The pages of Theology Corner and Christian Handbook of Reason and Insight for Scientists and Technologists contain sufficient information and resources for more than three years’ worth of sermons intended to inform the congregation about what Christians believe and why they believe it. These messages are primarily focused on discipleship with embedded evangelism. What you believe and why you believe it is important because your belief system, or theology, determines your deeds.
But we should not get so entangled in theological weeds that we forget the message of the Cross alone has the power to save souls. In the words of Oswald Chambers:
“In external history the Cross is an infinitesimal thing; from the Bible point of view it is of more importance than all the empires of the world. If we get away from brooding on the tragedy of God upon the Cross in our preaching, it produces nothing. It does not convey the energy of God to man; it may be interesting but it has no power. But preach the Cross, and the energy of God is let loose. It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.”
Preaching the Cross is shorthand for Preaching the Substitutionary Atonement which, in turn, points to one of the core beliefs of Christianity.
Each person who responds to God's grace and the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ by confession of sin, remorse, repentance, faith and obedience receives the great gift of salvation. Each person who resists God's grace is condemned to everlasting punishment.
- Each person who responds to God's grace and the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ by
- confession of sin (Ps 32:3-5; 1 John 1:8-10),
- remorse (Ps 66:18; Luke 18:13),
- repentance (Mat 3:8; Rom 12:2, 13:14; Eph 4:23-24; Rev 2:5, 16, 3:3, 19),
- faith (John 6:29, 3:16-17; Acts 16:31; Eph 2:8-10) and
- obedience (Mat 28:20; Luke 11:28; John 14:15; Rom 1:5, 6:16; Heb 5:9)
- receives the great gift of salvation (Acts 4:12; Rom 1:16; 2 Cor 7:10; 1 Thes 5:9; Heb 5:9; 1 Pet 1:9, 18-19).
- Each person who resists God's grace is condemned to everlasting punishment (Mat 25:46; 2 Thes 1:8-9).
Christian belief must be preceded by repentance and followed by obedience to qualify as faith. Faith is not just an intellectual exercise (Jam 2:19) or an emotional experience (Jer 17:9).
Preaching the Cross really means preaching this core belief of Christianity. This is a revolutionary concept in the modern Church. Preachers don’t want you to confront your own sin. This kind of preaching would make the Sunday morning church service an unsettling experience. It's so much more enjoyable to listen to entertaining Bible stories, finish on time and head for lunch. Surely, sin is something done on rare occasions by other people in the church, not by you!
Notice the first step in response to God’s grace and the Cross of Jesus Christ is confession of sin. You must confess your own sin nature and sinful behavior. You must confess that your heart, will and intellect are corrupt beyond measure. Only by acknowledging the poverty of your own soul can you enter the kingdom of God; those who are baptized with the Holy Spirit have a sense of absolute unworthiness. You cannot enter God’s kingdom as a good person who puffs out his chest and says, “I have made a decision for Christ over the many options available to me; I am to be admired!” God wants us to yield to Him, not make a self-aggrandizing decision for Him.
Without confession of sin, it is not possible to have true remorse in your heart. Without remorse, it is not possible to repent. Without repentance, there is no faith; belief must be preceded by repentance and followed by obedience to qualify as faith. Without faith, there is no obedience. This core belief of Christianity is almost never preached on Sunday morning. It would require every unsaved person in the Sanctuary to come face to face with the idea that their intellect, will and heart are corrupt beyond measure and resemble filthy rags. It would require all saved persons in the Sanctuary to admit that they were in the same condition prior to salvation and even now, Satan knocks at the door of each soul.
Could failure to Preach the Cross be one reason for the Protestant Church death spiral in the United States of America?