Failing to Preach Christ (Continued)

Thursday, March 03, 2005

A third failure which I have experienced in my preaching is to preach truths about Christ, yet without preaching those truths in proportion to their source in Christ. I have preached many sermons about Jesus Christ, and I believe most if not all of it was without theological or exegetical error. I also believe that the truths I preached about Him were, by themselves, not defective, necessarily. So what did I do wrong then?

The real deficiency was in not keeping the proportion of these truths. These truths are parts of the whole gospel. So if I preach the parts more than I preach the whole, then my preaching ministry will end up destroying the gospel in my own mind and the minds of our church members. That is actually worse than preaching heresy, I think. McIlvaine says,

"There is a proportion of parts in the whold body of gospel truth just as in our own bodies. We must omit none of the parts, but put each in its right relation to all the rest. To fail in this, so that while we embrace all, we deform all by disproportionate exaltation of some and depression of others, may be just as destructive of the gospel character of our ministry, just as confusing and misleading, as if we omitted some truths and perverted others" (p. 14).

The author gives a few examples of what he means by this. Read through them and see if you have committed any of these errors in your own preaching. I was sorely convicted.

  • "For example, you may preach Christ in various aspects; but Christ crucified, the great Sacrifice of propitiation, though not omitted, may not have that high place, that central place, that all-controlling place, that place of the head-stone of the corner, which is necessary to its right adjustment to all parts of the system of faith."

  • "You may preach the incarnation of Christ in all its truth as a separate event, and yet in great error as regards its relation to other events, making it so unduly prominent that his death shall be made to appear comparitively subordinate and unessential, the means exalted above the end, the preparation of the body of Christ for sacrifice being made of more importance and more effective in our salvation, than his offering of that body on the cross. But the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, which we carry with us all the way of our journey, as our great confession, and joy, and glory, was appointed to show, as oft as we eat that bread and drink that cup, not the Lord's birth, or life, but 'the Lord's death until he come'." (pp. 14-15).

Tomorrow, I'll briefly touch on why McIlvaine believes this to be a huge defect in a gospel preacher's ministry. It is truly one of the most frightful things!

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