This message was preached by Nigel Pereira of Harvest of Grace Church at the Regions Beyond Leaders gathering in India in July 2017.
For the audio please Click HERE
The need for Preaching
We cannot minimise the relevance of preaching to build God’s church. 2 Tim 4:2- Preach the word, be prepared in season and out of season. Correct instruct and encourage. Preaching actually helps build strong churches. So when we come to stand to preach we must have reverence and trust that God is going to speak to his people. therefore we need to take proper time in preparation ot preach God’s word. Improving our skills at preaching, making our messages relevant and interesting, and knowing that we stand on behalf of God himself. We offer our own hearts to God in our messages so that God’s voice may be heard.
· Command to Preach
- A command to preach (nations will change) … preach the gospel to the ends of the earth
- Mat_24:14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
· Preaching & building city churches
- Apostle Paul went from place to place – stayed 2 to 3 yrs – preached & built churches & set apart elders – that’s how he saw the “preaching of the gospel” in the nations
- We cannot minimize the relevance of preaching to build God’s church & herefore to reach the nations
- Command to preach – in season & out of season
- 2Ti_4:2 Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage--with great patience and careful instruction.
- Should have a reverence for the pulpit – God is present when we preach!
· Therefore - Preparation to Preach
- We must take some pains at “preparation” for preaching
- Not just to improve our skills – or making it more interesting (these are necessary) – but you stand on behalf of God Himself
- Know God’s heart “on the subject being preached” – offer your heart to change – pray for anointing & the power of God so that hearers are changed (be convincing)
- We are preaching for the salvation of our hearers – saving of the unsaved & saving of the Xn. (Augustine simply urged preachers to do their work and Go would do His)
· Subject I’ve been given – CROSS CENTERED PREACHING
- 1Co 1:18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God (1 Cor. 1:17-18) (There is a Message of the Cross)
- 1Co 1:17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel--not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. (Authorized to Preach the Gospel – about the Cross & its power)
- 1Co 1:23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,
- Colin shared beautifully on “CHURCH” – and provoked us with questions to build church right
- Today – I want to share on “Cross Centered Preaching” for building the Local Church
Cross Centered Preaching
· What is Cross Centered Preaching?
- Paul’s references to preaching only the cross…
§ And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified (1 Cor 2:1-2)
§ May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world (Gal 6:14)
- Apostle reminds Timothy (and all pastors by application) to "guard" the gospel, and warns that flirting with a slanted gospel is to flirt with damning lies. Paul's hope for the spiritual transformation of sinners was centered in the gospel (Cross focused)
- Above Scriptures are not pledges to preach only the Crucifixion, but that “… it represents God’s entire redemptive work i.e. past, present, and future… and includes (1) the resurrection, (2) Jesus the advocate pleading for us, (3) Jesus’ reigns through his victory provided on the cross…”
- Therefore It should represent everything that the cross stands for – & not just one aspect of what the cross does
§ Why did Jesus die? Most ppl say “To save me from my sins.” … as though that is the only thing about the cross… (OVER EMPHASIS ON THIS)
§ Investigating all the explanations for the death of Jesus in the NT, while atonement does have a strong basis… it is far from the only theology of the cross – there’s much more than that
- However we can realize by now - The Cross is at the center of everything Christ came for – so All preaching in one form or another should be about the Cross
· Now…Some suggest Christ Centered, OR Gospel Centered OR Kingdom Centered Preaching
- Truth is = They are all inter-linked (no dispute from one against the other)
- But the key … Jesus dying made it all possible (the KOG coming, the gospel…)
§ Jesus died for the KOG to come, the gospel to go forth…
§ To preach the cross is = to preach the gospel, for Paul equates the preaching of one with the other (1 Cor. 1:17-18 ; Romans 1:16)
- Someone said: If the pulpit is not committed to this utter centrality of the Cross, then our preaching, however, brilliant, is doomed to sterility and failure.
· So coming back to Cross Centered Preaching – I’m gonna be speaking in the context of who it addresses – i.e. So we’ll look at it … (1) Personally (2) Corporately
Cross = A Personal Msg
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God (1 Cor. 1:18).
