? I wonder sometimes. We have “watered” down preaching Christ until it means no more that making sure everyone feels good after the preaching is over. I do not say this as a blanket statement, but it is true in many places. The preaching of Christ that is needed is the kind that will bring lost souls out of atheism, out of modernism, out of denominationalism, out of institutionalism, and this will never happen if we never mention these subjects!
What are you doing to preach Christ to others? It does not have to be a public talk, you can teach others privately, you teach by your example, you even teach in your singing praises to God! What have you done this week to warn someone about the coming judgment, to teach them the truth, and to lead them to Christ?
Preaching Christ is Labor
The apostle Paul continues his description of preaching Christ in Colossians 1:29 by saying, “Whereunto I also labor. . .” Some do not believe it, but it is hard work to study the Bible, learn the truth, and then preach it to others. Is it not interesting that those who think it is not hard to be a preacher are the very ones who refuse to preach? If you do not think it is hard work, try studying God’s word, and preach a lesson that is “unpopular” among the brethren. See how many times you are asked to preach again!
Paul said it was labor because it is. There are too many preachers, however, that make preaching look like some-thing reserved for people who do not want to do anything. Shame on you if you are like that! Let us get back to preaching the old Jerusalem gospel, the kind of gospel preachingthat saves souls, the kind that will bring the down-trodden, the broken, and those hungering and thirsting for righteousness to Jesus our Savior! Let us not be afraid to preach the truth to all people (2 Tim. 4:2). Let us not be afraid to tell others that there is one church, one head of the body, and one way to Heaven (Matt. 16:18; Col. 1:18; John 14:6). Let us labor and toil for the cause of Christ, and rest later!
Preaching Christ Means Striving
As Paul continues to write, he does not just say that he was striving, but he was “striving according to his working.” In other words, we are to fight for the truth, oppose error on all sides, and never give up. However, we are not just to be “picking” a fight over trivialities. There is a time to draw the sword, and use it without mercy (“Pity them not” Deut. 19:11-13; Ezek. 9:4-5; etc.). However, if we stand against all things, we stand for nothing! We must reprove the error, then offer the “correction” and “instruction in righteousness” which the truth of God gives (2 Tim. 3:16-17). After we reprove and rebuke the sin and error, we must also exhort men to believe and obey the truth (2 Tim. 4:2).
Paul said to strive “according to his working.” Whose working? Christ’s working! What did Jesus come to do? What was his purpose? “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). Jesus Christ worked very hard at teaching and preaching to others. Jesus worked so hard that John speculated that the world itself could not contain all the books if he told all that Christ did (John 21:25).
Knowing how hard Jesus worked, how hard are we working? This is a serious and sobering question, but one that must be answered. I want to suggest that we answer that question through our actions every day. Now, the question is, could we do more? Of course, we could. Let us get to work in preaching Christ in love and with courage and conviction. Let us be motivated to win souls for Christ every day that we live (John 9:4).
Guardian of Truth XLI: 5 p. 14-15
March 6, 1997