What does “Christ-centered” preaching mean? Well, unfortunately it has become more of a slogan than a carefully defined methodology. There are some who have thought through it carefully, but there is no unified vision for what this looks like. I’d like to suggest a working definition of what Christ-centered preaching should look like practically:
Preachers must proclaim the “whole counsel of God” in such a way that Christ is never detached from the implications of a passage nor inserted artificially into the authorial intent of a passage.
I’m nobody and I don’t think for a minute that I am in a position to define anything. However, I believe that if more preachers would devote themselves to this methodology (whatever slogan you want to attach to it), they would be more be more useful for the salvation of the lost and the sanctification of believers. At the very least it would be helpful if someone could clarify what we all mean when we talk about “Christ-centered” preaching, because in my experience almost everyone has a different idea of what that should look like in practice.
This Sunday at GccWilm we will be studying the Lord’s Table from Mark 14. This is one of the most important practices of the church, but it is often misunderstood and misapplied. If you wonder how important it can be, J.C. Ryle explains importance of an accurate view of the Lord’s Table:
Whatever men please to think or say, the Romish doctrine of the real presence, if pursued to its legitimate consequences, obscures every leading doctrine of the Gospel, and damages and interferes with the whole system of Christ’s truth.”
He goes on to show that if you believe the elements of the Lord’s Table become the actual body of Christ to be re-sacrificed
you spoil the blessed doctrine of Christ’s finished work when He died on the cross. A sacrifice that needs to be repeated is not a perfect complete thing. You spoil the priestly office of Christ. If there are priests that can offer an acceptable sacrifice of God besides Him, the great High Priest is robbed of His glory. You spoil the Scriptural doctrine of the Christian ministry. You exalt sinful men into the position of mediators between God and man. You give to the sacramental elements of bread and wine an honor and veneration they were never meant to receive, and produce an idolatry to be abhorred of faithful Christians. Last, but not least, you overthrow the true doctrine of Christ’s human nature. If the body born of the Virgin Mary can be in more places than one at at the same time, it is not a body like our own, and Jesus was not “the second Adam” in the truth of our nature.” (Five English Reformers, 26-27).
As Ryle demonstrates this is a pivotal issue to understand. That is why this Sunday we are going to dive deep into Jesus’ teaching on the Lord’s Table.