For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified" (1 Cor. 2:2). Try the Apostle Paul's motto. Preach Jesus. Jesus only. Preach Jesus crucified. Preach Jesus as the antidote for sin. Preach Jesus as our Creator, our Example, our Substitute, our Assurance, our Mediator, and our soon-coming King.
You need not preach anything else. If you think you have exhausted the topic of Jesus, begin again and retell the old, old story. Repetition refreshes your own heart even as it strangely warms the heart of your listeners.
What is so essential about preaching Jesus crucified? It is the gospel itself Jesus taking my place. I deserve to die; Jesus took my place. "Christ was treated as we deserve, that we might be treated as He deserves. He was condemned for our sins, in which He had no share, that we might be justified by His righteousness, in which we had no share. He suffered the death which was ours, that we might receive the life which was His. 'With His stripes we are healed.'" 1
Beautiful, simple, clear, concise, abundant, bountiful, full to the uttermost with forgiveness and restoration. Years ago I jotted some notes and adapted a presentation by Maxie Dunham into a powerful message on the importance of Jesus' shed blood. Passover declares, in anticipation of the redeemer, "The blood shall be a token" (Exod. 12:13). A token of what? What does Jesus blood mean to you and me?
Safety and Security. The experience of Passover ultimately meant protection. God did not merely bypass the homes protected by the blood. He stood guard, protecting each blood-sprinkled door and the people safely ensconced under that blood. Think of it. Protected by the blood. Protected even in the hour of judgment. Protected from sin's penalty. Protected from death's onslaught. How? Protected by the blood ... if we choose to stay! Dunham said, "Some talk casually, even glibly, about 'eternal security' as though the burden were upon the Lord to keep us safe once we accept Him as Saviour! Don't presume on God's grace. God has done His part! Christ has paid the awful price for our salvation, paid the price in His own blood! We are protected only as long as we continually claim the power of the blood!"
Submission. Although the blood was shed when the Lamb was sacrificed, it had to be applied at home. Picture the awesome scene. The Lord in the form of an Angel of Judgment moving over the land with piercing eyes, looking hither and yon and claiming the firstborn in awesome judgment, yet passing over those houses sealed with the blood. Passing over those identified by the blood as having heard God's call and chosen faithfulness.
Here's the reality. The hour of judgment was going to bring death to every house. Blood would be shed. For the unrepentant, the death of the firstborn child. For the repentant, the death of the only begotten Son of God. The result depends on whose blood was shed. It was a messy job to apply the blood. The process was unpleasant. But it brought a most pleasant reality. The sprinkled blood spoke of faith, of obedience, of testimony, of submission.
Substitution. The lamb was slain for the whole house. Israel was saved by a lamb the best and most perfect that could be found. Entering through their blood-sprinkled doors, they feasted on the lamb which had been slain for them. Of course, substitution is not all there is to the subject of atonement. It is an inexhaustible topic, but a simple truth. We will study it for all eternity, but we can accept and experience it at this moment. Paraphrasing Spurgeon, "I pray that we do not subscribe to some lax theology which teaches that the Lord Jesus did something or other which in some way or other, is in some degree or other connected with the salvation of men!" Don't make it too complex. Don't make it too difficult. Do make it plain. I deserve to die. Jesus took my place. Substitution. Specific. Individual. For me. Jesus took my place!
Soul cleansing. The lamb was without blemish; the bread without leaven. There was the absence of sin in the sacrifice which will lead us to the absence of sin in those covered by the blood. "The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin." Whatever your past, it is forgiven, forgotten. You cannot have been too bad that the blood of Jesus cannot cover your past. As our great mediator, Jesus pleads His own blood on our behalf. His cleansing leads to full regeneration.
Service. The purpose of cleansing service. "How much more shall the blood of Christ. . . cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living Cod?" (Heb. 9:14). Jesus accepts me "just as I am," but He doesn't leave me there. He foreordained at our creation and our recreation that we would serve Him as our living God. Having been cleansed, we must be about the works of His kingdom.
1 .Ellen C. White, The Desire of Ages (Nampa, Idaho: Pacific Press® Pub. Assn., 1898), p. 25.
James A. Cress is the Ministerial Secretary of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.