Preaching Christ in a Postmodern World: Adoring Christ: Spiritual Reality

By Tim Keller

The goal of the sermon is to get people to worship.

A sermon isn’t a sermon until you call people to adore Christ. A sermon is a lecture when Christ is not adored.

Willow Creek approach: ‘You can evangelise non-Christians or edify Christians’
Conservative approach: ‘All people need to worship through the same material’
If you preach Christ you’ll e evangelising and edifying at the same time.

Post-modern people like to know how Christianity works.
PM people try on Christianity as a dress. They’ll try it out to see if it works.

You can only change a person’s life by changing what they worship and how they worship.

Text, Context and Subtext
Be clear about the text, context and subtext
1) The text: know what the text is saying. Be clear on theology
2) The context: know how to present the text to the people
3) The subtext: have the right heart for the text (Christ) and the right heart for the context (people)

4 types of subtext
1) Social Reinforcement
The purpose of the sermon is to say: ‘Aren’t we great’
The preacher builds community and belonging by using familiar language and over endorsing the goodness of the church
‘We’re here to remind ourselves that we are unique people’

2) Selling
Promotion the products of the church
‘Don’t you feel that this is a great church’?
‘See how worthy I am of your respect’
The sermon is trying to give teaching to win people over to the individual church

3) Training
The purpose of my sermon is to teach people things they don’t know
‘I want to inform you of things you don’t know’

4) Worship
This subtext points to Christ and says ‘Isn’t He great?’
‘Don’t you see that your problems are rooted in that you don’t worship Christ?’

Spiritual Reality and Edwards
Religious Affections by Jonathon Edwards:
We have always done what we wanted to do.
Edwards argued that there is no ultimate opposition between head and heart. The heart always leads the will to act. Actions are grounded in emotions- always!

‘I know God cares for me but I can’t help but feel unloved.’ Edwards would say ‘You clearly don’t know that God cares for you. You haven’t felt that reality. Once you feel that God cares you’ll act as if God cares.’

Acting directly on the will doesn’t really work. We need to aim for the heart.
If someone is not being generous it’s due to sinful emotions. It’s because their hearts find something more attractive than Christ. Once people really see and feel 2 Cor 8:9 giving becomes frequent and a happy experience!

Sensing Christ only way to motivate the will. The task of the preacher is to present the beauty of Christ so that He becomes the object of our hearts greatest affection. Presenting Christ as more excellent than everything will weaken the Christians love for things other than Christ.

‘Excellency is that which is appreciated and rested in for its own sake.’- Edwards

The nominal Christian is someone who finds grace useful to get the things that the heart finds excellent and beautiful. Christ should not be the means to the end. He is the end!

Spiritual reality is more than rational conviction.

2 fold knowledge of good according to Edwards:
1) That which is notional- understanding something rationally
2) That which is pleasing to the heart- delighting in Him

You can rationally know that honey is sweet without feeling it. You can’t feel that honey is sweet unless you rationally know it’s sweet.

5 tips for heart preaching
1) Use reason- be clear and logical
2) Use analogical illustrations- relate the truth to another discourse. Doing this engages the senses
3) Use narrative- use stories
4) Transfer the affections of the people from sin to Christ- show that sin is not satisfying- show people that Christ’s beauty satisfies
5) Worship as you preach- show the people that you are sensing Christ – taste the food that you’re feeding to the children

Our problem: we forget spiritual knowledge.
2 Peter 1:8-9 is not talking about someone who has forget that they are saved. Rather the Christian here is not being continuously refreshed with Christ.
Video is more attractive than audio. The Bible sometimes can go straight to audio- it is heard and not fully experienced. We need to see Christ on video this is to experience Him.

We worship when we treasure God- when we find Him more beautiful than anything else.


Hi Simon

I have been listening to the Preaching Christ series over the past few weeks and have been mightily blessed and encouraged. Your notes are also a tremendous blessing. Thank you so much.

Blessings in Christ Jesus,

Brian M.
Hi Simon

I have been listening to the Preaching Christ series over the past few weeks and have been mightily blessed and encouraged. Your notes are also a tremendous blessing. Thank you so much.

Blessings in Christ Jesus,

Brian M.
Simon said…
Hey Brian,

Glad you were blessed by the lectures. It's awesome to hear Christ-centred preaching, really warms the heart to worshipping God!

I have one document with all my notes from the course if you want it as well as the handout that Keller refers to. Just leave your email below and I'll send it to you.

God bless,

Hi Simon,

I would be delighted to get the notes.
My email address is

I hope all goes well with you and your studies.
I really appreciate this and hope that I may be able to return the fovour in the future.

Every blessing in Christ,

Brian M.
Georg Zangl said…
Hi Simon,

I'm currenty studying this course. Would you be so kind to send me your notes in pdf?

My email is:

Thanks a lot and many blessings

Anonymous said…
Hi Simon

I am going through the same course.... any chance you could send me the notes aswell?

My email is


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