I haven’t had a single preaching class yet. No formal hermeneutics training on my resume. No Greek or Hebrew language study… yet. I
Does every message I give need to be a presentation of the Gospel?
I love this video, but I see a potential non-sequetor leap in logic here.
I, too, agree that Jesus Christ is the central figure in all of Scripture, cover to cover. I have a deep reverence for God’s Word, and my view of Scripture is very Christo-centric. I believe that the Old Testament stories all point to Jesus the coming Messiah, the center-point of history, and the New Testament explains the New Covenant through Jesus the Lamb, sacrificed on our behalf, for the forgiveness of our sin and the redemption of our souls for eternity, all for the glory of God. I believe the Gospel is our only hope, and that our own “self-improvement” efforts cannot move us closer to Godliness without Jesus’ atonement by His blood. I believe the Bible is seamlessly telling one story: Jesus Christ, fully God and fully man, lived a sinless life, was crucified as an atoning sacrifice for our sins, and rose again from the dead, declaring victory over sin and death forever. Jesus crucified and risen again is the Hope of the world.
So far so good. Then the video above comes to a focal point with the following statement: “Every sermon should center around who Jesus is and what He has done.”
To be honest, in my heart of hearts, I think I agree with that. This life, this world, the Bible, God’s story, and our every heartbeat in every moment is created and designed for God’s pleasure and His glory. We are the beneficiaries of His love as we honor Him with our thanksgiving and worship. But the story we’re living – all of us – is a God story. It’s not about us. So why would even be pressing back on this idea? Why would I want to teach anything else?
I’m back to my question… even with all that I have stated above, does every sermon really need to be a Gospel message at it’s heart? I ask because I have been warned by theologians and gospel watchdogs (I mean that respectfully) that challenging your congregation to take action, make a life-change, to DO SOMETHING in response to a message smacks of works-righteousness (“earning favor” with God)… or simply self-help man-centered false-gospel guilt-trip theology masquerading as God’s life-giving message.
And I guess I’m asking for some clarification from my wiser counterparts in ministry. Didn’t Jesus command us, as a part of the “Great Commission” in Matthew 28, to go, make disciples, baptize them, and then “teach them ALL I have commanded you”? He did say ALL there. Also, in Acts 20:27, aren’t we challenged to preach the “whole counsel of God”? What about 2 Timothy 3:16 that says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness…”?
The Bible has TONS to say about wise financial management, for example. About relationships, parenting, marriage, sex, heroes and villains, even how to politely wake someone from their morning slumber (see Proverbs 27:14). All those verses seem to be covered under the “ALL scripture” banner. Isn’t it appropriate to teach topically – provided we correctly exegete the Word and ask the Holy Spirit to do His life-changing work?
I have been given the impression by some that any topical preaching that encourages making an effort to align with scriptural principles can be the first step on a slippery slope towards a false gospel… and guilt-ridden bondage.
Like I said, I haven’t been to Seminary yet. But this doesn’t seem like it needs to be an either/or proposition. Can’t we exhort our congregations to love and good works without expressly articulating the Gospel fundamentals in each and every message? It seems like undue pressure and a legalistic expectation is being placed upon that 30 minutes of the week when we listen to our pastor. Can’t the Gospel be central to our message and the life-blood of our church without it being the one and only message our church has to teach?
Pastors, seminarians, gospel-watchdog friends… I welcome your input. I’m undecided. I’m open to hear and learn on this one.
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“preaching the gospel… and other stuff :: an honest question the week before seminary begins” by Joshua Skogerboe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.