written by: Warren Wiersbe
We have considered four reasons that explain why our lives, ministries and messages must be saturated with the Lord Jesus Christ. To begin with, He is the theme of the whole Bible and to leave Him out of the message is to preach something other than the Bible. He is the power of the Gospel, for the Gospel message is centered in Him. He is at the heart of every Christian doctrine, so to know Jesus better is to understand doctrine better. Fourth, He is the motive for every Christian duty, and if we love Him, we will obey His will. There are four more reasons we must consider.
It May sound selfish, but it’s still true: the first business of every Christian is to become more like Jesus Christ, “conformed to the image of His Son” (Rom. 8:29). What good is my witness or my service if my life and my character contradict the Gospel? We were created in the mage of God to glorify Him, and the more we are like Him, the more we can influence others to trust Him. The Christian life is more than imitating Jesus; it is incarnating Jesus and letting Him live out His life through us (Gal. 2:20).
Let’s consider some basic Christian virtues. Jesus is the “author and finisher of our faith” (Heb. 12:2), He is our hope (Col. 1:27; 1 Tim. 1:1), and it is His love that “compels us” as we serve (2 Cor. 5: 14, and see Eph. 5:2). Our humility is in Him (Phil. 2:1-11) and so is our generosity (2 Cor. 8:9). “[A]s He is, so are we in this world” (1 John 4:17). We are identified with Christ in His death, burial, resurrection and ascension, and when those experiences happened to Him, they also happened to us. While it’s commendable to make a list of the virtues you want to cultivate and then strive to imitate Jesus, it’s far better to see those virtues in Christ and let the Spirit of God incarnate them in your own life (Gal. 5:22-23). Fruit comes from life, and Christ is our life (Col. 3:4).
“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Cor. 3:18). When the children of God look into the Word of God (the mirror) and fix their eyes of faith on the Son of God, they are transformed by the Spirit of God into the image of God to the glory of God. That’s what personal and corporate worship is all about. The local church that has worship and preaching that glorify Christ will have worshipers becoming more like Christ.
6 . Because Jesus Christ is the foundation of the local church
The key text is 1 Cor. 3:10-23, and the immediate reference is to the local church. We may apply this passage to the “building of our lives,” but the basic interpretation has to do with building the local church. Jesus Christ is the one and only foundation for the local church, and we must build on Him. A church is not built on the preservation of a pet doctrine, the memory of a great preacher, or the promotion of an exciting program. It is built on Jesus Christ alone.
What does it mean to build on Jesus Christ? It means that everything the church does, from selecting the hymns to the preaching the Word and the preparing of the budget, is focused on Christ and seeks to glorify Him. The foundation is the most important part of a building. It not only determines the strength of the building, but also the size, the shape and the stability. If Jesus is the foundation, the church will become more like Him as God’s people trust Him, obey Him and worship Him. We don’t build the church on a great preacher, an expensive building (the early church had no buildings) or a clever program We build the church on Christ, which means building with the wisdom of God found in the Word of God – gold, silver, precious stones (Prov. 2:1-9; 3:13-15; 8:10-11, 18-21).
It’s one thing to build a crowd that we applaud and quite something else to build a church that God approves The wood, hay and straw will burn to ashes at the judgment seat of Christ, while the gold, silver and costly stones will glow with God’s glory and honor Him. Wood, hay and straw are available on the surface of the earth. If you want gold, silver and precious stones, you have to dig for them and let God refine them in the fire of testing and trial.
The minister of the Word is a builder. Jesus didn’t say “I will build your church” or even “You will build my church,” but “I will build my church” (Matt. 16:18). If we build on the right foundation and use the right materials, He will keep that promise. Christ is building His church wherever He finds the faithful preaching and teaching of God’s Word that glorifies Him.
