Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Talking About Jesus Is Not the Same As Speaking Jesus


You are probably thinking this is an odd title. Some of you may be thinking like Donald Trump -- there is no such thing as bad publicity! As long as they mention the name, they have come half way or more, right? Wrong.

Sermons spend far too much time talking about Jesus instead of speaking Jesus. Or, to put it another way, talking about the Gospel instead of speaking the Gospel. What is the difference? A big one! Many Pastors talk about Jesus on Sunday morning but fail to speak clearly the Word of Christ that forgives our sins, lifts the burden of our guilt, clothes us with His own righteousness, cleanses us and give us new birth in baptism, imparts to us the new life of Easter that is stronger than death, and uses us here on earth to proclaim this good news to the very end of the earth.

I heard a sermon like this the other day. Jesus was all throughout that sermon but not as the Word that was being preached -- no, Jesus was the outside authority whose name was invoked to justify and bolster the opinions of the preacher. It was about what Jesus would do (sound familiar) but what Jesus would do was more an informed opinion than clear Word of Truth. Jesus was all throughout the sermon but it was not about Jesus -- it was about the opinion of the preacher and Jesus was used to proof text and foot note this preacher's opinion.

The preacher was not preaching heresy or false doctrine. It was moralistic and pious. But it was not the Gospel. I remember once at a district pastoral conference the devotion leader gave one of these kind of devotions and a VIP was up to speak after the devotion. Before he spoke, the VIP pointed out that we can talk about the Gospel without speaking the Gospel and then in two sentences illustrated the difference, chiding the devotion leader and making all of us take note that our calling as preachers is to speak Jesus Christ and Him crucified. And that Gospel only.

So I ask you, indeed I challenge you, to hold me to this standard. It is not enough to speak about Jesus Christ or about the Gospel. We must proclaim Jesus Christ and Him crucified (I think St. Paul said that) and we must proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ who was betrayed into the hands of sinners, suffered and died in our place on the cross, was buried and on the third day rose again.

This is the Word of life that none other has... the only Word that offers forgiveness, life, and salvation to any and all who will hear it and believe it...

4 comments:

Janis Williams said...

Pastor, This is why we are Lutheran, and why we are at Grace Lutheran church. Keep speaking Jesus!

Judith said...

I'm an ELCA pastor who got here by a circuitous route, but I want to thank you for this blog, Pastor Peters. I recently (at the Churchwide Assembly)had to leave a worship service because the preacher was doing precisely this thing with grace -- preaching about it, but making it Law, pounding us on the tradional/orthodox side over the head with it. The Word I needed to hear was the breath of grace from Jesus own heart .....
Please keep all of us in the ELCA who are deeply distressed by the recent decisions in your prayers. We certainly need them.
May our faithful God find us faithful in our love and service of him.
Pastor Judith Boggs
SW Pennsylvania Synod, ELCA

Pastor Peters said...

Judith, I have many friends in the ELCA, many classmates from the unpleasantness in the LCMS of the 1970s, and I know their pain... I will indeed pray for you and for all who seek to hear the voice of Jesus and be faithful to His Word in both our traditions...

Wesley said...

Amen and amen. This is why our alma mater's motto (translated from the Greek) is "preach the Word." (2 Timothy 4:2) That not preach about the Word, but preach the Word. We who were ground down by David Scaer, the sainted Kurt Erik Marquart and others and formed by Walther's Law & Gospel have no excuse when we depart from preaching "the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints." There is a cost to be paid for obeying Christ. I'm stuck in a dry cistern (can anyone say Jeremiah?) No complaints, opposition means at least they are listening enough to get mad.