8. In what way has your study of Cocceius benefitted your pastoral ministry?
Just last night, a new member of our church — an adult convert and an avid reader — asked me if I preached according to the “redemptive historical” method. He had come across the term in reading Geerhardus Vos, and instantly realized that it was descriptive of what he had discovered (and enjoyed) about my preaching. And he summed it up in this way: A careful presentation of a text from the Old Testament and the New Testament, and a relation of the two according to the pattern of promise and fulfillment. Indeed, our prayer after the reading of the New Testament is as follows: We praise you for revealing Christ as the fulfillment of the Old Testament and ask you to give us your Spirit so that we may understand the fullness of your truth. He was the third new member of our church to mention precisely this aspect of my preaching as something that he had uniquely experienced and enjoyed at Christ Reformed.
There is an incredible richness to this approach. Yes, it means we spend a lot of time standing while two Scripture lessons are read (900 words last week for Psalm 22 and Matt. 27 selections). But I see a new excitement in my congregation as the same scales that fell from my eyes while at Westminster fall from theirs. One new member is a filmmaker, and he has been blown away by the narrative richness of the Psalter which has both David and Christ at the center of its plotline. He said he had no interest in reading Psalms before, because he knew he couldn’t claim to be “righteous” like the psalmist often does. Those psalms weren’t about him. But now that he sees that they were about David, typologically in his office, and by fulfillment about Christ, the true King, and therefore about him by faith, he’s really excited.
It almost feels like cheating, when you’ve been given the answer key to the Scriptures — which really aren’t a riddle, but have been so horribly abused and misread for so many saints who hunger and thirst. It feels like cheating when you can point them to the riches of Christ by just presenting to them the text in its own context — all of which I got from my Westminster education, and fortified with Cocceius and the tradition — and they are absolutely blown away. Faithful pulpit ministry is just like Luther said: “We didn’t do anything — it was the Word.”