Should Every Sermon End With Christ?

Should Every Sermon End With Christ?

The Bible is one book with one story focusing on God’s work through Jesus Christ.

In the video below, Peter Adam, Andrew Reid, and Mike Raiter talk about biblical theology and preaching Christ. You will hear their thoughts on preaching Christ, ending sermons with Christ, and sharing the gospel.

A panel discussion on Christ-centred preaching, featuring Peter Adam, Andrew Reid and Mike Raiter. From the Centre for Biblical Preaching.

10 Subtle Ways to Abandon the Authority of Scripture in Our Lives (D.A. Carson)

D.A. Carson, Research Professor of the New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, IL recently shared 10 Subtle Ways to Abandon the Authority of Scripture in Our Lives. While his article has many valuable thoughts for the church and the academy, preachers should especially take note of the three ways listed below:


An Appeal to Selective Evidence

The most severe forms of this drift are well exemplified in the teaching and preaching of the HWPG—the health, wealth, and prosperity gospel. Link together some verses about God sending prosperity to the land with others that reflect on the significance of being a child of the King, and the case is made—provided, of course, that we ignore the many passages about taking up our cross, about suffering with Christ so that we may reign with him, about rejoicing because we are privileged to suffer for the name, and much more. These breaches are so egregious that they are easy to spot.

What I’m thinking of now is something subtler: the simple refusal to talk about disputed matters in order to sidestep controversy in the local church. For the sake of peace, we offer anodyne treatments of hot topics (poverty, racism, homosexual marriage, distinctions between men and women) in the forlorn hope that some of these topics will eventually go away. The sad reality is that if we do not try to shape our thinking on such topics under the authority of Scripture, the result is that many of us will simply pick up the culture’s thinking on them.

The best antidote is systematic expository preaching, for such preaching forces us to deal with texts as they come up. Topical preaching finds it easier to avoid the hard texts. Yet cultural blinders can easily afflict expositors, too. A Christian preacher I know in a major Muslim nation says he loves to preach evangelistically, especially around Christmas, from Matthew 1 and 2, because these chapters include no fewer than five reports of dreams and visions—and dreams and visions in the dominant culture of his country are commonly accorded great respect. When I have preached through Matthew 1 and 2, I have never focused on those five dreams and visions (though I haven’t entirely ignored them), precisely because such dreams and visions are not customarily accorded great credibility in my culture. In other words, ruthless self-examination of one’s motives and biases, so far as we are aware of them, can go a long way to mitigating this problem.

Heart Embarrassment before the Text

This is a more acute form of the first failure. Not infrequently preachers avoid certain topics, in part because those topics embarrass them. The embarrassment may arise from the preacher’s awareness that he has not yet sufficiently studied the topic so as to give him the confidence to tackle it (e.g., some elements of eschatology, transgenderism), or because of some general unease at the topic (e.g., predestination), or because the preacher knows his congregation is sharply divided on the topic (any number of possibilities), or because the preacher simply really does not like the subject even though it surfaces pretty often in the Bible (e.g., hell, eternal judgment). In its ugliest form, the preacher says something like this: “Our passage this morning, Luke 16:19–31, like quite a number of other passages drawn from the life of Jesus, depicts hell in some pretty shocking ways. Frankly, I wish I could avoid these passages. They leave me distinctly uncomfortable. But of course, I cannot ignore them entirely, for after all they are right here in the Bible.” The preacher has formally submitted to Scripture’s authority, while presenting himself as someone who is more compassionate or more sensitive than Jesus. This is as deceptive as it is wicked—and it is easy to multiply examples.

Contrast the apostle Paul: “Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God” (2 Cor 4:1–2).

Anything That Reduces Our Trembling before the Word of God

“These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word” (Isa 66:2). “‘All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever.’ And this is the word that was preached to you” (1 Pet 1:24–25; cf. Isa 40:6–8).

The things that may sap our ability to tremble before God’s word are many. Common to all of them is arrogance, arrogance that blinds us to our need to keep reading and re-reading and meditating upon the Bible if we are truly to think God’s thoughts after him, for otherwise the endless hours of data input from the world around us swamp our minds, hearts, and imaginations. Moral decay will drive us away from the Bible: it is hard to imagine those who are awash in porn, or those who are nurturing sexual affairs, or those who are feeding bitter rivalry, to be spending much time reading the Bible, much less trembling before it. Moreover, our uncharitable conduct may undermine the practical authority of the Bible in the lives of those who observe us. Failure to press through in our studies until we have happily resolved some of the intellectual doubts that sometimes afflict us will also reduce the fear of the Lord in us, a subset of which, of course, is trembling before his Word.

Concluding Reflections

So that concludes our list of subtle ways to abandon the authority of Scripture in our lives. I’m sure these ten points could be grouped in other ways, and other points could usefully be added.

