Eloquent Preaching and the Cross

August 20, 2011 at 12:55 pm | Posted in Devotional thoughts | Leave a comment

When I am occasionally told that I am a good preacher, I, unfortunately, pride myself in those comments.  Eloquence, if one has it, is a gift from God to be used for his glory, but it can easily become a reason for arrogance.  When it comes to preaching, eloquence is not what it’s all about.  The real issue is the message of the gospel.  And when I rely on eloquence, rather than the message, then my preaching has no divine power.  The real power is in the message of the cross.  Here are the inspired words of Paul on this matter:  “Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.”  (1 Corinthians 1:17; See also 2:1-2)

There are two thoughts for today.  First, though the cross is a part of the gospel message, baptism is not.  As important as baptism may be for a follower of Jesus, it is not part of the salvation message.  However, without the cross, there is no salvation message at all.  Those who teach a baptismal regeneration are a very small minority, though I seem to encounter them often.  They would do well to ponder Paul’s words here.  If baptism was a part of the salvation process, as they so adamantly teach, then Paul would have the perfect opportunity to clarify that here, instead he separates baptism from the gospel.  The message of the gospel is what Christ accomplished on the cross; it is not about what we do.

Second, preachers like me would do well to ponder these words also.  Though we may have the correct message, if the presentation of it is in our own abilities, then all we gain are personal disciples of our gifts rather than disciples of Jesus.  That is exactly what the context of this verse is about.  There were divisions in the Corinthian church based on which preacher the people were following.  The point of the passage is that Christ was crucified, and not the preacher.  It is in that cross, and what was accomplished there that gives the message its power.  “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ!”

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