Man-centered vs. Christ-centered Sermons

This is directed mostly to the guys who are in my Christ-Centered Preaching right now, since it relates to an article we have to read and process. But anyone is welcome to contribute to any discussion, so feel free no matter who you are.

Ok – here’s the deal. I just finished reading the article by Adams called “Preaching Christ.” I am not evaluating, assessing or criticizing his article, but I had a couple of questions come up that I wanted to get some interaction on.

I’ll quote a couple of thoughts that struck out to me, and then at the bottom, I’ll ask the questions I’m wrestling with. Maybe the answer was apparent to you when reading; if so, I’d love to know how you guys took it. Perhaps it wasn’t clear, but you have some thoughts in response to my question; great too. I’m hoping through this we can interact on the differences between Moralistic Preaching and Christ/Gospel-Centered Preaching. Here are the quotes:

…edificational preaching must always be evangelical; that is what makes it moral rather than moralistic, and what causes it to be unacceptable in a synagogue, in a mosque, or to a Unitarian congregation. By evangelical, I mean that the import of Christ’s death and resurrection – His substitutionary, penal death and bodily resurrection – on the subject under consideration is made clear in the sermon. You must not exhort your congregation to do whatever the Bible requires of them as though they could fulfill those requirements on their own, but only as a consequence of the saving power of the cross and the indwelling, sanctifying power and presence of Christ in the person of the Holy Spirit. (p. 147)

and…

A good self-image comes not merely from acknowledging what we are in Christ, as the psychologizers suppose, but also from closing the gap between what we are in Christ and what we should become in our daily living. That is to say, it comes not only from justification, but also as a by-product of progress in sanctification. (p. 151)

These are the quotes that made me pause and want to ask a couple of questions. Here they are:

  1. How is preaching to enable a “closing the gap between what we are in Christ and what we should become in our daily living,” not a modified moralism (or Sola Bootstrapsa as Chapel would say)?
  2. What does it mean to preach Christ’s “sanctifying work,” in a non-moralistic way? What is the active response of the listener to this? The pastor?
  3. What is it we are really calling people to when we preach in this Christ/Gospel-centered way?

I guess what I’m struggling with is what does this look like practically. I’d love to get some interaction on this with you guys, so fire your comments away.

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Am I a man? Yes…technically

Flight of the Conchords

For those poor souls out there who have yet to experience the comedic genius of “Flight of the Conchords”, I will try to share something by them ever so often. My wife and I stumbled upon this show while flipping channels late at night and laughed like crazy at this one.

Enjoy

How Jeremy Carr got in with the ESV crowd

Just saw my old friend Jeremy Carr as one of the “poster boys” for the ESV bible at esvbible.org. Jeremy’s an old friend from college (Go Jaguars!) who is planting a church in downtown Augusta called The Well, and from what I hear doing some really great things for the kingdom back in the “dirty south.” I like being able to point out my friends whenever I get a chance.

I probably should plug the ESV too, since I’m linking it. It really is a great version of the bible that brings some good balance to conceptual/contextual clarity and good, solid, literal rendering of the Greek/Hebrew/Aramaic language. Plus, one of my former pastors and a couple of my current seminary professors did some of the exegetical work. All that to say that I’m a fan of it. And so is Jeremy…

Jeremy Carr and ESV Banner

I know my Bible

At least, it took me 4 times to finally pass the standardized Bible Content exam that Covenant Seminary requires us to take. So now, I can confiidently say that “I know my Bible,” because I know that ‘Ebal‘ is actually a mountain instead of a river.

In all seriousness, I am thankful. This was my last attempt to pass the exam. If I hadn’t, then I would have to take two additional classes to compensate for it, which would have kept us in seminary for 1 extra year in the long-run. Our on-campus rent is $900/month, so you do the math. I would much rather take my time in seminary and really process this stuff, but the finances make that virtually impossible. Plus, I missed it the previous time by only two questions, so me, my wife and 2.5 year old daughter Maya prayed that I would pass it by at least 2. Lo and behold, I made it by 2 points exactly. God’s got a sense of humor in how he works things out.

Much thanks to Steve Whitney and his sight. It came in very handy in preparing over the summer, and will probably return to it as I prepare for ordination after seminary.

Just wanted to share some good news.