- Preaching the Cross = (1) those who are perishing (2) from them some are saved Þ PERSONAL
- Preaching the Cross = Preaching to all “about being saved” firstly - (Salvation)
§ Preaching Cross = Preaching “Ingredients of Salvation” (We need to hear the “msg of the cross” i.e. the ingredients)
- Preached to “those being saved” = Xns - Paul is apostle & says “us” – Cross is a msg to Xns (again PERSONALLY)
- I’m touching on a few INGREDIENTS to us PERSONALLY first
1. Total Depravity (Preach with this understanding – we are totally depraved)
· As Preachers we must preach knowing this – all are sinners – they have no hope…DEPRAVED – no chance to rescue themselves
- All have sinned fall short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23)
- there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. (Rom 3:11)
- ALL ARE DEPRAVED
· Let me ask you a question – “When did you decide/give your life to Jesus?” (tell your neighbor)
- Another question – “Who else from your family/friends saved?” – Why you? (tell your neighbor)
- 1st Q - If you answered & meant – my salvation has to do with me – I MADE THE DECISION TO FOLLOW JESUS… (that’s why I am saved)…OR…
- 2nd Q - Amongst my family/friends… I’m more humble & that’s why God chose me… it shows you have not understood the Gospel/Cross…
· CROSS = None of us can make a decision to follow Christ (WE are DEPRAVED TOTALLY) & have NO HOPE to be saved
- When we preach the gospel to the church we must know this – the person I’m preaching to has no hope – unless God does something
- GOD DID SOMETHING FOR YOU (BORN AGAIN)
2. Cross (Atonement), Justification & Shameless Grace
· Though totally depraved with no hope… here’s the question…
- How can a man, with big account of sin – no chance of taking that sin away… how can he be forgiven with all the sin/crime he has done?
- This is the incredible MESSAGE OF THE CROSS… not just forgiving the sinner… but JUSTIFYING the sinner (He is 100% holy before God)
§ Rom_4:5 However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness.
§ To the man who does no work (the Xn has done nothing)… but trusts God (that’s all)… Trust in the Cross (that’s it)
§ Lord forgive me a sinner – he went home justified Luk_18:14 "I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted."
- He is righteous before God (Adam banished with 1 sin – we still have many sins & we stand righteous) – Sinner DECLARED RIGHTEOUS
- NO CONDEMNATION (Judgment day has been declared already for us)
- Col_2:14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.
- Our LEGAL DEBT is taken away
- The GREAT SWAP (Jesus’ righteousness for your sin)
· Shameless Grace
- Grace is given… Grace upon grace…
- But I say SHAMELESS… because “you have to lose your shame to take it”
§ There is nothing that you have earned in there
§ There’s nothing that you can say “But I did this – that’s why Jesus accepted me”
§ Jesus has taken something from you definitely – that’s why you are RIGHTEOUS! – Your filth – YOUR SIN – YOUR WORST … (That’s all)
§ The cross reminds us that our acceptance before God is based upon the obedience of Christ (not upon our obedience), our objective hope rests in the complete work of Christ (despite my subjective feelings) and there is no condemnation for believers (despite painful memories of past sin)
- World trains us to EARN everything we have (we want to pay for something even in the gospel)
§ Msg of the Cross – You have earned nothing / you can earn nothing (just hell)
§ MSG OF THE CROSS = SHAMELESS GRACE
§ Can anyone in any church stand & say “I did it” – NO!
§ That is the msg of the Cross – foolishness to those who are perishing
§ SHAMELESS GRACE saves you (That’s the Msg of the Cross) – Cross Centered
§ ARE WE PREACHING THIS?
· Message of the cross continues to save us by its power (1Co 1:18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God)
- Being Cross Centered = Not enough to preach “Shameless Grace” by itself
- That would leave “Christians weak in Grace” – always with a tendency to use “Grace” to live in sin & weakness… but…
- This Scripture = we are “being saved”… though we are saved
- The Cross has a msg to fit with “being saved”
· Predestined to be like Jesus – SCRIPTURE
- Luk_9:23 Then he said to them all: "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. (you & I must pick up y/our cross…DAILY)
- Preaching Cross Centered = Preaching “Obedience to the Gospel” also (BOTH)
- If a person is saved by the gospel, he must also obey it
- 1Pe_2:24 "He himself bore our sins" in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; "by his wounds you have been healed."
- Includes - Repentance & Change
- Some areas that should be covered in Cross Centered Preaching
§ Change from sin
§ Change in the way - Handling painful trials & suffering
§ Change from attitudes that defile you & others
· Many Xns live as enemies of the Cross of Christ (… if we don’t cover the above…)
- Php_3:18 For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.
