In order to preach the gospel fully, there must be a very clear description of the person of Christ, and we preach Christ as God.
Yes, we preach Christ as God —
Not a man made into God, nor God degraded to the level of a man, nor something in between a man and God; but “the Absolute God of Heaven and Earth—The Triune God Himself,” one with his Father in every attribute, eternal, without beginning of days or end of life; omnipresent, everywhere at once; omnipotent, having all power in heaven and on earth; omniscient, knowing all things from eternity; the great Creator, Preserver, and Judge of all, in all things the equal and the exact image of the invisible God. If we error concerning the Deity of Christ, then we error everywhere. The gospel that does not preach a Divine Savior is no gospel at all; it is like a ship without a rudder, the first opposing wind that blows will drive it to destruction, and woe are the souls that are trusting to it!
Only the shoulders of the almighty God can ever carry the enormous weight of human guilt and human need. We preach to you Christ the Son of Mary, once sleeping in his mother’s arms, yet the Infinite even while he was an infant; Christ the reputed Son of Joseph, working in the carpenter’s shop, yet all the while being the God who made the heavens and the earth; Christ, who had no place to lay his head, the despised and rejected of men, who is, nevertheless the Eternal God of the Universe; Christ nailed to the cross, bleeding from every pore, and dying on the cross, yet, living forever; Christ, suffering indescribable agonies, yet at the same time being the God at whose right hand there are eternal pleasures. If Christ had not been man, he could not have sympathized with you and me, nor could he have suffered in our place. How could he have been the covenant Head of the sons and daughters of Adam if he had not been made like them in every way, except that he was without sin? With that one exception, he was just, as we are, bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh, yet he was as truly God as he was man, the One of whom, Isaiah was inspired to prophesy, “He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” So, in preaching Christ crucified, we preach the glory of heaven combined with the beauty of earth, the perfection of humanity united with the glory and dignity of Deity.
Then, next, we must very clearly preach Christ as the Messiah, the One sent from God.
It had long been foretold that a great Deliverer would come who would be “a light for revelation to the Gentiles,” and to be the glory of his people Israel, and Jesus of Nazareth was that promised Deliverer, of whom Moses in the law and the prophets wrote about. He was sent from God to be the Savior of sinners. He did not take this responsibility on himself without authority, but he could truly say, “Here I am, I have come – it is written about me in the scroll. I desire to do your will, O my God.” He became the Substitute for sinners, but this did not happen accidentally, but by divine decree, for we read, “the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” An unordained priest, a prophet not sent from God, a king without divine authority would have only been a mockery; but our great High Priest was divinely anointed, our matchless Prophet was sent from God, and our king is King of kings and Lord of lords, rightly ruling as the eternal Son of the eternal Father.
Sinner, this truth should bring you hope and comfort, the Christ whom we preach is God’s Anointed; and what he does, he does by God’s appointment. When he says to you, “"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest,” he speaks for his Father as well as for himself, for he has the authorization of the Eternal to support his declaration. Therefore, come confidently to him, and put your trust in him.
After the preacher has laid a firm foundation by preaching the person of Christ and the Messiahship of Christ, he must then preach the work of Christ.
I can only give a brief summary of what would take all eternity to expound. We must preach to show how, in the everlasting covenant, Christ stood as the Security and Representative of his people; and how, in the fullness of time, he came down from his heavenly throne dressed in flesh; and how he first produced an active righteousness by the perfect obedience of his daily life, and in the end provided a passive righteousness by his sufferings and death on the cross. Beginning at the incarnation, going on to the great work of redemption telling of Christ’s burial, resurrection, ascension, intercession before his Father’s throne, and glorious second coming, we have a theme that angels might well covet, a theme that may arouse hope in the sinner’s heart. But it is especially Christ crucified whom we are to preach. His wounds and bruises remind us that we must tell you that “He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” It is at Calvary that salvation is to be found; where Jesus bowed his head, and gave up his spirit, he overcame the powers of darkness, and opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers.
There is one word that every true servant of Christ must be able to speak very distinctly; and that word is substitution. I believe that substitution is the keyword to all true theology; — Christ standing in the place of sinners, and numbered with the transgressors because of their transgressions, not his own — Christ paying our debts, and discharging all our liabilities. This truth involves, of course, our taking Christ’s place as he took ours, so that all believers are beloved, accepted, made heirs of God, and in due time will be glorified with Christ forever.
