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The purpose for which the Protestant Reformed Theological Seminary exists is not to produce distinguished scholars or visionary leaders but gospel preachers. While the supporters of the seminary must know this fundamental purpose of the seminary, it is most im­portant that conviction of this noble task to train gospel preachers lives daily in the consciousness of those who labor in this institution.

What then is “the gospel” that we are called to teach and preach? A common answer quickly given, especially among the youth in a catechism class, is “the gospel is the Bible.” But if the gospel is the Bible, did Adam, Eve, and their children have the gospel? They did not have the Bible, not even one chapter. And if the gospel is the Bi­ble, does that mean that someone can turn to any passage in the Bible and simply read the gospel explicitly stated? The end of Genesis 19 recounts the story of Lot’s daughters luring their father into a drunken stupor and then incestuously defiling him in order to gain children. That is the Bible. Is it the gospel?

The gospel is the good news of God’s salvation of sinners in Christ Jesus. Our English term “gospel” is derived from the old English “God-spell,” which refers to the spell, or the story, of God. The word “gospel” in the KJV is the translation of the Greek euaggelion, from which we get our word “evangelism.” The term means “good-mes­sage,” “good-news,” or “glad tidings.”

To illustrate, a gospel is something that is declared abroad after victory in warfare. When the people of a small kingdom are terribly dismayed because a mighty adversary comes to taunt them, bully them, and finally rout them, but then, remarkably, the smaller king­dom prevails in a hotly contested battle, a gospel goes out as good news: “We have prevailed! Victory and peace are ours! Spread it far and wide to every ear and home: the enemy has been conquered and driven away! Go to sleep in peace tonight.”

The gospel is the good news of God’s salvation of sinners in Jesus Christ. Adam and Eve did not have the Bible, not even one chapter, but they received the word of the gospel in the promise of God, which was also represented before their eyes in animal sacrifices. And while the bare facts of the revolting story of Lot and his daughters do not announce good news but vile corruption, there is nevertheless a rev­elation of the gospel of Jesus Christ and God’s covenant faithfulness in the story of the life of Lot. The challenge is always to discern that gospel word.

Gospel means good news.

My purpose in this article is to explain the gospel we preach. Because the entire article comes down to one point, like the sharp and unmistakable tip of an arrow-head, the title of this article is “Getting to the Point: The Gospel We Preach.”

The Three Points

The proper content of the gospel we preach can be set forth by visualizing a short horizontal line with three points; at the left end a point, at the right end a point, and in the middle a point. The three points represent a trinitarian conception. The first point on the far left is God, not simply God the Father as the first person of the Trinity, but the eternal, triune God who exists as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He is the God of our salvation who eternally conceived and ordained our salvation, and then reveals it. The second point in the middle is Jesus Christ, not simply God the Son as the second person of the Trinity, but the man Jesus Christ who lived on this earth as the Son of God incarnate. He is the Mediator and Savior who accomplished our sal­vation. The third point on the right is the Holy Spirit, not simply God the Spirit as the third person of the Trinity, but the Spirit of Christ, by whom the exalted Christ in heaven applies salvation to the elect.

The Triune God

First, when we hear the gospel, we hear glad tidings about our God. This is, in part, why the Bible speaks of the gospel as “the gospel of God,” as in Romans 1:1, “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God.” When the gospel reveals reconciliation in Christ Jesus, the gospel is revealing the God of salvation because, as 2 Corinthians 5:19 teaches, “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself.” When the pure note of the gospel is sounded forth as a cry, it will always lift our hearts above all men, all institutions, and all things visible and invisible, unto God as our God enthroned above the universe. Isaiah 40:9 reads: “O Zion, that bringest good tidings [gospel], get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings [gospel], lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!”

