THE TOPIC MOST MODERN PREACHERS AVOID!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Morning, January 3, 2010


We live in strange times – strange politically, strange economically, strange spiritually. In America and Europe, nothing is more strange than the topics we hear in the pulpits of new-evangelical and fundamental churches today. There are Bible studies on marriage, Bible studies on dating, Bible studies on child-rearing, Bible studies on overcoming depression, Bible studies on how to succeed in the Christian life, Bible studies on how to be financially prosperous, Bible studies on how to raise Christian(?) kids, Bible studies on books of the Bible, and Bible studies on chapters of the Bible. These subjects have been rehashed by so many preachers, for so many decades, that most pastors think it is normal to teach these topics year in and year out!

But I say that much of the preaching in our churches is off-base, muddled, unfocused and, for the most part, not helpful to anyonejust a jumble of words to fill in the thirty-minute time slot on Sunday morning!

Now, then, that is a very serious charge I am making against the "modern" preaching in our churches today. But I am prepared to defend it – from personal experience, and from the New Testament.

Let’s take the Book of Acts. Where in the Book of Acts are there any recorded sermons on the topics I have listed? I find not one recorded sermon on marriage, not one on dating, not one on child rearing, not one on overcoming depression, not one on how to succeed “in the Christian life” (or any other life for that matter!), not one on how to prosper financially, not one on how to raise “Christian(?) kids,” not one on books of the Bible, not one on chapters of the Bible, not one verse-by-verse exposition of the Bible! None of these were the topics of the sermons of the Apostles, recorded in the Book of Acts! Now, if I am wrong, please correct me! Please write to me at P.O. Box 15308, Los Angeles, CA 90015. Please correct me, and convince me from the sermons recorded in the Book of Acts, if I am wrong. If I don’t hear from you, I am going to go right on saying what you just heard – the preaching in our churches is wrong, muddled, confused, unhelpful, and mostly a waste of time! Why? Because it is off-base, not focused on the subject God wants us to make central in our preaching!

When our people go on vacation, and attend other Bible-believing churches, they often come back disappointed. Once again, they have heard a motivational “Bible study.” Once again, they have failed to hear a sermon on the subject modern preachers avoid like the plague. Oh, those modern preachers usually say a confusing word or two about it, but they never preach whole sermons on it! What is this topic they avoid? And why do they avoid it? The answers to those questions will be given in this sermon.

But I have not yet given you the text! Let us stand and read it. It is in I Corinthians 1:23, the first five words of I Corinthians 1:23. Please read those first five words out loud.

“But we preach Christ crucified” (I Corinthians 1:23).

They do not preach Christ crucified! If they do, please tell me when it is done, and who does it! I say they do not preach Christ crucified. But whatever they preach, in these days of apostasy, we must not copy them! We must ever and always stand with the Apostle Paul and say,

“But we preach Christ crucified” (I Corinthians 1:23).

Let us look at that text word by word this morning, because it gives the very heart of the main message of the New Testament.

“But we preach Christ crucified” (I Corinthians 1:23).

I. First, “But we.”

The Apostle tells us that there were those who focused on different subjects. There were those who required “a sign” (I Corinthians 1:22a). They said, “Moses did miracles. Let us see miracles, and then we will believe.” They were Judaizers, who spoke on circumcision and exalted the Old Testament rites and holy days. They taught the Bible for its own sake, and sought to exalt the Old Testament above the New. But Spurgeon said that the Apostle confronted them by saying, in effect, “Whatever others may do, we preach Christ crucified; we dare not, we cannot, and we will not alter the great subject-matter of our preaching, Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (C. H. Spurgeon, “Preaching Christ Crucified,” The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Pilgrim Publications, 1979 reprint, volume LVI, p. 480).

Then, the Apostle tells us that there were others who sought “after wisdom” (I Corinthians 1:22b). They spoke on subjects that would give their hearers wisdom on how to live, and how to prosper, and how to have a better life. Spurgeon said that there are ministers who give “an intellectual treat. Yes, and I have usually found that such intellectual treats lead to the ruination of souls; that is not the kind of preaching that God generally blesses to the salvation of souls, and therefore, even though others may preach [on these subjects] ‘we preach Christ crucified,’ the Christ who died for sinners, the people’s Christ, and ‘we preach Christ crucified’ in simple language, in plain speech such as the common people can understand” (C. H. Spurgeon, ibid., p. 482). Again Spurgeon said, “The doctrine of Christ crucified is always with me. As the Roman sentinel in Pompeii stood [at] his post even when the city was destroyed, so do I stand [for] the truth of the atonement though the church is being buried beneath the boiling mud-showers of modern heresy. Everything else can wait, but this one truth must be proclaimed with a voice of thunder. Others may preach [what they like], but as for this pulpit, it shall always resound with the substitution of Christ [for our sins on the Cross]. ‘God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ’ [Galatians 6:14]. Some may continually preach Christ as an example, and others may perpetually [speak] upon his [second] coming to glory: we also preach both of these, but mainly we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling-block, and to the Greeks foolishness; but to them that are saved Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God” (C. H. Spurgeon, “The Blood Shed for Many,” The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Pilgrim Publications, 1974 reprint, volume XXXIII, p. 374).

