An arms’ length to my right are four different books unpacking Christ-centered preaching. On my iPod is a fairly popular series by Tim Keller doing the same thing. Yet as I read them, it took me some personal meditation and practice in actually preaching to try to boil down this kind of homiletics to a workable definition.
Preaching Christ means to draw their hearts into deeper love for Jesus. It is speaking for God so that men have their affections turned toward the person and work of the Son of God. It is a magnet that pulls the hearts of true believers toward their Savior.
Isn’t this evident in the tone of Paul’s numerous ministerial summaries?
- But we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 1 Cor. 1:23-24
- To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ. Eph. 3:8
- We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. Col. 1:28
Paul aimed for the affections of his hearers as these verses exemplify in a microcosm. Passion and hope drip from these inspired statements, and they are merely samples of what we find in other epistles. Intensity is seen in the contrast between Paul’s confidence in preaching a crucified Messiah and the Jews’ tripping over Him. The beauty of Christ is painted with brief strokes when the apostle refers to His “unfathomable riches.” One of Piper’s titles is poignant here: Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ. The Apostle was doing that and he wanted his listeners to have that same kind of inner compulsion.
This same conclusion is found in Luke 24:25 as Jesus explains Himself on the Road to Emmaus. The disciples were rebuked by the Lord for having slow hearts. How could their hearts have been quicker? Had they merely known facts about the Bible? No, Jesus rebuked them for not being internally magnetized by the magnificent complex of diverse glories that shone out from Him as recorded in the pages of Scripture.
A preacher can say true propositions about Jesus of Nazareth without preaching Christ if he himself has not first been personally stirred to worship and adore the Savior. True statements are certainly necessary, but they are not sufficient unless somehow wedded to a deep-seated, whole-souled commitment to Christ that overflows from the pulpit to the people.
Have I preached Christ if my hearers can understand my message, yet still be disinterested in Jesus? Preaching Christ drives the intellect to adoration.