Preaching the Cross is the compilation of the sermons that were given at the general sessions of the 2006 Together for the Gospel Conference (T4G). Chapters include messages from the faces of T4G, Mark Dever, Al Mohler, CJ Maheney and Ligon Duncan; as well as contributions from John MacArthur, R.C. Sproul and John Piper. Also included is the T4G Affirmations and Denials.
This book was enjoyable and edifying for me as I did not attend the conference. I took a message a day and enjoyed interacting with the various preachers. Particular personal favorites included John MacArthur’s chapter entitled, Why I Still Preach the Bible after Forty Years of Ministry. This was just littered with pithy MacArthur quotes that serve to simultaneously convict and encourage you.
Here are some examples:
“Faithfully preaching and teaching the Word must be the very heart of our ministry philosophy. Any other approach replaces the voice of God with human wisdom….The preacher’s task is not to be a conduit for human wisdom; he is God’s voice to speak to the congregation. No human message comes with the stamp of divine authority—only the Word of God. How dare any preacher substitute another message?” (p. 143)
“When I preach, one response that always pleases me most is, ‘The message was clear.’ Clarity is critical and basic. Ambiguity is deadly and produces nothing.” (p. 148)
“When I started in ministry, I committed myself to expository preaching, just explaining the Bible, because I knew that there was nothing I could say that was anywhere near as important as what God had to say. The real goal of my ministry has always been to keep my opinions out of it as much as possible—to get the meaning of the passage right and to make it clear to my hearers.” (p. 148)
“Show me a church where there is strong Bible teaching over an enduring period of time, and I will show you a congregation that is studying the Word of God on their own skilled in the science of interpretation that has been modeled for them by their pastor. But show me a church where the Word of God is not taught in the pulpit, and I’ll show you a place where biblical illiteracy, doctrinal confusion, and spiritual apathy at the personal level is rampant. The people will not rise to a level that is higher than their teacher. They will follow the example of their leaders. So, if we love God’s Word, our people will too. If we don’t they won’t either.” (p. 157)
And there is more where that came from; this chapter is a great encouragement to pastors. It makes you want to study, practice and teach.
R.C. Sproul also provides a helpful explanation of the important distinctions between the Roman Catholic doctrine of justification and the Protestant doctrine and in so doing shows why it is so important to understand and proclaim the biblical distinctives.
Al Mohler’s chapter entitled Preaching with the Culture in View was also quite helpful. Mohler demonstrates careful and thoughtful biblical fidelity by placing a priority on exposition that is not consumed with culture but rather the gospel, with a view towards sinners being rescued from sin.
I also found Mark Dever’s chapter A Real Minister very refreshing. Dever mixes exhortation throughout to stir our hearts to faithful, gospel-centered ministry.
This is just a refreshing book for those who love the gospel, particularly those who are in ministry. I would recommend it for pastors and seminary students, but not to the exclusion of every Christian who enjoys ministry (this should pretty much be everyone). I am regularly looking for books to go through with other guys in an early morning coffee house setting, I think this would be such a book.