07.18.14

Are You Preaching Christ?

“Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ” ()

Are you preaching Christ? It sounds like an unnecessary question.  Most preachers would respond, “Of course. What else is there to preach?” That would have surely been the response of Philip in and Stephen in . The Apostle Paul would have echoed Philip’s sentiments. In fact, he did when he wrote to the church in Corinth, “We preach Christ…” (). Unfortunately, it seems many have progressed in our day beyond Stephen, Paul, and Philip. Today many so-called preachers have found the gospel insufficient and have added to its simplicity and are now pawning off weak but popular substitutes. To name a few:

Prosperity Preaching. No doubt Paul would have been appalled by the health and wealth, name-it and claim-it doctrines so popular today. Stephen wasn’t murdered because he told people God wanted them living the lives of the rich and famous ().  commends to us those Christians who “experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated” ().  It was these of whom the world was not worthy. Preaching Christ calls people away from the love of things in this world and to genuine love for Christ ().

Self-esteem Preaching. It is more and more popular not to preach about sin, but to encourage people to see themselves better than they are. It is believed that most people’s problem is that they have a low view of themselves. If they would only get a better self-image, they would live victoriously in this world. Yet to read the Bible is to see that it is sin, not low self-esteem, which is working death in me (). It is not low self-esteem that has brought death to everyone because everyone has low self-esteem; it is sin (). Sin is not overcome by self-esteem. It is overcome by Christ-esteem. As the Bible says “For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake” ().

Motivational Preaching. Motivational preaching is more prevalent than many people realize. Two of the most prominent and popular preachers in America are purveyors of this message. It encourages people to reach for their potential. It takes principles of the Bible, builds a brand around a personality and gets people to buy into the latest catch phrase and fad. The preacher is positioned as a high achiever, and tries to convince you that you can be one too. Yet, Christ-centered preaching is not encouraging people to reach their potential. It is not telling women, “thou art loosed”, or exhorting men to “maximize their manhood”, or encouraging people they can live their “best life now.” Biblical preaching is not telling people to latch on to their own bootstraps, but rather to let go of those straps and latch on to Christ.

The Bible warns us that as the days go on people will want less and less of Christ-centered preaching and more and more flesh-enticing and itch-scratching preaching (). Nevertheless, the call to faithfulness in preaching remains. We are to preach Christ.

Preaching Christ is to preach salvation in him and him alone. It is to call men and women to repent of sin; sin the world doesn’t want to call sin such as homosexuality, fornication, abortion, greed, anger, racism, injustice, selfishness, pride, et al. It is to remind men and women that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Rm. 3:23).

Preaching Christ says that though you are a great sinner, Christ is a greater Savior. It declares that Christ is sufficient to forgive you of all your sin, and to fill you with his satisfaction even as you live in an unsatisfying world.

Preaching Christ understands the Bible is not about your or me, but about Christ (, ) and his life for our life and his death for our death.  It calls men and women to die so that they may live in Him (). In other words, preaching Christ builds esteem in Christ and not in self ().

Preaching Christ is universal. It translates and transforms with power in the slums of Calcutta just as it does on the streets of Manhattan. It causes men and women not to long for more of this world but to long for more of Jesus.

Preach Christ! While men and women every week flock to domes and stadiums to hear the latest and greatest of prosperity and motivational sermons, let them flock to our churches to hear Christ and him crucified. And may joy fill their hearts when they do.

Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ. (ESV)

8:1 And Saul approved of his execution.

And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.

Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word. Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ. And the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip when they heard him and saw the signs that he did. For unclean spirits, crying out with a loud voice, came out of many who had them, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. So there was much joy in that city.

But there was a man named Simon, who had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he himself was somebody great. 10 They all paid attention to him, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the power of God that is called Great.” 11 And they paid attention to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic. 12 But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13 Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip. And seeing signs and great miracles performed, he was amazed.

14 Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, 15 who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. 18 Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, 19 saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 20 But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! 21 You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. 22 Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. 23 For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.” 24 And Simon answered, “Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.”

25 Now when they had testified and spoken the word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel to many villages of the Samaritans.

26 Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is a desert place. 27 And he rose and went. And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship 28 and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah. 29 And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.” 30 So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31 And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 Now the passage of the Scripture that he was reading was this:

“Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter
and like a lamb before its shearer is silent,
so he opens not his mouth.
33 In his humiliation justice was denied him.
Who can describe his generation?
For his life is taken away from the earth.”

34 And the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. 36 And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” 38 And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. 39 And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. 40 But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he preached the gospel to all the towns until he came to Caesarea. (ESV)

7:1 And the high priest said, “Are these things so?” And Stephen said:

“Brothers and fathers, hear me. The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, and said to him, ‘Go out from your land and from your kindred and go into the land that I will show you.’ Then he went out from the land of the Chaldeans and lived in Haran. And after his father died, God removed him from there into this land in which you are now living. Yet he gave him no inheritance in it, not even a foot’s length, but promised to give it to him as a possession and to his offspring after him, though he had no child. And God spoke to this effect—that his offspring would be sojourners in a land belonging to others, who would enslave them and afflict them four hundred years. ‘But I will judge the nation that they serve,’ said God, ‘and after that they shall come out and worship me in this place.’ And he gave him the covenant of circumcision. And so Abraham became the father of Isaac, and circumcised him on the eighth day, and Isaac became the father of Jacob, and Jacob of the twelve patriarchs.

“And the patriarchs, jealous of Joseph, sold him into Egypt; but God was with him 10 and rescued him out of all his afflictions and gave him favor and wisdom before Pharaoh, king of Egypt, who made him ruler over Egypt and over all his household. 11 Now there came a famine throughout all Egypt and Canaan, and great affliction, and our fathers could find no food. 12 But when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent out our fathers on their first visit. 13 And on the second visit Joseph made himself known to his brothers, and Joseph’s family became known to Pharaoh. 14 And Joseph sent and summoned Jacob his father and all his kindred, seventy-five persons in all. 15 And Jacob went down into Egypt, and he died, he and our fathers, 16 and they were carried back to Shechem and laid in the tomb that Abraham had bought for a sum of silver from the sons of Hamor in Shechem.

17 “But as the time of the promise drew near, which God had granted to Abraham, the people increased and multiplied in Egypt 18 until there arose over Egypt another king who did not know Joseph. 19 He dealt shrewdly with our race and forced our fathers to expose their infants, so that they would not be kept alive. 20 At this time Moses was born; and he was beautiful in God’s sight. And he was brought up for three months in his father’s house, 21 and when he was exposed, Pharaoh’s daughter adopted him and brought him up as her own son. 22 And Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and he was mighty in his words and deeds.

23 “When he was forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brothers, the children of Israel. 24 And seeing one of them being wronged, he defended the oppressed man and avenged him by striking down the Egyptian. 25 He supposed that his brothers would understand that God was giving them salvation by his hand, but they did not understand. 26 And on the following day he appeared to them as they were quarreling and tried to reconcile them, saying, ‘Men, you are brothers. Why do you wrong each other?’ 27 But the man who was wronging his neighbor thrust him aside, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge over us? 28 Do you want to kill me as you killed the Egyptian yesterday?’ 29 At this retort Moses fled and became an exile in the land of Midian, where he became the father of two sons.

30 “Now when forty years had passed, an angel appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, in a flame of fire in a bush. 31 When Moses saw it, he was amazed at the sight, and as he drew near to look, there came the voice of the Lord: 32 ‘I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob.’ And Moses trembled and did not dare to look. 33 Then the Lord said to him, ‘Take off the sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground. 34 I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt, and have heard their groaning, and I have come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send you to Egypt.’

35 “This Moses, whom they rejected, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge?’—this man God sent as both ruler and redeemer by the hand of the angel who appeared to him in the bush. 36 This man led them out, performing wonders and signs in Egypt and at the Red Sea and in the wilderness for forty years. 37 This is the Moses who said to the Israelites, ‘God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers.’ 38 This is the one who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the angel who spoke to him at Mount Sinai, and with our fathers. He received living oracles to give to us. 39 Our fathers refused to obey him, but thrust him aside, and in their hearts they turned to Egypt, 40 saying to Aaron, ‘Make for us gods who will go before us. As for this Moses who led us out from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’ 41 And they made a calf in those days, and offered a sacrifice to the idol and were rejoicing in the works of their hands. 42 But God turned away and gave them over to worship the host of heaven, as it is written in the book of the prophets:

“‘Did you bring to me slain beasts and sacrifices,
during the forty years in the wilderness, O house of Israel?
43 You took up the tent of Moloch
and the star of your god Rephan,
the images that you made to worship;
and I will send you into exile beyond Babylon.’

44 “Our fathers had the tent of witness in the wilderness, just as he who spoke to Moses directed him to make it, according to the pattern that he had seen. 45 Our fathers in turn brought it in with Joshua when they dispossessed the nations that God drove out before our fathers. So it was until the days of David, 46 who found favor in the sight of God and asked to find a dwelling place for the God of Jacob. 47 But it was Solomon who built a house for him. 48 Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made by hands, as the prophet says,

49 “‘Heaven is my throne,
and the earth is my footstool.
What kind of house will you build for me, says the Lord,
or what is the place of my rest?
50 Did not my hand make all these things?’

51 “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. 52 Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, 53 you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.”

54 Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. 55 But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” 57 But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. 58 Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep. (ESV)

23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, (ESV)

51 “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. 52 Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, 53 you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.” (ESV)

11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.

By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks. By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. 11 By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.

