Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Preaching Christ in a Postmodern World: Expounding Christ: The Parable of the Prodigal Son

By Edmund Clowney

How to develop a text using the Poythress method:
1) Static- the meaning of the text
2) Dynamic- the way in which the text describes a speaker, message and a recipient
3) Relations- how the elements of the text to other portions of scripture

Monday, 22 December 2008

Preaching Christ in a Postmodern World: Applying Christ: Getting Down to Earth Part Two

By Tim Keller

3 macro-Strategies for applying a text
1) Critique religion as well as irreligion (read notes from part one)
2) Aim at heart motives as well as the outward behaviour
3) Look at the text through three application perspectives

2) Aim at heart motives as well as the outward behaviour
Self-justification is the doctrine of the Pharisees. If Christ is not your righteousness something else will be. You can avoid Jesus by avoiding sin.

Religion is more of a subtle enemy of the gospel than irreligion practised by the open rebellious person because religious behaviour looks like holy behaviour.

Irreligious people need to be shown that they are practising self-justification.

A Basic Outline for Aiming at the Heart:
i) Speak about what the narrative tells us to be- what standard is the Bible setting for us?
ii) Speak about how that standard is unreachable- we are all sinners who miss the mark
iii) Speak about how problem is resolved in Christ- He obeyed, He loved God perfectly etc
iv) Speak about how the people should rest in what He did to do the same through His power- we can obey because He obeyed

In every text of scripture there is a moral standard to reach. The good gospel preacher illuminates the tension between man’s effort and scripture standards. The preacher then should move the focus off of the people and onto Christ. The gospel preacher should be showing people that all sufficiency is found ultimately in Christ. Our inability is not down to bad effort but rather a lack of faith in the gospel.

The job of the preacher is to get people to wish that Jesus were true.

3) Look at the text through three application perspectives

According to Vern Poythress you can only understand a text if you:
i) Understand the original meaning of the text (normative element)
ii) Work out how the text applies to us today (existential element)
iii) Work out where the text is within the context of redemptive history (situational element)

The three application perspectives are:
i) The doctrinalist approach- looks at the text to see how it supports sound doctrine
ii) The pietistic approach- looks at the text’s relation to experience (eg how does this text change my prayer life)
iii) The cultural transformationist approach- looks at how the text affects culture

Vern argues that preachers need to use all three application perspectives to give the people balanced application.

Example: Luke 4:31-37
Doctrinalist: The passage teaches the deity of Christ, it demonstrates His sovereignty over evil spirits and shows the grace of God towards people.
Pietist: The passage teaches that Jesus will work if I let Him and once I’m delivered I have to tell my friends.
Cultural transformationist: The passage teaches that Jesus is working in the world liberating people from oppressive structures.

All three perspectives are needed to be balanced. The perspectives are not opposing each other- if you go deep enough into one perspective you get to another.

Example: Esther
Doctrinalist: God is the only real King. He is sovereign over all things including evil making everything work for His glory and our good. God’s plan of salvation works even when God is not mentioned.
Pietist: If God seems to be absent in your life- He’s not. God uses a woman from the outskirts of society to bring redemption. God uses weakness to shame the wise.
Cultural transformationist: God calls us to serve Him with redemptive work in the secular world. Believers are needed to be a light and witness in the secular system.
God calls us not only to change individuals but also to change society.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Preaching Christ in a Postmodern World: Applying Christ: Getting Down to Earth Part One

By Tim Keller

Faith in the saving work of Christ is the only tool to dismantle sin in our lives.
We are sanctified by faith, not just justified by faith.

3 macro-Strategies for applying a text
1) Critique religion as well as irreligion
2) Aim at heart motives as well as the outward behaviour
3) Look at the text through three application perspectives

1) Critique religion as well as irreligion
Say that the gospel is neither morality nor immorality. The gospel is the third way
Religion says ‘if I work hard on biblical principles God will bless me.’
The gospel says ‘God will bless me through trusting in His Son, this gives me power to work hard at biblical principles.’
Functionally the churchman’s heart tends to religion.

