Posted by: Billy Marsh | August 28, 2007

A Valuable Word from Preaching the Cross

Preaching the Cross

I just finished reading Preaching the Cross which is a collection of sermons that were presented at the 2006 Together For The Gospel conference. The contributing preachers/authors at this conference and in this book are Mark Dever, J. Ligon Duncan III, R. Albert Mohler Jr., C. J. Mahaney, John MacArthur, John Piper, and R. C. Sproul. What a line up! I didn’t go to the conference, but it looks like it would’ve been similar to attending the major league baseball home run derby.

My first experience with this conference came through a secondhand cd of the sermon audio of Piper’s contribution, “Preaching Expository Exultation for the Glory of God”. Needless to say, this sermon is still one of the most powerfully delivered sermons I have ever heard. Piper has a way of causing you to exult in Christ even during a sermon that is geared towards arguing for a main mode of preaching rather than laboring over a specific text. I am hoping to go to the next conference in the Spring of ’08, but we’ll see. There are still many factors that may prevent me from registering.

I bought this book back during Desiring God’s $5 sale in July. I hadn’t planned on reading it any time soon, but I felt compelled to pick it up the other week and ended up reading it rather quickly. I would recommend this book to any would be preacher, teacher, or church speaker. All of the messages are great including Duncan’s exhortation to “Preach Christ in the Old Testament”, Mohler’s theological framework for “Preaching with the Culture in View”, and especially, Mahaney’s introspective look at 1 Tim 4:16, “Watch Your Life and Doctrine”.

However, the highlights of the book were hearing the stories Dever told about how all of these men’s lives became intertwined and how they all became friends, Piper’s message, and the closing chapter given by MacArthur called, “Why I Still Preach the Bible after Forty Years of Ministry”. MacArthur’s sermon is a very simple, but profound retropective of his life’s ambition to preach the word (2 Tim 4:2). I found it very intriguing that a book on “preaching the cross” ended with a chapter on simply “preaching the Bible”. How I interpret this is that if one correctly preaches the Bible and is faithful to its interpretation, he will inevitably and instintively preach the cross.

MacArthur imparts a massive amount of wisdom and counsel in this chapter. I found his sermon the most helpful and encouraging, but not at the expense of any of the other ones; they all powerfully impacted me. Towards the end of his section, MacArthur submits “10 Reasons to Preach the Word”, which he adds a disclaimer that this list is not to be understood as exhaustive. In reason #6, “Because God’s Word is the Means God Uses to Sanctify His People”, I found some timeless advice along the same lines as what I was trying to say in my recent post “A Word to Brothers and Beyond” concerning the absolute necessity for Christians, even more so, ministers in training, always to be in the Word. And hopefully, many of you all are having unhurried quiet times with the Lord.

So, here is a priceless word from MacArthur on the same issue. I hope it encourages your walk and empowers you not to forsake the transforming work of the Word in your own life, not to mention the personal communion you will miss out on which ought to be the goal of the transforming and sanctifying work of the Word in the believer’s life. MacArthur writes:

Preachers also are sanctified through the study and proclamation of God’s Word. Even if I never preached another sermon, I would thank God every day of my life for the sanctifying grace that has come to me through the daily study of his precious Word. Pastors, then, should study to know God, not just to make sermons. For me, the greatest joy of preaching comes not in the final step of proclamation, but in the transformation of my own life as the truth pervades my thinking throughout the entire process. A sanctified preacher, known as such to his people, is a powerful instrument when he opens the Word.

“Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.”

~ John 17:17 ~


  1. This sounds like a good book (one that I won’t be able to read until at least December).

    The things you summarize here resonate with what Kent Hughes spoke about this morning in chapel.

    There is so much power in the Word of God proclaimed!

  2. It seems that the Lord has been placing many readings that cover this subject in my path all around the same time. I just read over the Word and Spirit material in Vanhoozer’s “Is there meaning” book which was awesome; then this book; some Luther I’ve been looking at has covered it; and now Dr. Hughes.

    I’m so glad he spoke on how what you believe about the Bible determines what kind of preacher you are and what kind of impact you actually make on the kingdom. That has been a major issue in my heart for a while.

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