But I would be making a serious mistake if I did not draw attention to the fact that this list of warnings and dangers, an essentially negative list, implicitly invites us to a list of positive correlatives. For example, the first instance of subtle ways to trim the authority of Scripture was “an appeal to selective evidence”—which implicitly calls us to be as comprehensive as possible when we draw our theological and pastoral conclusions about what the Bible is saying on this or that point. If “heart embarrassment” before this or that text (the second example) reduces the authority of Scripture in my life, a hearty resolve to align my empathies and will with the lines of Scripture until I see more clearly how God looks at things from his sovereign and omniscient angle will mean I offer fewer apologies for the Bible, while spending more time making its stances coherent to a generation that finds the Bible profoundly foreign to contemporary axioms. It would be a godly exercise to work through all ten of the points so as to make clear what the positive correlative is in each case.

Read the full article on Themelios.

How an Unlikely Answer to Prayer Has Blessed the Church in Honduras

Paul Adams of Leadership Resources recently shared a ministry update at College Church in Wheaton, IL on our work training pastors in Honduras. Watch Paul share his story above or read below.


I have a friend named Omar, who’s a dear, humble pastor in the town of Zacapa, Honduras. He’s a small guy with the boyish face of a twenty-something-year-old, even though he’s in his 40’s – not necessarily the outward appearance of someone you’d think of with a lot of influence.

But influence was what Omar was praying for.

About 5 years ago, Omar was deeply concerned that pastors around him weren’t preaching the truth of God’s Word to their people. Incidentally, when Leadership Resources first began working in Honduras, one of our partner missionaries told us that the greatest challenge for the church there was the off-the-wall teaching coming out of the pulpits every Sunday. Omar saw something similar and prayed, asking God to somehow let him have an influence on the pastors around him. You see, he had been to seminary, but because that school wasn’t looked upon well by his denomination, Omar was largely marginalized by his fellow pastors.

Shortly after he began to pray, Omar got a phone call from the leader of the churches in his region. He said, “There’s going to be a training next week, and the denominational committee has asked us to find two representatives from each region to go. Do you want to go? Because nobody else wants to go.”

The next week Omar was a part of a group of about 14 pastors that was introduced to the training of Leadership Resources. How excited do you think Omar was when he found out that this was a 4-year program designed to equip pastors like him to train other pastors to understand and preach God’s Word faithfully? That week the group explored the book of Ruth, learning simple, transferable principles to help them discover the message of the book and to teach it faithfully to their people. Omar was so thankful to learn those simple tools he could pass on to others.

Soon after Omar returned home, he was invited to give the devotion at the next pastor’s meeting. In front of 67 pastors, Omar unfolded the beautiful message from Ruth of how God was working His plan of redemption, even in the spiritually dark time of the judges. When he was finished, all of the pastors clapped, and there was a total reversal in the leaders’ and pastors’ attitudes toward him. And there was a receptiveness to the training Omar had received as well.

That was just the beginning – though it wasn’t always easy.

At one of his first trainings, a pastor came who had been in ministry for more than 35 years. When he realized who would be leading the training, he said, “Omar? How is Omar is going to teach me? He’s just a child to me.” With God-given wisdom, Omar said to him, “No, it’s not going to be I who teaches you. It’s going to be the Lord speaking through His Word.”

When the training was over, the pastor came to Omar to ask for forgiveness. He said, “I see that I am like the child.” He even expressed regret over his years of ministry. He said, “I’ve really just been wasting my time, wasting 35 years of just preaching nothing.” Thankfully, that pastor continued on with Omar – not just in training but also in warm friendship.

A photo before Omar’s graduation with his training group.

After four years of training, it’s been amazing to hear how God has been using Omar and the rest of the group we trained in Honduras. At last count, Omar and 12 others had trained 260 pastors and church leaders throughout Honduras. And those 260 had passed the training on to more than 211 others. That’s a total of about 500 pastors and church leaders.

Do you think God answered Omar’s prayer?

Well, He continues to do so. Omar has 12 trainings lined up this year. And I’ll see him again in June as we continue to work more deeply with him and others, in hopes of seeing a movement begin – seeing pastors learning, discovering, preaching, and strengthening the church in Honduras – and beyond – with God’s life-giving Word.

Thank you, brothers and sisters, for giving me the privilege to get to know and work with precious brothers like Omar. Through your partnership and your investment in God’s kingdom through missions, you have a part of what God is doing all around the world through dear, humble servants like Omar.

PS: Your gift today will enable us to train more “Omars” in many nations to the Glory of God!

  • Launching Pastoral Training Movements Worldwide

    The mission of Leadership Resources is to launch pastoral training movements worldwide. This blog shares relevant articles, biblical insights, and updates from staff sharing of God's work around the world through our training in expositional preaching.

    New to our blog? Start here.

    Subscribe to future posts and receive the eBook Finishing Well in Life and Ministry: God's Protection from Burnout.