The message Paul preached was the Lord Jesus Christ and Him crucified. The subject of his preaching was the cross of Christ and the crucified Christ. He did not know anything except this. If we forget the cross and do not make the cross and Christ our unique subject, how much will we and our audience miss! I believe that we are surely not those who do not preach the cross.
Our message and our subject may be good. However, do we not have the experience of having a good message yet being unable to dispense life to others? Let me point out that inasmuch as the message we preach is important, if it cannot give life to others, our work is mostly in vain. We should remember that the goal of our work is to give life to people. We preach the substitutional death of the cross in order that God can give His life to those who believe. If others are stirred up or excited or even repent and agree with what we preach, but do not have God’s life in them, what good will this do? They may show their sympathy outwardly, but they are not saved. Therefore, our goal is neither to make people repent by themselves nor to influence them in their mind, but to dispense God’s life into them so that they can have life and be saved. Even when we preach the deeper truths or try to help others to understand the truth of co-crucifixion, the same principle holds true. It is easy to make people know and understand what we preach. It is also not hard to make others accept our teachings in their mind. Any believer with a little knowledge can understand if you explain matters to him clearly enough. However, if you want him to gain life and power and to experience what you preach, there is no other way except for God to dispense through you the richer life into him. We should know that our only work is to be the channels of God’s life, conveying life into others’ spirits. Therefore, even if the subject or the message we preach is good, we still need to find out whether or not we are the suitable channels for God to convey life into others.
The message Paul preached was the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. The message he preached was not in vain because he was a living channel of life. He begat many people through the gospel of the cross. What he preached was the word of the cross. Concerning himself, he said that he was "in weakness and in fear and in much trembling." He was a crucified man! Only a crucified man can preach the crucified word. He had no confidence in himself. He did not rely on himself. Weakness, fear, trembling, being void of self-confidence, considering oneself as totally useless—these are the characteristics of a crucified man. He said, "I am crucified with Christ" (Gal. 2:20) and "I die daily" (1 Cor. 15:31). Only a dead Paul could preach a word on crucifixion. If he had not died in a genuine way, the life of the Lord’s death could not have flowed out from him. It is easy to preach the cross, but it is not easy to preach it as a crucified man. Unless one is a crucified person, he cannot preach the word of the cross and cannot give to others the life of the cross. Strictly speaking, unless one knows the cross experientially, he is not worthy to preach the cross.
(The Messenger of the Cross, Chapter 1, by Watchman Nee)