Reasons why this method is useful:
a) Many professing Christians are not Christians
b) We constantly need our practise aligned with their theology
c) Some people who reject Christianity reject it because they believe it to be religion

If we preach: ‘immorality bad and Christianity good’ people tend to think that Christianity is the opposite of immorality and

Moralism tends to stress truth over grace
Immoralism tends to stress grace over truth

Truth without grace is not truth. Grace without truth is not grace. Christ came full of grace and truth.

Religious people don’t believe that the God of wrath has been propitiated. The religious man has to keep on working to gain the blessing of God.
Immoral people don’t believe that there is a God of wrath to be propitiated. Immoral people do not feel accountability towards God.

If we preach the gospel we will offend the religious like Christ did: ‘Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you.’ (Matthew 21:31)

In Gal 2:14 Paul deals with Peter’s racial pride. Paul does this by exhorting Peter to live by the implications of the gospel and not by quoting a rule. This is the best way of dealing with racism.

‘The truth of the gospel is the principle article all Christian doctrine most necessary is it that we know this article well, teach it to others, and beat it into their heads continually.’ – Luther

Applying the gospel to discouragement:
Moral approach: You’re breaking the rules, repent
Immoral approach: Enjoy yourself it’ll be fine
Gospel approach: If I’m downcast it’s because something is more important to me than Christ

Applying the gospel to family life
Moral approach: Obey the family values. In the moralistic mindset the family is important.
Immoral approach: There’s no need for family loyalty
Gospel approach: If God is my ultimate Father than I am freed from being too dependent or hostile to my parents!

Applying the gospel to guilt:
Moral approach:
Immoral approach: Loosen the standards so you don’t feel guilty any more
Gospel approach:

If the real god of your life is to be a successful businessman and you don’t become successful you will feel guilt without the hope of forgiveness. This is the god of the Pharisees- a god of wrath who wants to satisfied by works that can never be propitiated.

(To be continued in part two)

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Preaching Christ in a Postmodern World: Expounding Christ: Telling God's Story, Narrative Analysis

By Ed Clowney

Example of Narrative Preaching from Matthew 17:1-9
Christ is the one with greater authority than Moses and Elijah. God the Father affirms His authority by saying ‘hear Him’. The Father’s declaration proves the Father’s unity with Him. The Son declares the will of the Father. Moses brought to us what God said to him, Christ is the incarnate word, God’s word become flesh, He is God speaking.
Christ speaks and the dead comes forth, His own sheep hear Him and they follow Him.

The preacher’s task is to bring into remembrance the words that Jesus spoke. The congregation are to hear the message and hear Christ speaking through the preacher. The glory of God is made evident through Christ.

Peter suggests building shelters for Jesus, Moses and Elijah thinking that this was the last feast of booths.

The glory of the true tabernacle is shown at transfiguration.

Christ comes to do his true work of conquest. Overcoming the Devil’s temptation whereby he offered Christ all kingdoms on top of the mountain in the wilderness. Now Christ is showing his royal conquering glory at the top of a different mount.

Moses was willing to die with Israel- have his own name blotted out. Moses was a mediator. Elijah also was a mediator calling down fire from heaven and hearing God’s quiet whispering voice. Christ is a better mediator, the eternal mediator between God and man.

Christ did not use His royal power to save Himself. He didn’t ask for legions of angels to take him down from the cross. He used His royal power to save us.

We need to hear Him in our lives so others will hear Him in our preaching.

Tips on Telling Bible Stories
1) Get the story right
You don’t know the stories you think you know! Record yourself telling the story without the Bible to see if you actually understand the story.

2) Use definition by contrast
We understand a concept by describing what the concept is not as well as what the concept is. Ask these questions:
What is most like this?
What is most different to what is most like this?

3) Ask: what actually happened?
List the events in the passage.


4) Do not take direct quotations and turn them into personal prose.

5) Is the theme of the narrative indicated in the text?
Sometimes we are told the theme of the text indirectly through hints in the text. Watch for clues and labels. Ask why places are named such. Many OT stories are identified by the name given to a place or person (Eg Hosea’s children from Hosea 1).

