Thursday, August 13, 2009

One stop shopping

Is what should be going on "out there" going on "in here"?

I know that preaching is supposed to be the focal point of our church gathering based on our Protestant traditions. Especially expository preaching. But (and here I go again) is it Scriptural?

The question unfortunately often gets framed like this: either we have expository preaching or we have cutesy anecdotes and story time. As if there is no other option, as if you cannot have solid Biblical teaching and even exposition without a prepared 45 monologue sermon.

When I prepared a sermon, it was equal parts (more or less) declaring the Gospel and calling for repentance on the one hand and designed to impart teaching to believers on the other hand. I think that is true of most sermons on a given Sunday. If so, that implies that on any given Sunday either:

We are preaching the Gospel of repentance to those who have already been born again.


We are teaching the things of God to people with unregenerate hearts to whom such teachings are meaningless.

That brings me back to my basic premise. Are preaching and teaching the same thing? If not, do we see preaching the Gospel as something that happens in the local gathering of the church? It seems that there was a great deal of teaching and edifying and encouraging going on when the church gathered but not preaching as we understand it. There was a lot of preaching going on in the New Testament, but it appears to be something happening toward groups that were clearly unbelievers (out in public, in the synagogues, in the temple, in the homes of unbelievers). I love good preaching but is what we know as preaching Biblical and appropriate in the local gathering of the church?

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Steve Martin said...

Great post, great topic.

You are right. There is a difference between preaching and teaching.

We need both. In the worship service (I believe) is the time for preaching. it is the time to let the Word of God (the law and the gospel) do IT'S work on the hearer.

The Word is actually DONE TO US. It acts upon us in the preaching of the demand of the law (to create repentance) and then the unmitigated gospel of the forgiveness of sins to make alive again (Lord willing).

After worship, we have a pastor's class where we learn about the Christian faith and go over scripture, the sermon, and theology, and ask questions and discuss and learn.

I think it is a good formula.

Anonymous said...

Without getting into the whole issue of sermons being scriptural/unscriptural, I would not say that preaching the gospel of repentance to believers is a bad thing at all. In fact, I think it is absolutely necessary. Do we need an "altar call" every Sunday? Um, no. But as basic as the gospel should be to us, we so quickly forget it. One thing I have loved and appreciated so much about the Presby church we've been attending is that on some level, I am reminded every week of the gospel. And it does not become meaningless or rote to me. Every time I hear it, it pierces my heart. I *need* to hear every week, that I am not just a sinner, but that I am completely sinful to my core, and could never please a holy God. But in his mercy, the Word became flesh, and died on a cross to satisfy the judgment I deserve. THAT never ceases to be mindblowing.

Now of course, I should be growing in the grace and knowledge of Christ, and should be able to learn and apply teaching that goes beyond the basics of the gospel. But that doesn't mean I don't need to keep hearing the gospel and the call to repentance. I just don't need to say the sinner's prayer every time I hear it. :o)