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It’s Friday, But Sunday is Coming! By Dr. David P. Craig

“Thank God for Sunday!”

I think the first time I ever heard the phrase, “It’s Friday, but Sunday is Coming!” was from a message that Tony Campolo delivered in Chapel in the mid 1980’s at Multnomah School of the Bible (Now called Multnomah University in Portland, Oregon).

Yesterday, I had a “procedure” a nicer and more sweet sounding term than “surgery” at a hospital in Irvine, CA. I was recently diagnosed with Cancer – Squamous Cell Carcinoma – that started on the back of my tongue and has resulted in a huge mass the size of a lemon in my neck.

I had a “G-tube” inserted in my stomach because doctors and former patients I’ve consulted with say that weeks 3-6 of radiation and chemotherapy will be “brutal” – my throat will hurt “200 times worse than strep throat” (Doctor’s exact words). Also, that I will not be able to eat or drink anything orally during that time because of the pain. I recently talked with a friend of a friend who had the exact same cancer two years ago (and by God’s grace is cancer free now), and he lost 80 pounds during treatment and had the G-tube “procedure” in a weakened state mid-way through treatment. His advice was “get the G-tube NOW!”

So yesterday – with a tube in my nose that went to my stomach and feeling like I was battling in a kick boxing match with Chuck Norris and Jackie Chan I was thinking of the aforementioned phrase by Tony Campolo, “It’s Friday, but Sunday is coming.”

During surgery – I was awake during the “procedure” and in a lot of pain – I tried quoting Bible verses and singing hymns (I can never remember the new songs – only classics like “And Can It Be; “How Great Thou Art”; and “Amazing Grace”); and trying to take my focus off of the pain. Quoting verses or hymns just didn’t seem to work – I couldn’t concentrate on anything other than the pain.

So the Holy Spirit  began take my focus off of my pain and on to Jesus – what He did for me on the cross 2000 years ago. I visualized the torture He endured – the lashes; the insults; the crown of thorns; suffocating; the blood, sweat, and tears. Ultimately being unrecognizable, forsaken, and dying for my sins. He was perfect and never did anything wrong – and yet He volunteered to endure more torture than I could imagine. I endured what seemed like torture for 45 minutes – and now its done. I didn’t accomplish any atoning work for anyone. Yet His righteousness was imputed to me, and His voluntary sacrifice in payment for my sin were absolutely necessary to make me right with a Holy and perfect God.

Jesus was crucified on a Friday, but rose again on Sunday. I can’t even come close to comparing my “torture” with His. However, I do have a deeper appreciation for what He endured in His 33 years on earth: facing temptation without sinning; completely obeying God the Father in every way; and becoming the “Lamb that was slain” so that He could be my Savior and Lord.

I don’t know what will become of my cancer, I hope and pray that God will take it away. One thing I do know, is that He has already wiped away my sin, and that everything He allows is for my good and ultimately for the Glory of His Son.  I hope and pray that God will use my cancer for the furtherance of the glorious Gospel. However, I know that even if I’m silent the rocks will cry out of His glorious works. I know that I am weak and frail and but a mere sinful vessel. I also know that Jesus was weak, suffered, and died in my place, and rose from the dead on Sunday. He is so strong that no one and nothing can defeat Him. Today is Friday. But Sunday is coming! Last time He came as a humble servant. Next time He comes as King!

Today may be a tough day for you my friend. But remember that anyone who comes to Him will not be cast away. Our confession of sin in exchange for His righteousness. We can never earn our salvation – but Jesus has earned the right to be trusted and believed in unto salvation. “The righteous for the unrighteous, to bring us to God.”

Today, I’m doing better, but will continue down a rough road with radiation and chemotherapy ahead. However, I am grateful that because of the righteous life, death, burial, and resurrection of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, that no matter how many “Friday’s” I will have in this trial – that because of Jesus finished work on the cross, my future hope is that “Sunday is coming!”

Some Scriptures God The Holy Spirit Used To Comfort Me in my Pain:

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?” – Psalm 22:1

“For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. – Isaiah 53:2-7

Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors. – Isaiah 53:10-12

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. – 2 Corinthians 5:20-21

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. – Hebrews 4:14-16

For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. – 1 Peter 2:21-25

For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil. For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit. – 1 Peter 3:17-18

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed…Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name [the name of Christ]. – 1 Peter 4:12-13, 16

Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. – 1 Peter 4:1-2

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. 1 John 2:1-2

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. – 1 Corinthians 15:56-58

 

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Dr. Sidney Greidanus Gives 5 Reasons for Preaching Christ Today

Why We Still Need to Preach Christ Today

In response to the question why we should preach Christ today, many might respond by pointing to the example of the apostles: If Peter and Paul preached Christ, then preachers today must preach Christ. But this argument from imitation is rather superficial and flawed. To imitate Paul in preaching Christ is rather selective imitation, for most of us do not imitate Paul in going on missionary journeys to do our preaching. Nor do we imitate Paul in going first to the synagogues to do our preaching. Nor do we imitate Paul in literally making tents to support a “tentmaking ministry.” In all these and other instances we realize that biblical description of what Paul was doing does not necessarily translate into biblical prescription for us today (Reading biblical description as biblical prescription is a common form of the genre mistake, i.e., reading the genre of historical or autobiographical narrative as if it were the genre of law or exhortation (See Sidney Greidanus. Modern Preacher, 17, 165). So we must dig deeper to make the case for preaching Christ today.

