Preaching Christ and Counterfeits

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Christ-centered expository preaching is more than pinning John 3:16 to the tail of the sermon. It is also more than a weekly theological treatise that speaks eloquently of the glories of Jesus Christ but lacks exegetical support rooted in a particular text of Scripture. Both of these approaches are inadequate. Sermons that simply suffix Jesus lull their hearers into lethargy. Such redundant sermons also undermine the centrality of Jesus Christ in the mind of the listener; he or she cannot help but conclude that the preacher caboosed Jesus on at the end because he could not get him in the sermon any other way.

Likewise, sermons that are fine-sounding theological lectures on the glories of Christ but are not rooted in a particular text suffer from a lack of credibility and authority. Even though everything the preacher says in a sermon may be true, if the sermon is not latched to the text itself, it lacks divine authority and dynamic power. Preachers are uniquely charged with preaching the gospel in biblical texts—by faithfulness to texts—and not apart from texts. Preaching Christ is not discoursing abstractly about Christ and his gospel but is Christ speaking his gospel word through biblical texts by means of his faithful herald.

The biblical text must not be ignored or abused in preaching. We are to preach Christ from the entire Bible because proper exegesis demands it. The Scripture is not an inspired book of moralisms or a book of virtues; it is, from cover to cover, a book about the glory of God in Jesus Christ through the redemption of his people who will dwell in the kingdom of Christ forever. D. A. Carson summarizes: “At its best, expository preaching is preaching which, however dependent it may be for its content on the text or texts at hand, draws attention to the inner-canonical connections that inexorably move to Jesus Christ” (The Primacy of Expository Preaching, audiocassette, n.d.).

Finding Jesus in the Scripture is not like skipping a rock on water: if you keep flipping the pages of your Bible, you will eventually land on another spot where you can find him. To the contrary, all of the Scriptures testify of the kingdom of Christ. No pericope of Scripture is to be understood as a random, unordered, unassimilated assertion of religious truth. The particularity of every text fits into, and is governed by, Jesus and his gospel of the kingdom in a way that makes gospel sense. As Philipp Melanchthon asserted, “the Gospel opens the door to the correct understanding of the whole Bible” (Apology of the Augsburg Confession IV, 2-3). There is only one gospel but it embodies many canonical shapes and turns all other theological disciplines back to their gospel center.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon put it this way:

The Holy Ghost will only bless in conformity with His own set purpose. Our Lord explains what that purpose is: ‘He shall glorify Me.’ He has come forth for this grand end, and He will not put up with anything short of it. If then, we do not preach Christ, what is the Holy Ghost to do with our preaching? If we do not make the Lord Jesus glorious; if we do not lift Him high in the esteem of men, if we do not labour to make Him King of kings, and Lord of lords; we shall not have the Holy Spirit with us. Vain will be rhetoric, music, architecture, energy, and social status: if our own design be not to magnify the Lord Jesus, we shall work alone and in vain (The Greatest Fight in the World, 77-78).


By |May 28th, 2014|Categories: Blog|Tags: , , , |

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