“How NOT to Preach” is a misnomer for this post, since I really hope that people will opt for Gospel-centered preaching, but I kept the title since this is part of the series I started so long ago.
What exactly does Gospel-centered preaching mean? Essentially, it means that the heart of the message is the Gospel. Not necessarily an altar call, but something that brings us to the heart of the Good News: our sin and inability to save ourselves face-to-face with Jesus’ redemption and triumph.
The focus shifts from ourselves to our Savior.
Jeff gave us some questions to consider about our preaching and writing to check to see if it lines up with the Gospel message:
- Does Christ need to come? If he didn’t/doesn’t, then it’s not the Gospel.
- Does Jesus need to triumph? If he doesn’t, who is the triumphant one? Do we triumph by ourselves?
- Is sin adequately revealed? Are you looking beyond outward behavior to the attitudes and idols people hold at their core, which result in the outward behavior?
- Is the grace revealed even more than the depth of our sin revealed?
- Are the benefits mostly for this world?
- How does the Gospel change our lives? Does it really matter in what we’re preaching?
- Have we contextualized properly for our audience?
- Does it drive us to Christ?
- Does it present true transformation (i.e. fruit of the Spirit and God’s work in us) or guilt/fear/responsibility?
Another one of my professors asked, “Is what you’re preaching and sharing actually good news?” More responsibility and effort on my part is not good news. Wishful thinking for a better life is not good news. If I could have achieved the life I wanted under my own power, I wouldn’t need Jesus!
Another question to ask is, “If I removed Jesus’ name and Bible verses from this message, would it still be true?” If yes, then it’s not the Gospel.
The Cross changed everything, which has to include the message we preach to others. For example, in the story of David and Goliath:
- the prosperity gospel tells us that God wants us to overcome the giants in our life with faith.
- the guilt gospel tells us that we need to step up and be David following these three easy steps.
- the Gospel tells us that we’re not David. We are the ones in need of a savior, hiding behind the rocks. David is a precursor to and a shadow of our true Savior.
In the prosperity gospel, what we get saves us.
In the guilt gospel, what we do saves us.
But in gospel-centered preaching, only Jesus can save us.
I leave you with Paul’s charge to Timothy concerning the Gospel, my prayer for everyone who preaches:
I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.