As a pastor I’ve appreciated Charles Bridges’ The Christian Ministry. One great aspect of this old book is that Bridges is clear: a Christian pastor needs to constantly and clearly proclaim the gospel. Jesus suffering, dying, and being raised again to save sinners must be the heartbeat of our preaching. Here’s how he states it.
“Our rule [of preaching]…will frame itself into the determination of the Apostle – ‘not to know anything among our people, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified’ (2 Cor. 2.2). This is the one mode of preaching that God has promised to bless; when ‘all our sermons’ (according to the Archbishop of Cologne) are ‘made to set forth and magnify Christ the Lord.’ Uniformity of sentiment upon this cardinal point has always marked the labor of faithful ministers, and secured the divine blessing upon their work; while a deficiency in this particular is attended invariable with proportionate inefficiency.”
Later, Bridges explains how Christ is at the center of Scripture and biblical doctrine.
“We might as well speak of a village that has no road to the metropolis as of a point of Christian doctrine, privilege, or practice that has no reference to Christ crucified. How does the first chapter to the Ephesians endear this beloved name, as the medium of ‘all spiritual blessings!’ How does every heavenly doctrine and privilege throughout the Epistle…draw its quickening influence from this source! How naturally do the Apostles introduce their Master into the midst of discussions apparently the most irrelevant!”
“The resolution, therefore, to know nothing – to preach nothing – and to glory in nothing else, marks a mind equally enlarged in its compass, and scriptural in its apprehension. It sets forth Christ to our people as a remedy commensurate with the evil – enough for all, and proposed to all. And skillfully to accommodate all our various topics to this one point, is a lesson we must be learning all our lives. And truly it is worth all our labor to learn it more perfectly, and to practice it more effectually” (p. 239-241).
I take those last sentences to heart: the pastor himself must continually be learning how the gospel relates to every part of the Christian faith and life. In other words, to summarize Bridges’ notes, the gospel is the center of Scripture, the pastor’s life, and the pastor’s preaching.