Whatever others may preach, whatever others may say in their pulpits, as long as I stand in this pulpit our main subject will always be

“Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (I Corinthians 2:2).

But we preach Christ crucified” (I Corinthians 1:23).

“In the Cross.” Sing it!

In the cross, in the cross,
   Be my glory ever,
Till my raptured soul shall find
   Rest beyond the river.
(“Near the Cross” by Fanny J. Crosby, 1820-1915).

II. Second, “But we preach.”

Here we have a second difference between what happens in most of our pulpits, and what the Apostle said, and did. Paul said, “but we preach.” Ah, there is a vast difference between preaching and teaching! The two words are different in the underlying Greek, and they are different in English as well! The main Greek word for “teach” is “didasko.” It means “to give instruction” (Vine). The word for “preach” is “kerusso.” It means “to herald, to proclaim” (Vine), "as a public crier" (Strong). Teaching gives instruction. Preaching heralds and proclaims. Teaching aims at the head. Preaching aims at the heart! An elderly Southern Baptist preacher, of the old school, said to me long ago, “Son, if you can’t tell the difference between teaching and preaching you’re not called to preach! Get out of the ministry!” I sometimes feel like shouting that today! “If you can’t tell the difference between teaching and preaching – get out of the ministry!”

Peter was a preacher, not a Bible teacher! On the Day of Pentecost, he did not have them open their Bibles and teach verse by verse. There wasn’t a person there with a Bible! Bibles were all in scrolls, kept in the synagogues. No, Peter stood up and “lifted up his voice” (Acts 2:14) and preached to them! That’s what we need today! God help us! In these last days,

“they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears”
       (II Timothy 4:3).

“But,” someone says, “people don’t want preaching.” I say, “Do it anyway!”

“Endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry” (II Timothy 4:5).

I teach the Bible verse-by-verse three times a week in our church's prayer meetings and outreach meetings. But on Sunday morning and Sunday night I preach. Take it or leave it! That’s what you will get here on Sunday – soul searching Gospel preaching! The Bible says,

“How shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14).

That’s what a sinner like you needs – red hot preaching, preaching that makes you feel your sin in the face of an angry God – preaching that makes you feel the wrath of God and the flames of Hell – and the judgment you deserve for living a life of sin – preaching that breaks down your pride and shows you that you have trampled Christ under your feet and have rejected the Blood He shed to save you on the Cross! Sinner, that’s what you need! You need to be preached under conviction of the sin in your life, and the sin of your heart and of your mind! You need to be preached to ‘till you run to Jesus Christ for cleansing from the filth of your sin. Others may teach, and give little verse-by-verse studies on Sunday, but in this pulpit on Sundays, always and forever, may it be said,

But we preach Christ crucified” (I Corinthians 1:23).

III. Third, “But we preach Christ crucified.”

Yes, that is the main theme of our Sunday sermons here. It is not the only thing I preach on, but it is certainly the main thing!  It is not enough to say a few words about Christ crucified in a sermon.  Preachers do that because they don't listen to sinners.  If they listened to their nominal members, the ones who come on Sunday morning only, they would discover that virtually all of them are lost.  They would find out that they did not grasp the Gospel, because it was not pounded into them in whole sermons week by week.  Therefore, the main theme of our Sunday sermons is Christ crucified!  May it be so forever!

A friend of mine visited Spurgeon’s Tabernacle in London. In World War II all of that great church except the front wall was blown away by Hitler’s bombs. When my friend visited the reconstructed church, he asked an old Scottish deacon of the church, “Is there anything beside the front of the church that is the same as it was in Spurgeon’s day?” “Aye,” said the old Scot, “the doctrine. The doctrine is the same!”

The great doctrine of Spurgeon was “Christ crucified.” When Spurgeon lay dying he said to a friend, “My doctrine can be summed up in four words, ‘Jesus died for me.’” Can you say that? Can you say for sure that Jesus died for you? Do you know for certain that He died in your place, to pay the penalty for your sin? If you cannot say that truthfully, I plead with you to come to Jesus and be washed clean by His holy Blood!

“But we preach Christ crucified” (I Corinthians 1:23).

The Bible says,

“God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him” (Romans 5:8-9).

Christ died on the Cross to pay the penalty for your sins and save you from the wrath of God. That’s why

“we preach Christ crucified” (I Corinthians 1:23).

Come to Christ! He died on the Cross to save you from sin and judgment. Come to Christ! Be washed clean from your sin by His precious Blood!  “In the Cross.” Sing it!

In the cross, in the cross,
   Be my glory ever,
Till my raptured soul shall find
   Rest beyond the river.

(END OF SERMON)
You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.realconversion.com. Click on “Sermon Manuscripts.”

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: I Corinthians 1:18-24.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Oh, What a Fountain!” (by Dr. John R. Rice, 1895-1980).


THE OUTLINE OF

THE TOPIC MOST MODERN PREACHERS AVOID!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“But we preach Christ crucified” (I Corinthians 1:23).

I.   First, “But we,” I Corinthians 1:22a, 22b; 2:2; 1:23a.

II.  Second, “But we preach,” Acts 2:14; II Timothy 4:3, 5;
Romans 10:14; I Corinthians 1:23b.

III. Third, “But we preach Christ crucified,” I Corinthians 1:23c;
Romans 5:8-9.