Q. What does it mean to preach Christ?
A. To preach Christ means that every sentence and all of our statements are grounded in Christ (Ephesians 1:10). The Christian sermon does not merely assume this, but it explains it–it always explains how and why all Theology is Christology. That means that any God-talk is not really talking about God if every fact is not rooted in the incarnation of God in Christ. In speaking about God, everything must be related to who God is in the incarnation, otherwise words are being abducted as to get to God outside of Christ. Against all such attempts, Jesus says, “no man comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
Jesus’ statement here is more comprehensive than what many interpreters imply. Interpreters narrow this statement to the topic of how someone comes to God at the first (in conversion), but Jesus is speaking of God in whole (in totality) and not merely his introduction. There is no God-fact that is not a Christ-fact. God is not unlike Christ in some way. So to know what God is like we look at Jesus. We don’t come to know anything about God independent of Christ. Therefore, if we are to truly preach, then whatever we say must find its full revelation, grounding and expression in Jesus. For example, to say that “God is good” finds its expression, meaning and enfleshing in the resurrection of Jesus. That is, God raised Jesus from the dead (God is Good).
If you want to reverse how this work, take any text of the Bible, and imagine that Jesus has not come in flesh, and then see what the text would mean. Whatever you discover it to mean, DO NOT preach that (you have only found idolatry). If your explanation of any sentence of the Bible could be held, regardless of Jesus being in flesh, then you missed the point of the sentence. Every sentence in Scripture finds its meaning and grounding in the incarnation.
But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness (1 Corinthians 1:23)
All speaking about God is only that if it is grounded in the God-Man. Only God enflehsed could be crucified. We thus root all talk of God in the incarnation.
Take any verse you want, and ask, “If God had not enfleshed himself, what would I say about this text?” The answer is, NOTHING. There would be no James 4 if God did not come in flesh. There would be no Ecclesiastes 11 if God did not come in flesh. The very reason that Ezra 3 exists is because of the incarnation. Every scripture text finds its meaning in the incarnation. No verse of the Bible would be there if there the incarnation was never going to be. Every verse has its grounding in Christ.
Every glass of water has the same grounding. Water exists because Christ was to come in flesh and drink water and then tell us to thirst for him. Bread exists for the same reason that all of creation exists: The incarnation.
In looking at Jesus we are not excluding who the Father is, we are finding out who he is, what he does, why he does it and what he is like. God is Christlike. In Christ we can answer the question:
Q. What is God like?
Q. What is Christ like.
A: Read the Word. We can read and see. We can turn to Matthew 5, and see how God took on flesh because the poverty of his fame being tarnished (in humanity) weighed upon him. He mourned. He hungered for righteousness. He came, and we persecuted him. In Christ, we find out who God is, what he does, the Divine motives, and what the Trinity is like.
An Audio Summary: Jesus, Our Hermeneutic