Pastor Ron E. Thompson: Christ–The Heart of Our Ministry

This article is my condensed version of a tremendous message from Pastor Miles Taber in 1961 when I was a student at Grace Theological Seminary. It is a biblically sound and necessary element in our ministry of evangelism, and I want to share with our readers. Scripture shows that Christ alone is the total message and messenger of our ministry.

Pastor Ron E. Thompson

Christ is the Message. He is revealed in a simple message found only in the Bible. The content of that message is found in the apostle Paul’s words in I Corinthians 2:2 NKJV: “For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” This narrows down our message tremendously. It concerns one Person and one event in that Person’s life.

Jesus’ followers limited their messages to this one theme: Examples: Peter ‘s address at Pentecost (Acts 2:36), the disciples’ daily preaching (Acts 5:42), Philip’s words to an Ethiopian (Acts 8:35), and the apostle Paul’s synagogue ministry (Acts 9:20). These messages were not facts about Christ, but a description of Him as the answer to all human needs. They were about one event in this Person’s life – His death (I Corinthians 1:22-24). Jesus was a great teacher, a miracle-worker, lived a perfect life, and always pleased the Father, but He did not begin to touch humankind’s basic need until He was nailed to a cross.

Christ provided forgiveness for sinners: “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes 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” (Isaiah 53:5-6 NKJV). Our personal witnessing ought to concentrate on the nonbeliever’s need for a relationship with Christ and avoid being side-tracked onto subjects that shift the focus away from the sinner’s spiritual need.

Some argue that the apostles preached other truths besides Christ crucified. The Bible is often preached as a collection of facts, history, doctrines, or literature. But we can also proclaim all of Scripture as a revelation of Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Regardless of wherever we are in God’s Word we can use that passage to present Christ as Savior. For example, whenever we are sharing about baptism, communion, or anointing for healing, instead of debating about them we can become visual promoters of the ministry of Christ crucified. This was the experience of the patriarchs, the sacrificial system, the history of Israel, God’s judgment upon sin, and the prophetic future. If our ministry is to present Christ crucified, we must “know Him in “the power of His resurrection, The fellowship of His suffering…and be conformed to His death” (Philippians 3:10).

Christ is the Messenger. If humankind’s greatest need is to only know the facts about God, we have no message for a lost world. We need to know Him personally. We can explore space, but God is not there. Job’s friend, Zophar, replied: “Can you search out the deep things of God? Can you find out the limits of the Almighty? They are higher than heaven—what can you do? Deeper than Sheol—what can you know?” (Job 11:7-8 NKJV).

The apostle Paul added: “God’s riches, wisdom, and knowledge are so deep that it is impossible to explain his decisions or to understand his ways” (Romans 11:33 NIV). Sinful humanity does not have access to Heaven (John 3:13), therefore God cannot be known through human efforts. He has revealed Himself in nature (Psalm 119:1), but the only thing sinners can learn from nature is His power and Godhead (Romans 1:20).

John 1:18 NLT has the answer: “No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God, is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us.” In the Old Testament, God appeared to people, but He always took the form of a man or an angel. When God sent an Angel to lead Israel through the wilderness, that Angel had the power to forgive sin. God said: “Behold, I send an Angel before you to keep you in the way and to bring you into the place which I have prepared. Beware of Him and obey His voice; do not provoke Him, for He will not pardon your transgressions; for My name is in Him” (Exodus 23:20-21 NKJV). Christ is the revelation of God to humankind: “The much-loved Son is beside the Father. No man has ever seen God. But Christ has made God known to us” (John 1:18 NIV). This self-revelation of God was made by Christ throughout His earthly ministry.

Christ was not finished revealing God to man at His ascension. Acts 1:1-2 NKJV describes: “all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which He was taken up.” Revealing God continued. As the early church grew, it was Christ who added to it (Matthew 16:18 ASV). Miracles performed were not credited to the apostles or the church, but to Christ. Persecution against the church was persecution against Jesus (Acts 9:4). When He returns, we shall be like Him and see Him as He is (I John 3:2).

In Revelation 1:18, the apostle John saw Someone described as the “Alpha and Omega.”  That Someone was not God, but Christ, “one that lives and was dead,” and in Heaven, “we will see His face” (Rev. 22:4).

Our ministry is not to present God. Only Christ can make God real to the human heart. Our task is to proclaim Christ crucified, to tell others what He has done for us, and shown mercy on us (Mark 5:19). We Christians can do this because “there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (I Timothy 2:5 NKJV). Is Christ crucified at the heart of your ministry?

Pastor Ron E Thompson

Ron E. Thompson is a retired pastor/evangelist having had a ministry spanning over sixty years. He served as pastor of churches in Indiana, Virginia, Arizona, and South Carolina. As Director of Brethren Evangelistic Ministries, he held numerous evangelistic and revival crusades in twenty-two states. He led a team that conducted evangelism seminars throughout the United States and in several foreign countries. Ron is author of two books: Hurricane Evangelism and Sermons in Song. He is also a musician, having studied piano under noted composer-conductor, Hubert Tillery. Music has served him well as an avocation in his life and ministry. He currently is a pianist at the Fountain of Life Bible Church in Johnson City, TN. Ron received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Bridgewater College and his Master of Divinity degree from Grace Theological Seminary. He did graduate studies at Wheaton College and the Billy Graham School of Evangelism. He attended the North American Conference for Itinerant Evangelists in1994. Ron’s home is in Limestone, Tennessee. He is the father of two daughters: Evangeline Hales, a musician at Thomas Road Baptist Church, Lynchburg, VA and violinist with the Lynchburg Symphony; Dr. Melody Archer, Retired Administrator and Principal of Tri-Cities Christian Schools, Blountville, TN.

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