To preach salvation by good works and human ability flatters people. There is no necessity for the Cross except to show God’s love. It’s a fruitless message. Salvation is by grace alone. The Cross satisfies God’s wrath. We are under His righteous judgement. The crucified Christ bore our sin and is the only Saviour. Faithfully preaching this essential truth reduces one’s popularity. But God fearers don’t mind this!!
Holy love, justice, mercy, propitiation, ransom, redemption, reconciliation, justification…in a nutshell these words sum up the Cross.
The wrath of God was satisfied by the revelation of the merciful God in Christ. The law (works) of the old covenant replaced by the grace of the New. We don’t need to try and reason out truths about God. We don’t need to try and work out what God is like. It’s pointless. All we need do is look at the Cross. Christianity may go against our reason and intellect but it’s having faith, understanding that we are totally depraved and guilty of our sin, but God says we’re not guilty, as Christ bore the punishment of our sins by dying on the Cross. He became the worst of sinners because of this.
The death of Christ was a divine decree. The motive was God’s gracious mercy and love for sinners. All our guilt was transferred to Christ, dividing a loving Son from an angry Father. Jesus fulfilled His Father’s will as Prophet, Priest and King. His life is the basis for the Atonement. Penal substitution fulfilled the Law, unifying it with the Gospel.
“Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” (1 Cor.12:7).
These gifts are the way the Holy Spirit expresses His power and presence through born again Christians. All the gifts are necessary for edifying the church and advancing God’s Kingdom.
The Functional Gifts – Romans 12:6-8
These are qualified by the statement “In accordance with the grace that is given you.” We’re created with certain talents that when used by the Holy Spirit contribute to building the church.
The Manifestational Gifts – 1 Corinthians 12:8-10
The various ways the Holy Spirit has chosen to express His power through us. These gifts do not come through our natural talents, but are a supernatural expression of the Spirit’s power as promised and fulfilled at Pentecost (Acts 1:8). These gifts are connected to the dynamic of cooperation with the Holy Spirit.
The Vocational Gifts – Ephesians 4:11-13
These gifts are offices, callings or vocations. Their purpose is to “prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ will be built up.” These gifts are limited in number (i.e. not everyone is called to teach and preach the Word).
So there is a great diversity yet God endows all those called to faith with spiritual gifts.
God has spoken. It is written. He calls Ministers of the Word. They are to be God fearers not people pleasers. Christian preaching is part of the process of revelation. God in Christ has been revealed in history and written in Scripture. It must be spoken by God’s servants. Divine truth made clear by human speech. Not everyone is called to preach. Those who are not gifted by God’s Spirit will not advance the truth. Of course every Christian has a responsibility to share the Gospel, but ‘every member ministry’ should not prevent ordained leaders, as they will always be necessary for the Church and its mission. Preaching must be productive. It’s a demanding ministry. It demands love and obedience to God, love for people, hard work and relating to the real world in which we live.
In Christ’s Name and Service.
There is an assumption in the Reformed tradition that the focus is just on preaching. However, Calvin’s view was that ministry of the Word extended beyond preaching. Look at the model presented by Jesus in the Gospels. He was a public teacher, preaching to crowds. He also privately taught His disciples. There are also occasions when He ministers the Word to an individual. Preaching to a congregation is only one facet of ministry of the Word. Paul was an itinerant preacher. His letter writing is ministry of the Word.
So whether in public from the pulpit, or public reading of Scripture, or private over a coffee table, whether it is done in email, letter, conversation or even a blog – it’s ministry of the Word. Each and every time it should help people see their position before the Lord in the light of His revelation from the Bible.
Jesus said “I am the Light of the world” (Jn.8:12). Interesting that upon His death on the cross, darkness covered the earth for the light had gone out. Jesus was a descendant of David. In 2 Samuel 21:17 we read this about him: “You are not to go into battle again! Why should we risk snuffing out the light of Israel!” I appreciate this consistency and truth.