We must ask ourselves:

What were the underlying reasons for Paul and the other apostles to preach Christ?

And do these reasons still hold for preachers today?

 Jesus’ Command: “Go … and Make Disciples of All Nations….”

(1) A frequently overlooked but obvious reason why the apostles preached Christ was Jesus’ parting command:

“Go … and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt 28:19-20). Although the baptismal formula is trinitarian, the command to make “disciples [of Jesus]” and to “teach … them to obey everything that I have commanded you,” and the promise of Jesus’ presence – all focus specifically on Jesus Christ. The apostle Peter later recalls, “He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead” (Acts 10:42).

Even the apostle Paul, who did not receive the original mandate, would later receive the specific command to preach Christ. While he was on the way to Damascus to persecute Christians, the living Lord intercepted him: “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But get up and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” Then Jesus told Ananias to meet Paul, “for he is an instrument whom I have chosen to bring my name before the Gentiles and kings and before the people of Israel” (Acts 9:5-6, 15).

The apostles, then, were commanded by their risen Lord to preach his “name” (the revelation concerning Jesus) among the nations, and they responded by preaching Jesus Christ. A few decades later, the Gospel writers. accepted this original mandate as their mandate. For example, in writing his Gospel, Mark reveals his central concern in his opening verse: “The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” Christian preachers today also live under the command to preach the “name” of Jesus Christ, for the command to preach Christ reaches far beyond the first apostles and Gospel writers – it reaches “to the end of the age.”

Exciting News: The King Has Come!

(2) In addition to obedience to Jesus’ mandate, another major reason for preaching Christ lies in the message itself.

Even today when a President or a Queen visits a city, the arrival itself is a newsworthy event. No one needs to command broadcasters to tell the story, for the story itself begs to be told. If this is true for the arrival of a President or a Queen, how much more for the arrival of “the King of Kings.” After centuries of waiting for God’s promised Messiah, after many high expectations and more dashed hopes, the story of his arrival simply has to be proclaimed.

For example, when Peter’s brother Andrew met Jesus, he found a natural outlet for his excitement: “The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, ‘We have found the Messiah’…. And he brought him to Jesus” (John 1:41-42, NIV). Andrew’s need to tell was but a small foretaste of the church’s missionary zeal after Jesus’ resurrection. This story simply has to be told: God has fulfilled his promises; his salvation has become a reality; the kingdom of God has broken into this world in a wonderful new way; the King has come!

Life-Giving News: “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and You Will Be Saved.”

(3) Another major reason for preaching Christ lies in the life-saving character of the message.

When there was an outbreak of polio in British Columbia, Canada, in the 1970s, the government wasted no time getting out the message to all parents to have their children inoculated against polio. It was a vital message; it needed to be broadcast immediately. The need to tell was obvious in the light of the disease and the availability of an antidote. Ever since the fall into sin, humanity has been alienated from God and under the penalty of death. Everyone with discernment can recognize the disease, but not all know the cure. People need to be told about the cure. When the Philippian jailer cried out, “What must I do to be saved?” Paul answered, “Believe on the Lord

Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16:30-31). As Paul put it a few years later, “If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom 10:9). Faith in Jesus Christ is the antidote for eternal death. In a world dead in sin, alienated from God, headed for death, the life-giving message of Jesus Christ is so urgent that it simply must be told. For it is a message of hope, of reconciliation, of peace with God, of healing, of restoration, of salvation, of eternal life.

 Exclusive News: “There Is Salvation in No One Else.”

(4) A further stimulus for preaching Christ is that Christ is the only way of salvation.

As Peter puts it, “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Peter’s hopeful but exclusive message echoes the message of Jesus himself,

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” – John 14:6

“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing… These things I command you, so that you will love one another. John 15:5,17

“All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”  – Matthew 11:27

“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” – 2 Corinthians 5:20-21

“For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.” – 1 Timothy 2:5-6

Eternal life is to be found only in Jesus Christ.

If Jesus were one of many ways of salvation, the church could relax a bit, hoping that people might find some other way to be saved from death. But now that Christ is the only way, the urgency of preaching Christ is all the more pressing. There is salvation in no one else but Jesus (See, e.g., Allan Harman, “No Other Name,” Theological Forum 24. November, 1996, 43-53).

All of the above reasons for preaching Christ hold today as much as they did in the times of the New Testament church, for Jesus’ command is valid “till the end of the age.” In a century which counts more Christian martyrs than in all of church history, the good news that the King has come is as significant and encouraging as ever; in a materialistic age in which people despair of the meaning of human life, the vital news that there is salvation from death through faith in Christ is as crucial as ever; and in our relativistic, pluralistic society with its many so-called saviors, the exclusive news that there is salvation in no one else but Jesus Christ is as essential as ever.

