Saturday, March 31, 2012

Preaching Content

This week, I’ve talked about preaching. Let me just say a word about content by giving you two quotes. One of the leaders at my church reminded me "your focus has always been on the gospel", and ultimately, it seems like the conclusion to preaching week should be the subject of content, because preaching, in the end, is a delivery vehicle for a message.

So first, T. David Gordon, from his book, Why Johnny Can’t Preach: The Media have Shaped the Messengers.
I wish to address briefly what I believe the content of preaching today should be... From about 25 years of wrestling with the question, I have come to concur with those who believe that the content of Christian preaching should be the person, character, and work of Christ. What we declare, with Paul, is not ourselves, but Christ crucified. Our message, like Paul's, is "the message of the cross" (1 Corinthians 1:18). The substance of our proclamation is the soteric fitness of the person and character of Christ, and the soteric competence of his work. With the old Puritan John Flavel we wish to open up that "Fountain of life" which consists of Christ's "Essential [person of Christ] and Mediatorial [work of Christ] Glory". What is offered to the congregation, in rightly ordered Christian worship, is nothing less than Christ himself.
Said another way- the Gospel!

Which brings us to the second quote from Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary by J.D. Greear, giving a definition of the gospel.

The gospel is that Christ has suffered the full wrath of God for my sin. Jesus Christ traded places with me, living the perfect life I should have lived, and dying the death I had been condemned to die. Second Corinthians 5:21 says that he actually became my sin so that I could literally become his righteousness. Saint Althanasius called this the "the great exchange ." He took my record, Died for it, and offers me his perfect record in return. He took my shameful nakedness to clothe me with His righteousness. When  I received that grace in repentance and faith, full acceptance becomes mine. He lived in my place, died in my place, and then offered to me a gift. Theologians call that "gift-righteousness".
That means that God could not love me any more than he does right now, because God could not love and accept Christ any more than He does, and God sees me in Christ. God's righteousness has been given to me as a gift. He now sees me according to how Christ has lived, not on the basis of what kind of week I've had. Christ's salvation is 100 percent complete, and 100 percent  the possession of those who have received it in repentance and faith. If you are in Christ, when God looks at you – regardless of your situation – he sees the righteousness of Christ. If we really believe that – not only with their heads but also with our hearts – it would change everything in our lives.
Here’s my word on content. Pastors, church leaders- Preach the gospel! Preach the finished work. Hold up the passage, show it, show how it speaks to a given sin, a given problem, deal with defeaters, and proclaim the Gospel!

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