Preaching that presents not law as the food for faith but Christ crucified as found in the gospel: In other words, not mere teachings that are more at home in a seminary class. Not sermons that are mainly admonitions to being more faithful and obedient. Not primarily moral examples from the Bible to imitate. But a clear presentation from Scripture of the sinful plight of fallen man and God’s free offer of salvation in Christ to all who believe the gospel. Again, this never gets old. All of scripture points to Jesus Christ. And all the Church needs is Jesus Christ.
In this third and last segment of “Beggars Should Be Choosers” (Part 1 and Part 2) I lay out some thoughts on the importance of what I am calling the Lord’s Day Minimum Daily Requirement. There are essentials that make up a kind of necessary nutritional value when choosing a local church. They are gospel-centered and helped this beggar in choosing a church home in an ACNA congregation.
In Part 1 and Part 2 I gave a brief historical tour of my church experience in which I drew out several lines fundamental (IMHO) to the process of choosing a church. If you are to live the Christian life then you are meant to be a Christian in a church. You will choose a church. The thesis of this 3-part post is that when it comes to finding a local church beggars (Christians) should be choosers. It’s in the local church where, so to speak, the rubber meets the road.
Some considerations I previously laid out in choosing a local church were Christ-centered worship, a set liturgy with its roots in the Reformation, a liturgy that isn’t pared down to mere outline, a church holding to a Reformed confession, a gospel-centered worship around the Lord’s Supper, and preaching that presents not law as the food for faith but Christ crucified as found in the gospel. Let’s take a closer look.
Christ-centered worship: How does one measure that? Without any other qualifiers this descriptor ends up merely being something in the eye of the beholder. Any serious Christian church would claim to have Christ-centered worship. So, the question is how do you define this? Let me ask another question. How did Jesus define what it means to interpret and understand the written word? Two biblical texts come to mind –
“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.” John 5:39-40
And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. Luke 24:27
The minimum requirement necessary to interpret the Bible is that all of Scripture points to Christ. That is the Bible’s purpose. So to understand Scripture is not to ask does a particular passage point to Christ, but rather how does it point to Christ. To read Scripture with a different focus is to miss seeing Jesus. From start to finish the Bible shows sinners the way to God. And again and again it points to Jesus Christ.
Similarly, church worship ought to have ingredients that point to and focus on the crucified, risen, and ascended Lord Jesus Christ. To ignore that focus is to miss what the Church is about. We worship God in Christ, come to God through Christ, are cleansed of our sin by him, and are spiritually fed of him. To minimize this end is to relegate Jesus to the margins of worship or as someone phrased it – assume the gospel. It would be like holding a banquet feast for hungry people but leaving most of the nourishing food off the table, i.e. not served.