Thursday, August 12, 2010

THE NEED FOR CHRIST-CENTERED PREACHING


Over the span of this year, I have been doing a hard study and examination of Christ-Centered preaching, and--even more--if my preaching is meeting the objectives that it promotes.

This examination began when I started to listen to the online teachings of my old Seminary Professor, Dr. Warren Gage, and observing how he showed in every passage the Personhood and work of Christ, and how it is at the center of all of Scripture. On top of this, I have recently been in regular contact with Pastor Ken Jones, who is the new Pastor at Glendale Missionary Baptist Church in Miami as well as one of the hosts of the Whitehorse Inn Radio Program. And Pastor Jones has not only been an amazing help in showing me how to develop sermons under this idea, but he also recommended that I read a VERY powerful book on the subject called "Him we Proclaim" by Dennis E. Johnson, which has been an invaluable tool.

And, through the lens of all of these resources, I have come to accept the reality that--not only is Christ-Centered Preaching the best way to interpret Scripture and develop effective sermons--it's the ONLY way!!!!

If we look at passages like Luke 24:13-27 and John 5:39, 46, we would see clearly that Holy Scripture leaves no doubt that we are to interpret it through the lens of Christ. And, this doesn't mean just sticking a reference to Him at the end of a "law-filled" sermon, nor does it mean to use Him as an example by how we can live our lives better. But what Christ-Centered preaching teaches is that we view every passage as a contribution to unpacking the Personhood and work of Christ.

For example if we were to look at Genesis 22, which is the story of Abraham and his offering of Isaac, we would notice--for instance--that when Isaac asked his father, in v. 7 , "where is the lamb for the burnt offering", Abraham tells him in v. 8, "God would provide a Lamb for the burnt offering". However, in v. 13, after Isaac is spared by the Angel of the LORD, Abraham looks over and sees a ram caught in the thickets to which he sacrifices in lieu of Isaac. Now, while the most popular interpretation of this passage has been that "God will always have a ram in the bush" or that the ram represents Christ and how he will eventually die for us, there is actually something deeper located in this text.

Notice what Abraham told Isaac is not what exactly happened. Abraham told Isaac that God would provide a lamb, but instead he sacrificed a ram. Two different types of animals! So, was Abraham wrong? The answer is NO, because God does provide a lamb for the sacrifice. So, we are left asking the question, "Where is the lamb who would be sacrificed in lieu of Isaac"? And, we find this answer in the words of John the Baptist, "Behold, THE LAMB OF GOD who takes away the sins of the world" (John 1:29).

So, Jesus is ultimately the lamb, who will be sacrificed for--not only Isaac--but for all whom God has chosen. Like the burnt offering, He would give His entire body to die, so that believers would be broken from the pangs of sin and death and--more importantly--God's anger towards these things would be satisfied. Thus, while the ram is a symbol of what Christ would do, it is ultimately an incomplete sacrifice and, honestly, not the focus of this passage. But rather, the Lamb is the true focus of the passage because it is His sacrifice that will ultimately take away the sins of the world.

As I continue my study on Christ-Centered preaching, I will post some of my thoughts on this blog, and I pray that it will be a blessing to you as it is becoming to me.

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