I just HAD to get this in my posts for today. Respectful of the Lord’s Day yesterday, we share this great “April Fool’s” joke with you today. It sure got me when I found it in my email box this morning! Enjoy the fun while it’s still available at the “Better World Books” website.
Our second post today references another fine article that appears in this month’s Tabletalk (“The God-Centered Life”). Writing under the rubric “Pastor’s Perspective”, pastor Bernie Van Eyk (PCA) addresses the need for “God-Centered Preaching” in the church today. I am thankful for such preaching that I hear each Lord’s Day in my home church (Faith PRC) and in our denomination, but I know it isn’t this way everywhere. Many churches and people are suffering from man-centered preaching. Van Eyk shows us why our greatest need is for preaching that focuses on God and on Christ as the revelation of God.
If we have such preaching, may we not take it for granted. If we lack such preaching, may we earnestly pray and work for it. Here is part of what Pastor Van Eyk wrote; you will find the rest at the link above.
“People are starving for the greatness of God,” observes John Piper, “but most of them would not give this diagnosis of their troubled lives. The majesty of God is an unknown cure. There are far more popular prescriptions on the market, but the benefit of any other remedy is brief and shallow. Thus preaching that does not have the aroma of God’s greatness may entertain for a season, but it will not touch the hidden cry of the soul: ‘Show me your glory.’” Our greatest need, as we walk through the wilderness of this present age, is to see what the Apostle John saw on the Isle of Patmos — a glimpse of the glory of God.
Yet, as preachers we want to connect with the congregation, don’t we? We want to be relevant. We want to meet our flocks where they are. We have heard the protests for more “practical sermons.” These critics desire sermons that instruct on “how I can be a better self,” “how I can deal with stress in my life,” or “how I can be more successful.” And so, acquiescing to these laments, therapy has replaced theology in much contemporary preaching. The self has acquired center stage, and God, if He is there at all, has been marginalized. The focus has shifted from God, who He is and what He has done, to self and our activity, our needs, and our experiences. The assumption, of course, is that theology is not practical, that the study of God is irrelevant for our daily lives. But nothing could be further from the truth. What our people need is God-centered preaching.
…If the Word is theocentric (God-centered), how can our preaching be anything other that theocentric? Our preaching is a reflection of our theology. When our theology is focused on God and His glory, our preaching will be the same. In our narcissistic culture, plagued with materialism, pragmatism, and relativism, a concentrated emphasis on God and His glory is precisely what our people need. Our minds and our hearts need to be lifted from the things that can be seen and directed to the things that are unseen and eternal. Wasn’t this the remedy for Asaph’s troubled soul (Ps. 73)? He had become so absorbed with self and the comforts of this present age that he became envious of the wicked — until, that is, he entered the temple of God. It was only as his eyes shifted from things temporal to things eternal that his mind and heart were recalibrated.
…God-centered preaching exposes the things of this passing age as forfeit and rouses the soul to confess with Asaph: “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Ps. 73:25–26). It is only as God’s people catch a vision of God in all of His splendid glory that they will begin to ache for uninterrupted communion with Him and more earnestly pray, “Come, Lord Jesus” (Rev. 22:20). Can anything be more relevant to our daily lives than God-centered preaching? And can anything be more satisfying than to see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ?
With the beginning of April yesterday, I began to dig into my latest issue of Tabletalk magazine, the monthly devotional from Ligonier Ministries (R.C. Sproul). Following up on last month’s issue (“The Self-centered Life”), this month’s issue focuses on “The God-centered Life”. Editor Burk Parsons again introduces the theme with the above-linked article. I want to quote from it today and encourage you to read the rest at the Ligonier site. Parsons directs us to what is crucial in living out a God-centered life.
The twentieth-century British pastor D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said, “If we only spent more of our time in looking at Christ we should soon forget ourselves.” Fixing our eyes on Christ is the first step and the entire path of the Christian life. We don’t look to Christ in faith to be saved and then look to ourselves to persevere. We trust Christ alone as our Savior and look to Christ alone and follow Him as our Lord. In order to look to Christ as our Savior and Lord, we need new eyes and a new heart. We are born spiritually dead and blind in sin, with our eyes fixed on ourselves and our own glory, but God the Holy Spirit strips the inherited blindfolds from our eyes and graciously rips out our hard hearts and gives us new hearts that love Him and new eyes that see Him. Yet even as Christians who have been declared righteous by God the Father through faith in the perfect life and sacrifice of God the Son, Jesus Christ, we remain sinful this side of heaven and daily struggle against the world, our flesh, and the Devil. In our struggle against our own self-centered sin, it might seem like an obvious remedy to focus our eyes on the sin itself in our attempt to deal with it. Yet, God says otherwise.
…Our greatest need before conversion is the gospel of Jesus Christ, and our greatest need after conversion is the same gospel. We never move on from the gospel, only deeper into the gospel, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes (Rom. 1:16). As we continue to believe the gospel, our eyes remain centered on Christ, and if they are centered on Christ, they are centered on God Himself, who is not simply at the top of our priority list, but the fountain and center of every priority in all of life.
The daily devotionals continue on the proof texts from the Heidelberg Catechism, which also makes for profitable studies in the Word each day. At present, “TT” is working its way through the section treating the articles of the Apostles’ Creed.