It’s so encouraging to see the gospel make a difference in the lives of our friends on both sides of the border.
This week Bill Yarbrough went with me to the Lo Mejor del Trigo (The Best of the Wheat) pastors meeting. Bill gave a presentation on Christ-centered preaching. It warmed my heart to see the pastors smiling, laughing and enjoying learning about what for some of them would be a different emphasis in their preaching.
The pastors were laughing, because Bill has a good sense of humor, and he compared and contrasted what might be the opposite of Christ centered preaching. There is always the danger in preaching of placing burdens on people that they cannot bear. The problem is when we over emphasize our effort (moralism), and under emphasize Christ work for us on the cross and through his resurrection.
Moralism vs. the Gospel
Jesus spoke harshly to the scribes and the Pharisees for laying burdens on the people that they themselves could not bear. There is a danger when moralism is preached instead of the cross. I think most pastors, if they are honest, would admit that they have fallen into this trap before.
In Matthew 23:2-4 Jesus criticizes the religious leaders:
…For they preach, but do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and they lay them on the people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. —Matt. 23:3b-4 (ESV)
The Spirit gives life, but the law kills. The law isn’t a bad thing, but it isn’t life giving. It can only warn us what not to do, or what we should do. Only the gospel gives us the power to live the life that God wants us to live.
Paul encourages the Corinthians to live in the new covenant that Christ brought:
Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. —2 Corinthians 3:4-6 (ESV)
Most people in ministry serve, because they love Jesus, and they want to help others. Yet if we are honest, we all struggle with a bit of Pharisaism. This is true of pastors as well as those that are attending the church.
If the church doesn’t preach the gospel, then people will get weighed down by burdens they were never meant to carry. They will eventually leave the church, or live a lifeless Christianity. The gospel is life giving. That’s why Christ centered preaching is so important.
Our prayer is that the gospel would so permeate the San Diego – Tijuana border that the border is renewed and revived. It’s a work that only God can do. The Lord works through his church – his people!
Pray with us that Christ will be preached in such a powerful way on the border that we will see many lives transformed. O, that the light of Christ would shine brightly! O, that Christ will be lifted up and glorified in a powerful way!
In His Grip, Dave