Today’s reminder is from a recent Theocast episode hosted by Pastor Jon Moffitt and Pastor Justin Perdue.
If we’re going to rightly be preaching the word of God, we’ve got to have some tools in view. You’ve got to have a redemptive, historical framework of the scriptures in terms of how the Bible hangs together. For us, as covenantal theologians, we would understand that covenant theology is that framework. So when we say redemptive, historical theology, we mean covenant theology.
We’ve got to have that, but then we have to rightly divide law and gospel. We talk about that a lot on this show that the law and the gospel are very often collapsed in the evangelical church, and even amongst Calvinistic evangelicals, this is common. And we don’t keep the law and the gospel appropriately distinct, and we actually compromise both.
We soft-pedal the law in one sense, but then we turn the gospel into this kind of conditional covenant of works sort of thing where there are requirements placed upon us. That’s not helpful if we’re going to be preaching the word of God, rightly, as a means of grace.
Here are some things that often occur in the pulpit, in a general sense – like in pulpits across this land, that are unhelpful. One, the scriptures are preached through the lens of law, not through the lens of law and gospel. And what I mean by that, it’s when I say this – think morality, think moralism, think about how you would typically hear the Old Testament preached, where we would go to the Old Testament in particular, and we would follow around Old Testament saints, and we would think about how we can be like them in their good moments, so let me imitate the good, and here’s some bad stuff we need to avoid.
That is not the kind of preaching that we’re advocating. That is a law-based, morality-based perspective on the scriptures, and that’s not preaching. So that occurs all over the place. And I think that’s the only way that many people even know how to approach the Old Testament, in particular. A second comment I want to make: there’s a lot of preaching that’s called “Christ-centered” that, with all due respect, I don’t think is. If you get into the pulpit, I don’t care what Testament you’re in; I don’t care what genre scripture, but if you get into the pulpit and you preach for 45 minutes and 40 of those minutes, you’re saying good things, true things that you’re observing from the passage, you’re talking about stuff that is not false, you’re giving me a lot of information, you’re maybe even meditating on, you know, how I should conduct my life, et cetera. None of that is inherently illegitimate, but that’s what you do.
And then you slip in the plan of salvation, or you slip in the meta-narrative of creation, fall, redemption, consummation. And you call that Christ-centered preaching. I’m just like, homey, with all due respect, it’s not. Because you’ve not preached a Christ-centered sermon. You’ve actually preached a law-centered, morality-centered sermon.
You’ve preached a Christian life-centered sermon, and you’ve slipped Christ in rather than asking the question of every passage: where does this stand in relation to Christ and his work?
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