Posts Tagged ‘Preaching’

How does God Convey His Grace to Us?

February 13, 2009

Herman Bavinck

bavinckHerman Bavinck was one of the great Christian thinkers of the last half of the 19th century. He had important things to say about Scriptures and the Word of God. In saying them, he didn’t mince words, but pointed out errors. So, his criticisms of Roman Catholicism are said to point out deviations from the truth, as it is revealed in God’s word. For Bavinck and other Protestants, the Word of God stands head-and-shoulders above the authority of the church and, at the same time, is the foundation of the church. This is a long quote, but worth every word.

…(T)he relationship between Scripture and the church is totally different in Protestantism than in Roman Catholicism. In Rome’s view the church is anterior to Scripture; the church is not built upon Scripture, but Scripture arose from the church; Scripture does indeed need the church, but the church does not need Scripture. The Reformation, however, again put the church on the foundation of Scripture and elevated Scripture high above the church. Not the church but Scripture, the Word of God, became the means of grace par excellence. Even the sacrament was subordinated to the Word and had neither meaning nor power apart from that Word. Now, in accordance with Christ’s ordinance, that Word was indeed administered in the midst of the congregation of believers by the minister, but this did not alter the fact that the Word was (also) put into everyone’s hand, that it was plain to everyone who studied it with a desire for salvation, that it exerted its power not only when it was proclaimed in public but also when it was studied and read at home. In that way Christians, who accepted that word with a believing heart, were liberated from sacredotalism. No longer did any person or thing stand between them and Christ. By faith they appropriated the whole of salvation, and in the sacrament they received the sign and seal of that reality. Thus the Reformation changed the Roman Catholic doctrine of the means of grace.’ (Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. 4, pp. 444-445).

Advertisements

The Cross of Christ–Part Two

February 7, 2009
Mike Horton

Mike Horton

Michael Horton has this to say about Preaching Christ:

The purpose of the sermon is not a devotional or inspirational pep talk; nor is it a course on theology or an autobiographical account of the preacher’s life and times. It is not a moral lesson in how to be good, nor is it a practical seminar on how to have a happy life. The purpose of the sermon is neither personal self-improvement nor national salvation, but to preach Christ and him crucified.

Stirring words, for sure. And a challenge to all preachers, since most of us wish, deep down, to be liked by our people. But should the truth of the gospel be comprimised for the sake of friendship or popularity? Shouldn’t preachers make things relevant? Attractive? Entertaining? Horton goes on to say:

But will that (the preaching of Christ crucified) be perceived as relevant, with so many practical problems in our troubled world? Won’t they consider such a message impractical and foolish? And the Apostle Paul answers, ‘Sure, the Gospel is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those who are being saved, it is the power of God and the wisdom of God.’

Mike is the host of The White Horse Inn, editor of Modern Reformation magazine, and professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics at Westminster Seminary California.

The Cross of Christ–Part One

February 7, 2009

the_cross

For some reason, I’ve never been able to read one book at a time. I always have several books going at once. One of the books I’m reading right now is In My Place Condemned He Stood, by Mark Dever and J.I. Packer. The book reprints a handful of essays on the cross of Christ; three by Packer, one by Dever, and an annotated bibliography by Ligon Duncan that describes other books that deal with the cross. Don’t let the slender size of the book fool you, this small tome packs an enormous punch.

How often have you, when you’ve actually paused to think about the cross, wondered what it was really about? Has the bloody and brutal death of Jesus puzzled you? It certainly puzzled me at one time. And, I’m sorry to say, I believe it still puzzles many Christians. They confess Christ as Lord and believe he was raised from the dead, but they are foggy on what exactly happened on the cross. For me, one of the people who helped to clear things up was John Piper. Others also helped, including R. C. Sproul, John Owen.

cross-book-dever-packer1Unless we grasp what God accomplished on the cross—in the death of Christ, the perfect sacrifice; in the pouring out of God’s wrath on his sinless Son; in the substitution that Christ made on our behalf, suffering and dying instead of us—we will never flourish as a church. No program will ‘fix’ us, no matter how well planned it is. Only the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world will save us. This is what should, first and foremost, be sung by the congregation, taught by parents and taught in the Sunday school, and preached and preached and preached from the pulpit.