· Today I'm concerned where "being Xn" is heading
- More Xns want to know “what do I least need to do?” They excuse themselves with GRACE
- Using the Cross/gospel of the K & abusing forgiveness/Grace
- Hey! Do you know the power of the cross is in you - not called to only seek forgiveness – we are called to CHANGE & bring change in the world…
- We MUST PREACH CHANGE (but in a Cross way – not Pharisee way)
· E.g. A father asks son to set the house for dinner bcos of work – Counting on his son’s faithfulness - Son agrees but on way back from college, friends persuade about mall. Forgets, comes back & realizes. Father is doing the work – guests have come – you can see father’s disappointment on his face. Son asks forgiveness - Father obviously forgives – but Father’s purpose of serving the guests well is not fulfilled – even though the son was full of sorrow & regret & his forgiveness. The job still was not done. LESSON: God is not looking for sons who will always say sorry & “I’m under grace”. He needs sons who will fit into the K story to save the world. God’s KOG is not merely about forgiveness of sin – THERE’S A JOB TO DO! That needs faithful men/women – sons who Co-operate with Him through their whole lives.
- If you believe in the Cross (Gospel) – YOU WILL CHANGE
- ARE YOU PREACHING THIS CROSS CENTERED MESSAGE –CHANGE!
- If we only preach grace without responsibility, a result of such preaching will be the destruction of the plain pattern of gospel obedience and of behavior in the house of God (1 Tim. 1: 16; 3:14,15).
4. Living Relationship with God, not technical Salvation
· You believe in God (Jas 2:19) – not enough to believe (msg of Cross = relationship)
· Reconcile us to God
- 2Co_5:18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:
- The Cross brings forth a relationship – Curtain torn in two
· Our preaching must include “A Living Relationship with Jesus” – People don’t know how to pray & read their bibles
Cross = A Corporate Msg – Ongoing Story
1. Cross Centered Preaching includes… Preaching the “Church”
· If preaching only addresses the individual Xn Þ not completely Cross-Centered
- We produce churches where ppl only think of themselves & how God will bless them, & how Cross is all about them (Some say “if only you were there – Jesus would come for you)
- Cross is not about me & God but about being put into a body. Our preaching must leave people with this – they are part of a church
- Jesus died for the CHURCH (Eph 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her)
- Functioning as part of a body (not Christ & me alone – don’t get me wrong – Christ & me is the foundation for anything else – but it must lead to being part of the body)
- Keeping good relationships (therefore dealing with things that hamper relationships from my side e.g. (1) must be preaching on this
· To preach the cross of Christ, one must preach the church that He purchased with it (Acts 20:28 Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood), that those reconciled by the blood of the cross (Col. 1:20) are reconciled ``in one body'' (Eph. 2:16) which is His church.
- One can't preach the cross and not preach the importance of the Lord's church in our salvation.
- the church has great influence in the spread of the gospel (ppl must know that) – Getting this msg across regularly is CROSS CENTERED PREACHING
- Preaching must bring ppl back to something bigger on the cross also – THE CHURCH
- E.g. Joyce Meyer – addresses all personal issues – many tune in – they need it – but the Cross then comes down only to the individual
- E.g. If we only preach the church, then people will go where they are fed on personal issues
- CROSS INCLUDES BOTH
2. Preaching the Cross = Preaching “Mission”
· Preaching the Cross = Preaching Mission (Jesus came for the world – Jn 3:16)
- Jesus died for the WORLD – MISSION & GOSPEL PREACHING
- The Cross is about the world (Is this being covered in the church?)
3. Above 2 points – Cross Centered Preach = Preach from an Ongoing Story
· When we look at the church/Israel it is part of a story of God’s plan – has a PAST, PRESENT,FUTURE – all connected by the Cross
- E.g. Philip preaches to the Eunuch – links OT to the Cross – OT is also part of the Cross story
- Therefore Preaching the Cross = Preaching God’s story = getting ppl to fit into the story
- GET PPL TO SEE A STORY – where they fit in
Cross = Transforming Power
· Not Preaching the Cross for keeping ppl interested or to remark “That was a nice sermon”
- Reinhard Bonkhe said to pastors “Don’t deliver sermons! Deliver People my brother!”
- 1Co 1:18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God
- So when we preach we must have expectation…GOD’S POWER…
· What Expectation should a preacher have? (in Cross Centered Preaching)
- People will change in a moment (Moses was changed at the Burning Bush when He heard God) – don’t despise moments of preaching!
- What Preaching does to Churches/People who hear
- Greg Haslam - Raises the dead to life (Vijayan – takes one moment to transform a person)
- Healings & Miracles –
- Mar 16:20 Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.