4/28/2009

Christ-centered (redemptive) preaching

How do you preach & teach the Bible?

  • Look at people & see Swiss cheese. They have holes in them. They are incomplete.
  • Fill the holes. How?

It's easy to become moralistic/legalistic in preaching & Bible teaching: "Do this. Don't do that." While there's nothing wrong with preaching morality, it is legalistic, & it ignores the grace of God & replaces the work of Christ with self-help. Such preaching leads to a lack of recognition that "there's no merit in keeping God's commands," since all our righteous acts are like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6), & that after doing everything we're told, we are unworthy servants who have only done what we should have done (Luke 17:10). We should not communicate that God loves me more because I do more than the next person. Rather, God loves me simply because of the work of Christ. Thus, Christ must be at the heart of every sermon preached. If not, we are assuming the gospel, rather than preaching the gospel.

All Scripture is intended to complete us in some way (2 Timothy 3:16), by leading to salvation or advancing sanctification. The implication is that we’re incomplete. We’re fallen creatures in a fallen condition, & God’s redemptive work in Scripture is making us whole in ways we cannot by ourselves. For preaching, it means that we look at people & see Swiss cheese. They have holes in them. They’re incomplete. So, in preaching & Bible teaching, what are you going to say to fills the holes?

Many preachers approach a text with only 2 thoughts in mind: (1) right doctrine to believe, or (2) right acts to do. If that’s all I’m saying, if the way I’m saying to fill the holes is either to accept & know this doctrine or do this right behavior, you must recognize that both of those are merely forms of human legalism. It’s saying that either what you know or what you do makes you right with God. Even though what you do may be right, & what you know may be right, you must know that it’s not you who make things right with God.

If all that is in my brain is “I’m supposed to be feeding these people in right doctrine or instructing them in right behavior,” then something will still be missing. There'll still be a hole in our own preaching.

Just as every Scripture echoes our incompleteness, it is also in some manner signaling the Savior’s work that makes us whole. Our goal in redemptive preaching is to decipher these signals. Until we do so, we do not truly understand our text. It’s possible to say all the right words & send all the wrong signals.