The content of the gospel is God: the triune God, the eternal God, the Creator God, the covenant God. If the gospel means “good news,” then the gospel word must point us to God and His grace. We need good news from and about none other than God, for against God we have sinned in our actual sins and in our original sin in Adam. God is the ruler of the universe, whose law we have all grossly transgressed. God is the judge of mankind, the one with whom we all have to do, whether we like it or not, and the one who can destroy both our soul and body in hell. God is the one who commands, “Love me with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength.” Wherever the gospel goes in all the world, whether to Adam and Eve in their figs leaves, or to Caesar’s household in Rome, or to you and me, the gospel always comes to those who by sin are alienated from the life of God, to those who are in themselves violators of the will of God, and to those who lie in the midst of darkness and death in a world under the curse of God.

Therefore, to hear the good news of the gospel is to hear of God. He is the God of infinite wisdom who, before all worlds, in His eter­nal counsel, appointed His own Son, Jesus Christ, to be the Head and Mediator of His elect. He is the God whose decree of election is the fountain out of which all salvation flows toward those who are His peculiar treasure. He is the God of love whose heart beats eternally in love for His Son and all those given to His Son, so that God loves us, believers, forever and ever. No matter what sorrows He brings by His hand of providence, He loves us. When He brings tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, sword, death, life, angels, principalities, powers, things present, things to come, height, depth, or any other creature, He brings all these in love for us. He always has, He always does, and He always will love us. He tells usthis in the gospel, and He signifies and seals it unto us through the bread and wine that we take in our hand in the precious sacrament of holy communion. He is the God of the unbreakable promise that He unfolds with increasing clarity and depth until it is brought to fulfil­ment, in principle, in Christ Jesus’ incarnation, and will one day be finally fulfilled in glory. He is the God of infinite power and holiness who will bring fiery judgment upon all those who deny Him, oppose His church, scorn His Christ, and malign His Word. In the way of judgment upon the ungodly, God will mercifully deliver His people.

God! The content of the gospel is God!

Sermons that do not teach the worshippers the knowledge of God are bad sermons. Good sermons lift up the heart of the worshipper to behold, magnify and adore God. Every preacher and every consistory that oversees preaching should ask the question: Are these sermons constructed and delivered with this fruit, that the worshipper goes home saying, “God! My God! I have beheld my God. I love Him more, adore Him more, and want to serve Him more.”

Jesus Christ the Savior

Secondly, when we hear the gospel, we will hear the good news about Jesus Christ the Savior, and what He has done to accomplish our salvation. This is the second or middle point in the line. There is a reason the first four books of the New Testament are called “Gospels.” They reveal the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Christ, where­by we are saved. First Corinthians 15:1-4 gives a succinct description of the gospel: “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; by which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.”

The gospel proclaims Jesus Christ, the Son of God who was ap­pointed Savior before all worlds, promised throughout the Old Testa­ment, conceived by the Holy Ghost, and born of the virgin Mary into the humility of our humanity. The gospel proclaims His obedient life, especially His ministry during which He not only taught and performed miracles, but through great suffering fulfilled every jot and tittle of the will of the Father with a perfectly submissive heart of love. He obeyed. The gospel proclaims the death of Jesus and its inexpressible agony. The gospel proclaims Christ as our substitute who stood in our place, who represented us before the law of God, unto whom God imputed the guilt of all our transgressions, and whom God punished with everlasting death so that we will never be punished. The gospel proclaims that Christ by His perfect work and once-for-all sacrifice obtained for us eternal redemption and all the blessings of salvation, so that He could declare from the cross, “It is finished.” The gospel proclaims the victorious resurrection of Jesus and His exaltation in glory as our advocate.

The Spirit of Christ

Third, when we hear the gospel, we hear the good news of the Spirit, even in the Old Testament, and especially in the New Testament. This is the third, the far right, point on the line. Hearing the gospel, we hear the good news of what the exalted Christ continues to do on earth by His Spirit, working in His church and in each elect sinner to apply salvation.

