The heaviest obligation lying upon the Christian church today is to purify and elevate her concept of God until it is once more worthy of him and of her. In all her prayers and labor this should have first place. We do the greatest service to the next generation of Christians by passing on to them undimmed and undiminished that noble concept of God which we received from our Hebrew and Christian fathers of generations past. This will prove of greater value to them than anything that art or science can devise. (A.W. Tozer, Knowledge of the Holy)
If you are interested in God-centered preaching, you may be interested in this article at 9 Marks:
A common question that church planters face is "How can you develop a God-centered church when most of the people attending aren't mature believers?" Assuming that you're not trying to fill your seats only with believers who are already mature, you're going to face this question. How do you create a God-centered culture?
The post expands on five suggestions:
- Set an example of God-centeredness
- Preach the Word of God
From God's Ultimate Purpose by Martyn-Lloyd Jones:
The Bible is God's book, it is a revelation of God, and our thinking must always start with God. Much of the trouble in the Church today is due to the fact that we are so subjective, so interested in ourselves, so egocentric. That is the peculiar error of this present century. Having forgotten God, and having become so interested in ourselves, we become miserable and wretched, and spend our time in 'shallows and in miseries.'
The message of the Bible from beginning to end is designed to bring us back to God, to humble us before God, and to enable us to see our true relationship to Him. And that is the great theme of this Epistle [Ephesians]...We must not start by examining ourselves and our needs microscopically; we must start with God, and forget ourselves. In this Epistle we are taken as it were by the hand by the Apostle and are told that we are going to be given a view of the glory and the majesty of God.
The more I study this New Testament, and live this Christian life, the more convinced I am, indeed the more certain I am, that our fundamental difficulty, our fundamental lack, is a lack of love of God; it is not our knowledge so much that is defective, it is our love of God and our greatest object and endeavor should be to know Him better and to love Him more truly.
In the lengthy time that Dr. J. I. Packer afforded me to speak with him while we were recently together in Orlando, I asked him which theological issues he would commend young Christian leaders to study in order to be prepared for the next fifty years. His list was quite insightful...
The second item:
God-Centered Theology — He said that theology today is rife with man-centered thinking so that the glory of God in all things is not the essence of what is taught to be faithfully Christian. The result, he explained, is that even Christians often live their lives for the supreme purpose of their perceived happiness, feelings, and satisfaction. Yet, biblical Christianity differs from the other religions of the world in that the desires and purposes of God override ours; we are not the number one priority, but rather God is.
The low view of God entertained almost universally among Christians is the cause of a hundred lesser evils everywhere among us… The decline of the knowledge of the holy has brought on our troubles. A rediscovery of the majesty of God will go a long way toward curing them. (A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy)
It is no accident that God is the subject of the first sentence of the Bible, for this word dominates the whole chapter and catches the eye at every point of the page: it is used some thirty-five times in as many verses of the story. The passage, indeed the Book, is about him first of all; to read it with any other primary interest (which is all too possible) is to misread it. (Derek Kidner, Genesis, Tyndale Old Testament Commentary Series)
I just happened to notice a bunch of comments that were waiting to be moderated. My apologies for missing them. If you've commented and your comment didn't show up, now you know why. Keep the great comments coming!
This blog began very quietly back in June 2006 as I was working on my thesis on theocentric preaching at Gordon-Conwell. Since then it's grown slowly. About a hundred people subscribe to the feed, and it gets over a thousand visits a month. These aren't huge numbers, but they're sure a lot more than when this blog first started! I wasn't sure how many people would ever read a blog about a topic like theocentric preaching. I'm grateful that you do.
A couple of things excite me. One is the number of excellent blogs that have started on preaching. You can find some of them on my blogroll. At a time of supposedly waning interest in preaching, I'm excited to see thoughtful practitioners reflect and write on the preaching task and life.
I'm also excited and humbled that preachers read this blog. Preachers have the unimaginable privilege of opening God's Word and proclaiming its message. Anyone who has done this knows how challenging and humbling this can and should be. Your task is important, and your role is often undervalued. If you are a preacher who takes preaching seriously, and who preaches in a way that is centered on God and Gospel, then I have all the respect in the world for you. May your tribe increase.
I pray that as you celebrate Christmas, you will be drawn to worship the one who, "though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich" (2 Corinthians 8:9). May you have a very blessed Christmas.
I have on my desk a book that challenges preachers to apostolic preaching - preaching that is "Christ-centered, redemptive-historical, missiologically communicated, and grounded in grace." If you're looking for a book that shows you how to preach in a God-centered way, then this volume is for you. It's Him We Proclaim: Preaching Christ From All the Scriptures.
The author, Dennis E. Johnson, says, "If we settle for anything less than living for God as the center of our life, then we're settling for second best. We're selling ourselves short...To be God-centered is to be exactly what I was designed for."
For a sample of what you'll find in the book, you can listen to an interview with Johnson on White Horse Inn:
If the main focus of a sermon is to preach Christ, what do we do with the book of Proverbs and a host of other Biblical texts that seem to focus on wisdom for life, or our own personal growth in holiness, etc? That's the focus as Michael Horton talks with Dennis Johnson about his new book, Him We Proclaim: Preaching Christ in All the Scriptures.
The interview, and the book, are well worth the time.