13 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, 18 of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 19 He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back. 20 By faith Isaac invoked future blessings on Jacob and Esau. 21 By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, bowing in worship over the head of his staff. 22 By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave directions concerning his bones.

23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict. 24 By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25 choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. 27 By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, so that the Destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them.

29 By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as on dry land, but the Egyptians, when they attempted to do the same, were drowned. 30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days. 31 By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.

32 And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets— 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. 35 Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. 36 Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— 38 of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

39 And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect. (ESV)

36 Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— (ESV)

15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (ESV)

13 Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. (ESV)

12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— (ESV)

And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. (ESV)

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, (ESV)

27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. (ESV)

28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. (ESV)

20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (ESV)

30 He must increase, but I must decrease.” (ESV)

Tony Carter
Tony Carter serves as the Lead Pastor of East Point Church. Tony is married to his beloved, Adriane Carter, and their marriage has bore the fruit of five wonderful children. Holler at him on Twitter: @eastpc
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C’mon Up!

  • Thabiti

    Amen and amen, brother! Let Christ be lifted high!
    T

    • Larry Miles

      Wow! Ridiculously powerful! Bro. Tony, it’s very encouraging to see Christ focused essays and/or hear actual “Christ preaching.” I’ve listened to some of your sermons and “DEY BE” (lol) Christ centered. I mentioned to you in another post, (responded too late for you to catch it) I’m in the Baltimore area and recently planted a ministry and we are in a middle school cafeteria. At times, you feel “odd” because the preaching all around you “sounds” and “is” different and you wonder if you’ve “missed it.” Thank God for you guys. I love to have my proverbial collar grabbed and admonished to “preach Christ.” Blessings man!

    • Larry Miles

      Bro. T, looking forward to meeting you, when you launch in the DC area.

      • Thabiti

        Hey man, let’s definitely get it in. I may be in the Baltimore area in a couple weeks. Let’s stay in touch.

        T-

        • Larry Miles

          Bro T-, I’ll stay in touch. My email is miles8c@msn.com. Forward yours if you would. (via my email)

  • Louis Love

    “Him we proclaim”. Good stuff, my brother.

  • Larry Miles

    Wow! Ridiculously powerful! Bro. Tony, it’s very encouraging to see, Christ centered essays an/or hear Christ centered preaching. I’ve listened to some of your sermons and “DEY BE,” (lol) Christ centered. I mentioned to you in another post, (responded too late for you to catch it) I’m in the Baltimore area and recently planted a ministry and we are gathering in a middle school cafeteria. At times, you feel odd, because the preaching around you, seemingly, “sounds” and “is” different and you feel as you’ve, “missed it.” I am committed to expositional preaching and a the Regulative Principle of Worship. Thank God for you guys. I love to have my proverbial collar grabbed and admonished, “Preach Christ.” Blessings man!

    • Tony Carter

      Bro Larry, so good to hear of the labors God has given you in the Baltimore area. Excited to hear you plan to connect with Thabiti for mutual encouragement in the work. Feeling odd often comes with the territory of proclaiming Christ in the malaise of popular preaching today. Remember, preaching Christ may often sound strange to goats, but to the sheep it is food and drink. So keeping preaching brother! God has sheep he desires to call into the fold and those in the fold he desires to nurture though his word. May God grant you fruit in your faithfulness. Thanks for stopping by the porch this evening.

  • Pastor Bruce

    Beautifully put!

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  • johannesarcher

    thank you for the wake up jolt.

  • MsGee Carvin

    Chiming in…a sister on the front porch: I love the section on Self-esteem Preaching. I’ve found it difficult to disciple some women who hold on to type of preaching, for it has been difficult to move them from this false belief that their poor self-image is why they have not accomplished what they so desire to accomplish. Many times I tell them that they would not have low-self esteem if they stop thinking about themselves and start thinking about Christ. I always get the blank stare.

    • Tony Carter

      Thanks for chiming in sister! I hear exactly what you’re saying. I have had those conversations a time or two myself. Isn’t funny (sad) how presenting Christ often gets blank stares?

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  • Mitake111

    Amen! May Christ be the focus of our message… Only and always.

  • Vincent M. Dial

    Thank you pastor Tony for your bold article on Christ centered preaching.
    When pastors and preachers truly begin to seek first the kingdom of God and preach Christ, then and only then will the “Truth” begin to make us free!
    Vincent M. Dial
    Pastor, Bethel Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
    Jonesborough, Tennessee

    • Tony Carter

      Thanks Pastor Dial. Good to see you on The Front Porch. I heard you had an encouraging conversation with Pastor Phil Duncanson yesterday. Praise God. Praying Christ will honor your labors for him at BCC. God bless.

      • Vincent M. Dial

        Thank you Pastor Carter for your response, and words of encouragement.

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