THIS GUY

fesko 2will preach at Christ URC this Lord's Day. Rev. Dr. J.V. Fesko is Professor of Systematic and Historical Theology at Westminster Seminary California and a minister in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. He is also the author of numerous good books, such as Justification: Understanding the Classic Reformed Doctrine, and Word, Water and Spirit: A Reformed Perspective on Baptism. Dr. Fesko will preach in the morning Divine Service and Pastor Brown will preach in the evening.

THIS GUY

DJwill preach at Christ URC this Lord's Day. Dr. Dennis Johnson is Professor of Practical Theology at Westminster Seminary California and a minister in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). He is also the author of numerous excellent books, such The Triumph of the Lamb, which is a helpful commentaryon the book of Revelation, and Him We Proclaim, a book on redemptive-historical, Christ-centered preaching. Be sure to greet him after the service.

Pastor Brown will preach in the evening service, continuing his series on the Heidelberg Catechism.

What does It Mean to Preach Law and Gospel?

pulpitWhile cleaning out my desk today, I came across a paragraph I wrote ten years ago during my last year of seminary. It was from a pastoral theology class taught by Dr. Hywel Jones, my homiletics professor. He had asked me to write a 200-word definition of what it means to preach law and gospel and then read it to the class for subsequent discussion. I had forgotten about this little assignment until today when I stumbled upon this piece of paper containing the paragraph I wrote. I am encouraged that almost ten years later my convictions have not changed. Having since 2003 preached through many books of the Bible and ministered to a precious flock of sinners and saints, I can say that this definition of what it means to preach law & gospel is as accurate today as it was then. God be praised. May he enable pastors to proclaim faithfully his whole counsel. Quite simply, preaching law and gospel means to preach faithfully the whole counsel of God (Acts 20.27), rightly handling its two parts, namely, law and gospel. Law and gospel is not equivalent to the Old Testament and New Testament. Rather, it is the distinction between the two principal kinds of Scripture: law, which declares "do this and you shall live," and gospel, which declares, "Christ did it for you." The law is preached to the sinner to act as a tutor, revealing his guilt and misery, killing his self-righteousness, and driving him to his only comfort: the righteousness provided in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Yet, when the law is proclaimed to the justified saint, it no longer demands, "do this and you shall live," but, "do this BECAUSE you live." While still driving the believer to Christ, it also acts as a guide for the Christian life. It must never be confused, though, with the Good News, which the Christian must hear every week. For as the commands, exhortations, threats, and warnings of the law are proclaimed, the Christian often wavers in his assurance of salvation. It is the gospel that gives the saint assurance as well as the power to live the Christian life, for which the law now acts as a guide.

Pastor Brown

Authentic Cuisine: Don't Settle for Less

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God delights in giving his people the real thing to eat. “Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food” (Isa 55.2b) The Hebrew word for rich is literally fat. The feast that he provides in the gospel is not a meager, low-carbohydrate or low-fat diet. He brings the real thing: real bread, real steaks, real Parmigiano Reggiano – the best food and the best wine. He blesses his people with a rich banquet and authentic cuisine, a cuisine that is redemptive-historical. In other words, the preaching served to the people in the local church should always use a method that preaches Christ responsibly from the whole Bible. Of course, the term ‘redemptive-historical preaching’ is somewhat elastic, at least in Reformed circles. It is similar to the phrase ‘covenant theology;’ not everyone means the same thing when they use it. For example, I have sometimes heard people caricaturize redemptive-historical preaching as preaching that ignores the imperatives of Scripture and leaves little place, if any, for application. That is a most unfortunate misrepresentation of what I (and many preachers far more experienced and able than myself mean by the term). Redemptive-historical preaching, in its most simple definition, is preaching that preaches Christ from all the Scriptures. It assumes that the Scriptures are not a collection of timeless principles in abstract, but a coherent record of progressive revelation that tells the story of God redeeming a people for himself through the Person and Work of Christ his Son. It takes seriously Christ’s admonition to the Pharisees who missed the point of this story: “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me” (John 5.39). It is the kind of preaching that Christ himself did to his disciples on the road to Emmaus, where, “beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures, the things concerning himself” (Lk 24.27). It applies biblical theology, which, as Graeme Goldsworthy notes, “is nothing more or less than allowing the Bible to speak as a whole: as the one word of the one God about the one way of salvation.”[1]

It is the Bible’s prescribed method that proclaims Old Testament characters such as Noah, Joseph, David and Daniel preached primarily not as moral examples to imitate, but as sinners in the unfolding drama of redemptive history who foreshadowed Christ. It is a method of preaching that takes seriously Edmund Clowney’s warning that “it is possible to know Bible stories, yet miss the Bible story.”

The Bible is much more than William How stated: ‘a golden casket where gems of truth are stored.’ It is more than a bewildering collection of oracles, proverbs, poems, architectural directions, annals, and prophecies. The Bible has a story line. It traces an unfolding drama. The story follows the history of Israel, but it does not begin there, nor does it contain what you would expect in a national history. The narrative does not pay tribute to Israel. Rather, it regularly condemns Israel and justifies God’s severest judgments. The story is God’s story. It describes His work to rescue rebels from their folly, guilt, and ruin.[2]

Starving, weary souls need to hear this story line and unfolding drama that culminates in the Person and Work of Christ. Two redemptive-historical meals will be served this Lord's Day at CURC. The morning meal (which always includes the Lord’s Supper) is on the book of Ezra: “Restored by Grace,” as our series on the Drama of Redemption draws near to its end. The evening meal will be on Philippians 4.21-22: “Greet Every Saint in Christ Jesus,” as we draw near to teh end of our series on Paul’s “Epistle of Joy.”

See the liturgies here. Listen to previous sermons in these series (and all sermons in our archives) here. Come and eat.


 


[1] Goldsworthy, Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture, 7.

[2] Edmund Clowney, The Unfolding Mystery: Discovering Christ in the Old Testament (Phillipsburg: P & R, 1988), 11.

[3] R.L. Dabney, Evangelical Eloquence (1870, repr. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1999), 37.