What horribly bad and distressing news the gospel would deliver to poor sinners if the gospel declared that Christ has accomplished everything necessary for our salvation, but that it is up to us to come and get that salvation, to take possession of that salvation, to make ourselves partakers of that salvation. Before that salvation is applied unto us, we are dead. We have no more ability to come and get that salvation and apply it to ourselves than a dead man lying on the street has to get up and walk into the hospital to seek medical treatment. In fact, we are worse than the dead man on the street because in our spiritual death we hate and actively oppose God, we spurn Christ, and we argue against the truth that we are sinners who need salvation. The gospel reveals that the salvation ordained by God and accomplished by Christ is graciously and effectually applied to the elect sinner by the Spirit in its entirety, so that the sinner actually is saved and enjoys all the blessings of salvation.

The very word “gospel” in Scripture implies this. How could there be good news if there is no sovereign and gracious application of salvation to us by the Spirit? That the gospel includes the Spirit and all His work of applying salvation is the teaching of the Heidelberg Catechism. In connection with faith, the Catechism asks, “What is then necessary for a Christian to believe?” The Catechism answers: “All things promised us in the gospel, which the articles of our catholic undoubted Christian faith briefly teach us” (Lord’s Day 7, Q&A 22). What are all these things promised in the gospel? They are those things contained in summary form in the Apostle’s Creed. This creed not only teaches us to confess faith in “God the Father and our creation,” and in “God the Son and our redemption,” but also in “God the Holy Ghost and our sanctification” (Lord’s Day 8, Q&A 24). The gospel includes the good news of the Holy Spirit and His work on behalf of a “holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting” (Lord’s Day 7, Q&A 23).

For the individual believer, the good news of the Spirit is that Jesus comes by His Spirit to raise dead sinners and call us out of the kingdom of darkness and into the kingdom of light. The good news is that Jesus comes by His Spirit to create saving faith in us, and to work and strengthen that faith. Wonder of wonders, that in a world of unbelief, we are made believers! The good news is that Christ by the Spirit carries God’s declaration of our righteousness into our heart and consciousness, so that to be justified by faith is to know we are right with God. The good news is that Christ by the Spirit sanctifies us, so that we are continually delivered from the enslaving power and corruption of sin. Do not doubt that. Sin, such as sexual lust, is a terrifying power. How many Christian magazines contain ads for resources to help men who are enslaved in pornography? One finds sanctifying power in the Spirit of Christ! Pride, jealousy, hatred, covetousness, and self-righteousness rise up against us and prevail daily. Is there no help for us? By the Spirit, God works in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure, so that we are able to cleanse ourselves from all the filthiness of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God (2 Cor. 7:1). The good news is that Christ by His Spirit preserves us. Although we are so weak in our faith and we suffer melancholy falls, we never lose our salvation, but are finally ushered into the gates of paradise.

Furthermore, we ought always to remember that the good news is not only what Christ does in us by His Spirit, but also what Christ does in and for His church (“I believe an holy catholic church”). Wherever the church is found on earth she is threatened by worldliness, evil magistrates, vain philosophies, false doctrines, wolves who enter the sheepfold, the cunning craftiness of deceivers, and internal hatred, envy, and strife among brethren. The good news is that Jesus Christ, by His Word and Spirit, never fails to gather, defend, and preserve His church over against hostile powers.

In summary, the gospel reveals the God who conceived, ordained, and reveals our salvation; the Christ who accomplished our salvation; and the Spirit who applies salvation.

Relating the Three Points

Picture again those three points on the horizontal line. Now relate them by taking the middle point and pulling it straight down so that we have a triangle, which is roughly the shape of an arrow-head pointing downward. One point, the top left of the triangle or arrow-head, is God. A second point, the top right of the triangle or arrow-head, is the Spirit. A third point, the bottom of the triangle, or the sharp tip of the arrow-head pointing downward, is Christ. The whole triangle or arrow-head represents the content of the gospel. The very sharp tip of the arrow of the gospel is that which makes the gospel the gospel, and that which makes the arrow-head functional and effective. It is Christ and what He accomplished in His life, death, and resurrection. To be even more specific, the very sharp tip of the arrow-head is the cross. The whole point of preaching is to get to the point of Christ and Him crucified. The sharper the arrow, the deeper it penetrates into the heart.

