The Gospel-Centered / Christ-Emphatic Approach to Preaching

I love to preach.  I love the preparation of preaching.  I love the Word.  I struggle to have quiet times as I should.  Study can run dry.  My heart grows cold.  God is faithful to His Word…even when I’m unfaithful to Him.

I’m not that different than many of you.  You love the Word, yet your declaration of love could be in question due to a lack of devotion to the Word.  One of my great hopes is to preach in such a way that causes you to treasure Christ through the Word more than you ever have.  Part of that pursuit for me in preaching is to equip you / remind you about how to study the Word of God.  I need that reminder regularly.  Ultimately, the motivation for treasuring the Word of God is in remembering the Gospel…the Christ of the Gospel.

There are some things I’m developing to help my preaching that are also helping my view of Scripture.  I want to share some of this with you to help exhort you to pick up your Bible, a pen, and a journal and mine the Word of God and discover the treasure of Christ!

At this point, I call this approach “The Gospel-Centered / Christ-Emphatic Approach.”  Here’s how it works:

1) The Gospel is central in the Scriptures because Christ is central in the Scriptures.   I must realize that the greater redemptive story-arc of the Bible is the person of Jesus Christ.  All Scripture points to Christ and His redemptive work in reconciling sinner to God, for God’s glory and man’s joy.

2) Because the Gospel is central, I need to know how to understand the Gospel.  The basic outline we (at UBC) use for the Gospel is… God / Man / Christ / Response.  However, don’t forget that the Gospel literally means “good news.”  So, the Gospel is the telling of the good news of God reconciling sinful Man through Jesus Christ, which is marked by man’s repentance and faith.

3) As I approach Scripture with this understanding, I take pen / highlighters and find the 5 main elements of the Gospel in every passage:  Good News / God / Man / Christ / Response.

4) Now, with that as my pursuit, how do I know what I’m looking for?

  • Good News — This emphasis is usually related to telling or proclaiming.  If you were to simply study the role of speech / proclamation in Scripture you’d see the power of Words and the tongue.
  • God — The two primary things to look for here relate to God’s primary administration and character.  I believe that God’s primary administration relates to His sovereignty – that He rules over all and ordains His work.  I believe the primary characteristic revealed in Scripture for God is His holiness.  This is the antiphonal song in Isa.6 and the greater realization of all the priestly work throughout the Old Testament.
  • Man — There are two primary things to look for related to “man” in the text.  First, as opposed to God’s sovereignty (His independence), would be man’s utter dependence on God.  You’ll see that man’s expression of His fallen nature is to show his supposed independence from God.  This brings man’s greatest characteristic, which is his fallenness.  Man is fallen, a sinner.  Look for this fallen condition of man in the text.
  • CHRIST — The revelation of Christ in all of Scripture could be categorized / summarized according to His offices:  Prophet, Priest, and King.  Look where Christ was prophetic through the Old Testament writers and figures.  The message of repentance and faith were there in Christ through Noah, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, David and so on.  Certainly He was seen as a prophet in the New Testament, but His earthly work was more emphatically priestly.  The entire Old Testament sacrificial system points to Christ’s priesthood and satisfying sacrifice.  Hebrews shows us the beauty of that fulfillment — “It is finished!”  Certainly Christ came as King.  Matthew 2:2 makes plain that Herod got word of this and wanted this person dead.  Pilate tried to get Christ to admit this.  Philippians 2:9-11 promises the kingly worship.  Colossians 1 shows us that Christ is King because He has created all, as the un-created One, and is resurrected from the dead to be the king of the church.  But it’s in Revelation, especially chapters 11,12,19-22 that we see this King in obvious expressed power and rule.
  • Response — Here you are looking for repentance and faith.  Both are necessary for true conversion responsiveness.  They are imperatives.  The absence of repentance and faith is actual disobedience to the Spirit’s command.  These two sides of the same response can be found throughout Scripture.

5) At this point, it’s important to realize the emphasis that is on Christ.  In Luke 24, we see Christ meet up with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus.  In this account, Christ tells them that He is in the Scriptures throughout the Old Testament.  Christ is the central figure and point of the entirety of Scripture.  Therefore, we must place our emphasis on Him as the center of this redemptive story revealed in the Bible.  That’s why understanding these offices of Christ can aid tremendously in the preaching and private studying of the Word.

I believe that approaches, if they are sound biblically, can aid and refresh the personal study of God’s Word and that’s my hope for you.   I hope that you will simply remember these things, grab your Bible, a pen (or highlighting set), and a journal and dive in.  You need to feel the fresh love for Scripture and I believe you have a great opportunity to rightly handle the truth using this developing Gospel-Centered / Christ-Emphatic approach.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

Colossians 3:16

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