September 21, 2023

What Is Christ-Centered Preaching?

Nathan W. Bingham & Joel Kim
What Is Christ-Centered Preaching?

No matter which biblical passage is preached, there is always room for Christ to be at the center of the message. Today, Joel Kim defines Christ-centered preaching and explains its importance in the church.


NATHAN W. BINGHAM: We’re in the studio today with the president of Westminster Theological Seminary in California, Rev. Joel Kim. Rev. Kim, what is Christ-centered preaching, and how can it benefit the church?

REV. JOEL KIM: At the end of Luke, when Jesus appeared after His resurrection before His disciples, as He opened up the Word, we come to recognize that He taught that all the words that were recorded in the Word speak and point to Him. We believe in that conviction that from the beginning of Genesis all the way to the end of Revelation, all point toward one particular person—namely, Jesus Christ. And so, whether you begin in Genesis, whether you end in Revelation, we recognize that the gospel message of God’s rescuing of His people who are in sin points us to Jesus Christ and Him alone. So, whether you are reading from the histories in the Old Testament, whether from the Writings or the prophecies, we recognize that all those things are fulfilled in Jesus Christ. So, therefore, every preaching, every teaching of Scripture must ultimately account for the fact that these are pointers to the coming, the living, and the dying and rising of Jesus Christ.

I think this is part of the reason why Paul is able to say in 1 Corinthians that when he appeared before the believers in Corinth, he preached nothing but Jesus Christ and Him crucified. All the Scriptures that he taught as he was reading the Hebrew Scriptures pointed to Jesus Christ, who was the fulfillment of God’s promises found in the Old Testament, sometimes given to us not only as direct promises and prophecies, but sometimes types realized in Jesus Christ are found in the Old Testament as well as the New.

Just because you are preaching from the New Testament doesn’t guarantee that you’re pointing to Jesus either. Even if you’re teaching from Paul, you might recognize that some parts are mostly about what we call indicatives—that is, what Jesus did—and that there are parts that are imperatives—that is, where Paul is commanding us with the authority of God for us to do things. But those imperatives arise out of the teachings of Jesus Christ. And so, we believe that when we preach from the Old and the New, ultimately it must be directed to Jesus Christ.

Why is it important that all these things be directed to Jesus? Because my wisdom doesn’t save nor change hearts. My apologetics doesn’t save or change hearts. My good living doesn’t change myself nor anyone else that’s there. Only the gospel of Jesus Christ can save. And so, we believe that every preaching, every teaching must point us to Jesus Christ, who saves. And that’s really, ultimately, the most important thing that everyone must hear—both believers and unbelievers. Just because we’re saved by grace doesn’t mean that we can jettison grace for something else for us to follow. Not only are we saved by grace; we are sustained by grace. And for us to be sustained that way, Jesus must be preached in all texts, always, is what we believe.