Have you connected your passage to the cross but don’t know what to do with that info? Are you standing there saying, “Hey look, this passage points to Jesus,” and your audience asks, “So what?”
You have an application problem.
Do your gospel-centered connections let your hearers off the hook when it comes to obedience? It’s easy to slip into antinomianism – preaching grace in such a way that we minimize or even eliminate obedience. That was not Jesus’ desire for us when he went to the cross for our sin so it shouldn’t be our desire in preaching.
You have an application problem.
Your gospel-centered sermons fail because it is not enough to simply find a connection between a passage and the cross. The connection must also impact the way we live.
Why does this happen? It’s easy to get caught up in finding Christ in all of Scripture and then forget to actually apply this knowledge. When we focus all on the “hunt” we might not remember what the hunt is for. When we forget the purpose we end up saying, “Look at this great fact,” without any context or application. At that point we’re simply showing off knowledge without any effect. In fact, if the gospel-centered connection has no impact on our lives highlighting it diminishes our love for the gospel.
“It is not enough to find a connection between a passage and the cross. The connection must impact the way we live.”
We must apply the text’s gospel connections to our hearers. But how do we do that? I can think of at least seven ways we can choose to apply the gospel to our obedience. But not all are created equal. Continue reading
Typology is very important to gospel-centered Bible study. It is probably the main thing people think about when they hear “gospel-centered.” But what is typology?
Typology – A hermeneutical concept in which a biblical place (Jerusalem, Zion), person (Adam, Melchizedek), event (flood, brazen serpent), institution (feasts, covenant), office (prophet, priest, king), or object (tabernacle, altar, incense) becomes a pattern by which later persons or places are interpreted due to the unity of events within salvation-history.
- The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, vol. 4, 930
Typology Foreshadows The Plan
There has always been a Plan. God the Father planned from before the foundation of the world that he would adopt us through the Son. (Eph 1:4-5; Rev 13:8) Typology is God pointing to the Plan ahead of time.
A good analogy here is to literature. Many authors use foreshadowing or symbolism as devices to help the reader understand the main point of a story. Typology is God’s use of foreshadowing and symbolism to point us to the Plan (the main point) throughout the Bible (the story).
“Typology is the name we give to the places in the Bible where God foreshadows the Plan.”
What sorts of things can be types? Virtually anything! For example, the book of Hebrews identifies many different kinds of types in the Old testament: Continue reading
Praise God, we have an embarrassment of riches this month!
Jesus In The Pentateuch
This is a series of articles I missed in August, 2012. It’s light on detail and heavy on typology. Well worth a read.
Alastair Roberts shows us how Samson points to Christ. In God’s strength Samson crushed his enemies with his own death:
At that point he prays that, just that one final time, God would strengthen him. He braces himself on the two pillars of the temple, then pushes with all of his might. The temple of Dagon collapses, falling on all of those within it. Willingly giving up the Spirit that had returned to him in that final act, Samson dies with the Philistines, accomplishing a greater victory in his death than at any point in his life.
Of course, Jesus is the true and better Samson: He not only defeated his enemy through his death, but his enemy was death and he did not stay dead because he had the authority to take his life back up. Continue reading
When we think about the gospel or gospel-centered preaching and Bible study we most frequently focus no the cross and the theme of redemption.
But redemption is not an end in itself.
God did not save us simply so that we might avoid Hell. He did not save us simply so that we might enjoy heaven. He did it so that we might behold his glory. Paul introduces his letter to the Ephesians with the message of redemption:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will…
This is a beautiful description of election, propitiation, redemption and adoption. But that’s not the end of the story.
…to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.
This means we were redeemed for God’s glory. How does redemption do that? Continue reading
This post is part of a series about the gospel’s power for sanctification:
We’ve looked at how to use the gospel to kill sin and pursue righteousness. What holds these together? Love.
You do what you love.
The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil.
What do you love?
The issue is what your heart longs after. If you don’t love sin you won’t be inclined to sin. If you love God you will be inclined to follow after him. That is the bedrock of Christianity. I would almost go so far as to say the bible uses the term ”faith in God” to mean ”love for God.”
If God is not the most beautiful thing in the universe to us we won’t pursue him as the greatest gain. If God is not the greatest gain to us, we’re simply idolators and have no part with him.
How do we set our love on God?
How do we come to find God to be the most beautiful thing in the universe? How do we hold him to be the greatest gain? In this discussion Jesus used the term “treasure.”
Where is your treasure? (Matt 6:21) The only way to make God your treasure is to focus on the love he has for you. The love he has for us cause God to give us:
- The law to guide us.
- The Incarnation to love us.
- The cross to pardon us.
- The empty tomb to free us.
- The Spirit to adopt us.
- The promise of the future to dwell with us.
It is only by looking at the gospel that we will find God beautiful. God’s love drove him into the grave for you and me. I can’t comprehend it. It is too beautiful for words.
If the gospel is not beautiful in your eyes – if it’s beauty doesn’t haunt you – God will not be beautiful in your eyes. And sin will be a welcome sight to you. And righteousness will be a burden.
Behavior problems are belief problems. We worship our way into sin, and we have to worship our way out.
- Jared C Wilson
If this doesn’t capture our hearts something else will.
Few people read the Old Testament and see the gospel as well as David Murray. He describes his method so simply:
- What does the passage reveal about God?
- What does this passage reveal about the coming Savior?
Continue to the post to see the answers he looks for in those questions.
Erik Raymond gives us an awesome list of places in Proverbs that point directly to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Here’s a sample:
(Prov. 11.4) Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death.
My chief need is not to accumulate wealth but to overcome my infinite debt of unrighteousness. Christ Jesus is my everlasting righteousness in spite of my infinite demerit (2 Cor. 5.21)
(Prov. 13.7) One pretends to be rich, yet has nothing; another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth.
In my sin I pretend and perform like I have or am something. The truth is: I am weak, helpless, and broken (Rom. 5.6ff). Though he was rich, Christ the King left the throne of heaven (Phil. 2.5-11) to be a weak, poor, humble servant that he might make a poor sinner like me rich in him (Eph. 1.3; 2 Cor. 8.9)
(Prov. 14.9) Fools mock at the guilt offering, but the upright enjoy acceptance.
The word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing (1 Cor. 1.18). I have worn this hat and uttered these words. But by God’s sovereign grace I now see that Christ Jesus has become my guilt offering (Isa. 53.10). In his body he has borne all of my guilt and shame so that I now enjoy acceptance.
Tim Challies gives us a list of pros and cons of the gospel-centered movement: Continue reading
The cross wasn’t Plan B. It wasn’t God’s attempt to fix a plan spiraling out of control:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.
In fact, God shouted his plan – to rescue his people at a tremendous price – from the very beginning. Let’s look to some of the major signs and symbols God gave along the way pointing to the cross of Christ: Continue reading