Thanks to my friends at Acts 29 I’m able to share some sessions with you from the Dwell London conference. This is a talk Mark Driscoll gave on how to preach Christ from the entire Bible. You can download the audio, read my notes below, or watch the video right here:
No one has a worse life than a church planter’s wife. Her husband is flat broke. He won’t stop working, but makes no money. And he wants to grow his church by getting her pregnant!
The big idea is this—“It’s about Jesus!” There is always something that churches use to keep people motivated. The only way you will maintain something is if it’s about Jesus. Everything has to be about Jesus, whether it’s counseling or groups or classes or preaching.
Six framing questions to help you in your preparation of sermons:
- What does Scripture say?
Does the Greek work? What exactly does it say?
- What does this mean, i.e. to the original audience and to us?
- How can I make it memorable?
It can’t just be true—it also has to be easy for people to remember, to stay in their minds. How does one do that? Use doctrine—e.g. providence with Ruth. God orders her affairs. Big theological issues can sometimes be your hook. Or just a word, like grace—e.g. fifteen aspects of grace. Or an emotion. Naomi said, “Call me ‘Mara’ for God has made me bitterness.” If you’re in the book of Psalms you will have to explain “lament”—worshipfully grieving out pain. Or an image, like the throne. Spurgeon was best at taking images and captivating people with the images of the Bible. He said, “Some men preach heaven. I try to take them there!” Or a person,—sometimes the hook can be a character. Hang your sermon on the hook.
- The apologetic question—How are people going to resist this?
Assume they are going to fight it. Anticipate the probable objections and answer them. If you do this, you can’t preach for twenty-five minutes. The longer you preach, the younger the crowd if you are any good at it. Forty-five minutes to an hour plus is what many growing churches do. Classic Puritan preaching included this approach to any possible objections: “Some of you are thinking this . . .” It’s not that you are reading minds, just that there will be objections. Hell, sex, pornography, homosexuality, etc. will all raise objections in people’s minds. This is where you will see an angry response. If you say, “This is just my perspective,” it’s fine, but if you say “This is wrong!” there will be conflict. If they have a good reason you did not consider, then it is easy for them to walk out ignoring you.
- The missional application—What does this mean for our community?
What about our church, our families, our friendships, our city, our town, etc. Live in such a way that the rest of the city sees there is a different way of life—birth, work, sex, death, etc. For example, take sexual sin. It’s not just that you are disobeying, you are hurting the church and you are hurting the mission God has called you to—i.e. you are preaching a false gospel.
- The Christological Question—How is Jesus the hero?
Every single sermon needs to talk about Jesus as the hero. This will train the people to look for Jesus in the Bible. Also, if they don’t hear Jesus they will make note of that. It will also quietly train people to be evangelistic. People will naturally bring their friends to church because they know you will always be talking about Jesus.
Jesus said to the Pharisees that they did not love the Word of God because they didn’t love him. He is the fulfillment of the Bible. How you can find Jesus? Foreshadowing christophanies in the Old Testament, and the messenger of the Lord who is worshipped. Prefiguring types—e.g. Adam, the priesthood, David, the prophets, sacrifices, shepherds, judges, bread, wine, etc. Also, “Unlike the first Adam, Jesus passed his test in the garden” etc. Do not merely preach moralistically, i.e. there’s good guys and bad guys—do what the good guys do. Teach that in this Book they prefigure Jesus and he is the hero.
We tend to turn Old Testament heroes into super-heroes. They are people saved by grace and are not the heroes. God is the hero. The key is to make sure that it is solely about Jesus. Very few people do this consistently in their preaching.
Titles for God—“Son of man” from Daniel.
The big idea is this. Please tell people about Jesus. Too often people try and get them excited about being missional, etc. But to be honest, the only way to really get them excited is to tell them it is all about Jesus. If it’s about Jesus, it works. Even if you don’t have the best building or the best band or the best preacher. The Holy Spirit likes to show up when much is made of Jesus. In some churches the people sing as if they had just been captured by Al Quaida, but the church is growing. Why? Because it’s about Jesus. The Jesus of the Bible.
A lot of things can be done wrong. But you have to do this one thing right. If you do it, it will make up for a lot of things that aren’t done so well. If your family and your church family will love Jesus, everything else will follow. GO AWAY AND LOVE JESUS.