Matters of message, manner, and motive.

No one can read the New Testament without being impressed by the effectiveness of the early church’s preaching. The apostles preached with supernatural power.

Dr. F. D. Coggan puts it: “The infant church was multiplied out of all recognition by a single sermon. By preaching, a fellowship was formed which astounded the world by its demonstration of love, which held together in community men and women of different races and conflicting backgrounds. The modern preacher is compelled to question his own heart as he faces the astounding success of the apostolic preaching.”

We find certain clues to effective preaching in 1 Corinthians 2. Here, in the first five verses, Paul points to the preacher’s message, manner, and motive.

First, the power of preaching was related to the very message Paul proclaimed. Paul writes, “And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” The message of true preaching is the Person of Christ.

In the fine book, The Apostolic Preaching and Its Development, C. H. Dodd points out that the central message of apostolic preaching was the Person and work of Christ. He notes five emphases: the fulfillment of Old Testament Scriptures about the Messiah’s coming, the earthly life of Jesus, his death, his exaltation, and last, repentance toward God and faith in Christ because of coming judgment.

In Dr. Coggan’s similar study, The Ministry of the Word, we see that each of the four main words used in Acts to describe the activity of Christian preaching has as its object “Jesus”: “Jesus Christ,” “the Lord Jesus,” “Jesus ...

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