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Him We Proclaim: Defining Apostolic Homiletics (Part 5)

October 12, 2011

Dennis E. Johnson

5. Apostolic homiletics does not assume that the Christocentric fulfillment of all the Scriptures is focused exclusively in the atonement.

Rather, apostolic homiletics presents Jesus the anointed as achieving a comprehensive redemption not only from sin’s guilt and penalty but also from sin’s tyrannical control, from sin’s conscience-defiling influence, from sin’s mind-darkening deception, and eventually from all of sin’s toxic byproducts—including death itself.

Christ’s cross and resurrection are the center of the Bible’s Christological center, the essential and irreducible core of the gospel. Paul reminded the Corinthian church that the gospel—that Christ died according to the Scriptures, was buried, was raised the third day according to the Scriptures and was seen alive by many witnesses—is not only what he preached initially to them as “of first importance,” but also the foundation on which they continue to “stand” and through which their salvation would be completed (1 Cor. 15:1-4ff).

The source of the entire complex of “sin and misery” into which our Fall in Adam has plunged us is that we are rebels who have broken covenant with our Creator. Thus we stand alienated from him who is the very source of life and condemned under his curse. We need reconciliation, and nothing less than the blood of the Son of God can make peace between us and the King whom we have offended. We need a great high priest who can present that atoning sacrifice.

But we are also dead in trespasses and sins, and nothing less than the resurrection life of God’s Son, conveyed by his Holy Spirit, can bring us back from the dead (Eph. 2:1-7).

We are also deluded, our thinking “darkened in understanding” in “the futility of our minds.” Left to ourselves, we are deceived by Satan and others and ourselves, preferring illusions and lies to the truth of God. We need the renewing of our minds. We need a Prophet who is God’s Word and truth, to shine divine light into our confusion and delusion, to put us in touch with reality.

Left to ourselves, we are vulnerable and enslaved, captive to “the prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:1-2). The mighty Champion Jesus has come to share our flesh and blood in order to destroy the devil who had the power of death (Heb. 2:14) and set us free. Yet we are still under attack by “the rulers, the authorities, the cosmic power over this present darkness, the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12). We need a King of kings who takes up arms to defend us and who abounds in justice and wisdom to rule and direct us.

Christ-centered preaching begins at the cross and the empty tomb, and it works out from there to display to us the comprehensiveness of Jesus’ reconciling, re-creating, revealing, image-of-God-restoring, kingdom-of-God-establishing mission.

Now that apostolic homiletics have been defined, starting next Wednesday they will be defended.