TRANSLATION: Relativizing the Gospel

Another good program over at the White Horse Inn, featuring William Willimon: Faulty Translations

Willimon sees “Christianity is kind of like a foreign language that one is not born with,” which sadly “many preachers today are attempting to “translate” …into familiar and comfortable terms that people are used to, but the result, he argues, is that things get “lost in translation.””

Willimon points out the following:

1)       The Gospel is not to be translated as Therapy.

2)       The Gospel is not another Commodity.

3)       The Gospel is not another Life-Style Choice.

4)      The Gospel is not something you are born with.

5)       The Gospel is not User-Friendly.

6)      The Gospel does not make sense to/in this World.

7)       The Gospel creates a different world, with a different focus (i.e., Cross-eyed).

8)      The Gospel creates a counter-culture.

9)      The Gospel can make Life a bit more difficult.

10)    The Gospel is not a word about Glory (God’s making all things glorious now).

11)     The Gospel is a word of Grace (God’s condescension to sinners).

Willimon suggests asking this one question:

“When listening to a sermon, would Christ need to be CRUCIFIED in order to make this sermon work?”

Meaning, if the sermon works without Christ’s birth/godly-life/death/burial/raising/reigning, then, the sermon is not Christian.  It may be informational and/or ethical, but to be fails to be CHRISTIAN (rooted in the New Covenant!) by not preaching Him (1Cor.1.23; 2 Cor.1.19; 2Cor.4.5; Col.1.28; 1Tim.3.16).

GOSPEL: Seeing Things As They Are

Another good program by the guys at WHI:  Gospel Driven

Really appreciate what’s said concerning:

1)   Paul’s finding the Gospel (Cross of Christ) to always be the context for seeing things as they are.

2)   The fear/ignorance that b(l)inds men from preaching Christ crucified as the Sum/Substance of faith and life…that which guards and nurtures the body of Christ.

Worship: Being busy or bust?

 

This post is a follow-up on my previous one, regarding Miles McKee’s efforts to awaken the Church from its spiritual stupor, all the while it is dancing about Itself and not Christ.

                                  

Here again are the two links from which my comments below are taken:   

The Christ Centered Believer  (SERMON BY MILES)

The Gospel and the Believer-centered Believer  (TRANSCRIPT OF SAME SERMON)

 

NOTES:

1… We are busy (Mt.7.21-23) making self-centered GOATS into self-centered SHEEP.

2… We are busy converting the “empty” unbeliever into believers who are “full” of themselves.

3… We are busy confusing people with ideas that their being sinners is due to something they did; rather than…teaching that Adam’s sin made us sinners and Christ’s righteousness makes us saints.  In other words, “redemption” is not about what God did in us, but apart from us in Christ himself.  And that, it is Christ himself (Gal.2.20), who is the source of our life, that is our wisdom, our righteousness, and sanctification and redemption (1Cor.1.30). 

4… We are busy making a spectacle of ourselves before a watching world, rather than our being a people who are much consumed with the Specter of Christ, through Word and Sacrament (1Cor.1.23; Col.1.28).

5… We are busy trying to IM-ME-DIATELY make people “feel good” about themselves, without exalting Christ who died for their ULTIMATE good.

6… We are busy making/maintaining ‘self-centered’ believers who remain disinterested in, bored with, Christ Jesus and Him crucified/risen.

7… We are busy curtailing our message to a culture which knows both a cheap product (culturally-relevant ministry) and a cheap imposter (Christ-less religion) when it sees it!

 

*** May the Lord have mercy in making us GET OVER OURSELVES!!!

 

 

 

 

Centered: On Christ or Christian?

Here is what I suspect would be a discussion with a little bite (in a good way!).  Most churches that you either attend, or minister at, are very likely to be found having succumbed to this Gospel-less, Cross-less, Christ-less blight that I have mentioned here before and Miles McKee (in the following sermon) addresses at ‘point-blank-range.’

If you have the stomach (a Spirit wrought fortitude rooted in the Gospel) for it, PLEASE, take some time to listen to and/or read the following:

The Christ Centered Believer  (SERMON BY MILES)

The Gospel and the Believer-centered Believer  (TRANSCRIPT OF SAME SERMON)

My next post will consist of a handful of notes that capture highlights from Miles’ comments.

Christianity: Not “The Gospel and…whatever”

Here are two programs that discuss the *priority* of the Gospel in ALL that the Church is about.

WHITE HORSE INN:  We Preach Christ Crucified

&

ISSUES ETC: Gospel Driven Church

Some highlights from the first (WHI):

1. After becoming Christians, Christians have a very strong tendency to make becoming a Christian easier than it was for them. Thus missing that the Gospel is not intuitive to the natural man…no matter what coating (i.e., sugar, lemon, etc) is put on it.

2. Preaching today (and probably always has been the majority approach) is a motivational speech wherein ‘Jesus & Friends’ are cited. This has always been a problem…folks wanting to establish their own righteousness, while not fully accepting/understanding that true righteousness is by faith not works (see Rom.3.21-22; 4.5,13,22; 5.17; 8.10; 9.30; 10.3-4,6; and 14.17) . Meaning, sanctification is not about…”Ok, we got that gospel thing down, now lets get busy and holier for God!” No, from start to finish (birth to death) by faith alone!

3. Preaching today (again, always the tendency) is to create a “need” that the pastor, etc can “meet.” All the while, biblical terminology is utilized (emptied its right meaning) in order to sell folks a plan for “fulfilling your destiny.”