Demonstration

Scripture teaches that the crucified Christ is the point. First, con­sider the testimony of each person of the Trinity. Of the Father we read in Matthew 17:5, “While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.” God had taken Christ up to the Mount of Transfiguration to prepare and encourage Him for the darkness of the cross that loomed. Peter, James, and John were on the mount with Jesus. What could be more astonishing than hearing the very voice of God communicated audibly from heaven! The disciples heard God speak! Yet, God directed their attention to the transfigured Christ and spoke those three words that are easy to overlook, “Hear ye Him!” God the Father, speaking from heaven, did not say, “Hear ye Me!” He certainly did not say, “Hear ye Moses and Elias!” But: “Him! Peter, James and John, church of all ages, hear ye Him, my Son, the Christ! Hear Him!” The preaching of the gospel must get to the point of Christ so that we can hear Him.

Of the Spirit, we read that Jesus said in John 15:26, “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me.” The Holy Spirit who performs mighty works of salvation always makes a testimony, and His testimony never changes: “Christ! Behold, hear, and know Christ!” Jesus says, “The Spirit shall testify of me.”

Of Christ Himself, we read His own astonishing claims. Jesus made claims about Himself that allow for no peers or equals: “I am!” “I am the bread of life” (John 6:35). “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12). “Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58). “I am the door of the sheep” (John 10:7). “I am the good shepherd” (John 10:11). “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25). Reflect on that statement. Jesus did not say, “I see a resurrection” or “I know of a resurrection” or “I perform a resurrection.” He said, “I am the resurrection.” Who can say that? Either He is God, or he was the most delusional mad-man who has ever opened his mouth. But He is the resurrection. That is why all the Marys and Marthas of the church can wipe away their tears of grief and sorrow. He also said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6), and “I am the true vine” (John 15:1). It is impossible for any man to preach the gospel properly if he does not get to the point, which is the person and work of the one who claims that everything that belongs to the grand and glorious gospel is concentrated in Him.

“He is,” said the Father. “He is,” said the Spirit. “I am” said Christ. The point of the gospel!

Secondly, consider the following marvelous statements of the inspired apostle Paul: “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God” (1 Cor. 1:17-18). Again, “But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God” (1 Cor. 1:23-24). Amazing! The power of God unto salvation is not simply preaching about God, but the preaching of the cross. A preacher properly preaches God by preaching the word of Christ’s cross.

Elsewhere the apostle said, “For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God” (1 Cor. 2:2-5). What is the demonstration of the Spirit and power? It is certainly not the enticing words of man’s wisdom and moving rhetoric. But neither is it found merely in preaching about the person and marvelous works of the Spirit. The power is in the preaching of Christ and Him crucified.

To the Galatians he said, “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (6:14). God forbid that I or anyone should make the tip of the arrow-head of the gospel anything but the crucified Christ!

Explanation

Scripture teaches that everything the preacher proclaims about God and everything the preacher proclaims about the Spirit must get to the point of Christ and Him crucified. God reveals Himself in all His justice, wrath, holiness, loveliness, faithfulness, and sweet grace in Christ, especially in His cross. Moreover, the whole application of salvation from regeneration to final glory, worked by the Spirit, proceeds from and thus always points back to Christ and His cross.

