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Preaching Christ to the Heart
I believe in pushing application to the forefront because I think in our culture, explaining it as you go and then really having it more fully developed at the end, I think it’s a mistake in our culture. I don’t think we have the context anymore. I hope our people are doing is bringing unsaved friends to church. Then I know that I’ve got families where the wife is a Christian, the husband isn’t, the husband’s a Christian, the wife I’m really wondering about.
And I think it’s a lot to ask the average person in our culture to trust me. There is going to be something that relates to your life, and I’m going to bring it up in about 30 minutes, but just listen to me talk about the Babylonians and the apostles and what Paul wrote to the Ephesians. For me, I try to get very quickly in the introduction to what the Chapell calls the Fall Condition Focus, which I think is really helpful. I find when I skip that, that I end up somewhere in my checklist having to go back because I left that out. When I go back and said exegete the text in its context, I’m talking about that’s part of what I’m looking for is, I want to understand what is the message of this passage and what is the Fallen Condition Focus that it’s speaking to. What’s the human need? I want to surface that in the introduction.
Also, I prefer to even state my main points in the form of direct application. So like I said in that sermon, my first point is not Peter tells these people to be subject to every, No, what God is telling us here is we need to be subject. The way I even state the main point because I believe the main point is the application. In other words, all Scripture’s given for the purpose of being applied to our life. So if I have a main point that doesn’t apply to your life, that may be my main point in my division of how I was looking at the passage, but I have not gotten the main point yet.
If I’m in Galatians and I say my first point is Paul rebuked Peter to his face. That’s not a point. In my exegesis I have to surface what is Holy Scripture telling. Am I being told this so that 2000 years later I can know that once upon a time in Galatia, Paul rebuked Peter? My main point will be you know what we see in this story? The Gospel is worth fighting for. The proof of that is Paul rebuked Peter. So Paul rebuked Peter. A lot of times I think what we write as our main point is actually the biblical proof of the point, but the point of that story is not just that fact on the surface.
When I make that first point “be subject”, I would at the end of that point, flesh some ideas out for application. Depending on how the sermon has developed, it may just be a few quick ideas. This means every one of us … We need to obey the law. As Christians we need to be model citizens. We should pay our taxes. We should, I said to our church, they came in to this building, did you know the government came in here, the city of Daytona Beach came in here and told us what we can and cannot do in this building. It says you can only seat 500 people by order of the fire marshal. What should we do? We should gladly submit to government.
Now, if they put a sign up that says you can no longer preach in Jesus’ name, then like Peter and then in your life and all of your lives are tension points where what you want to do, you think the laws of the state, the government, maybe you don’t like the present president and you just think people are making rules. It’s just like working a job and the boss makes a decision and you think, “What was he thinking?”
What do you do? What does a Christian do when there is someone in authority, and it doesn’t matter if you think you’re smarter than them. What scripture says is we’re subject.
So, I would apply it as I go and in the end wrap it all up. I do believe that we should invite people to apply scripture in all different ways. In my church, we don’t have an alter call, so there may be a lot of different ways we may do that. Sometimes, I like to invite people to pray, not only to come to Christ, but as Christians, it might be as simple as giving the Gospel, relating the application of the text to the Gospel and saying, you know, if you’re here and you’ve never come to Christ, the first step for you in this is you need to turn to Christ right now and trust Him. You need to repent and believe the Gospel. That’s what the Bible says.
And you need to understand that the Christian life is more than just being forgiven and going to Heaven when you die. You actually have the King inviting you to step into his kingdom which is run by all different rules but the way you enter in … I just talk the Gospel and invite people. Sometimes I’ll do that in my closing prayer. Sometimes we actually, not exactly this way but almost do a let’s bow for prayer. While your heads are bowed, before I pray over you, let’s just take some time to respond.
Third thing that we’ve done recently is my worship leader, who’s going to be teaching tomorrow afternoon here, I will come up and just pray a prayer at the end of the sermon and then I’ll say now let’s take a few minutes together to just have some time for response. He’ll come up and just play his guitar. He’s a classically-trained guitar player, and we’ll project on the screen a prayer of response that’s often crafted in a way that it can speak to coming to Christ and the Gospel and then living this application to the sermon out of it. So I do all three different ways.
I also sometimes do directed prayer where I may say, as our heads are bowed, take a moment and just pray a prayer of acknowledgment of where this text… Ask Christ to speak to you or reflect on how this passage is… and pray your response to God. Then give them a few seconds, 30 seconds, and then say, “Now pray a prayer of commitment,” and just guide them in that.
The third thing I was going to talk about was just planning. So I’m just going to say real quick that the third thing would be to chart a course. Turn up the music, call the dance, walk the “Preach Peace” path. The other thing was to chart a course for Gospel Centered preaching. I think it’s really helpful every year to take some time to plan your sermons for the year and to get input, to pray about it, and to think about not only how you’re going to preach Christ consistently through the year, but maybe some special series where Christ-centered preaching is going to be very much in the forefront of it.