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A thousand posts in a thousand words

Blogging has its problems, but besides trying to have a laugh, this is what I've been trying to say:

I'm essentially a grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone guy.  And I believe that this is true just as much for revelation as it is for salvation.

Therefore Christ the Truth means Jesus is not just the one Way or one Life, but the one Truth of God.  All truth - is in Jesus. This means all our thinking about God must begin with HimNot some Christ-principle but Jesus of NazarethNot some divinized ideal but the actual Jesus of the Gospels.

When we do this we realize that Jesus is God-sized and God is Jesus-shaped.  Thus we see the cruciformity of the Christian GodThe Lamb is at the centre of the throneGod's perfection is in His mercyHis glory is His self-giving.  This is unlike popular teaching on God acting with ultimate self-regard.  His glory is NOT His self-centredness but His other-centredness.  (Don't worry, I'm still a Trinitarian hedonist.)

Our God, most fundamentally, is trinity.  He is One and ThreeGod's One-ness and Three-ness are not un-coordinated perspectives.  Rather the Oneness of God simply is the communion of these concrete and particular Persons.  To approach God's oneness in this way guards against many errors and brings many benefits.  It also sheds light on how our own communities should be, whether that's marriage, family or church.

Of course this christocentric, trinitarian approach is not a New Testament novelty.  Christ has always been the object of faith and hope for Old Testament believers. He is the Hope of the Ages - just study Exodus to see an example of it.  Revelation has always been on a trinitarian dynamic.  The Hebrew Scriptures give us a trinitarian witness on their own terms and in their own context.

From this it becomes obvious that there are no true understandings of God that are not Christ-centred, trinitarian revelations.  Neither reason, nor creation, nor religion (be it biblical or unbiblical) can offer us stepping stones towards true knowledge.  We either begin with the Christ, the Son of God or we don't begin at all.

This has important implications for apologetics and evangelism.  For one thing, Christ alone and Grace alone means we must believe in Revelation alone.  The direction of travel is always down from on high.  The Gospel is not a good idea instead it is proclamation of things that have already taken place.

Yet this does not make us reductionistic.  No, from Christ we can reason truly and understand the wealth of God's revelation in all the universe (even if we adopt views on creation at odds with the scientific majority). But actually all worldviews are religious - even the materialist ones.   And all modes of enquiry follow a theological method: faith seeking understanding.

All of which is to say that 'Christ the Truth' is the true lens through which to see all of reality, be it science, marriage, gender, porn, sickness, tragedy, comedy, whatever.

In all things we must realise that the God with Whom we deal is never an abstract deity but always the very concrete Jesus with His Father and Spirit - He is always and at all times irreducibly the God of the Gospel.  And His being is unfolded and expressed precisely in the gospel economy.

Because He is love - a spreading goodness - His being is always towards our salvation. This is the way of the LORDHe determines to rescue us because He delights in us.

Thus the Father sends His Son to lay hold of our humanity in incarnation, to live our life through trial and temptation and to work out our righteousness in our place and on our behalf.   Then He died our death in crucifixion.   He was born again when He rose again as Head over creation and ascended to the Father's right hand in glory.

Humanity is not free to choose participation in this lifeWe contribute nothing to this salvation.  Rather we are freed by the Son to enjoy His statusI am in Christ and Christ is in me.  Thus we find ourselves as those already embraced by this triune God.  We find ourselves participating in this divine nature - loved with the eternal love of the trinity.  This is not a mush of groovy feelings but is enjoyed concretely as a cruciform life of cheek-turning.

Faith is not a thing we contribute to this salvation. It is a looking unto Jesus - the very opposite of self-regard.

In this we find our identity - not in personality types but in Jesus.  We find our assurance - not in personal piety but in our perfect Priest.  We find our encouragement - far above and beyond ourselves, in Christ who is our righteousness. Since this is so, sinning really isn't the worst thing - refusing His forgiveness is.   We respond to sin by looking away from self to our Champion.  This is not cheap grace, but true discipleship and in this we resist the devil.  In such discipleship boasting is out and humility is in.

