I know some of us get excited to show that faith and reason are like oil and water, and natural theology is the death of a theologian of the cross. But there’s a bit of nonsense in that. If we teach our people only to suffer (which they will do anyway), and to expect nothing more than suffering, we are sometimes unintentionally teaching them to want less. But Christ is more. His resurrection means there’s more.
Do you really believe with all the saints that the church is one in Christ? Or are you the pragmatist who teaches your people that the church is broken, filled with sinners and false doctrine, and only in heaven will things be perfect? Have you complained that your people are not as holy as they ought to be or reverent as they should be?
As preachers approach Holy Week, it is sometimes difficult to plan ahead. With a number of sermons to prepare, it can sometimes feel like you’re just trying to keep your head above water, say whatever the given text says for that service, and move on preparing the next.
It is an ineffable mystery that God suffers, and our preaching must bear out that mystery. One can only emphasize that God is truly man and that God suffers and dies on account of the personal union. But we do not emphasize the suffering apart from the divine nature, or as if the divine nature was not fully His at particular moments. The personal union causes us to deal with the whole Christ.
The texts compel us to deal with the “new thing” (Isa.43:18) that God is doing, namely, preaching the righteousness of faith to all nations. God’s judgment of justification is now for all. It has nothing to do with the flesh and everything to do with faith.
As you preach this week, you’re at it again, announcing the free forgiveness won by Christ, handing over the inheritance of eternal life, and distributing into their mouths the blood of the covenant and the foretaste of the Feast to come. The Father’s arms are wide open. His promises are irrevocable.
To be textual in our preaching, we ought to do as Paul does, and drag our people through the Old Testament narratives. We ought to let the Holy Spirit do the illustrations. Of course, Paul’s illustrating too, but he’s doing it in the Spirit and using the Holy Spirit’s own vocabulary.