James H. Zachary was Associate Secretary of the General Conference Ministerial Association and the first editor of Elder’s Digest when this article was written.

"Evangelism is a whole new experience when the preacher makes Christ the center of every sermon," says Joe Hagan, public relations director for the Central Ghana Conference. He states that in the past "My preaching had been argumentative and vindictive," but now "I have found a better way to win people to the Lord Jesus and His truth."

Paul learned this lesson during his ministry. He wrote, "I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified" (1 Cor. 2:2).

In the past century the first Adventist preachers developed skills in presenting certain "testing" truths to American Christian audiences. From this beginning, our preaching and teaching continues to be strongly doctrinal even though our audience has changed. We can no longer assume that our audiences know the Lord Jesus.

Now we need to set aside many of our sermons and lessons and retain only those that reflect the biblical message Christ commissioned His people to share with the whole world. Whether from the church pulpit, an evangelistic lectern, or in a Bible study, we must teach Christ and Him crucified regardless of the topic. Without Christ, humanity has no hope. Jesus came so that we could have abundant life. We need to emphasize this in our sermons and lessons.

"All roads lead to Rome" goes the familiar saying, and every doctrine must lead to Jesus. As elders, pastors, and evangelists develop the skills of Christ-centered preaching and teaching, the listener will see that in rejecting a certain doctrine one may be rejecting the Lord Jesus in his or her life. Every doctrine must be interwoven with the gospel of Jesus.

Elder's Digest is committed to the task of transforming Adventist preaching and teaching. We have pockets of legalistic belief scattered throughout the world in the Adventist Church. These people have accepted the arguments for each doctrine without developing a personal faith relationship with Jesus. You would be surprised how many young people and older members of our congregations really doubt they will be saved when the Lord returns. How sad! We have work to do among our people! I am convicted that every Bible teaching, correctly understood, opens the student to new revelations of our Lord. This understanding must result in a transformation of the believer's daily experience. We need to reiterate─Jesus is our friend, and with Him all things are possible. Jesus said, "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me" (John 12:32). Christ-centered preaching and teaching remains as the only detergent to remove the tough stains of legalism.

Elder's Digest begins a Christ-centered doctrinal section this month. I pray that elders and pastors around the world will discover new power in presenting the special message God has for the world today.


James H. Zachary, editor of Elder's Digest, is an associate secretary of the Ministerial Association of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. He worked as a teacher for 27 years and was the ministerial secretary of the Far Eastern Division for nine years. He has done evangelism in some 30 countries.