Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Ultimate Aim of All Christian Preaching

I love this because it is missing in much of our churches today.  The church is anemic today because we don't do gospel preaching.  Christ is the focus of our preaching and the point of our affection.



 Or: How Is All 
Preaching Gospel Preaching? 
Or: How Is All Preaching the Proclamation of Christ Crucified?



Ten Theses:

1. Whatever lasting good God ever does or ever did or ever will do for any individual person, he does and did and will do because of his free, utterly undeserved grace.
What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it? (1 Corinthians 4:7).
He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy (Romans 9:15–16).
We have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one (Romans 3:9–10).
If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared (Psalms 130:3–4).
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved (Ephesians 2:4–5).
God saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace,which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began (2 Timothy 1:9).



2. This free grace, that gives every lasting good to people, can benefit us justly only because of Jesus’ wrath-absorbing, righteousness-providing, sin-atoning, guilt removing, substitutionary death for us.
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23).
All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus (Romans 3:23–26).
He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:32).
All the promises of God find their Yes in him (2 Corinthians 1:20).



3. Without this kind of atoning death of Christ, God’s grace would not save us, but only increase our condemnation because of the hardness of our hearts.
Do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed (Romans 2:4–5).



4. But by the blood of Christ, God really purchased us for himself and secured not only every lasting good that we receive, but also the gift of repentance and faith through which we receive everything else.
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body (1 Corinthians 6:19–20).
You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men (1 Corinthians 7:23).
Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood (Acts 20:28).
It has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake (Philippians 1:29).
By grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast (Ephesians 2:8–9).



5. Therefore every sermon that holds out any lasting good to any person (as every Christian sermon must) should be based on, and interwoven with, the gospel of the living Christ’s substitutionary death.
I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2).
Far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world (Galatians 6:14).
I take Paul to mean not that he has joy in nothing but the cross, but that he has joy in anything only because of the cross, and he wants to make that clear.
But for the Christian, all other boasting should also be a boasting in the cross. All exultation in anything else should be exultation in the cross. Because, for redeemed sinners, every good thing—indeed every bad thing that God turns for good—was obtained for us by the cross of Christ. Apart from the death of Christ, sinners get nothing but judgment. Apart from the cross of Christ, there is only condemnation. Therefore everything that you enjoy in Christ—as a Christian, as a person who trusts Christ—is owing to the death of Christ. And all your rejoicing in all things should therefore be a rejoicing in the cross where all your blessings were purchased for you at the cost of the death of the Son of God, Jesus Christ.

6. This gospel basis and gospel interweaving of our sermons should be clear enough so that gospel-deniers (like Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, atheists, legalists, libertines, etc) will not approve of our sermons. There should be enough of Christ and of his cross that those who deny the gospel don’t approve the sermon.

7. This gospel basis and gospel interweaving of our sermons should be clear enough so that the living Jesus will be honored as the ground and goal of the message because of his grace-securing sacrifice for us.

8. This gospel basis and gospel interweaving of our sermons should be clear enough so that the imperative that flows from the message is, first and foremost, faith in the blood-bought reality that God is 100% for us in Christ (that is, faith in the justifying work of Christ), and then, secondly, the obedience that comes from this faith (that is, the fruit of the sanctifying work of the Spirit).

9. In this sense then every sermon proclaims Christ. His atoning work is the ground of all it offers. His glory is the ultimate goal of all it aims to achieve. And the written revelation of Christ’s unfolding ways in history (that is, Scripture) is the only authoritative source from which we bring this work and ground and this glory to light (expository exultation).
And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself (Luke 24:27).
To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ (Ephesians 3:8).
Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ (Colossians 1:28).

10. Thus with Christ-crucified as the ground and goal and matter of every sermon (and all of life) the ultimate aim of God in creation is advanced: the praise of the glory of God’s grace, through the joy of his people in him.
God chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved (Ephesians 1:4–6).
The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God (2 Corinthians 4:4).

- from the Pastor as Prophet by John Piper




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