Monday, March 09, 2009

Preaching: You know its Christ when its gospel

This morning I had the priviledge of spending some time coaching one of the younger guys at our church who is preaching next Sunday (mp3). I love that guys like him get the opportunity to serve in this way. I find it strange to be referring to 'younger' - can I do that at 29... Mostly, I feel very priviledged to have been in the position of being able to offer some help...
I suggested that, having done his basic study and outline of the text, it's helpful to ask three questions:
  1. How does this passage testify to Christ? This is the core content of the message. The Bible is always about Christ, the real question is just "How?" and the opportunity is to hold up the particular riches of Christ that this passage displays so that God's people can believe in him.
  2. What is this passage supposed to achieve? This is the application we aim for, what the passage was meant to do for the original audience is what it's meant to do for us (at least when that's read in view of how the passage testifies about Christ). Application should shape the sermon.
  3. What's here that we'll disbelieve and why? This is where we aim with the sermon. Knowing where we want to go and where we're coming from does a lot to define the route we're to take.
Then, look to structure the content around the application to achieve the aim. This is essentially Tim Keller's approach (as much as I can tell from Preaching to the Heart, mixed with some Goldsworthy, Honeysett and others who have taught me.

The passage in question was 2 Corinthians 13. I was struck that Paul is challenged by the Corinthians who are asking him a good question that he takes seriously and generously, namely: 'can you give us proof that Christ is speaking through you?' rather than the super-apostles (13v3). He has been with them twice and will be again (Two-three witnesses...Deut 17:6,19:15, Matt 18v:6 etc). He hopes is third visit wont be to condemn them with apostolic authority but to rejoice with them (v10-11).

He answers their question. His answer in v3-4 seems to be through a three-fold laying out of the pattern of Christ's weakness and power, his death and resurrection - unsuprisingly for Paul things always come back to the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. We see Paul's weakness and Christ's power. From which I conclude, you know it's Christ speaking when it's the gospel. So go with Paul because the message and the medium is with the gospel. And in 2 Corrinthians we particularly see the clarity of his powerful gospel preaching and the weakness of the man.

The remainder of the passage turns the question with hope onto the Corinthians. He speaks for Christ... is Christ in them... I look forward to hearing the finished preach that will conclude our series in the book.
I preached on 2 Cor 2 and 2 Cor 3 way back in the early autumn.


  1. All good ideas. Did you challenge this young man in regards to his spiritual condition concerning the content of what he wants to preach?? I am just curious and most of us would take this for granted but in an age where preaching seems to be more of a job than a calling I find it worth asking. Has he wrestled through these issues in the place of prayer? Not that he has to have it perfect but is he hungry to pursue obedience in what he may say in front of others. Can he model it? Just thought I'd throw that out there. :-)

  2. Thanks Nate, that's a helpful thing to raise. The whole process was him wrestling with that. I think particularly with my Q3 I want that to be a personal question before its a question for the congregation.

    I blogged a bit on this last year: Able to teach?