I’ve been asked several times ‘Why do you spend so much time going verse by verse through passages when you preach’. They don’t always use these exact words but you get the idea of what people are asking. My answer is simple, ‘I don’t know any other way. I wouldn’t, nor couldn’t, come up with ideas each week for people which would transform their lives?’ You see there is great restorative and transformative power in the gospel and the only way to unlock that truth and power is by allowing the passage to express it’s own meaning, less we bring our own muddled and self centered agenda to the pulpit. Self help talks and a continual diet of topical messages have made for an anemic church not able to stand against the attack of post modern thinking or a confused eclectic view of Christianity in which a simple belief in God and tacit acknowledgement of Jesus is enough to qualify one for the celestial city. The scriptures are clear, God has been, is, and will continue to write His redemptive story for all creation and that since the beginning of time. We are participants in that story and recipients of His grace which is bringing us full circle to a perfect restored creation. And unless we allow Him to tell His story through His Word, we will continue to have a man centered message in which God acts simply from our requests and our interests, saving us simply for our benefit and not His glory and purposes. Read Albert Mohler’s piece for a better explanation. Sola Scriptura
Recently, a well known Pastor made the following statement on Twitter, “The well-intentioned fad of finding the Cross in every verse is eisegesis. Even Jesus didn’t do that! Never force a theology.” In an effort to avoid bringing any unnecessary division to the body of Christ and in particular to our local body at Center Hill, the above Pastor will remain nameless. However, the statement which he made brings up a question which must be addressed. Does looking for the ‘cross’ of Christ in every verse of the Bible force the text of the verse to say something that it doesn’t or is this approach a necessary means for us to properly hear the Word of our Lord and it’s meaning? The issue and answer is simply this, which may have escaped the above Pastor, “Let the text speak”. And speak they will when we understand the purpose and foundation for which they were given. It is a dangerous road we travel when we use the Scriptures for any purpose other than what they are intended for. God has given us His ‘Word’ both incarnate, in the person of Jesus Christ, and through the written Word, the scriptures. They both proclaim that God’s redemptive story of rescuing humans from themselves and their hell bound race through life, was accomplished in the Person and the finished work of Jesus Christ, at the CROSS. The work of redemptive history continues, until ‘all the people of the earth praise Him’ (Psa 67:3). He is not yet finished with drawing all His people to Himself. With that said, redemptive history found it’s accomplishment in the cross of Christ. Jesus Himself, said of His own death on the cross, that His blood was the blood of the new covenant which was promised centuries before which provided for the ‘forgiveness of sins’, something the previous covenant did not. And forgiveness of sins is the one thing needed for redemption. If we begin to read the scriptures from any other perspective other than God’s story of redemption of a people in need of redeeming and that redemption having been finished completely in the person and work of Jesus Christ on the cross, we will begin to use it for purposes it was never intended. We will moralize or politicize the Word of God for our own agendas and may this never be. It is not a social, political, or even a moral gospel. It is the gospel, ‘good news’, of God that HE SAVES SINNERS and that through the cross of Christ. When that is found in our scripture passages, it is the power of God unto salvation and will transform lives and cultures. Never make more of the Scriptures and never make less of them. I decided to know nothing among you except Christ and Him CRUCIFIED. – Paul to the Corinthians. sola scriptura!
One of my greatest fears as Pastor is that I make the Word of God boring as I take the pulpit each week. It is the very Word and thoughts of the God of creation and it is astounding to think that He has chosen to even communicate with His creation. What is man that He is is even mindful of us? Then to think that He has entrusted to this earthen vessel a message for His people through His Word, humbles and strike fear within me. Pray for discernment. Discernment not only on my part but on the part of the hearers at Center Hill Community Church. Discernment to distinguish between opinion and truth, between traditions of man and the commandments of God. But preaching and hearing is obviously a two way street. We hear often of the responsibility of the preacher to preach soundly but is the hearer just a passive sponge without any duty? No, the scriptures are very plain that to those who much as been given much will be required. The principle is clear, act on what God has revealed to us. As the Puritan Pastor Richard Baxter said, ” Remember that all these… sermons must be reviewed, and you must answer for all that you have heard, whether you heard it…with diligent attention or with carelessness; and the word which you hear shall judge you at the last day. Hear therefore as those that are going to judgment to give account of their hearing and obeying.” As a Pastor, I am grateful for the people of Center Hill. They do discern, they act on what they hear, they allow the Word to change them, they challenge me. Oh for this to continue. Below is a 2 minute video from John Piper which sums up my heart of the Word of God and it’s appeal to the true child of God. Pray that we at Center Hill never treat the Word of Creator God as boring! “> soli deo gloria
Pastor John Macarthur has nailed my passion in a recent short article that he has written, Why preach the Word? Click on the link and read this. Most of what preachers are passing off as preaching today is nothing more than a motivational/self help talk with a smattering of scripture, usually taken out of context. Our churches are facing a serious dearth of sound preaching and it is manifesting itself in congregations that find themselves as nothing more than civic minded social clubs that sing songs of worship to a God they barely know and obey even less. I am so thankful for the people of CHCC who have allowed me to proclaim God’s word in it’s entirety and their desire to grow in the ‘grace and knowledge of our Lord’. I’m no scholar, for I struggle each week to understand even the smallest passage of the Word of God, but I am convinced that as long as the Lord allows me to preach, by His grace, I will never cease to proclaim the entire truth of the Word of God as He reveals it to me. It is the Word of God that changes our lives. “For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe” – The Bible