Gospel: News or Advice?

I’m not sure who originated the worthy saying that the gospel is news, not advice, but I recently heard Tim Keller make some comments on the idea that were very helpful. They were in his message “What does Gospel centered ministry look like?” given at the Gospel Coalition meetings earlier this year. Keller credited D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones with describing it this way: when a King takes his troops off to do battle, and then sends word back to the city, the kind of word sent back depends on what happened in battle. If the King won a great victory, he sends back news — exciting, celebratory news. There may very well be some strategy and re-ordering of troops included in the message, but it’s thrust will be “Good news! We won!”

However, if the King has suffered a loss, the word coming back will be advice and strategy — “Move troops here! Bring in the supplies! Send more equipment!”, that sort of thing.

As Keller did, so do I find this clarifying. Are our sermons filled mostly with advice — strategies for spiritual growth, helps on dealing with this issue and that, ethical exhortations, etc. — or do they begin with the Great News of what Jesus has accomplished? The gospel enters our life with the good news that, although we cannot live out the life we know we should, Christ has accomplished victory on our behalf, and now we can respond with life by grace.

Nothing here tells us that advice or exhortation has no place in the message; quite the opposite. They follow, they naturally and biblically must follow, the dynamic proclamation of what Christ has done to secure our lives.

Is the victory — Christ’s, not mine — heard in your preaching?

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Explore posts in the same categories: Christ-centered preaching, Gospel

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