Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Redemptive-Historical Preaching

Then He said to them, "These are My words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled."  Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all nations beginning from Jerusalem." (Luke 24:44-47)  

     In this 2-minute video clip Dr. Dennis Johnson of Westminster Seminary California explains the Christ-centered approach of redemptive-historical preaching.  This next short clip also illustrates how OT narratives and characters are meant to point to Christ, rather than merely provide moral object lessons for us.  In the above passage in Luke's gospel, and immediately prior to the Ascension of Jesus, our Lord says the threefold division of the Hebrew Bible bears witness to Him.  Why does so much modern preaching and worship services fail to clearly point to the Lord?  I'm afraid it is because we tend to see the Bible as moral instruction rather than see the glory of the Lord Jesus in every book.  
     In our search for a church home in Central Oregon, my wife and I visited a local Baptist church in which Christ was glorified through songs and hymns of worship, but the sermons were not much more than a moral lesson from week to week.  You know, the kind where you fill in the blanks on a sheet so you can "apply" the sermon during the week (e.g. we need to be like David this week and slay our own Goliath's, be men and woman after God's heart, etc. etc.).  While I am all for application in a sermon, if Christ and His redemptive work are missing I find myself restless and agitated.  Especially if this goes on for an extended period of time . . . week after week . . . series after series.
     One of the things that makes most Reformed worship stand out today is her focus on the centrality of preaching Christ as Prophet, Priest, and King.  In churches like these, everything in the worship service points toward Christ and, especially, in the expository preaching of Scripture concerning His redemptive work.  Regardless of what church you attend, Christ and His gospel should be the central focus week in and week out.  It is sad that I must ask, but are you getting Christ at your church or merely moralistic object lessons?

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