Monthly Archives: November 2007

Preaching the Whole Bible As Christian Scripture

I’m continuing to read Preaching the Whole Bible As Christian Scripture: The Application of Biblical Theology to Expository Preaching by Graeme Goldsworthy. His best book that I’ve read thus far from him.

Some favorite quotes:

If we imply “that conformity is simply a matter of understanding and being obedient, then we are being legalists and we risk undoing the very thing we want to build up. We may achieve the outward semblance of conformity to the biblical pattern, but we do it at the expense of the gospel of grace that alone can produce the reality of these desirable goals. To say what we should be or do and not link it with a clear exposition of what God has done about our failure to be or do perfectly as he wills is to reject the grace of God and to lead people to lust after self-help and self-improvement in a way that, to call a spade a spade, is godless.” (page 119)

Any sermon, then, that aims to apply the biblical test to the congregation and does so without making it crystal clear that it is in Christ alone and through Christ alone that the application is realized, is not a Christian sermon. It is at best an exercise in wishful and pietistic thinking. It is at worst demonic in its Christ-denying legalism. (page 124)

 

Some other very good quotes that I’ve enjoyed and been convicted by:

If we would see God, he is most clearly revealed in Jesus Christ. If we would see what God intends for our humanity, it is most clearly revealed in Jesus Christ. If we would see what God intends for the created order we discover that it is bound up with our humanity and therefore, revealed in Christ. While the temptation in preaching will be strong to proceed directly from, say, the godly Israelite to the contemporary believer, this method will inevitably produce distortions in the way understand the text. There is no direct application apart from the mediation of Christ. …while, no doubt, the direct approach will produce nice thoughts and, to a limited extent, even edifying one, we simply cannot afford to ignore the words of Jesus that the Scriptures testify to him. I say again, if this be the case, then the Scriptures only testify to us insofar as we are in him. (page 116)

If [Jesus] is the living Word of God, the truth, and the one from whom all things were made, no fact in this universe can be truly understood for its ultimate significance apart from him. This must include our understanding of the Bible. (page 117)

… we are legalists at heart. We would love to be able to say that we have fulfilled all kinds of conditions, be they tarrying, surrendering fully, or getting rid of every known sin, so that God might truly bless us. (page 118)

 

If we constantly tell people what they should do in order to get their lives in order, we place a terrible legalistic burden on them. … If we ever give the impression that it is possible to do this on our own, not only do we make the gospel irrelevant, but we suggest that the law is in fact a lot weaker in its demands than it really is. Legalism demeans the law by reducing its standards to the level of our competence. There is a hopelessly misleading adage that one hears from time to time, and from people who ought to know better, that God requires less than perfection, or that perfection is less than perfect because we can achieve it. In fact the law of God was not framed according to the sinful human ability to keep it, but as an expression of the perfect character of God. (page 118-119)

… the practice of some churches to have a “teaching” sermon in the morning service, and a “gospel” sermon the evening. Such a distinction is fraught with danger, for it suggests that the gospel is only what gets us stared as a Christian and is confined to evangelistic preaching, while the gospel is unnecessary for teaching Christians. This is clearly false. The distinction must therefore be made in terms of intention: conversion of unbelievers on the one hand, and edification of believers on the other. Both need the gospel, but the focus or emphasis will be different. (page 125)

If we are not going to proclaim some aspect of the riches of Christ in every sermon, we shouldn’t be in the pulpit. (page 126)

One is unlikely to assert that we are justified by sanctification, but, whether done intentionally or not, that is what happens when we allow the teaching of Christian living, ethical imperative, and exhortations to holiness to be separated from and to take the place of the clear statement of the gospel. We can preach our hearts out on texts about what we ought to be, what makes a mature church, or what the Holy Sprit wants to do in our lives, but if we do not constantly, in every sermon, show the link between the Spirit’s work in us to Christ’s work for us, we will distort the message and send people away with a natural theology of salvation by works. (page 237)

Check out the following two talks by Tim Keller that really flesh all of what Goldsworthy is saying in this great book:

Highly recommended book.

 

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Gospel = Decision For Christ (?)

Reading Preaching the Whole Bible As Christian Scripture: The Application of Biblical Theology to Expository Preaching by Graeme Goldsworthy today, and I came upon some wonderful truth about what the Gospel of Jesus Christ is and is not—all on page 95.

Regarding the fact that Gospel is the hermeneutic of all of Scripture, Goldsworthy states “… while there is much in the Bible that is strictly speaking not the gospel, there is nothing in the Bible that can be truly understood apart from the Bible.” He goes on to say, “all preaching, to be true to the biblical perspective, must in some sense be gospel preaching.”

In turn he discusses the fact that trying to “induce” a decision for Christ is not actually preaching and proclaiming the Gospel.  

My concern about evangelism is that sometimes there is a greater emphasis on the need for some kind of response than on the clear exposition of the gospel. Telling people the need to come to Jesus, that they must be born again, that they should commit their lives to Christ, and so on, is not preaching the gospel. It is, at best, telling them what they ought to do or, in the case of the new birth, what has happened when they have received the gospel. It is a remarkable thing in Acts 2 that Peter’s sermon contained no appeal. The appeal came from the congregation: “What should we do?” It was the power and clarity of the gospel message that impressed them with the need to do something about it.

Regarding assurance it must be based on Christ’s finished work not some prayer or profession that a person supposedly made at one time.

… telling people that they can choose either heaven or hell is not telling them the gospel. Telling them as Peter did, that repentance and faith go hand in hand with the gift of the Holy Spirit is important, but it is not the gospel. Whenever people’s sense of assurance of salvation is expressed in the first person, something is amiss. When the question “How do you know God will accept you?” is answered by “I have Jesus in my heart,” “I asked Jesus into my life,” “the Holy Spirit is in me,” and so on, the real gospel basis for assurance needs to be reviewed. We rejoice when the answer comes in the third person: “God gave his only Son to die on the cross for me,” “Jesus died, rose and is in heaven for me.” When the focus is on the finished and perfect work of Christ, rather than on the yet unfinished work of the Spirit in me, the grounds for assurance are in place.

Good stuff.


A Good Book to Read

Over the last couple of days I’ve been reading The Forgotten Ways: Reactivating the Missional Church by Alan Hirsch.

Very few books have captured by imagination in quite the same way that this book has done of late. While definitely weak in terms of Christology (needs to lay some more concrete ground on who Christ is and the Gospel), the entire concepts of the “Apostolic Genius” and mDNA has reignited a passion in me for missional living and church planting.

Throughout the book Hirsch hammers the notion that a healthy church should be a reproducing church. If 80 percent of women decided not to give birth in the US, the country would be in trouble. How come it is any different for the church? Referring to the mega-church and how it really hasn’t done anything great in the last twenty years despite its statistical and supposed success, he comments on their inability to easily reproduce and the distorted standard of “success” they have created.

Let’s face it squarely: its is darn hard to reproduce a Saddleback or a Willow Creek…A church like that, with all its professional departments, charismatic leaders, large staffing, and financial resources, simply cannot be easily reproduced. If we put this up as the sole model of effective church, the net effect will be to marginalize most people from ministry and church planting, and it will effectively put a contraceptive on the reproductive mechanism of the church. It will certainly stifle genuine people movements, because it necessitates a professional concept of ministry with a massive building and resources. (Page 215)

Great book. Read it critically, but it will well be worth it.