We Preach Christ
Throughout the New Testament there are four major themes to the preaching of the apostles:
- The problem of sin, Acts 13. 38; 1 Cor. 15. 1-3;
- The Person of Christ, Acts 5. 42; 17. 18;
- The provision of God, 1 Cor. 1. 23; 15. 1-3; Acts 17. 18;
- The promise for believers, Eph. 2. 17; Col. 1. 5, 23.
The Problem of Sin
Sin originated with Satan and began on earth with man when Satan tempted Eve.1 Adam and Eve sinned because they disobeyed God and rebelled against His commandment. Adam and Eve became sinners by sinning. We have sinned because we are sinners. Adam’s fallen nature has passed to all mankind, so that all are born in sin.2
There are many words the Bible employs to describe the terrible nature of sin. Some of the principal words are:
- hamartia – the general term for sin, meaning ‘to miss the mark’. Used of Adam in Romans chapter 5 verse 12.
- parakoe – failing to hear when God speaks, or hearing carelessly and inattentively. Used of Adam in Romans chapter 5 verse 19.
- parabasis – transgression, the breaking of a recognised limit or boundary. Used of Adam in Romans chapter 5 verse 14 and Eve in 1 Timothy chapter 2 verse 14.
- paraptoma – a false step, a mistake in judgement, an unintentional error, being caught off guard (in relation to the ‘works of the flesh’, Gal. 6. 1), a ‘falling beside’ rather than ‘falling short’ (hamartia). Used of Adam in Romans chapter 5 verses 15-20.
- anomia – lawlessness, a violation of the law of God which is written on our hearts, Rom. 2. 14-15.
The revelation of the righteousness of God is written on the hearts of all.3 As such, it can be most helpful to challenge the lost in relation to the Ten Commandments. The law causes sin to spring alive and appear greater in our lives.4 Our lives should be lived for the glory of God, our Creator. Anything short of this is sin. There can be no doubt, none can reach this standard. All have sinned.5
Our sins have consequences. Every sin is rebellion against God and His revealed standard, Ps. 51. 4. God had told Adam that the day he broke His commandment he would die, literally ‘in dying thou shalt die’. So, when Adam sinned he died spiritually, i.e., he was cast out of God’s presence. Later he died physically.6 We are all spiritually dead and therefore will die physically.7
Sin produces three things: guilt, defilement, and separation.8 To die physically without knowing sins forgiven is to remain in this state for eternity.
After death comes judgement. Those that are lost will be resurrected to the Great White Throne where their lives will be judged.9 God will review their actions, their words, and their thoughts.10 The final verdict will be given and the lost will face eternity separated from the God of light, love and life, forever confronted by their own filthiness.11 Hell is awaiting sentence, the Great White Throne is passing sentence and the Lake of Fire is the death sentence.
The Person of Christ
The apostles preached Jesus Christ (the Man down here who was once in heaven) and Christ Jesus (the Man who is in heaven and was once down here). They preached concerning His life, glory, majesty and unsearchable riches.
To deal with the problem of our sin, Christ must be both God and Man. Only as God is He capable of paying the full penalty for sin and satisfying the righteous demands of a holy God. Only God could defeat the mighty power of Satan as the ‘stronger’ Man, Luke 11. 20-21, and live a life that was perfect in action, word and thought. Christ ‘did no sin’, ‘knew no sin’ and in Him ‘is no sin’.12 He could not and cannot sin.
The virgin birth is most important in this regard. The scripture speaks of Holy Spirit conception and power protection to emphasize the fact that, although He is fully man, nothing of man’s fallen nature or sin tainted Him.13 He is ‘that holy thing which shall be born’, Luke 1. 35; He is holy humanity.
Only as man is He capable of dying. Only as man can He be a ‘merciful and faithful’ High Priest, able to ‘make reconciliation’ for our sins. Only as man could He be called the Son of David (heir to the throne) and the Son of Abraham (heir to the land). He will one day return to take His rightful place as King of kings and Lord of lords.
The Provision of God
Although the apostles preached the Person of Christ, the emphasis was always on His death, cross, and resurrection rather than His life.14 The sinless life of Christ alone could not save us.
God is not just a God of love. He is also holy, righteous and just, Lev. 11. 44. For God to forgive sins, its penalty must be paid. To ignore sins or forgive them without the payment of the required penalty would be unjust. Not to punish sins would be to condone them!
