The Chief Purpose of all Preaching…
Devotional/Discussion Thought of the Day:
1 When I came to you, my friends, to preach God’s secret truth, I did not use big words and great learning. 2 For while I was with you, I made up my mind to forget everything except Jesus Christ and especially his death on the cross. 1 Corinthians 2:1-2 (TEV)
27 God’s plan is to make known his secret to his people, this rich and glorious secret which he has for all peoples. And the secret is that Christ is in you, which means that you will share in the glory of God. 28 So we preach Christ to everyone. With all possible wisdom we warn and teach them in order to bring each one into God’s presence as a mature individual in union with Christ. 29 To get this done I toil and struggle, using the mighty strength which Christ supplies and which is at work in me. Colossians 1:27-29 (TEV)
“Homileticians from a wide variety of Christian traditions advocate the preaching of Christ. For example, the Roman Catholic author Domenico Grasso states, “The object and content of preaching is Christ, the Word in which the Father expresses Himself and communicates His will to man.” The Eastern Orthodox Georges Florovsky asserts, “Ministers are commissioned and ordained in the church precisely to preach the Word of God. They are given some fixed terms of reference – namely, the gospel of Jesus Christ – and they are committed to this sole and perennial message.” The Lutheran homiletician M. Reu contends, “It is necessary that the sermon be Christocentric, have no one and nothing else for its centre and content than Christ Jesus.” The Reformed homiletician T. Hoekstra maintains, “In expositing Scripture for the congregation, the preacher … must show that there is a way to the center even from the farthest point on the periphery. For a sermon without Christ is no sermon.” And the Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon says, “Preach Christ, always and everywhere. He is the whole gospel. His person, offices, and work must be our one great, all-comprehending theme.”5 Authors from a broad spectrum of traditions, therefore, testify to the necessity of preaching Christ.” (1)
Nearly all the usual ceremonies are also preserved, save that the parts sung in Latin are interspersed here and there with German hymns, which have been added to teach the people. For ceremonies are needed to this end alone that the unlearned be taught [what they need to know of Christ]. (2)
Just shy of 30 years ago, I met a very humble and unique man, my first professor of preaching, Doug Dickey. As I tried to learn to write sermons, Doug instilling in me a mantra, “Dustin, if it’s not about Christ, it’s not a sermon!” I would try to preach about saving the world, about being a better person, about all sort of good things I saw in the text. But Doug kept on coming back to the basic concept – it had to be about Jesus and His work to bring us to the Father. I would love to say I learned quickly from Doug, who also ran the college’s ministry to the huge Cal State across the street, but… well.. I was a typical sophomore… a very wise fool. Two of the passages that convinced me are there above.
Yesterday, in starting my doctoral work, I am well aware of the wise fool in my, and my ability to go off on tangents that are stimulating and enjoyable and lack any mention of God’s desire to save us, or His work in setting us apart for His purposes of fellowship and loving service of those we encounter. It was in my first book to read, that I ran across the quote above, noting that this idea of revealing to people God’s love and His desire for them to share in His glory is not just a Restoration Movement ideal, or that of Luther, but it crosses the lines of the church that divide us. If there is a point where the church can, no must unite, it is here, in Christ to who we are united in both His death and His resurrection. In the end, litle else will matter, and in truth, in this life nothing else matters as much.
We can talk about all the sins of the world (but not our own), we can point to the glorious worship (which ever is our style) we can talk of leadership or marriage, of finding fulfilment, of motivating people to save the world. We can call ourselves missional, or confessional, liberal or conservative, traditional or contemporary. It doesn’t matter.
Unless we reveal the love of God, unless we share His desire to see all brought to repentance/transformation, unless we show how that is what He is doing in us because of the cross….
Our work is in vain…
Thanks Doug – for helping me realize that Jesus Christ is not just the core of our message – He is our message.
(1)Sidney Greidanus. Preaching Christ from the Old Testament: A Contemporary Hermeneutical Method (Kindle Locations 118-126). Kindle Edition.
(2) — Augsberg Confession, Article XXIV, Wordsearch Electronic Edition
Posted on July 3, 2013, in Devotions, Theology in Practice and tagged Christ, Confessional, Doug Dickey, God, Homiletics, jesus christ, missions, Preaching Jesus, pulpit. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.