“…That in all things He might have the preeminence.” Colossians 1:18b
It’s Sunday morning. The people trickle into the pews. The week has been hectic. Many are tired. The news of the nation has been bleak. Controversies abound, both within and without the walls of the church. As the pastor strides to the pulpit, he again thinks about all the issues that have been swirling around in his mind. He is tempted to take his sermon in a “million and one” different directions to address all the complexities, misunderstandings and problems that are going on, but he doesn’t. Instead, like Philip of old, he simply preaches unto them…Jesus (Acts 8:35).
For all of us as pastors, our preaching must continually be centered and re-centered on Christ. I came across a story recently of a young preacher who crafted and delivered a well-laid out message. He had the right grammar and morphology. The message was clear, accurate, and even used the right context. After the message, however, he was asked a simple but poignant question, “Where was Jesus?”. This question eventually led him to do some serious soul-searching and he got to the place where he repented of his sometimes “Christ-less preaching.”
Colossians 1:15-20 is but one of many passages of Scripture that reflect the centrality of Christ. May our preaching reflect the glories of Who He is!
Our Preaching Must Reflect the Power of Christ
As preachers, we must remind ourselves that the power is not of us, but of Him (II Cor. 4:7). Our alliterated sermon outlines, neat slogans, pithy sayings, and humorous illustrations might be helpful, but they are not the ultimate focal point. We “glory” in the cross and all that Christ has accomplished (Gal. 6:14). As a young ministerial student at Bible College, at a little place called Pleasant Valley Brethren in Christ Church, I preached my very first message from Hebrews 7:25. I couldn’t point to any of my accomplishments, for they were few. I could, however, point to the One Who is able to save to the uttermost, and who ever liveth to make intercession for us. We cannot save or entirely sanctify anyone, but there is One Who can— Jesus!
Our Preaching Must Reflect the Permanence of Christ
Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13:8). Our preaching must reflect the eternal realities of the One Who is above all. In an age of pandemics, 24-hour news cycles, and the “next dramatic crisis,” our preaching must rise above the fads and fashions of an ever-changing world. There is certainly a need to address contemporary issues. We must not hesitate to preach against abortion and for the Biblical definition of marriage. If the latest local government regulation impinges on what we feel is an important religious liberty, we should not go silent. We must not give in to any spirit of fear! However, we must also resist the urge to get drawn into every “foolish question” (Titus 3:9). In a world that loves to argue, we must rise above the petty distractions. We must always focus our people’s attention on the Son of Man and lift Him up before them (John 12:32).
Our Preaching Must Reflect Our Passion for Christ
Preaching is personal! That is…it is about the Person of Christ. Like Stephen of old from Acts 7, our preaching must call people to the point of decision. What are you going to do about Jesus? Our sermons need to reflect our love for Christ and His love for us. There needs to be a holy passion in our hearts that comes through in the words we preach! Charles Wesley was unashamed to write those now well-known words, “Jesus, lover of my soul, let me to Thy bosom fly.” We call the Christian to a deeper walk with God, including entire sanctification which is but perfect love (I John 4:18). We call the sinner to lay down their arms of rebellion, repent, and be converted so that they can be refreshed from the Lord (Acts 3:19). We call the discouraged Christian to stumble to the One Who gives them these warm words, “Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest (Matt. 11:28). Yes, we preach precepts and principles, but it all points to the Person of Jesus Christ!
Charles Spurgeon is attributed with this quote—“All roads lead to Rome and all texts lead to Christ.” This is true of Scripture. May this also be true of our preaching and our lives. May He be preeminent in all things!