Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Jesus Hermeneutic: He is the Goal

I've been working through some of the objections to preaching/studying with a Jesus Hermeneutic. (You can read the posts by clicking hermeneutics). Today's objections is:

Does this hermeneutic keep and/or win lost people?

Win or keep people to whom? This is what we must ask. The church has been distracted by other pursuits. She has started thinking there are multiple things to win lost people to, and multiple ways to do it. We are convinced that winning people simply involves keeping them coming to our church. Winning is not defined by conversion, but by the person appreciating the church, liking our sermons or coming back next week. The contemporary thought is, As long as they keep coming, maybe we have a shot at reaching them someday. In our minds, we fear preaching the gospel too boldly, for what if it offends and they don't come back. We deceive ourselves into thinking if they keep coming back, they have a better chance of coming to Christ, even though one way we keep them coming back is by preaching a vague, non-offensive gospel. If we can just win them to our church, maybe some day we can win them to Jesus too. But we are not to win people to something, we are to win people to Someone! Consider:
Therefore having such a hope, we use great boldness in {our} speech, and {are} not like Moses, {who} used to put a veil over his face so that the sons of Israel would not look intently at the end of what was fading away. But their minds were hardened; for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remains unlifted, because it is removed in Christ. But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart; but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, {there} is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit. Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart, but we have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who said, "Light shall shine out of darkness," is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.--2 Corinthians 3:12-4:6
There are some very basic principles that can be seen from just a quick glance at this text.
    All people have a veil over their eyes. A veil which the god of this world has placed over their eyes.
    The veil can only be removed by Christ.
    Therefore, if our message is not received, it is rejected by those who are perishing
    We should not distort the Word of God or play games to try to trick people into the kingdom of God.
    We should preach Christ.
    The glory of God is known when a person sees Jesus Christ as Lord!
According to this text, it should be obvious, the only way to win people to Jesus (and have Him keep them) is to preach Christ.

However, what I have found most inquisitors really mean is: Will this method keep people coming to our church and bring new people in? Ultimately, whether the pastor wants to admit it or not, this becomes an issue of attendance and pragmatism. We'd be well served to remember your ministry does not save anyone. It is God who speaks Light into our hearts. The won/lose issue is not up to you, nor will you be held responsible for it.

If you want to see people won to Christ, preach Christ. They will not come to Him any other way. But if they do not come to Christ, you keep preaching Christ. Otherwise, you're changing your message for people who will reject it anyway.

Don't confuse a full building with the filling of the Holy Spirit. Preach Christ!

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