Today I was working through 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 and was challenged once again regarding my charge as a preacher of the gospel. Paul is reminding the Corinthian church about how he conducted himself when he first came to the city. He writes in 2:1-2,
And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.
All Paul did was preach Christ crucified. He employed no flowery message. He did not attempt to ingratiate himself to sinners at Corinth. He did not try and use pragmatism to attract them to hear him preach. He did not invite them with the promise of a gift bag or free movie tickets. All he knew was Christ. He was consumed with the person and work of Christ. The message for sinners was that Christ was crucified for their sins.
Churches, and pastors for that matter, struggle to know just how pragmatic we need to be today without compromising our core convictions. It would seem that when churches fail to believe in the sovereign power of God and his ability to draw sinners to himself, they revert to gimmicks to bring people in to hear them. Often times it is argued that the seriousness of the times call for new measures in terms of evangelism.
However the need of man is the same today as in Paul’s day, and that message is what is needed today. Some 30 years ago, Martyn Lloyd-Jones preached a sermon on this passage and said,
I need take none of your time in reminding you of the state of the world. We are living in a world of crisis and a world of calamity. You never know what the next news bulletin is going to bring forth. It is a world which is in a state of collapse in almost every respect. It is a time of great trouble and perplexity. And the great question that arises is this: Has the Christian Church anything to say at such a time? What has she got to say? What is the greatest need of the world tonight? What is the greatest need of every one of us, of every single human being?
He goes on to answer these questions: Christ, and him crucified.