John Piper offers ten theses to explain how all preaching should be gospel preaching, proclaiming Christ crucified:
1. Whatever lasting good God ever does or ever did or ever will do for any individual person, he does and did and will do because of his free, utterly undeserved grace.
2. This free grace, that gives every lasting good to people, can benefit us justly only because of Jesus’ wrath-absorbing, righteousness-providing, sin-atoning, guilt-removing, substitutionary death for us.
3. Without this kind of atoning death of Christ, God’s grace would not save us, but only increase our condemnation because of the hardness of our hearts.
4. But by the blood of Christ, God really purchased us for himself and secured not only every lasting good that we receive, but also the gift of repentance and faith through which we receive everything else.
5. Therefore every sermon that holds out any lasting good to any person (as every Christian sermon must) should be based on, and interwoven with, the gospel of the living Christ’s substitutionary death.
6. This gospel basis and gospel interweaving of our sermons should be clear enough so that gospel-deniers (like Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, atheists, legalists, libertines, etc) will not approve of our sermons. There should be enough of Christ and of his cross that those who deny the gospel don’t approve the sermon.
7. This gospel basis and gospel interweaving of our sermons should be clear enough so that the living Jesus will be honored as the ground and goal of the message because of his grace-securing sacrifice for us.
8. This gospel basis and gospel interweaving of our sermons should be clear enough so that the imperative that flows from the message is, first and foremost, faith in the blood-bought reality that God is 100% for us in Christ (that is, faith in the justifying work of Christ), and then, secondly, the obedience that comes from this faith (that is, the fruit of the sanctifying work of the Spirit).
9. In this sense then every sermon proclaims Christ. His atoning work is the ground of all it offers. His glory is the ultimate goal of all it aims to achieve. And the written revelation of Christ’s unfolding ways in history (that is, Scripture) is the only authoritative source from which we bring this work and ground and this glory to light (expository exultation).
10. Thus with Christ-crucified as the ground and goal and matter of every sermon (and all of life) the ultimate aim of God in creation is advanced: the praise of the glory of God’s grace, through the joy of his people in him.