[Editor’s Note: How often do you, your small group, or your church end up talking about Jesus when you study the Bible? In John 5:39-40, Jesus claimed all of Scripture points to him. But he also warned that many who excel in explaining God’s Word never dig into what it is saying about God’s Son, and may even frequently try to avoid allowing their studies to take them to Christ at all. This week David Bryant helps us move in a totally opposite direction to that—for our own sakes as well as the sake of fellow believers we might influence.]
I could hardly believe my ears.
I was absolutely stunned as I watched the broadcast of this year’s National Prayer Breakfast in our nation’s capital in early February.
In attendance were President Trump, members of his cabinet, representatives from both houses of Congress, plus leaders from 180 nations, along with thousands from all fifty states representing every religion. Many more, perhaps millions, watched on C-SPAN and on the web.
Confronted With the Supremacy of Christ
Before this august audience stood retired Navy Rear Admiral Barry Black, chaplain of the US Senate since 2003, who was invited to bring the main address of the morning. I was amazed, as I imagine many were, that he used his half hour to proclaim the glory of Christ with a boldness and clarity perhaps never witnessed before in such a diverse setting.
The climax of his singular focus on the wonders of Jesus involved walking his listeners through various books of the Bible, in sequence, proclaiming that Jesus is the central theme of each one from Genesis to Revelation. At the close of Chaplain Black’s message the audience responded with a long and loud standing ovation. In fact, the ovation started before he even finished!
Essentially, he used God’s Word to wake us up to the reality of the supremacy of God’s Son. Watch and listen for yourself. The longer Chaplain Black speaks the better it gets! Don’t miss the ending!
As I listened to his powerful message I thought, “What if this became our focus every Sunday morning?”
What if this kind of Bible preaching and teaching, so thoroughly saturated with straightforward sharpness on the greatness and glory of our Savior—and delivered with such manifest passion for exalting his name alone—were to become the steady diet, week after week, of churches all across America? Then the Christ Awakening movement for which so many of us have been praying would envelop our land in the twinkling of an eye.
Of that one thing I’m convinced. We’re that close to such a spiritual revolution in this generation.
We simply need to see thousands more begin to use God’s Word to reintroduce God’s Son to God’s people the way Chaplain Black did at that national gathering.
One Key Question Can Transform How You Share God’s Word About God’s Son
Let me share with you what I’ve found to be the single most important approach that has transformed how I use Scripture to guide Christians into more of Christ. It might do the same for you.
In John 5 Jesus claimed, “these are the very Scriptures that testify about me” (NIV). In Luke 24 we read that on the day of his resurrection “beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them [the two men walking to Emmaus] what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself ” (NIV).
Taking my cue from Jesus, here’s one question I have found invaluable in holding me accountable as I endeavor to awaken fellow believers to more of the spectacular wonders of our King whenever I teach the Bible. Whatever the topic or the text, whatever the setting (family devotions, small group Bible study, preaching Sunday morning, conversation over coffee, etc.) this question compels me and guides me:
To the best of my ability and in the power of the Holy Spirit, as I share God’s Word with fellow believers, am I doing so in such a way that they will leave my presence with a larger vision of the supremacy of God’s Son and with greater reasons to put their hope in him than they had before we came together?
Bottom line, at every opportunity my goal remains: To enable you to gain greater insights into your Savior for all he is today to such an extent that you will begin to pursue him in new ways that will lead you to exult in him and trust in him and love him and obey him in new ways.
Romans 10:17 declares: “So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ” (NLT). This suggests to me that the only way to ignite in people’s hearts a vibrant faith in God’s promises is to help them hear a whole lot more about the person and reign of God’s Son.
And that leads me to these conclusions:
God cannot lead his people into a deeper relationship with his Son based on a vision of the supremacy of Christ no one is giving them.
On the other hand, there’s no limit to how far God can take us in our relationship with Christ if someone is consistently feeding us deeper truths about the supremacy of Christ.
Voices From the Past
Let me reinforce the theme of this blog post by leaving you with a series of quotations (emphases added) from those who have excelled in using God’s Word to awaken God’s people to the supremacy of God’s Son—starting with the apostle Paul:
This is my life work: helping people understand and respond to this Message . . . so here I am, preaching and writing about things that are way over my head, the inexhaustible riches and generosity of Christ. My task is to bring out in the open and make plain what God, who created all this in the first place, has been doing in secret and behind the scenes all along . . . All this is proceeding along lines planned all along by God and then executed in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 3, The Message).
One of the most fascinating of all the preacher’s tasks is to explore both the emptiness of fallen man and the fullness of Jesus Christ in order then to demonstrate how He can fill our emptiness, lighten our darkness, enrich our poverty and bring our human aspirations to fulfillment. To encounter Christ is to touch reality and experience transcendence (Dr. John R. W. Stott).
Preach Christ, always and everywhere. He is the whole Gospel. His person, His offices and work must be our one great, all-comprehending theme. / From every text of Scripture there is a road to Christ. And my dear brothers, your business is, when you get to a text, to say, now, what is the road to Christ? I have never found a text that did not have a road to Christ in it (Charles Spurgeon).
We ought to read the Scriptures with the express design of finding Christ in them. Whoever shall turn aside from this object, though he may weary himself throughout his whole life in learning, will never attain the knowledge of the truth: for what wisdom can we have without the wisdom of God? (John Calvin).
If we ever tell a particular Bible story without putting it into the overall main Bible story (about Christ), we actually change the meaning of the particular event for us. It becomes a moralistic exhortation to “try harder” . . . There are, in the end, only two ways to read the Bible: Is it basically about me or basically about Jesus (Dr. Tim Keller quoting Ed Clowney).
Finally, from With Christ Alone, let me pass along to you these convictions written by Jeremiah Lanphier, catalyst of the 1857 businessmen’s prayer movement in New York City and a leader in the Third Great Awakening in our country:
Christ is the text of Scripture: All preaching beside Christ, is beside the text; therefore, keep to your text. Christ is the very foundation and subject matter of preaching; preaching without Christ is building castles in the air. Christ is the life and spirit of preaching; all preaching without Him is like a body without life and spirit. Christ is the great end of preaching; preaching is to manifest his glory; when Christ is not preached, that great end is lost.
Now that’s what I’m talking about! That’s the high calling for every believer:
At every opportunity use God’s Word to move God’s people into more of God’s Son.
About the Author
Over the past 40 years, David Bryant has been defined by many as a “messenger of hope” and a “Christ-proclaimer” to the Church throughout the world. Formerly minister-at-large with the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, president of Concerts of Prayer International (COPI) and chairman of America’s National Prayer Committee, David now provides leadership to ChristNow.com and to Proclaim Hope!, whose mission is to foster and serve Christ-awakening movements. Order his widely-read book at www.ChristIsAllBook.com.