We Cannot, By Any Means, Quit Preaching

Can’t you hear people during that time say, “What good is preaching if people among us are starving and suffering?  The time for preaching is over and the time for action is here.”  However, the Apostles, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, say the dangerous temptation put in front of them and said “Nothing can eclipse the importance of preaching the Word.  We’ll ask God to help us raise up others who can meet those needs.  We cannot, by any means, quit preaching.

– D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones on Acts 6:1-5

as quoted by Greear, J.D.; Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary; B&H Publishing Group; Nashville, TN; Copyright 2011; Kindle Edition; page 235

Three Qualities of a “Gospel-Centered” Church

I’m going to give you three qualities of a “gospel-centered” church.  Unfortunately, I think the examples of churches who model all three are very few:

  1. In a gospel-centered church, preaching the message of the gospel is the priority.
  2. In a gospel-centered church, the emphasis of the message is more on what Christ has done than what we are to do.
  3. In a gospel-centered church, the members demonstrate the beauty of the gospel in the community.

– Greear, J.D.; Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary; B&H Publishing Group; Nashville, TN; Copyright 2011; Kindle Edition; page 221-228

Christianity Is Not Another Word for a “Spiritual Shower”

There is another crucial reason why preaching the Gospel of free grace is both necessary and effective at a time when moralism is what reigns supreme; moralism is what far too many people already think Christianity is all about – rules and standards and behavior and cleaning yourself up.

– Tchividian, Tullian; One Way Love: Inexhaustible Grace for an Exhausted World; David Cook Publishers; copyright 2013; Kindle Edition; Location 2167

Grace Is Wild

Grace is wild.  Grace unsettles everything.  Grace overflows the banks.  Grace messes up your hair.  Grace is not tame.  In fact, unless we are making the devout nervous, we are not preaching grace as we ought.

– Tchividian, Tullian; One Way Love: Inexhaustible Grace for an Exhausted World; David Cook Publishers; copyright 2013; Kindle Edition; Location 2034

This is How the Kingdom of Christ is Advanced

With the Reformation, Luther revived Augustine’s insights.  The kingdom of Christ advances exclusively through the Spiritual sword: the Word of God.  It is embraced by faith, rather than being coercively imposed by force.  In earthly affairs, unbelievers often excel believers.  We build temporal cities by our works, but receive the kingdom of Christ through preaching and sacrament.

Horton, Michael; The Gospel Driven Life: Being Good News People in a Bad News World; Baker Books; Grand Rapids, MI; Copyright 2009; page 251

The Saints, Today, Are Being Improverished

Calvin and other reformers argued that the Supper should occupy a central place alongside preaching each week.  Yet its strange absence from the regular gathering of many churches today impoverishes the saints, weaken the diet and the sinews that connect us to our living Head and to each other as members of his body, and dampens the gratitude that feeds our missionary zeal.  It is the Eucharist, along with preaching and baptism, that not only generates a church in the first place, but keeps its focus on Christ’s presence in action as well as his absence in the flesh, generating our longing for his return.

Horton, Michael; The Gospel Driven Life: Being Good News People in a Bad News World; Baker Books; Grand Rapids, MI; Copyright 2009; page 202-203

Does The Gospel Form the Central Content of Most of Today’s Preaching?

Although there are allusions to this remarkable story [the Gospel] in popular preaching and evangelism today, one wonders if it can be said that it forms the central content.  Even in conservative Protestant circles today, the gospel is popular summarized with formulas, definitions, and phrases that are not even implied in the New Testament.  In fact, these phrases shift the focus from Christ back to us.

Horton, Michael; The Gospel Driven Life: Being Good News People in a Bad News World; Baker Books; Grand Rapids, MI; Copyright 2009; page 90-91

Such Teaching is Childish and Effeminate Nonsense

I believe that is has now become clear that it is not enough or in any sense “Christian” to preach the works, life and words of Christ…as if the knowledge of these would suffice for the conduct of life….Yet, this is the fashion among those who today [1500s] are regarded as our best preachers…and such teaching is childish and effeminate nonsense.

Rather ought Christ to be preached to the end that faith in Him may be established that He may not only be Christ, but be Christ for you and me, and that which is said of Him and is denoted in His name may be effectual in us.  Such faith is produced and preserved in us by preaching why Christ came, what He brought and bestowed, what benefit it is to us to accept Him…What person is there whose heart, upon hearing these things, will not rejoice to its depth and when receiving such comfort will not grow tender so that they will love as they never could by means of any law or work?

There are some who have no understanding to hear the truth of freedom and insist upon their goodness as means for salvation.  These people you must resist, do the very opposite, and offend them boldly lest by their impious views they drag many with them into error.  For the sake ofliberty of the faith do other things which they regarded as the greatest of sins…use your freedom constantly and consistently in the sight of and despote the tyrants and stubborn so that they may learn that they are impious, that their law and works are of no avail for righteousness, and that they had no right to set them up.

– Luther, Martin

as quoted by as quoted by Brown, Steve; Three Free Sins: God’s Not Mad At YouHoward Books;  New York, copyright 2012; Kindle Edition; Location 2456

We Never Outgrow the Gospel

Hearing the word of the cross, and preaching it to ourselves, is the central strategy for sinners in the fight for joy.  Nothing works without this.  Here is where we start.  And here is where we stay.  We never outgrow the gospel.  Here we see the glory of Christ more clearly than anywhere else.  Indeed the gospel is “the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (II Corinthians 4:4).  If seeing Christ is the key to savoring Christ – and it is! – then here is where we must linger.

– Piper, John; When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy; Crossway; Wheaton, Ill.; copyright  2004; p. 91

It Addresses Our True Need, No Matter What

Preaching the gospel to ourselves everyday addresses both the self-righteous Pharisee and the guilt-laden sinner that dwell in our hearts.  Since the gospel is only for sinners, preaching it to ourselves every day reminds us that we are indeed sinners in need of God’s grace. 

– Bridges, Jerry; The Disciplined of Grace:God’s Role and Our Role in the Pursuit of Holiness; NavPress; Colorado Springs; copyright 1994; p. 25-26