I am a recovering Pharisee who falls off of the wagon all of the time, slipping back into a mode of self-righteous pride (when I think I do well) and insecurity (when I fail, or if someone else does well). So what I need is radically grace-centered preaching to keep my heart in line with the gospel.
That is why I was so grieved today to read a quote from one of the most influential pastor/preachers in the country, and maybe the world. I respect him so much and have been helped by him in many ways, and when it comes to communication, he is gifted with a big G. Nevertheless, speaking about his preaching philosophy, he says,
“Here is the model: Make people feel like they need an answer to a question. Then take them to God’s Word to answer the question. And tell them why it is important to do what we just talked about. And then you close by saying, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if everybody did that?’ And that’s it.”
And that’s it?
Now, I am not a great preacher, and I’ve preached self-help, man-centered moralism more times than I want to admit. But I crave for experienced leaders to preach the gospel to me. I desperately need help seeing the cross, the blood, and the glory of God’s propitiatory grace. And since he is such a great leader/preacher, I want to give him the benefit of the doubt, assuming that if he had the chance to say it again, he would replace “and that’s it” with how our failure to keep the law and practice wisdom leads us to Jesus and the cross. At that point redemptively motivated and empowered application could flow from what then would be a gospel-centered sermon rather than a moralistic sermon.
And so when I hear someone get to the part when he asks, “‘Wouldn’t it be great if everybody did that,” I hope that he will point me to the only one who did. The One who is my only hope and my complete salvation, whose name is Jesus.