Written by cycleguy on September 30th, 2014

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Sometimes it is hard when the shoe is not on the other foot, but squarely on your own. Such is the case with this particular chapter in Matt Chandler’s book Creature of the Word, which I have been discussing the past few weeks.  Charles Spurgeon once wrote:

You do not really preach the gospel if you leave Christ out-if He is omitted, it is not the gospel! You may invite men to listen to your message, but you are only inviting them to gaze upon an empty table unless Christ is the very center and substance of all that you set before them!

It is very common these days to spend a lot of time on “How To” sermons. I confess I did it. Way too many Sundays telling people “How To Handle…” or “How to Have…” or “The Secret To…” Wrong approach.

I have spent 2014 in what I called “The Great Adventure”-a year long look into the Gospels. Currently I finished preaching from Matthew for the third time. I’m not too sure what has happened to the people, but I do know what has happened to me. I have become “richer” in my faith. My relationship with Jesus has become more solid. I think the preaching has become more consistent-in content-not in “good vs. bad.” 🙂  They know what is coming.

It has been because of the focus on Jesus.

I realize that is not every pastor’s cup of tea. Some prefer the topical approach…that’s fine. However, I have come to the conclusion I am not a counselor and have no business spouting off “help yourself” advice while standing before the church. Jesus once said, “If I be lifted up I will draw all men to myself.” If I lift up Jesus, lives will be changed…a lot sooner and a lot more effectively than preaching man-made schemes.

Do you hear gospel preaching?


26 Comments so far ↓

  1. Jeff says:

    It must be hard being a preacher. Trying to convince people you know what you don’t know.

    • cycleguy says:

      On the contrary Jeff…I speak of what I know. I have no doubt on the reality of God, His love for me/you, the death of His Son on the cross, and His resurrection from the grave. Speaking about science, technology, how to fix things, yeah then I’m out of my league.

  2. the Old Adam says:

    Excellent, Bill!

    ‘How-to’ sermons are better left to those who know …’how-to’.

    A preacher’s job is to proclaim Christ. His law…and His forgiveness of sins to the ungodly…the undeserving.

    Nice work!

  3. Ben Nelson says:

    Amen – so true Pastor Bill. I love the Spurgeon quote. Jesus must be the center – even if preaching topically, it all comes back to Him.

    Jesus is the gospel – his life, death, and resurrection.

  4. Daniel says:

    I am lucky in that my pastor is also my friend and we communicate pretty regularly. I have gotten to see that how he lives his life matches up pretty well with what he preaches. The God he talks about up on the stage is the same one he shares about and lives for when we talk over coffee. That is gospel preaching to me.

  5. We (me and the elders) try our best to always bring it back to Jesus and keep Him the focus. We don’t do many “How to” sermons…maybe because I don’t know “how to” 😉

  6. floyd says:

    I’m with you, Bill. If Christ isn’t in it, it’s self help. And fallen humans can’t lift up anything, including themselves. Whatever peace they find in that is fleeting. It’s impossible to find that peace without the One who created it.

    • cycleguy says:

      You are right Floyd. Fallen humans can’t lift anything up, especially since we come from a place of brokenness. Good to hear from you!

  7. Caleb Suko says:

    I think there is a place for how to sermons. However, like you, I think they have been way over done. That’s partly due to the fact that there is such a demand for them. Everyone wants to know how to have great relationship or how to be a good parent.

    I think this becomes a real problem when our message turns into just making your life better instead of exchanging your life for the gospel.

    • cycleguy says:

      That is the problem we end up in Caleb. We crave so much wanting to “how to” we sometimes forget the ONE who makes all things better. He is the ONE who makes the changes…not ourselves.

  8. Ed says:

    If Christ isn’t in the message, then I must be in the wrong church.

  9. Ceil says:

    Hi Bill! I am very fortunate that my pastor speaks on the Gospel, or the other readings each Sunday. He has a great way of connecting our lives to it too, which I really appreciate.
    Some people think he preaches way too long…but I usually gain so much I really don’t care. I wonder if you have ever faced criticism for the length of your message?

    • cycleguy says:

      Ironically, I have received some criticism. But get this…for not being long enough. I generally speak between 25-30 minutes and there are those who want me to preach longer. I tried that once and Jo told me I repeated myself too much. So since she is my best critic I cut it shorter and for years now try to stay within that 25-30 minute time slot.

  10. Dan Black says:

    The best pastors focus on preaching Jesus and the gospel. They direct people to Jesus in what they preach. Great post!

  11. Short answer: yes sir! I think the greatest way to help people is to allow Jesus to reveal Himself through the words He gives us to speak. There are practical things for sure, but it all begins and ends in Him. Come to think of it, the middle is in Him too. Thanks Bill (so much for my short answer). 🙂

  12. Betty Draper says:

    Thank God we do hear Christ every sermon at our church. The pastor always gives out the gospel in some part of the preaching and the chance to accept or reject it. Love this post.