Christ-Centered Preaching: Unveiling the Beauty of Jesus
In the world of preaching, there is a term that has gained popularity in recent years: Christ-centered preaching. But what does it really mean to preach Christ-centered sermons? Is it simply mentioning the name of Jesus or talking about the gospel? In this article, we will explore the concept of Christ-centered preaching and its significance in shaping the minds and hearts of believers. We will delve into the key themes discussed in a podcast episode featuring Christopher Gordon, a pastor at Escondido United Reform Church, who sheds light on the essence of Christ-centered preaching.
The Aim of Christ-Centered Preaching
At the heart of Christ-centered preaching is the recognition that the Bible presents one overarching theme: the person and work of Jesus Christ. It goes beyond simply mentioning Jesus' name or using the word "gospel" in a sermon. As Christopher Gordon explains, "Christ-centered preaching aims to exposit the text without dealing with what that particular text is in its indicative or imperative, law or gospel. But it has an aim at showing the excellencies and the beauties of Jesus Christ since he is the unifying theme of Scripture."
Distinguishing Christ-Centered Preaching
Not all preaching can be considered Christ-centered preaching. It is important to understand the distinction between preaching that focuses on Christ and preaching that is centered on Christ. As Gordon points out, "Just to say the name of Jesus, as important as that name is, that doesn't necessarily constitute Christ-centered preaching." Christ-centered preaching goes beyond surface-level mentions of Jesus and delves into the depths of Scripture to reveal the redemptive work of Christ.
Discerning Christ-Centered Preaching
For those seeking a church or evaluating sermons, it is crucial to discern whether the preaching is truly Christ-centered. One key aspect to consider is the pastor's aim or goal in preaching. Is the pastor aiming to refresh people in the wonderful Gospel? Is the pastor pointing people to the person and work of Christ as the ultimate remedy for sin and the source of salvation? Christ-centered preaching should consistently present the good news of Jesus Christ and remind believers of their need for His grace and righteousness.
The Law and Gospel Distinction
A fundamental aspect of Christ-centered preaching is the understanding and application of the law and gospel distinction. The law reveals the exceeding sinfulness of sin and demonstrates the need for a Savior, while the gospel proclaims the good news of Jesus Christ's fulfillment of the law and His provision for salvation. Gordon emphasizes the importance of this distinction, stating, "Law gospel is taught everywhere in Scripture that the law comes to us and tells us what we must do and the gospel tells us what has been done."
The Role of Expository Preaching
Expository preaching, when done correctly, can be a powerful tool for Christ-centered preaching. However, it is essential to approach expository preaching with the right mindset and methodology. Gordon cautions against a verse-by-verse approach that fails to consider the overarching point and intention of the author. He suggests looking at the problem the author is solving, the larger context of the book, and the overarching meta-narrative of Scripture to properly understand and preach Christ-centered sermons.
The Tone of Christ-Centered Preaching
The tone of Christ-centered preaching plays a significant role in effectively communicating the message of the Gospel. While there may be moments of strong conviction and confrontation, the overall tone should reflect the graciousness and compassion of Christ. Gordon highlights the importance of demonstrating the appropriate expression that belongs to the message being preached. He states, "In this good news that's being preached to us, God is for us. He's not angrily yelling at us."
Resources for Pastors
For pastors seeking to improve their Christ-centered preaching, there are several valuable resources available. One suggestion is to find a mentor who exhibits the qualities and approach desired in Christ-centered preaching. Learning from experienced pastors who have a deep love for the Scriptures and a gracious teaching style can be immensely beneficial. Additionally, there are books on preaching that provide practical guidance and insights. Some recommended titles include Dabney's "Evangelical Eloquence" and Lloyd Jones's "Preachers and Preaching."
Conclusion and Future Outlook
Christ-centered preaching is not a mere buzzword or a formulaic approach to sermons. It is a call to faithfully proclaim the person and work of Jesus Christ as the central theme of Scripture. By understanding the law and gospel distinction, employing expository preaching methods, and adopting a gracious tone, pastors can effectively communicate the transformative power of the Gospel. As believers continue to hear Christ-centered preaching, they are reminded of their need for Christ's righteousness and are encouraged to live in light of His grace.
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