Hearers in a Non-Christian Culture

(5) The final reason for preaching Christ is that our hearers are living in a non-Christian culture. The early church, in the nature of the case, addressed people living in a non-Christian culture. People needed to hear about Christ and the difference he makes. But contemporary preachers equally address people living in a non-Christian or post-Christian culture. If contemporary hearers were living in a culture saturated with Christian thinking and action, one might perhaps take for granted that people hearing a sermon would sense how it is related to Christ. For all of life is related to Christ. As Paul writes, “He [Christ] is the image of the invisible God … ; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created . . . – all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Col 1:15-17). But preachers today cannot assume that their hearers will see these connections; they cannot even assume that their hearers will know the meaning of words like “gospel” and “God” and “Christ.”

 Non-Christian Hearers

Europe and North America have become mission fields. People have lost their way and are searching for the Ultimate, for meaning to their brief existence on earth. Church services are fast-moving from Christian worship to “seeker services.”

Today, both in Christian worship (seeker sensitive, one would hope) and in seeker services, Christ needs to be preached. “One of the most fascinating of all the preacher’s tasks,” John Stott writes, “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” (John Stott, Between Two Worlds. Grand Rapids: Eeerdmans, 1982, p. 154). For “to encounter Christ is to touch reality and experience transcendence. He gives us a sense of self-worth or personal significance, because he assures us of God’s love for us. He sets us free from guilt because he died for us, from the prison of our own self-centeredness by the power of his resurrection, and from paralyzing fear because he reigns…. He gives meaning to marriage and home, work and leisure, personhood and citizenship” (Ibid, p.

 Christian Hearers

Committed Christians as well as non-Christians will benefit from explicitly Christ-centered preaching today. In a post-Christian culture such preaching will enable Christians to sense the centrality of Christ in their lives and in the world. It will help them to distinguish their specific faith from that of Judaism, Eastern religions, the new age movement, the health-and-wealth gospel, and other competing faiths. It will continually build their faith in Jesus, their Savior and Lord. Preaching Christ in a non-Christian culture sustains Christians as water sustains nomads in the desert. Reu claims, “Genuine Christian faith and life can exist only so long as it remains a daily appropriation of Christ” (Johann Michael Reu. Homiletics: A Manuel of the Theory and Practice of Preaching. Nabu Press, 2010, p. 57).  Even those committed to Christ must continually learn and relearn what it means to serve Jesus their Savior as Lord of their life.

Preaching in a post-Christian culture places a tremendous responsibility on contemporary preachers to preach Christ plainly, genuinely, and perceptively. Preachers can no longer assume that their hearers will discern the connections of the message with Christ in the context of a Christian mind-set and in the context of Christian worship. These connections need to be intentionally exposed for all to see. John Stott brings the goal into focus for contemporary preachers: “The main objective of preaching is to expound Scripture so faithfully and relevantly that Jesus Christ is perceived in all his adequacy to meet human need” (Stott, Between Two Worlds, p. 325) William Hull adds this sound advice, “Let us not mount the pulpit to debate peripheral questions or to speculate on esoteric curiosities. . . . We are there to preach Jesus Christ as Lord…. That is our awesome assignment: to put into words, in such a way that our hearers will put into deeds, the new day that is ours in Jesus Christ our Lord” (William E. Hull, “Called to Preach.” In Heralds to a New Age. Ed. Don M. Aycock. Elgin, IL.: Brethren, 1985. pp. 47-48).

The article above is adapted from Sidney Greidanus. Preaching Christ from the Old Testament: A Contemporary Hermeneutical Method. Grand Rapids: Erredmans, 1999. Kindle Locations 4499-4500.

About the Author: Sidney Greidanus received his B.A. from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI, his B.D. from Calvin Theological Seminary, also in Grand Rapids, and his Th.D. from the Free University in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. His dissertation, Sola Scriptura: Problems and Principles in Preaching Historical Texts, was first published in 1970 and reprinted in 1979. Since returning to North America, he served as pastor of two Christian Reformed Churches in Canada, taught at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI, The King’s College in Edmonton, AB, Canada, and since 1990 has been professor of preaching at Calvin Theological Seminary.

Besides many articles and sermons, he has published several excellent scholarly and theologically rich books on preaching including:

Preaching Christ from Daniel: Foundations for Expository Sermons. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2012.

Preaching Christ from Ecclesiastes: Foundations for Expository Sermons. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010.

Preaching Christ from Genesis: Foundations for Expository Sermons. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2007.

Sola Scriptura: Problems and Principles in Preaching Historical Texts. Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2001.

Preaching Christ from the Old Testament: A Contemporary Hermeneutical Method. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999. (from which the article above is adapted).

The Modern Preacher and the Ancient Text: Interpreting and Preaching Biblical Literature: Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. 1989. Selected “The 1990 Book of the Year” by the Journal Preaching.

 

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