Last week on The Pulpit we explored what one should be looking for in a sermon. A sermon should be Christ-centered and this comes about by the preacher holding on to some basic preaching guidelines. Last week we listed biblical integrity, Christ-centeredness, gospel emphasis, relevance to everyday life, encouragement for spiritual growth, and responsiveness to the Holy Spirit as pointers to use while listening to a sermon so as to be truly nourished. This week we will continue by expounding on the goal of every Christ-Centered preaching which is ultimately the glory of God. This article will further provide insights into what Christ-Centered preaching should sound like.
Focusing on the Gospel Message
The Christian journey starts with hearing the Gospel message and believing the Gospel message. The fuel for the Christian journey also remains faith in the Gospel message. It is in the Gospel that the righteousness of God is revealed and we grow as believers by beholding the revealed image of God.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. 17For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” – Romans 1:16-17
The believer lives by faith in the assurance of the Gospel message of Christ so right preaching should have the finished works of Christ as the foundation. Humans are deeply flawed and only the sacrifice of Jesus can address the human need for salvation. Unbelievers should listen to sermons and see that their sin problem was addressed on the cross and believers should listen to that sermon and have joy that they are saved and therefore hold on to the promises of God through faith.
Acknowledgement of God’s Sovereignty
Worship is not about us but all about God. Our songs, sermons and lives should be a reasonable sacrifice of worship to the One who is deserving of all praise and adoration. Sermons are not designed to make us feel good about ourselves but rather to magnify God in our eyes and in our lives. The supremacy of God in the affairs of men and the Kingdom of God being established here on earth should be at the heart of every sermon.
Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. – Matthew 6:10
Jesus speaking to His disciples in Matthew 6:33 tells them the Kingdom of God is of the highest priority. Sermons should, therefore, evoke in us a desire to seek the prosperity of the Kingdom at all costs. Success in our Christian journey can fully be experienced when what drives us and forms the core of our values is God-shaped concerns rather than self-centred pursuits. Our sermon intake should go beyond positioning ourselves within the grand narrative of the redemption story, and influencing others with the Gospel truth. God’s grace draws us into His midst where our weaknesses are transformed into strengths as we tap into His divine power.
God is sovereign and nothing happens by chance on this earth. Sermons should remind us that the All-powerful One is in control and He works all instances for our good even when we do not understand how. Our confidence should derive from realizing that the Creator of the universe is overseeing all our moments and has granted us an undeserved inheritance through Christ.
Man’s days are determined; you have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed. – Job 14:5
Trials, setbacks, pains, and travails are something common to the Christian journey but rest assured, God’s will patterns every stage of our lives. Reinforcement of this divine truth should uplift listeners to maintain a hope-filled perspective focused purely on God’s magnificence. Despite personal hardships, the joy from realizing God’s oversight should sustain our spiritual hope and energy.
Cultivating an Attitude of Worship and Spirituality
Encouraging the glorification of Christ through faithfulness, thankfulness, and servanthood is another crucial component of Christ-Centered preaching. Worship transcends mere song, evolving instead into a lifestyle that continuously seeks God’s pleasure in every aspect of our day-to-day existence.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Listening to a sermon should not just be an analytical process but should lead to personal growth and active faith engagement. At their core, they should challenge and inspire a transformation of heart and actions, generating a lifestyle patterned after Christ himself.
Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. – Galatians 6:2
In conclusion, we are responsible also, not just as listeners, but as disciplined learners, to ensure that the sermons we’re digesting are genuinely anchored in Christ. Our role as discerning receivers goes beyond passively consuming spiritual teachings to effectively determining whether the fundamentals of Christ’s life, ministry, sacrifice, and resurrection capture the sermon’s essence. More than passive spectators, we should be Berean in our approach to the word of God that is preached. As Paul commanded, “Examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good” – 1 Thessalonians 5:21, thus, we must be ready to ask questions, assess, grapple if necessary, and affirm teachings that hone our focus on our overarching aim—as believers—Christ and his eternal glory.