4. The Cross is wrongly made out to be an answer to a different set of questions than those the Gospel actually answers. In other words, folks start out on the wrong page and assume that the Gospel “applies” to that very page.

5. Paul sang “one” note…Christ crucified! This and this alone answers man’s greatest and ultimate need, to find acceptance with a thrice Holy God. The foundation of this Throne of Grace, that the Apostle exclusively preached, was made of only true “justice and judgment” (Ps.89.1). It is this Gospel that is the fullest revelation of God’s wrath against human sin (Rom.1.17-18).

The second program (Issues, Etc) is equally good, addressing many of the same concerns…the Gospel ends up being “left behind” by churches/ministries, rather than seeing it as the sole means whereby God makes a people for His name’s sake.

Preachers: Ambassadorial Office

David Gibson has this further word about ‘preachers’:

“Any authority the preacher possesses in the church is necessarily delegated authority, exercised in view of the Chief Shepherd and his appearing (1 Pt. 5:4). Rather like the way a babysitter cares for children while the parents are out for the evening, so the pastor lovingly cares for what does not belong to him and for those who are unspeakably precious to whom they do belong.

“[T]he stance of being a herald means that the preacher must neither appeal to the world without proclamation, nor proclaim to the world without appeal.

“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God” (2 Cor. 5:20).

“The appeal is necessary simply because the preacher is not in the pulpit to communicate information, but rather to call for a relationship between the listener and God.

Preachers: Listener…then Speaker

David Gibson has this to say about ‘preachers’:

 

1)   In coming to the text, preachers bring a pre-understanding-horizon that shapes their perception of the text-horizon. However, the text is capable of reshaping the preacher’s understanding so that repeated exposure to the text results in a closer approximation of its message. Much like conversation with a good friend deepens understanding, so constant listening to the text allows the exegete to “spiral in” on its meaning.

2)   “Expository preaching demands that preachers allow their pre-understanding of the text to be confronted by the text, lest they serve only themselves in their preaching. …The implication is that distorting the Word is a real possibility. The preacher is required to be a listener before being a speaker, for only a clear grasp of the text’s other-ness will prevent distorting it into the preacher’s mold.

3)   “To listen and to listen well takes time. A lot of time. This means that where preachers do not protect sermon preparation time with prosecuting zeal, the end result of the sermon will be the work of those who speak before they listen. The sermon will reveal the kind of people who think they know best before they’ve heard both sides of an argument-the text will be handled in ways that ignore its details and nuances and miss its structure or surprises.

4)   “One of the clearest signs of a sermon not born out of sensitive listening is that the congregation actually gets more Bible, not less, as the preacher draws on a reservoir of knowledge to speak about the text, expanding it, but does not explain the text, expounding it.

5)   “It is conceivable that the preacher’s approach to the sermon text will go hand in hand with the approach to other facets of the ministry. Where the sermons are under-prepared and ill-conceived, so too pastoral relationships will often be underdeveloped and stunted, because genuine listening as a moral imperative is not being adopted as intrinsic to the theological task. The minister will very likely be hurried and busy, an activist, and on the fast-track to becoming a church manager doing God’s work rather than a preacher speaking God’s Word.

Church: God’s New Humanity

David Gibson has helpfully explained:

“The church is God’s new humanity, an example of the future new creation given in advance to the old creation, a sign of the world to come where everything is brought together under the unending reign of Jesus the King.

“This means that expository preaching, because it is addressed to people whose very existence is defined by the world to come, constantly draws on the reality of the next world to help make sense of the present world. The doctrine of the church ensures that preaching is addressed to “strangers in the world” (1 Pet. 1:1) and provides the challenge to “live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age while we wait for the blessed hope-the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:12-13). Preaching for the church roots its ethical imperatives in the eschatological reality of both coming judgment and promised reward (2 Pet. 3:11-14). It interprets suffering as a participation in the frustrated groans of a cosmos waiting for its liberation, and holds out the comfort that “our present sufferings are not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed in us” (Rom. 8:18-21). It also means that the proclamation of the gospel does not offer a dualistic “saving of the soul” or merely a “ticket to heaven.” Instead, ecclesiology ensures that expository preaching heralds a whole new way of being human in the world-reconciliation to God and to others by participating in the first-fruits of the new creation.

Scripture: God Speaks

David Gibson has explained:

“God himself speaks in the words of the Bible and the aim of the sermon is an encounter with him. For this reason, a repentant believer, a comforted congregation, or a worshipping convert are all legitimate goals of a sermon, and none could be realized without the conviction that what the text says, God says. This conviction also ensures a clear distinction between the authoritative Scripture and an authoritarian preacher. The former is theologically warranted by Scripture’s ontology and gives preaching its cutting edge; the latter denies the very definition of expository preaching by substituting the messenger for the message.”

Ministry: Reflection of Christ Alone?

Gerhardus Vos once wrote:

 

“Paul beholds the glory of Christ as in a mirror, or, according to another rendering, reflects it as a mirror.  His entire task, both on its communicative and on its receptive side, can be summed up in his reflecting back the Christ-glory caught by himself unto others.  To behold Christ and to make others behold him is the substance of his ministry.  All the distinctive elements of Paul’s preaching relate to Christ, and bear upon their face his image and superscription.  God is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  The Spirit is the Spirit of Christ. In the procuring of righteousness Christ is the one efficient cause.  In Christ believers were chosen, called, justified, and will be glorified.  To be converted is to die with Christ and to rise with him.  The entire Christian life, root and stem and branch and blossom, is one continuous fellowship with Christ.”