The penalty of sin is death.15 Since the life of the flesh is in the blood, the shedding of blood speaks of death. Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.16 The full penalty for sin (ransom) could be paid only by Christ,17 One who in Himself is sinless and could offer a sacrifice of infinite value and worth. He shed His precious blood18 and died. He was made sin for us.19 As a result propitiation has been made.20 A holy God is forever satisfied and is now able to reach out to all lost sinners in grace and mercy. Salvation is freely available to ALL.21
We can be sure that God’s justice has been satisfied because Christ rose from the dead. The resurrection was the seal of approval on His finished work. He has demonstrated His victory over sin, the grave and death. The resurrection also proved Christ to be the Son of God, fulfilled scripture, and secures our life and future physical resurrection.22
A full and free salvation is now available to all, but effective only for those who believe.23 The word of God teaches repentance towards God and faith in the Lord Jesus.24 Faith (or belief) and repentance go hand in hand. Exercising true faith in Christ must include repentance. Repentance is ‘a change of mind or attitude’ towards self, sin and God. Lost sinners must come to realize their true condition in the sight of God.
Faith is not believing something to be true. The demons believe in God and shudder with terror.25 In the New Testament faith appears to have these elements: conviction of the truth of God’s word, and confidence in Christ and His saving work.26 This attitude of faith will be demonstrated in our conduct, 2 Cor. 5. 7. Faith does not save us; we can’t boast in our faith. We are saved by grace through faith. It is God’s grace that has saved us; faith is merely the channel by which we receive this grace.27
The Promise for Believers
The moment we exercised faith in Christ we were given every spiritual blessing in Him; we are heirs with Him.28 The apostles also preached the blessings that all believers share.29
Many of the blessings found in Christ can also be seen in tracing what His shed blood and death have accomplished for us. His shed blood has paid our ransom price and accomplished: propitiation, justification, fellowship, redemption, forgiveness of sins, peace, the purification of our consciences, an entrance into the holiest, sanctification, the establishment of a new covenant, and cleansing.30
Note the distinction with His death. This has accomplished my death and release from the power of sin, the power of the law, and the present evil world, as well as my reconciliation to God.31 His shed blood deals with my sins (what I’ve done); His death deals with my sin (what I am)!
- Isa. 14. 12-14; Gen. 3. 1.
- John 3. 6; Eph. 2. 3; Rom. 5. 12, 19; Ps. 51. 5; Job 14. 4.
- Rom. 2. 15.
- Rom. 7. 9; Rom. 5. 20.
- Rom. 3. 23; 6. 23.
- Gen. 2. 17; 3. 23-24; 5. 5.
- Eph. 2. 1; Col. 2. 13.
- Rom. 3. 19; Isa. 64. 6; 59. 2.
- Heb. 9. 27; Rev. 20. 11-15.
- Eccles. 12. 14; Matt. 12. 36; Ezek. 18. 4.
- Matt. 7. 23; Rev. 20. 15; 22. 11.
- 2 Pet. 1. 17; 1 Pet. 2. 22; 2 Cor. 5. 21; 1 John 3. 5.
- Matt. 1. 20; Luke 1. 35; Heb. 2. 14.
- 1 Cor. 15. 1-3; 1 Cor. 1. 23; Acts 17. 18.
- Gen. 2. 16-17; Rom. 6. 23.
- Lev. 17. 11; Heb. 9. 22.
- Ps. 49. 6-8.
- 1 Pet. 1. 19.
- 2 Cor. 5. 21.
- 1 John 2. 2.
- Rom. 10. 13; 1 Tim. 2 .6.
- Rom. 1. 4; John 10. 18; 1 Cor. 15. 20.
- Rom. 3. 22.
- 24 Acts 11. 18; 17. 30; 20. 21; 26. 19-20; and 16. 31; Rom. 5. 1.
- Jas. 2. 19.
- Rom. 10. 17; Gal. 2. 16, 20.
- Rom. 4. 16; Eph. 2. 8-9.
- Eph. 1. 3; Rom. 8. 17.
- Eph. 2. 17; Col. 1. 5.
- Acts 20. 28; Rom. 3. 25; 5. 9; 1 Cor. 10. 16; 1 Pet. 1. 19; Eph. 1. 7; Col. 1. 20; Heb. 9. 14; Eph. 2. 13; Heb. 10. 19; 13. 12; 13. 20; 1 John 1. 7; Rev. 1. 5.
- Rom. 6. 1-11; 7. 1-6; Gal. 2. 19; 1. 4; Rom. 5. 10; Col. 1. 21-22.