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It seems obvious, but it clearly isn’t. Paul wrote, "I preach Christ, and him crucified." Yet there are too many sermons that contain little more than a tip of the hat to the person of Christ.

It would probably come as a shock to many preachers to discover that their preaching seems to skirt around the personal nature of our God, but listeners pick up on it once their antennae are tuned to the difference.

The sermon may be engaging, illustrated, perhaps personal in terms of the preacher’s own life and personality. The message may encourage, exhort, rebuke, educate, etc. The preaching may be lively, energetic, enthusiastic, humorous or whatever. But somehow, if the preaching doesn’t offer the personal God of the Bible, then it will always feel inadequate.

Somehow preaching that misses the person ends up targeting elsewhere, and with a different tone. It becomes educational and exhortational, focusing on us and our responsibility to implement some biblical advice or instruction. The difference when the person is preached is that the focus shifts to response rather than responsibility, an invitation rather than imposition.

It is so easy to pressure people to perform, or to offer a gospel of private benefits, but to fail to mention the person who is at the heart of the gospel both offered and applied.

I was reading a book looking at a time in history when two streams of preaching could be traced. Those deaf to the difference seem to deny the distinction, but just reading the different ways in which Christ was described was so telling. One side offered a few cold truths; the other side was overflowing with description of a compelling and captivating Christ, and then only seemed to scratch the surface. I can tell you facts about lots of people, but I will talk about my wife differently. It was almost as if one side had barely met Christ, or if they had, hadn’t found him particularly gripping.

What if we could invent a double thermometer? One part to measure the warmth of the preacher toward Christ, and the other part to measure the heat of the pressure on the listeners to perform? I suspect that if the thermometer were measuring the temperature from the preacher in pressuring the listeners, there might be a sense in which the two measures are almost mutually exclusive.

Let’s pour our energy into effectively speaking of the God who reveals Himself in the Word. Let’s trust that to draw and stir and motivate and captivate and challenge and convict people who are listening.

We need to preach Him. He changes lives.



Peter Mead is involved in the leadership team of a church plant in the UK. He serves as director of Cor Deo—an innovative mentored ministry training program—and has a wider ministry preaching and training preachers. He also blogs often at BiblicalPreaching.net and recently authored Pleased to Dwell: A Biblical Introduction to the Incarnation (Christian Focus, 2014). Follow him on Twitter

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Donald Rapp

commented on Aug 20, 2012

I may have misunderstood your intention here and if I did please forgive me. I think that trying to find something in a text that isn't specifically there is stretching the text. I want to say up front that I believe with all my being that the bible is all about Jesus Christ. He shines through in every book and most every passage. But to simply focus on the person leaves many necessary instructional passages hanging. We need to let the text determine what it is we are going to focus on. Sometimes the text deals with instructional material about how we are to live in light of our relationship with Christ. Other times it focuses on an aspect of the Nature of God. There are doctrinal passages which must be explained and applied. I remember a pastor who brought Christ into every message (the gospel) no matter what the passage was dealing with. He used the text simply to get to where he wanted to go which made it irrelevant sometimes. Again I am not saying that we shouldn't make that connection when we preach but that shouldn't be our mindset when we approach the passage to interpret it.

Michael Grigsby

commented on Aug 20, 2012

I agree with the article. I think we forget that the Bible doesn't simply contain God's word. It is God's word. And as such, the majesty, wonder, power, authority and all the other attributes of Jesus are present in every jot and tittle. I find it difficult to teach anything from scripture without discussing the Nature of God.

Kobus Storm

commented on Aug 20, 2012

We here the words allot :"We need to let the text determine what it is we are going to focus on" But Jesus said in Joh. 5 that in the text we find HIM! The main role the text (OT) was to produce Christ. To lead us to discovering Him. And once Christ is revealed do we then forget about Him. Rather read about Him than hear from Him. The text is surely not above the words of God in our everyday life as the Spirit leads us daily and we fellowship with the Father? It is a relational journey from the start to finished. That is why we "TELL" others about our journey today with Jesus - That is preaching the word that came alive and living in us today. He is God that wanted to be called - "husband". We are mere commanded in the text to live and preach Jesus daily. We show others Him not the text.

John E Miller

commented on Aug 22, 2012

Oswald Chambers said, "There is nothing more important in my life than my personal communion with Jesus Christ". That life principle should guide us in every aspect of life, particularly when we strive to preach and teach from God's word. The person, glory and work of Christ is the central theme of the Bible and if that does not govern all service it will be lacking in power and purpose. It is only through the Lord Jesus Christ that we can have a full understanding of God as He has revealed Himself in His word.

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