Although Christ crucified is the very soul of all true preaching of the gospel, the conclusion should not be drawn from this that the preaching of Bible doctrines is out of place. Just the contrary. Indeed, it is impossible to give a full presentation of all that is involved in Christ and His cross without preaching doctrine. The preaching of Christian doctrine, especially in these days, should be full and explicit. It should comprehend within its circle the whole mystery of Christ—His person, His offices, and His work. It should be so well-rounded, so complete and comprehensive, that it takes in His creative power, sovereignty, and 'superintendence, worship in all its multiplied forms and services, revealed truth in the Scriptures, His incarnation, ministry, power, death, resurrection, ascension, intercessory and priestly mediation, law, gift of eternal life, judgeship, second coming, and everlasting kingdom.
That is all-inclusive. These matters cannot be presented in their fullness without discussing the whole doctrine of God revealed in the Scriptures as it relates to Himself, to Christ, salvation, sin, man, the Spirit, and all the arrangements and provisions God has made by His grace to provide a remedy for sin. There is no true doctrine of the Scripture separated from Christ. In its presentation, therefore, it should be connected with Him. Consequently, it is in the light that flows from Calvary that we are to present instruction to men on every doctrine and phase of the threefold message. This will leave nothing out. It will cover the Bible, the law, the Sabbath, the nature and destiny of man, life only in Christ, the sanctuary and its cleansing, the judgment, the second coming of Christ, baptism, the ordinance of humility, the Lord's supper, spiritual gifts, tithing, stewardship—indeed, everything connected with the love of God, the work of Christ, and the ministration of the Spirit, in every phase, privilege, duty, promise, and hope.
Let us remember that "Christ is the center of all true doctrine. All true religion is found in His word."—"Counsels to Teachers,"p. 453. Every true doctrine makes Christ the center, every precept receives force from His words.
"The very first and most important thing is to melt and subdue the soul by presenting our Lord Jesus Christ as the sin-pardoning Saviour. Never should a sermon be preached, or Bible instruction in any line be given, without pointing the hearers to 'the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world,' John 1:29.
"Keep before the people the cross of Calvary. Show what caused the death of Christ,—the transgression of the law. Let not sin be cloaked, or treated as a matter of little consequence. It is to be presented as guilt against the Son of God. Then point the people to Christ, telling them that immortality comes only through receiving Him as their personal Saviour."—"Testimonies," Vol. VI, p. 54.
All of us need to grow into this larger comprehension of what our ministry requires us to present, and apply ourselves diligently to learning how it is to be done. We do not always see this large compass in the public work of the ministry. There is with some ministers a tendency to limit themselves to the presentation of favorite doctrines, to the neglect of others of equal importance. Some enjoy pointing out the errors of popular delusions; others stress the observance of the law and the Sabbath; others emphasize the prophecies; others make plain the sanctuary question; others overthrow popular notions about the nature of man, the state of the dead, and future rewards and punishments; others delight in dwelling much on the Lord's return and the things to come; others make general invitations to come to Christ; and still others revel in the abstract proposition of practical obligations.
Present Full-Rounded Truth
All of these things are important. But in overemphasizing one to the detriment or neglect of others, there is a want of that entireness so strongly and firmly bound up in the full duty of the Christian ministry. As messengers, we must keep close to our message; as ambassadors, we must discharge our commission; as depositors, be faithful to our trust; as watchmen, fulfill our whole duty and safeguard our charge.
Learning, wisdom, eloquence, and gifts do not make a minister. "It is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful." We are under solemn obligation to declare our testimony without concealment, not forcing testing truths into undue prominence, but nevertheless not daring to suppress or withhold them in their "Scriptural connection." We are wisely to adapt our statements to the spiritual capacities of those to whom we preach, but we are not to omit anything that belongs to the truth of God for today. We are never to be employed in "handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God." We should study to be like Joshua and Jeremiah in dealing with the full revelation of the truth which they had:
"There was not a word of all that Moses commanded, which Joshua read not before all the congregation of Israel, with the women, and the little ones, and the strangers that were conversant among them." Joshua 8:35.
"Stand in the court of the Lord's house, and speak unto all the cities of Judah, which come to worship in the Lord's house, all the words that I command thee to speak unto them; diminish not a word." Jer. 26 :2.
Jeremiah learned this lesson so thoroughly that later he declared to the people:
"I will pray unto the Lord your God according to your words ; and it shall come to pass, that whatsoever thing the Lord shall answer you, I will declare it unto you; I will keep nothing back from you." Jer. 42:4.
Jesus Christ, the model preacher of all times, in setting forth the fullness with which He presented the whole truth, said:
"I have preached righteousness in the great congregation: lo, I have not refrained My lips, O Lord, Thou knowest, I have not hid Thy righteousness within My heart; I have declared Thy faithfulness and Thy salvation : I have not concealed Thy loving-kindness and Thy truth from the great congregation." Ps. 40:9, 10.
"All things that I have heard of My Father I have made known unto you:" John 15:15.
"I have given unto them the words which Thou gayest Me." John 17:8.
To the first apostles of Christ, the angel of the Lord commanded: "Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life." Acts 5:20. And Paul, who is given as a model for all later preachers, said: "I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God." Acts 20 :26, 27.
Hugh Latimer, in a sermon on Luke 16: 1, 2, once said:
"Who is a true and faithful steward? He is true, he is faithful, that coineth no new money, but seeketh it ready coined of the good men of the house; and neither changeth it, nor clippeth it, after it is taken to him to spend, but spendeth even the selfsame that he had of his Lord ; and spendeth it, as his Lord commanded him."
No preacher need fear that preaching the full truth of God, if it is done wisely, and in the right place and order of every part, will accomplish anything but the will of God. The whole tendency of truth is to be sound and wholesome, and to accomplish God's purposes.
No man should shun to declare it in its fullness.
So it is our solemn duty to preach all the doctrines of the Bible, not shrinking from or holding back anything. We are to set them all forth largely and fully, connecting each truth to every other link in the entire chain of salvation, making foundational, of course, what are termed the fundamental and essential truths of the atonement of our Lord. Such was the preaching of Jesus Himself, and the multitudes were astonished at His doctrine. Such, too, was the preaching of the apostles of Christ who filled Jerusalem with their doctrine. Consequently, the early followers of Christ were firmly indoctrinated in the vital truths of Christianity ; and they are represented, even in those early days, as continuing steadfast in the apostles' doctrine. The believers in Rome are said to have learned the apostolic form of doctrine, and to have obeyed it from the heart. And they were earnestly exhorted to mark and avoid those who caused divisions among them contrary to the doctrine they had learned.
Paul wrote to Timothy, "Thou hast fully known my doctrine," and entreated him, if he would be a successful minister, to take heed to the doctrine. He charged Titus to be on-corrupt, grave, and sincere in doctrine. Peter labored in the same way, declaring that he would not be negligent to put Christians always in remembrance of these things, even though they already knew them, and were established in present truth.
These are our examples today. And these are our instructions. Following them, the minister of the threefold message today will hold up the truth of God, sustain it by competent authority, and explain it with all necessary amplification and illustration. He will recognize this to be indispensable.
_______ To be concluded in June