All in Essays

A Note on the Seriousness of Preaching

[Our] stories are decidedly unserious when viewed through the lens of the seriousness of God’s affairs. Jesus put the matter succinctly: “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36). Human affairs are not serious in and of themselves. Rather, they are consequential because they garner meaning and significance within the overarching story of God and man.

Using Easter

Easter is not confined to a single day. Each Sunday in the Great Fifty Days of Easter brings into focus how the gifts of Easter are put to use. Evangelical preaching of the Lord’s Resurrection is not merely an apologetic proposal to believe; that the tomb was empty, and Jesus’ was really raised from the dead. Rather, the preaching of the Resurrection is from the reality of a vacated grave and Jesus appearing bodily to His disciples and others.  

The Law and the Already Terrified Conscience

Where contrition is evident, the conscience has already been prodded, piqued, finally terrified. More Law only serves to confirm the lie this person is already at risk of believing: that the last work of the conscience is also God’s last word. But God’s last word is the word of absolution, not the confirmation of the conscience’s testimony, but now its contradiction.

Lent for All (Part 2)

The Lutheran reform of Lent consisted chiefly in Luther's rejection of works of satisfaction in the sacrament of penance which were traditionally assigned to the penitent during the Lenten season to obtain God's forgiveness. The reform of the sacrament of penance shifted the onus from the "doing" of the penitent (works of satisfaction) to the absolution of God (Word of forgiveness).

Lent for All (Part 1)

Lent can be an intimidating time for evangelical preachers. It may seem as if it belongs to the Roman Catholic Church and straying into such territory would be unnatural and, so, unwelcome. But it need not be so, as Lent is a gift to the Church from the Church. It belongs to all Christians who desire to be conformed to the likeness of our Lord. It belongs, therefore, to gospel preachers

First Principles of Preaching: The Verb Itself (Part 2)

The Christian sermon is Gospel preaching. We only preach the Gospel. Only the Gospel is the sermon, notwithstanding necessary admonishments of law and requisite exhortations toward sanctification. The verb has content - Gospel - or else the verb preach does not apply and, for that matter, neither does the noun “sermon”. Something else is happening, call it what you may, but it is not a sermon and one has not preached.

Psalm 23: A Song of Christ (Or: A Note on Christ-Centered Preaching from the Psalter)

In fact, the Psalter is the Old Testament book most frequently referenced by Jesus and the most cited in the New Testament. Christ and the Evangelists, along with Saints Peter and Paul, show a deep attachment to the Book of Psalms. This was not because the Psalms seemed to them to cover the full range of human emotions – a psalm for every mood. Not at all. It was not sentimentalism or anthropocentrism. Rather, it was because the Psalms were about the Messiah, the Christ of God. They were an esteemed, prophetic book about the Messiah Himself.

Johann Gerhard's Homiletics

Gerhard recognized the benefits of each of his “ways of proclaiming,” but also warned against the pitfalls inherent to most of them.  His categories ring true as descriptions of the ways in which we attempt to communicate the Gospel in the twenty-first century.  His words of advice deserve our attention too. 

Preaching to C and E Christians

No doubt a few preachers cringe at the thought of “C and E” (Christmas and Easter) Christians showing up for Christmas Eve Services.  For many, these fair-weather parishioners come across like neighbors who want to borrow a hedge-trimmer, but never intend to return it. They are akin to free-riders who donate nothing to the community. I must confess, when I preach on Christmas or Easter I do not share this sentiment held by some of my peers.