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“Because we’re supposed to”

I just finished a preaching group where a fine preacher gave a fine talk on Judges 14.  At the end he included a sentence about 'another Saviour who came to deliver His people eternally'.  That sort of thing.   He didn't make anything of the point and he didn't mention the name 'Jesus', but he included the sentence.

During the feedback session I asked him in as non-leading a way as possible, "Why did you include that sentence about Jesus?" 

Quick as a flash another student answered "Because we're supposed to." 

Let me ask:

Do we preach Christ from the OT "because we're supposed to" or because the Hebrew Scriptures are already and inherently a witness to Christ? 

Is the 'Jesus bit' a token effort to fulfil some preaching requirement?  Or is Jesus actually witnessed in and through the passage? 

Is Jesus as incidental to the proclamation of this passage as those terrible jokes that are also tacked on?

Is it the preacher's job to 'bridge to Christ'?  Or has God's word already done a good job of that?

Is Jesus forced into our sermons?  Or is He present as the Ground, Grammar and Goal of the whole Scripture?

Congregations can really tell the difference between the former and the latter.

Churches where the former is the common practice often produce Christians who know that Jesus is very important.  But they're not so sure why. 

Preachers that follow this model can start to think that Jesus is a homiletical necessity, but not so much a spiritual one.  So when they speak of God's sovereignty, the importance of holiness, the necessity of prayer, they give powerful illustrations and pointed applications.  For these 'main points' of their sermon it's aged wine and the best of meats.  But then at the end they give their people Jesus as though He's cod liver oil.  Out of the blue, unappetising, supposedly good for you but we're not quite sure why.

Know what I mean?


0 thoughts on ““Because we’re supposed to”

  1. Paul Blackham

    Yes, I know what you mean. It's so hard to diagnose the problem though. At face value it seems that God/sovereignty/holiness/prayer etc are all considered more obvious, more basic, more fundamental and that Jesus is the agent who delivers these fundamental, essential things. From this perspective Jesus does not need to be the centre of attention or even known at all so long as Jesus does His job of connecting people to God/prayer/holiness etc.

    However, what if Jesus actually IS God? What if the prayer/holiness/sovereignty stuff is actually all about our relationship with LORD Jesus? What if Jesus is not the agent but the content, the substance and all these other things are 'agents' for Him? What if Jesus is the centre and substance of every creature's relation to the Living God? What if the LORD God of the Scriptures is Jesus? This is the basic assumption of the earliest post-apostolic Christian theology.

    These two starting points naturally lead to very different styles of preaching. Under the first, we can still get a wonderfully challenging sermon on prayer/holiness/sovereignty... although the purpose of these things might be slightly different. Under the second approach, the subject matter of every sermon will be Jesus regardless of the secondary subject.

    The deep question is this: which of these two perspectives is the perspective of the Biblical writers? Is Jesus really the One that Moses consciously wrote about or is it better to say that Moses was writing about prayer/holiness/sacrifice/sin and that Jesus is the ultimate, indirect agent of all those things?

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