7 . Because Jesus Christ is the example for every Christian ministry
Through hearing the Word of God preached and the Son of God exalted, sinners become believers and believers become workers in God’s kingdom. Each of us has at least one gift that we can use to serve Christ and His people, but we must serve the way Jesus served and not follow the wrong examples. There are numerous books available on “leadership,” written by both believers and unbelievers; but too often Christian authors merely borrow the ideas of the world, “baptize” them, add a few Bible verses, and pass their books off as God’s will for Christian leaders.
Jesus warned His disciples not to imitate the leadership style of the Romans, and we need to heed that warning today, for that style is still with us (Matt. 18:1-5; 20:20-28). The key question isn’t “How many people work for you?” but “For how many people do you work?” Jesus might have come to earth as a mighty monarch, but He chose to be a servant. He compared Himself to a shepherd who gave His life for His sheep, and He warned about the hirelings and the thieves (John 10:l-18). Hirelings work only for money and run away when the going gets tough. Thieves don’t work at all but take all they can get and then move on.
Jesus was a loving sacrificial servant. While ministering here on earth, He depended on prayer and the power of the Spirit. He used the Word to bring life and help to needy people, and in all that He did, He pleased the Father (John 8:29). His loving heart reached out to suffering people. He is the example for us to follow. When we preach Christ, we tell people what true Christian service really is. If we bring into the church the kind of service we read about in many of the “success” books and magazine articles, then we will have to stop preaching Christ, for His life and ministry contradict those examples.
We’re back to Phil. 2:1:11 – service that is humble, sacrificial, even humiliating, yet that God honors and eventually rewards.
When you consider the massive problems that are multiplying in our world today, and the new problems that will grow out of the well-meaning but ignorant solutions people will devise, it’s enough to make you want to give up in despair. But we don’t give up! The heart of every problem is the problem in the heart, and Jesus Christ can change the human heart and make new creations out of old sinners. He can bring salvation and new beginnings to all nations and cultures, and He can meet the needs of all individuals. Of course, the problems won’t be completely solved until Jesus returns, but let’s do our best to be salt and light until we hear the trumpet call.
When we preach Jesus Christ, we are encouraging our people to have a global vision and to give themselves and their wealth to a Christ who is more than adequate to meet the world’s needs. Jesus came to die for a lost world, and today He lives in heaven and equips His church to witness and work in this lost world (Heb. 13:20-21). While we are waiting for His promised return, we must be busy doing His will; and as Dr. Oswald J. Smith often said, “The light that shines the farthest will shine the brightest at home.”
Don’t just preach sermons or preach the Bible. Preach Christ!
©2003 Warren W. Wiersbe, used by permission.
Dr. Warren Wiersbe (1929-2019) was an internationally known Bible teacher, author, and conference speaker. He graduated in 1953 from Northern Baptist Theological Seminary in Lombard, Illinois. While attending seminary, he was ordained as pastor of Central Baptist Church in 1951 and served until 1957. From September 1957 to 1961, Wiersbe served as Director of The Literature Division for Youth for Christ International. From 1961 to 1971 he pastored Calvary Baptist Church of Covington, Kentucky south of Cincinnati, Ohio. His sermons were broadcast as the “Calvary Hour” on a local Cincinnati radio station. From 1971 to 1978, He served as the pastor of Moody Church in Chicago 1971 to 1978. While at Moody Church he continued in radio ministry. Between August 1979 and March 1982, he wrote bi-weekly for Christianity Today as “Eutychus X”, taught practical theology classes at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and wrote the course material and taught a Doctor of Ministry course at Trinity and Dallas Seminary. In 1980 he transitioned to Back to the Bible radio broadcasting network where he worked until 1990. Dr. Wiersbe became Writer in Residence at Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids and Distinguished Professor of Preaching at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary. In his lifetime, Dr. Wiersbe wrote over 170 books—including the popular Be series, which has sold over four million copies. Dr. Wiersbe was awarded the Gold Medallion Lifetime Achievement by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA).