Either we preach that human beings are rebels against God, under his just judgment and (if left to themselves) lost, and that Christ crucified who bore their sin and curse is the only available Savior. Or we emphasize human potential and human ability, with Christ brought in only to boost them, and with no necessity for the cross except to exhibit God's love and so inspire us to greater endeavor.From John Stott, The Cross of Christ, p. 347-48.
The former is the way to be faithful, the latter the way to be popular. It is not possible to be faithful and popular simultaneously. We need to hear again the message of Jesus: 'Woe to you when all men speak well of you' (Luke 6:26). By contrast, if we preach the cross, we may find that we are ourselves constantly hounded to the cross. As Erasmus wrote in his treatise On Preaching: 'Let him (sc. the preacher) remember that the cross will never be lacking to those who sincerely preach the gospel. There are always Herods, Ananiases, Caiaphases, Scribes and Pharisees'
For the past year, I have acted on a suggestion from a fellow blogger (who I cannot recall), to take some time every Saturday night to read on the cross of Christ, the atonement, or some related subject. It helps to remind us what Sunday mornings are about.
So I have been reading Stott's The Cross of Christ. I have found a great encouragement in it. I have found that I miss this reading time on the weeks that I don't get around to it. Many times, I have started to blog on some poignant comment from Stott, but did not do it for various reasons. Tonight I finally did.
I would highly recommend this practice to my fellow pastors and preachers (who aren't pulling Saturday night specials).