Such a gospel overflows in our hearts with singing and poetry and other creative things.   But most of all with proclamation - we believe therefore we speak.  Preaching is basically the heralding of our Champion's victory.  You can listen to my own approach with these evangelistic talks or with sermon series such as Church in the Wilderness or Gospel alone.

There are ten things you should definitely avoid with preaching and there are ways of getting better at it - but we need to think carefully about themOur proclamation is itself the Word of God.  And there is incredible power in it.  What we need is truly Christ-centred preaching and evangelism.  And this is our task as we await the return of Jesus - not the moral/social/political reformation of society (or even ourselves), but the proclamation of King Jesus.  And its point (its application if you will) is not moralism but always to look to Him.

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0 thoughts on “A thousand posts in a thousand words

  1. Pingback: Stop what you are doing | Pastoral Ponderings

  2. Jon Sidnell

    That's all kinds of awesome! There's an awful lot of stuff there that tracks with where I am at, which isn't to say that you're therefore obviously right :)

    If anything, I suspect it tracks well because it's things you have said that have combined perfectly with the books and preachers I've been hearing to renew my mind according to Christ the Truth.

    So, I guess I'm saying, thanks for letting Christ in you share more of Him with me through you!

  3. John B

    This is a wonderful summary of a lot of fine work. It's definitely a keeper. Meaningful recaps like this are hard to do and valuable to have.

    “If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter” ~T.S. Eliot

  4. Glen

    Thanks all.

    And John B that reminds me of what Benjamin Disraeli said when he was asked how long it took to prepare a 5 minute speech in parliament. He said "A week." "A week!" replied his friend, "Well how long would it take to prepare an hour long talk??" "About a day" replied Disraeli before adding, "And if I had forever, I could begin now!"

  5. Marc Lloyd

    That's not quite true though, is it? It all depends, don't you think? I reckon you could probably give us 1 sentence or 5 mins or 15 mins or 45 mins on Christ in the OT now couldn't you?

    I think there's a lot of guff talked about sermon preparation!

  6. Anonymous

    Re: preparation and political speeches.

    I heard a story once about a prominent (now deceased) MP who was pacing around practising one of his speeches when someone overheard him saying "Mr. Speaker, I had not intended to interject at this point..."

  7. Si Hollett

    Marc, you could, but the 1 sentence/5 minutes/15 minutes would, much more likely, be improved by taking more time to prepare.

    Cutting out stuff and choosing what to say is time consuming. Especially with our schooling that praises quantity, rather than quality.

    If I was doing a 15 minute talk, it would take about 30% longer to prep than if I was doing a 30 minute talk, and I'm someone who found word limits at school a struggle to get near, rather than a way of cutting down. While I'd take twice as long to write 30 minutes of stuff, rather than 15, the choosing what to say, how much to develop the points, etc takes a lot longer, because I can't say all I want to and the box leaves little turning space.

    Glen - 1000 posts: it just goes to show that you can't be too careful! ;)

  8. Marc Lloyd

    Maybe. That's not really my experience but I'm perfectly willing to grant that my 7, 10, 17, 22, 45 min sermons could be better / more tightly honed etc.

    No doubt there are challenges in brevity that would repay extra time in prep (e.g. maybe getting in as much as possible as briefly as possible) but there are also challenges in length (e.g. keeping interest) that might be helped by extra preparation.

    Sometimes I feel I've said my piece in 17 and don't want to go on any longer. I think it all depends.

  9. Glen

    Definitely I think people in my church circles talk about sermon length far too much.

    I know one vicar who has a woman in his congregation who's told him that she pops a Polo mint into her mouth when he enters the pulpit and as soon as the mint is dissolved she stops listening! Outrageous.

  10. Pingback: Colossians 1:15-23 sermon « Christ the Truth

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