To Live Is Christ – Common Core of Preaching

It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.

  • Philippians 1:15-18a

“Teacher,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.”
“Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “For no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us. Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward.

  • Mark 9:38-41

For to me, to live is Christand to die is gain.

  • Philippians 1:21

“What is happening here? Well, when you take a dominant leader like Paul and remove him from the scene, other ambitious people start filling in the gap. Nature, as they say, abhors a vacuum—and so it goes if you remove strong leadership. When Alexander the Great died, for example, his whole empire began to crumble within three to five years. Why? Because the void he left began to fill up with warring factions jockeying for power. A similar thing is happening in Paul’s absence. When he is imprisoned, others seek to fill his position. Some, as he says, preach Christ, but they have no intention of trying to fill Paul’s shoes. They do not preach out of love, out of ‘good will,’ or to continue the ministry of what made Paul Paul, which was actually not Paul himself but Christ. Rather, others try to usurp the mantle of leadership out of ‘selfish ambition,’ seeking Paul’s position to steal glory from him and ultimately from God. But Paul has a remarkable perspective on even this wicked self-interest. ‘If Christ is proclaimed,’ he reasons, ‘in that I will rejoice’ (Phil. 1:18, author’s translation).”

  • Matt Chandler, To Live is Christ, To Die is Gain

Jesus said that whoever is not against us is for us, but that seems such a blurred line these days.  If in Jesus’ time someone cast out a demon in Jesus’ name, then it was not the power of the person that cast out the demon, but God’s.

What we have these days is one type of false doctrine after another, none of which come close to the biblical teaching and often the individual is honored instead of glorifying God, but they attach Jesus to it.  There is no power in what they preach except to lure people away from the Lord.  Note that in John 6, the chapter starts with the feeding of the five thousand and ends with many of Jesus’ disciples disserting Him.  The teachings were too hard for them to understand.

Yet, at the end of the chapter, we hear Peter, the sounding board for the group, say that they have nowhere else to go.

Today, it is no different than in the time of Jesus.  People reject the true Jesus and turned to something called “Jesus” across the street because they like the music or the youth group has more fun.

I think Jesus, and here with Paul, they are meaning that the true Jesus must be glorified.  The verse that is the title of Rev. Chandler’s book is sandwiched between the passage above and the passage that follows next week.  With Jesus, life is worth living, but everything revolves around and glorifies Jesus.

Preaching then, at its core, must glorify Jesus.  So, when Paul says that as long as Jesus is glorified, who cares if these preachers that have followed Paul in the Philippian church are doing so with the right attitude or motivation.

Yet, when their motivation is self-promotion or a quick dollar (or whatever you call money), it is so easy to slip into false doctrine.  Thus, Paul’s criterion works.  Glorifying something called Jesus, but is not Jesus, is not what Paul is talking about.

This makes us responsible in knowing who Jesus is.  Bible study and communicating with other Christians is imperative in discernment of whether someone’s doctrine is sound or garbage.

Jesus is the One True Way.  Jesus is Truth.  Jesus is Life.  There is no other way to the Father in Heaven other than through Jesus.

Lord, guide me.  You are the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  No other way is possible for salvation.  No other way is worthy.  Our life is life in You and for You.  May our words and actions glorify You.  In Thy Name I pray.  Amen

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

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