6) The text must be understood in its setting

7) Use Bible Dictionaries and Atlas’ to Establish Original Context

8) Use vivid realism
Visualise the story, paint the picture of the story, speak about was felt, seen, heard and experienced.

9) Tell stories suggestively
Use repetition (especially for children).

10) Stay with the main structure of the story

Preaching Christ in a Postmodern World: Expounding Christ in through the Structure of Redemptive History Part Three

By Ed Clowney

The individual obedience of Isaac and Jacob is portrayed through the seed of the promise leading us to Christ. There are concepts in structure that naturally flow to Christ. This is typology.

The meaning is presented through its significance in symbolism.

Christ speaks in parables to teach us spiritual truth through natural reality.
Symbolism brings in the feel of the meaning. Symbolic language can be more effective than illustrations.

A metaphor is found in a sentence and not in a word. A metaphor brings together two different worlds; two different images.

Example: Amos 3:8-
A lion has roared! Who will not fear? The Lord GOD has spoken! Who can but prophesy?

The spoken word of the Lord is paralleled with the fierce roaring of a lion. We apply attributes of the familiar concept to the more abstract concept. The roaring of the lion is similar to the speaking of Yahweh.

Metaphors act as a form of contextualisation. Metaphors should be used to tell Bible stories as real stories- applying modern methods of description to give a detailed and relevant meaning to the audience.

Hebrews 8:5 = Vertical Typology- we are presented with a copy of heavenly things by an earthly pattern
Romans 5:14= Horizontal Typology – Adam is a type of Him who was to come

A good metaphor takes the preachers application to the listeners adoration.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Preaching Christ in a Postmodern World: Applying Christ: Getting to Christ

By Tim Keller

Justification and Sanctification by Faith Alone
We’re not only justified by faith- we are also sanctified by faith. We need to exhort people to faith in Christ wherever they are at! Power to live a holy life comes by faith in the cross. We shouldn’t exhort people to right living without giving revealing to them the key: faith.

Sanctification is orienting yourself towards justification. We need to feed off our justification to be sanctified.

Actual righteousness is produced by embracing the means by which we gained our imputed righteousness. Faith preserves us form self inflicted moralism.

Idolatry by Faith Alone
‘All those who do not at all times trust God…but seek His favour in other things or in themselves is breaking the first commandment.’- Luther

The first commandment is broken when you fail to believe in justification by faith. If you’re not trusting in Christ you are trusting in something else.

All people sin in general. Why do we sin in any particular instance? Any sin is rooted in inordinate lust for something other than God. We always make something our functional saviour though faith when we sin.

Moral effort in which people say ‘obedience produces blessing’ restrains the heart but does not change the heart. It produces moral behaviour out of self-interest.

What makes people virtuous?
Most people are virtuous out of self-interest. How does God keep the world from being such a bad place? Common grace. Morality is produced, virtue is seen but this virtue and honesty is what Edward’s calls common virtue. Common virtue is a restraining of the heart not a changing of the heart. Common Virtue can be produced by fear or pride. Fear because I’m afraid of what people think of me. Pride because I want people to look up to as an example.

If sermons become moral exhortations then we are strengthening the roots of sin.

What is true virtue?
True virtue is when you’re honest not because it profits you or makes you feel better. It comes about when you’re captured by the beauty of God and love truth for the sake of God. True honesty grows when we see Christ being faithful, keeping the promise He made to us.

Thomas Chalmers: The Expulsive Power of a New Affection
Old and sinful affections rule the heart until the object of the hearts desire becomes good. The sinful desire can only be expelled from the heart when another object of greater value and satisfaction replaces it. The hearts desire to have an object is unconquerable. The heart is always seeking happiness.
Therefore it is not enough to speak to the conscience and show that a particular action is wrong. Showing people the beauty of Christ will change desires leading to holy lives.