New Tim Keller book

timkeller.jpgReally looking forward to the new Tim Keller book coming out. Steve McCoy has a post up with the Title and table of Contents. Its called The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism. Click here to check out Steve’s post on it. Here’s the contents:

Introduction – All doubts are leaps of faith

PART 1 – The Leap of Doubt

1. There can’t be just one true religion

2. A good God could not allow suffering

3. Christianity is a straitjacket

4. The church is responsible for so much injustice

5. A loving God would not send people to hell

6. Science has disproved Christianity

7. You can’t take the Bible literally

Intermission

PART 2 – The Grounds for Faith

8. The clues of God

9. The knowledge of God

10. The problem of sin

11. Religion and the gospel

12. The (true) story of the cross

13. The reality of the resurrection

14. The Dance of God

Epilogue – Where do we go from here?

Bond, Bourne or Bauer – Which one sleeps with a pillow under his gun?

Daniel Craig as James BondJust ran across a great post on 3 of my favorite “characters” in the world of entertainment. You can check it out here about the 3 JB’s. In his post, Cavman makes a great observation, and asks some really great questions about the nature of our modern day “heroes.” He writes:

Three ‘heroes’ that have captivated audiences. Three very different men reflecting very different eras. Three men driven by different motives. Three men who should cause us to ask questions about ourselves.1. What effect does what I do have on me?2. What effect does what I do have on others?3. Is it all about me, or am I willing to sacrifice for something greater?

Matt Damon as Jason BourneI know this is going to sound silly, but when I leave the movie theatre, or get up from my couch, I find myself admiring each of these “characters” and wanting to be like them. I want to be as smooth as Bond, fierce as Bourne and heroic as Bauer. But, what I often tend to miss is reflecting on what these characters actually make me want to do with my life.When I consider that my life is part of a much larger story than my own, and that God is on a world-wide mission of redemption and restoration, then I can live confidently,Jack Bauer knowing that He is doing something in and through me; I can act fiercely in the world, knowing that He desires all of His creation to reflect His glory; I can live heroically and sacrifice my little “story” for the sake of His greater one.So, which other “heroes” out there cause you to stop and wonder about “something greater” in life? Also, just for fun – which blog heading would have been better:”James Bond, Jason Bourne and Jack Bauer walk into a bar…” or”Bond, Bourne, or Bauer: Which one sleeps with a pillow under his gun?”

Gospel Centered Life

I came across this great post on preaching the gospel to yourself over at David Fairchild’s blog. These are some great diagnostic questions to ask myself in working to bring my life more into alignment with the Gospel. I think this is exceptionally helpful, and just wanted to share. Here’s the link to his blog.

Like alot of people, I have found Tim Keller’s preaching helpful in connecting the role of preaching the gospel to myself, but sometimes I find myself needing a little more help in connecting the dots in my daily life.  This list seems to be a good tool to use to help facilitate that process on a daily or weekly basis.  Here are a couple that really stood out to me:

  • What one criticism would cause me to respond in anger (wife, children, work, ministry, family, friends, etc.)? What am I most touchy about when brought to my attention?
  • Whose opinion of me do I hold so dear that if lost I would be undone?
  • What do I rely on or comfort myself with when things go bad or get difficult?

Over the course of this year, I have come up with one that has helped me process my own thoughts, feelings and behavior:  Who or What has the power to make me have a good or bad day?  This question, as well as the list that David has posted, is meant to be used as a tool to excavate my “Functional Savior,” and not just to be another list of something(s) to do to make ourselves more accepted than we already are.

Baptism agreements

Much thanks to Justin Taylor over at Between Two Worlds. He has pointed to a blog entry with a bullet point list of points of agreement between Paedobaptists and Creedobaptists. Its over at the Reformation 21 site, with links to the main entries here and here for the most recent posts. Hope you all find it helpful. I have.

Evangelicals and Art

This is a great little article from Forbes magazine on Evangelicals and Art. They Art for God’s Sake by Phillip Rykenhighlight Makoto Fujimura’s paintings, which are abstract and quite beautiful. I bought my father who happens to be a watercolor artist (visit jimgensheer.com to see his work) a book just because I was drawn to the cover – which happened to be Fujimura’s work. The book was Art for God’s Sake by Philip Ryken.  If you want to check out more of Fujimura’s work (besides the nice pic below), I found this site to be a nice entry point for more exposure.

Azurite Light by Makoto Fujimura