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Him We Proclaim: Defining Apostolic Homiletics (Part 2)

September 21, 2011

Dennis E. Johnson

2. Apostolic homiletics is not a Trinity-ignoring Christomonism.

Rather, apostolic homiletics is robustly Trinitarian: its focus on Christ as the divine executor of the Father’s creational purpose and as the divine-human mediator of the covenant of grace increases our appreciation for the engagement of the Father and the Spirit in the great works of creation, providence, and redemption.

The apostles and other inspired authors of the New Testament do not focus our attention on Christ the Son at the expense of God the Father, nor at the expense of the Holy Spirit.

Rather, they emphasize that the Father sent the Son to accomplish his mission of redemption, reconciliation, and re-creation. The sending of the Son, and especially the giving of his life on the cross, demonstrate the dimensions of God the Father’s love toward his human creatures (John 3:16; Romans 5:8). Through the mediatorial work of the Son we have access in one Spirit to the Father (Ephesians 2:18). The Son and the Father reveal one another to the people of God, as Jesus’ complementary sayings in Matthew 11 and 16 show:

Matthew 11:27: "… No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him."

Matthew 16:16-17: Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.”

Likewise, the New Testament’s focus on Christ and his mediatorial work does not minimize the majesty or the ministry of the Spirit of God, whose indwelling presence applies Christ’s redemptive achievement with life-generating power to human hearts. The Spirit testifies to the Son.

John 16:13-15: But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears…He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.

By the Spirit’s presence the risen Christ makes good his promises not to leave us orphans (John 14:18), never to leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5), and to be with us all the days until the consummation of this age (Matt.28:20).

Is it possible for Christ-centered preachers to get “off-center,” so preoccupied with the Son (whom the apostles saw in flesh and blood) that we neglect the Father who sent him (whom no one has seen nor can see—1 Tim. 6:16; John 1:18) or the unseen divine Spirit who opens our eyes to the Father’s glory displayed in the Son? Yes, it is.

But that imbalance is not the apostles’ fault: they introduce us to the Son specifically because he is the way, truth, and life who leads to the Father (John 14:6-10)—and because the enthroned Son bestows the Spirit in power among his people (Acts 2:33), and through the Spirit’s quiet and invincible presence “walks among the candlesticks” as the living and reigning Son of Man (Rev. 1:12-13; 2:7; etc.).

Contrast 3 next Wednesday!