It is easy for us to change the Bible into a moral “to do” book. We tell people what they are to do. We try to impose a change of behavior from the outside. We end up producing Pharisees and fake Christians. God will change from the inside out not the outside in!

When we tell people to change without them knowing the One that changes us then we have preached a sub Christian message. Christianity is not a list of things we are to do!

It is a person, Jesus Christ, who radically changes us. We have a new nature. We are not who we were!

Bryan Chapell has expressed serious concern about preaching a “sub-Christian” message, even in expository form. He identifies types of messages that can easily fit in this category. His comments do not only refer to messages on Old Testament texts, but also to any biblical text. It is possible to preach commitment, responsibility, lifestyle, or challenge without any significant reference to Christ Himself, His redemptive activity, and the resources available in Him. To put it another way, just as you can miss the glorious foundational truths of God’s mercy, grace, and promise in the exposition of an Old Testament text, the same can be true in one’s approach to the New Testament. We are not so concerned about one such message to committed Christians who understand God’s mercy, grace, and promise in Christ; but, to consistently preach “Be,” “Do,” “Change” messages without the essential truths that make such directives meaningful and obedience possible is to miss the forest for the trees. We are not talking about imposition, we are talking about appropriate interpretation. It is appropriate for the preacher to discern the theologically and christologically explicit truths in the text, plus those that undergird the primary truths of the text. This is where viewing the Scriptures as a whole, Old Testament and New Testament, becomes practical. Once you determine the original meaning of the text, focus in on the essential truths within the text; look at the Scriptures to sharpen, broaden, and gain perspective; and determine what to preach.

Olford, S. F., & Olford, D. L. (1998). Anointed Expository Preaching (133–134). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

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2 Comments
  • Posted June 13, 2011 8:17 am
    by Jake

    great excerpt – excellent point made

  • Posted June 13, 2011 8:19 am
    by David Gates

    I love this quote. It is so vital to see the Lord Jesus Christ shining throughout Scripture and not just good stories with morals. Without Him, we can do nothing, with Him, all things are possible! I pray to continually lift Him up as I/We preach so that others will fall in love with Him, change inside/out, then live to show others Christ in their lives.

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