Preaching David and Goliath
What’s the meaning of the narrative to us? Without Christ the message becomes: the bigger they come the harder they fall. The story tells us that the Israelites can’t defeat Goliath. David- a weak, young man can do the job. We are in the crowed. We are portrayed as the Israelite who needs a substitute. David points to Christ as the only conqueror of everyone one of our enemies.
We can conqueror our giants because Christ faced and defeated the largest giants of life.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Preaching Christ in a Postmodern World: Applying Christ: Introduction to Christ-centred Application

By Tim Keller

Keller defines 4 ways of getting to Christ from the text organically

Theme Resolution

Inter-canonical themes are themes that cut across the Biblical canon, for instance the theme of Kingdom or law or grace. The theme develops and thickens as scripture progresses.

Broad themes:
1) The King and the Kingdom
The freedom and glory of God’s kingdom is lost when Adam and Eve sin
The people throughout the OT needed a good Kingship
Only the creator Himself is a satisfactory King because the problems of His people are too deep for any human King to deal with.

2) Grace and Law
This theme asks the question: How can God remain holy and gracious with a rebellious people?

Approaches to this theme:
Conservative: God commands obedience for the receiving of every blessing
Liberal: God loves everyone no matter what they do
The conservative approach is exclusively set on the holiness of God while the liberal approach is only focuses on the love of God.

Isaiah highlights the tension in his writing when describing a strong King and a suffering servant.
Christ fulfils the covenant so we can be saved by grace through faith. Perfection is needed to satisfy God’s holiness.

Narrow themes:
Worship: How can we be in the presence of God?
The presence of God is experienced and removed in the garden and then restored by Christ through the cross administered into the church.

Righteousness and Nakedness: How can we look good in God’s eyes?
We are spiritually naked as a result of the fall. Christ clothes us with His righteousness.

Marriage and Faithfulness: How can we know love and intimacy?
The love of God is obscured by sin.
Christ’s wins the love of His spouse by

Image and Likeness: How can we become fully human?
Humanity has been degraded through sin. Christ is the ultimate image of God restoring the image of God back to the people by sanctification.

Rest and Sabbath: How can we find harmony with those around us?
Enmity with God and others is brought on by sin. Christ reconciles us back to God by His death and back to people within the context of church.

Judgement and Justice: Will justice ever been administered?
Bad things happen to good people because of sin. Christ was a judge who was judged to secure ultimate justice for eternity.

When preaching about the psalmist’s desire to go to the sanctuary you shouldn’t say ‘that’s the reason you should want to come to church on Sunday’. Instead say ‘we have more access to the presence of God than the psalmist as we are the temple of God.’ We should allure people to obedience rather than just enforcing it. We need to make obedience look attractive.

Law Completion
This is preaching Christ from one ethical principle. Gal 3:24 tells us that the law leads us to Christ. Preach Christ from ethical principles by showing that He completely does all of what we should do. Jesus is the only way to take the law seriously. The law is saying ‘you can never fulfil me, you need a saviour.’

Say to the people: unless Christ has saved you, you’re stuck.’ Then take people to the generosity of Christ. Melt their hearts be Christ’s love to move people to faith.
Christ exemplifies and fulfils every law.

Story Insertion

Take the story you’re looking at and put it into the bigger story. Look for pictures of Christ in the text.
All individual stories point to Jesus. Jesus is the true Adam, Abel, Abraham….
Every story is about Jesus.

This principle is also true of cooperate story lines:
Jesus Christ is the true creator- we were created through Him. The creation story teaches us that
Temptation in the wilderness: The fall points forward to the active obedience of Christ.
Moses took the people out of political bondage; Jesus redeemed the people from spiritual bondage.
Jesus is the true Israel. Jesus earns the blessings of the covenant to all who believe.

Another sort of typology sees Christ from the narrative pattern of the text: God working through the weak, God bringing life through death, God working through defeat.

Esther sacrificed to save Israel as Christ sacrificed Himself. The acts of Esther and Ruth mirror the way in which Christ brought salvation to us.

The order of the Exodus and the law giving teaches us about Christ. The law is given after redemption. Obedience is demanded after grace is received.

Symbol Fulfilment
Every major figure points us to Christ. The non-personal symbols point us to Christ. The entire sacrificial and temple system points us to Christ. Etc