My fellow ministers, whatever you fail to preach, be sure to make your listeners always clearly understand that there is a divine and all-sufficient Substitute for sinners, and that everyone who puts their trust in him will be eternally saved.
When we preach Christ, we must also preach his offices. We must preach him as the one great High Priest who always lives to make intercession for us. We must preach him as the Prophet whose words are divine, and therefore comes to us with an authority that, cannot be set aside.
And we must remember that we must always preach him as King, putting the crown of praise on his royal head, and claiming from his people the unfaltering allegiance and loyalty of their hearts, and the undivided service of their lives.
We must also preach the qualifications of Christ for his offices.
Is he a Husband? We must tell how loving and how tender he is. Is he a Shepherd? We must proclaim his patience, his power, his perseverance, and we must especially tell of his self-sacrificing love in laying down his life for his sheep. Is he a Savior? We must show how he is able to save completely those who come to God through him. We must talk a great deal about the gentleness that will not break the bruised reed, nor snuff out the smoldering wick. We must delight to speak of Christ as bending over the broken in heart, and wrapping up their wounds, and having his ear always ready to hear the cry of a contrite spirit.
It is the character of Christ that is the magnet that attracts sinners to himself, and on this blessed theme one might go on speaking forever. When Rutherford was talking off the beauties of the Christ whom he loved so dearly, one of his listeners was forced to cry out, “Now, sir, you are on the right string, keep to that,” and, indeed, this is a theme that might stir the person with a speech defect to speak with power, and make those who are mute to be eloquent for Christ. Oh, how glorious is our blessed Lord! We must say, “Yes, he is altogether lovely.” We cannot exaggerate his excellence and charms, and it must be our constant aim to paint such a portrait of him that sinners may fall in love with him, and trust him to save them with his great salvation.
We must be careful that we always preach Christ as the sinner’s only hope.
In the olden days, there were certain fools who sought after a universal remedy for all diseases, but their search was in vain. All the advertisements of quack medicines that ever deceived silly people will never convince sensible persons that a universal remedy for all the diseases to which flesh is subject to has never been nor ever will be discovered. Yet there is a remedy for the diseases of the soul, and that remedy is Christ. Whatever your disease may be — the raging fever of lust, the shivering fever of doubts and fears, or the cruel infection of despair — Jesus Christ can heal you. Whatever form sin may take — whether it is the blind eye, or the deaf ear, or the hard, stony heart, or the dull, seared conscience — there is a medicine in the veins of Jesus that we may well call the divine cure-all. No case that was ever submitted to Christ has baffled his skill, and he is still “mighty to save.” We must be very clear in telling the sinner that there is no hope for him anywhere else but in Christ. Nine out of ten of the arrows in a minister’s quiver ought to be shot at the sinner’s good works, for these are his worst enemies. That “deadly doing” that needs to be cast “down at Jesus’ feet,” — that trying to be or to feel something in order that they may save themselves — this is the curse of many. O sinner, if, from the crown, of your head to the soles of your feet, there is no sound part in you, but you are full of wounds; and bruises, and putrefying sores, yet, if you will only believe in Jesus, he will make you completely whole, and you will go on your way as a sinner saved by grace.
We must also preach Christ as the Christian’s only joy.
We wanted Christ as a life preserver when we were sinking in the waves of sin, but we want him to be our food and our drink now that he has brought us safely to land. When we were sick because of sin, we wanted Christ as medicine; but now that he has restored our soul, we want him as our continual nourishment. There is no need that a Christian ever has which Christ cannot fully supply, and there is nothing in Christ, which is not completely useful to a Christian. You know that some things that we have are good, but they are not completely of service to us. For instance, fruit is good, but there is the skin to be peeled off, and the seed to be thrown away; but when Christ gives himself to us, we may take all of him, and enjoy him to our heart’s content. Everything Christ is, and everything Christ has, is ours. Therefore, Christian, make a covenant with your hand that you will hold on to Christ’s cross as your only confidence, make a covenant with your eyes that you will look nowhere for light but to the Sun of righteousness; make a covenant with your whole being that it will be crucified with Christ, and then be taken up to heaven to live and reign with him forever.