Preaching Christ, a Cause of Joy
James Smith, 1860
the CAUSE of His Joy. "Christ is preached!" To preach Christ was his favorite employment, and to know that Christ was preached by others, gave him joy.
The best things are sometimes done from a bad motive. Yet, in the sight of God, everything is — as the motive is. To preach the gospel is a good thing — but no one should preach the gospel except from love to the Lord Jesus, and a desire to do good to immortal souls. Yet, from the worst of motives, some have preached Christ. It was so in Paul's day, out of sheer opposition to him, and in order to add affliction to his bonds, some preached Christ. Hence his language is, "It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice!" Philippians 1:15-18
To preach Christ is to publish the glory of his person, as the Son of God; and to make known his finished work, as the Savior of sinners. This is what man needs — to be told of a Savior; a present, powerful, and willing Savior. This is what God requires — that the good news of his grace, should be made known to every creature that is under Heaven. This is what the Spirit works by — for Christ crucified is the power of God, and the wisdom of God. The good news of Christ, is the power of God unto salvation, to every one that believes. By this, sinners are converted, and translated out of the kingdom of Satan, into the kingdom of God's dear Son. By this, the Savior is exalted, and acquires a name that is above every name. By this, believers are edified, and are built up on their most holy faith. If therefore Christ was preached, Paul rejoiced. Mark,
The NATURE of His Joy.It was benevolent joy — and flowed from his love to man. He loved mankind, and desired the salvation of all the race. It was loyal joy — and flowed from his love to Christ as king, whom he desired to see crowned by every creature, and honored as Lord of all. It was self-denying joy. Others preaching Christ, may eclipse him, and perhaps on purpose to annoy and distress him; but . . .
if Christ was preached,
if souls were saved,
if Satan was confounded,
if sin was destroyed,
if Christ was made known and honored,
and if free grace was glorified — he rejoiced.
And it was his settled determination to do so; "yes," says he, "and I will rejoice." Let whoever will preach Christ, let them preach Christ from whatever motive they may, though some error may be mixed with what they preached — yet, if they preached Christ, he would rejoice. What magnanimity was here! How SELF was abased here! What love to Christ was here! How free from jealousy was the apostle's mind! The more Christ was preached, and the more purely Christ was preached — the more he rejoiced. Only let Christ be exalted, no matter by whom — and it added to the apostle's joy. There may be much imperfection mixed up with the performance — but if the substance was good, he was happy. What an example for us! What a reproof for many!
Beloved, let us endeavor to imbibe his spirit. It is a holy, a Christ-like spirit. If good is done, no matter who does it; if Christ is made known, no matter who publishes him — let us rejoice. Let us imitate his example. Christ was his copy, let us copy him. The Spirit of God influenced and directed him, let us seek to be influenced by the same almighty agent. Let us so act and so speak, that all may see that the same mind is in us, which was also in Christ Jesus. He would not forbid the casting out of devils in his name, though James and John wished him, because the parties followed not with them; but said, "he who is not against me, is for me."
We must not expect every one to see with our eyes, or walk by our rule. "There are diversities of gifts — but the same Spirit; and there are diversities of administrations — but the same Lord; and there are diversities of operations — but it is the same God who works all in all." Let us therefore pray for all who preach Christ; and as far as we can conscientiously, let us co-operate with all, who proclaim the gospel, and endeavor to extend the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ. Variety of opinion there will be — but union of heart there may be. Different men will act in different ways — but let us wish well to all, who wish well to the cause of Christ, and say, from the bottom of our hearts, "Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ!" And if men preach Christ, and salvation by him alone — let us not be too fastidious, or make too much of minor matters — but rising above all that is little or mean, exclaim, "Christ is preached, and I do rejoice! Yes, and will rejoice!"