2 Corinthians 4:5-6
For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake.…
1. "We preach." Preaching is a peculiar function. No other religion but Christianity has preaching in it. It is not discussion or mere explanation; it is the proclamation of gospel truth in such a way that the lives of men may be made Christian. The Christian preacher must never wear a muzzle. He must pray for boldness, and his hearers must above all ask God to give him this gift. The surgeon needs a firm hand to perform an operation; the captain needs a clear utterance to keep the vessel's head well to the storm.
2. "We preach not ourselves." Preachers may have some influence, but it is absolutely of no worth if it glorifies the man. People soon tire of a prophet whose prophecy is only about himself or in his own name. If he gain influence, it is through his service.
3. Is tie, then, to be a kind of spiritual servant of all work? No; he is your servant for Jesus' sake. An ambassador is a servant that waits in a foreign court; but it is to do the will of the monarch who sent him. Now, what is the substance of the message which a Christian preacher has to bring? "Christ Jesus as Lord." We preach —
I. THE DIVINE PERSONALITY IN CHRIST. Man's greatest need is to see God. All Biblical history is a series of pathways leading to God. And if this be so the Bible was leading through the O.T. to Christ. All the history of God's dealings with men sums itself up in Christ as Lord. If all men need to see God, the proof that Christ is God will be this that men do actually see God when Christ is preached to them. The real proofs of Christ's Divinity are in the spiritual experiences of men who love Christ.
1. Christ legislates as God. When men hear Him they feel He speaks with authority. The world knows in its heart that it would be a Godlike world if it would but listen to Jesus.
2. He judges like God. He divides man from man, nation from nation, Church from Church, with unerring vision.
3. He loves like God. If He loves only Peter and James and John, what thanks has He, for these love Him in return? But when He loves Judas, Mary Magdalene, Pontius Pilate, and the poor dying thief, then men feel that a new manifestation of Divine love has come to them.
II. THE DIVINE PROPITIATION THROUGH CHRIST. When Paul first went to Corinth he made a special resolution — "to know nothing save Jesus Christ and Him crucified." And there are people in all our large cities who need such a treatment as this to-day, because Christ crucified meets their central want. It is not that they do not want good books, music, politics, houses, etc., but the want that towers over all is that they want a Saviour. If man is morally diseased he needs a remedy, and that remedy is in Christ, who was crucified on the Cross for our sins. The word "propitiation" refers to Christ's death, whereby God's mercy is brought to us as sinners. But "mercy" is a very humbling word. Yet, when conviction has been brought home to us that we are guilty, it is the one word out of God's rich vocabulary that we most of all need. "Mercy" is a twofold word.
1. It is a cry. You are labouring under one fell complaint, and you must cry for help. The prisoner has had a fair trial, and his guilt has been brought home to him. You are that prisoner.
2. It is an offer. The sick man need not die, for the Good Physician has come; the prisoner need not suffer, for Christ has borne the burden and curse of his sin.
III. THE DIVINE SOVEREIGNTY IN CHRIST. "Christ Jesus as Lord." We are apt to let this idea slip out of our conceptions of evangelical religion. As soon as we have apprehended Christ as Saviour, we suppose sometimes that the work is done, whereas it is but just begun. Christ is Saviour in order that He may be King. If Christ does not rule men He has failed in the purpose that called Him here. Christ is Lord of man; Lord of the woman; Lord of the child; Lord of the home, determining its expenditure, its giving, its habits, its prayers, and its purposes; Lord of the Church; Lord of the state, decreeing justice to all, bringing law into harmony with Divine teaching; Lord of the world, driving back the darkness, destroying false religion, bringing in the true, making earth like heaven. That lordship of Christ will not let us put on our religion and put it off like our Sunday clothes. It calls upon Christians to be the subjects of Christ everywhere — to obey Christ in business, in the home, in politics, in reading, in talking, in amusements, in social life, in crying, in laughing, in giving, in dying. There is a majesty about this name that men have not yet felt.
(S. Pearson, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake.