The Sum of Christian Preaching

Some pastors do not know how to preach the Gospel.  They have confused motivational speaking and music with the power of God’s word.  So here is a brief summary of what the preaching of the Gospel is.

The sum of the preaching of the Gospel is this:

•  to convict of sin;

•  to offer for Christ’s sake the forgiveness of sins and righteousness, the Holy Spirit, and eternal life;

•  and that as reborn people we should do good works.

So Christ includes the sum of the Gospel when He says, “Repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all nations” (Luke 24:47).

Book of Concord: “Apology of the Augsburg Confession,”
Article XIIA (V). Repentance, 29.

This is why Paul resolved to know nothing in Church “except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”  The Gospel was not preached “in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that … faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”  (1 Corinthians 2:2-5, ESV).

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Images in His Divine Service

In response to the post “PowerPoint makes us stupid,” some readers raised the issue of images in the Divine Service.

The use of images during the Divine Service and even during the sermon is not wrong, however, the use of a TV during the Divine Service does make it very easy to use poorly chosen images.  Some images I have seen on TV in church, but never in a stained glass window, are: a tacky tie, a fruitcake, and a car wash pass, etc.  (These examples were drawn from a sermon preached by District President Engelbrecht for St. Peter congregation‘s 140th anniversary celebration).

Clearly, the standard for the teaching quality of images on TV is lower than for statues, banners, flags, and windows.

The TV also makes it easier to display images of created glory as opposed to images of the revealed gospel.  Depictions of natural wonder and beauty on TV are common.  Many can go out and take pictures of trees, but painting a good picture of the life of Jesus is much more difficult.  (And even then, someone still needs to confess who the man in the picture is, and why he is important).

Pictures of falling snow, beautiful clouds, flowers, mountain ranges, and smiling faces could be used to teach about the glory of God; but they cannot teach the Gospel.  Most Lutheran stained glass windows do not depict natural wonder, but instead opt for images and symbols that teach about doctrine and Church history.  Lutherans allow and praise images for their teaching ability, but what would the Reformers say about pictures of golden sunsets and rubber duckies during the Divine Service?  Are such pictures frivolous?  Do they teach the Gospel, or do they detract?

There is a popular saying that a picture is worth a thousand words.  That may be, but is every picture worth a thousand words of the Gospel?

The True Law & Gospel

Christianity is only about Jesus and his payment for our sins on his cross.  Too many of us claim to preach “Law and Gospel” while omitting the cross, but the cross is the true intersection of Law and Gospel.  Only there do we see at once the consequences of our sin and God’s mercy in the same place.

The cross is the only place where we find Law and Gospel: not Law or Gospel: not Law and then Gospel: but Law and Gospel together at the same time.  If we do not preach Christ crucified, we are not preaching the true Law & Gospel.

I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. . . so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.

— 1 Corinthians 2:1-5.

Law † Gospel.

The WELS Blogosphere

Here are some quotes from other WELS blogs.

Pastor Strey’s Weblog has an excellent article entitled “WELS President Gets Issues, Etc. Thumbs-Up!”  Here is an excerpt from his article:

There is a concern—and I would argue a justifiable concern—that some segments within WELS are flirting too much with methodology that leave the proclamation of the gospel behind just so we get people in the door.

Be Ye Reconciled, a thoughtful lay blog, has an insightful article entitled “Guilt and the Cross:”

It is interesting, looking at churches built 100 or more years ago, at how prominent the cross was.  Not just a cross, but Jesus hanging on the cross, wounds and all. . .  But in our modern brand of Christianity, the cross has fallen into disfavor.

In Christ Alone” is the title to an article on The Shepherd’s Study.  It focuses on a hymn in the new WELS Christian Worship Supplement:

. . . a soloist quietly sang the first phrase speaking of Christ’s burial, but then the entire choir joined in at full volume to sing of Christ’s resurrection victory.  The congregation joined in for verses 1 and 4.  It was moving to say the least.  Since that time, In Christ Alone has become a congregational favorite . . .

Bailing Water is a WELS discussion blog where it seems almost any anonymous comment is allowed.  Nonetheless, there is some serious discussion regarding “contemporary” worship, and recently, layman Freddy Finkelstein had an interesting comment/post entitled “Freddy says:”

. . . “contemporary” worship forms, which Lutherans are increasingly guilty of borrowing from Evangelicals, Charismatics, and Pentecostals, including their music and instrumentation, have been carefully chosen and developed by these heterodox to teach their false doctrine—namely, Worship as a Means of Grace, and Religious Experience as Assurance of Salvation.

Sing Sing” is a humorous post on Revvin’ Rev.  There isn’t much to excerpt, but don’t forget to read the comments:

Peace and quiet.

Mark Cares is a web log devoted to Lutheran outreach to Mormons.  An interesting post entitled “Judgment Day” resulted in 61 comments:

I can’t wait for Judgment Day to come.  That will be the best day of my life.  On that day, God will not bring up one charge against me.  He will not bring up one instance when I failed him.  Instead of condemning me, he will commend me . . .  There will not be any hesitation on his part.  There will not be any qualifications in his verdict.  Instead he will welcome me into the wonderful bliss of living with him for all eternity.

Jesus gets every ounce of credit for that.