Skip to main content

Preaching the cross

I've just spent the afternoon with one of my staff. It's such a priviledge to be able to mentor them, hearing what God has been doing them and reading the Bible together. Today we turned to Galatians, chapter 3. Here Paul is turning the Galatians from their folly back to the message of the cross. I was struck by a number of things here:
1. When Paul directs them to recall his preaching of Christ crucified there is a assumption that they know the story of Abraham. The only way this is likely is if he had preached about this. But we know Paul only ever preaches "Christ and him crucified". Thus, when Paul preaches the cross what seems to be meant is a Biblical Theology that tracks back at least as far as the promises to Abraham. Preaching the cross then means preaching redemptive-history not just the event outside the city walls of Jerusalem... the cross casts it's shadow back through all of Scripture.

2. The gospel, which Paul is so keen to contend for can be summarised in terms of God's blessing through Abraham for the peoples of the world. Granted this is Biblically coded language that we can expand to talk about in terms of blessing rather than curse, and about justification and about the Holy Spirit this is notable in it's positivity (blessing) and it's focus upon the peoples (ethos) - his gospel is and always was a global one not just for individuals or some peoples. This is big, and ultimately overcomes human dividing lines to unite peoples in Christ.

3. Being a Christian means being justified by faith in Christ's death and having the Holy Spirit. Receiving the Spirit is what was promised by God - possible because by the cross we are justified. Without justification God's presence with us would be destructive. Without the Spirit what would be the good of being justified? Like Piper says, God is the gospel - justified to come to God.

4. The core of Christian life is hearing with faith. It's the way we begin and the way to continue. This thwarts reliance on the law which can only lead to curse rather than blessing. And it means that gospel-ministry must be about giving people opportunity to hear with faith - and that in turns means teaching the word of the cross to people. Again and again we're to call people to boast in the cross. Obsessively. That warms my cold heart and lights my way.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

"Big eyes full of wonder"

Books. Fiction. Libraries. Second only to churches as are the best gateways in your community to ultimate reality and new possibilities.

Our local library has just re-opened after refurbishment, and I love that our boys have spent several mornings there during the summer holidays, discovering some wonderful new stories.

I realised a few months back that I wasn't reading enough fiction. My work necessitates reading a lot of non-fiction, a mix of historical and contemporary thinking, biblical studies and theology. But fiction is the cinderella. Easily overlooked, and yet able to awaken my imagination and show me the way things are meant to be.

So I've picked up a few more lately - bought and borrowed. Not every book attempted flies, and that's ok. These have been winners though.

Ink. This is Alice Broadway's debut novel. It's young adult fiction and tells the story of Leora who lives in a world where the events of your life are tattooed on your skin. Nothing gets hid…

Uniquely Matthew

Reading gospel accounts in parallel is sometimes used to blur the differences in perspective between the evangelists, seeking to harmonise the texts and find a definitive historical account of what happened. No such thing exists because every account is biased and limited. You simply can't record everything. You have to hold a vantage point. And that's not a problem.

Matthew, Mark and Luke take a very different vantage point to John who was of course an eyewitness himself of the events. Comparing the text of Matthew, Mark and Luke across the death and resurrection of Jesus yields two steps.

Firstly, the common ground. All three accounts tell of...
Simon of Cyrene carrying the cross…. · Jesus labelled as King of the Jews…. · Criminals crucified with Jesus… · Darkness in the daytime… · Jesus' loud final cry… The women who witnessed Jesus death, and Jesus' burial… · The tomb lent to Jesus by Joseph of Arimithea… · The women who went to the tomb on the morning of the…

Songs we're singing in Church

Christians are a singing people, it's part of what we do when we gather.

Our church meets morning an evening on a Sunday - normally using 5 songs in each service. So, over the year that's about 520 song-slots available. The report from the database system we use ( tells us that in the past year we've sung about 150 different songs.

Our current most used song has been sung 11 times in the last year, just under once a month. Our top 10 are used about every 6 weeks. By #30 we're talking about songs used every two months. The tail is long and includes loads of classic hymns from across the centuries, plus other songs from the past 40 years, that we have used around once a term or less.

1. Rejoice - Dustin Kensrue

2. Come Praise & Glorify - Bob Kauflin

3. Man of Sorrows - Hillsong

4. Cornerstone - Hillsong

Rejoice was a song I didn't previously know, along with a couple of others that have quickly become firm favourites for me: Chri…