If the sermon does not get to the point, the minister did not preach the gospel as God intends it to be preached. God can still use for ed­ification a point-less sermon of good instruction, but no minister or consistory should expect spiritual growth in the body under a regular dose of point-less preaching. A minister can preach a text that speaks glorious things of God, His manifold mercies, His compassions that fail not and are new every morning, His faithfulness which is great, that He is our portion and we hope in Him, and that He is good to them that wait for Him, but if the preacher does not bring the congregation to see how the text’s beautiful descriptions of God are revealed in Christ and Him crucified, he does not get to the point. We simply do not understand the God of our salvation, and His consuming wrath and tender mercies, if we do not behold Christ. We behold God when we stand in the shadow of the cross, and look up at that burnt offering, that holy heart, that precious life.

Likewise, the minister can preach a dynamic and gripping message on the Holy Spirit as the breath of God. He can take the congregation down into the valley of dry bones and preach the supernatural, the pow­erful, the delightful, the astonishing, the mysterious, and the ineffable works of the Spirit, works that are not inferior to the work of creation or the resurrection from the dead. But if the preacher does not relate the Spirit’s work to Christ and His cross, he did not get to the point.

Who is sufficient for these things? Who has ever preached a flaw­less sermon? Who has ever perfected the art of crafting and releasing a gospel arrow with a perfect head? The preacher in his preaching needs Christ and His cross as badly as anyone in the audience! All our imperfections notwithstanding, the calling is clear: It must be our firm resolution of heart that in all our preaching we get to the point. This I will teach in seminary (God help me!), even as I was taught (God be thanked!).

Implication

Only when the minister gets to the point is the doubled-edged sword of the gospel offensive. According to John 6, that was true in Jesus’ own ministry. The Galileans were crowding Him, the heavenly manna come down from God, like sea gulls crowding a loaf of bread on the beach. However, as soon as Jesus got to the point and taught His cross and death by saying, “you must eat my flesh and drink my blood,” they found His words revolting and scattered to look for another savior. That sharp point of the cross with all that it entails is the stumbling block before man. It is the most foolish thing to man. It speaks of judgment—terrible, destructive, divine wrath that burns and consumes. It damns the sins that the bosom finds so pleasurable. It rules out all the wisdom and strength of man, and exposes the horrible folly of human pride and self-salvation. The gospel pins an arrowhead to every chest, “You are a sinner; repent! You are a sinner who has no hope in yourself; trust in Christ!” Then the gospel paints the portrait of an accursed tree where hangs a despised and rejected man of sorrows, and it declares salvation, liberation, hope, and peace in Him! The Jews stumble. The Greeks scoff at the folly of it. To natural man, nothing is more worthy of derision. The gospel is offensive to unbelief, even the unbelief of our sinful flesh, but only when the preacher gets to the point and preaches Christ.

When the message gets to the point of Christ and Him crucified, it is a gospel sermon as the power of God unto salvation. Let us there­fore glory with Paul in the cross! Let us not limit the cross, or think too narrowly of it. We can limit the cross in various ways. If we view the cross only as removal, we shrink the cross. Jesus suffered in my place to remove my sins and the curse due to me. But He did more: Christ by all His holy works of perfect obedience to the law acquired righteousness and the fullness of eternal salvation for me.

Moreover, we limit the cross if we isolate it and thereby sever it from Christ’s other saving acts. When we hear “cross,” we should not think only of the six hours at Golgotha. The victorious resurrection that follows is inseparably connected to the cross, because a dead savior in the grave is no savior. Read the book of Acts and notice how often the apostles made the resurrection the heart of their preaching. Additionally, it is important that we do not forget the life of Christ that preceded and culminated in the cross. The cross cannot be severed from Christ’s lifelong suffering and obedience. Lord’s Day 15 of the Heidelberg Catechism explains what Jesus removed and obtained by His suffering. It begins, “That He, all the time that He lived on earth, [emphasis added] but especially at the end….” Christ was not only obedient on the cross, but obedient His whole life unto the death of the cross, for the apostle teaches in Philippians 2:8, that Christ was “obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”

If we limit the cross so that we do not see Christ acquiring righteousness and all of salvation for us, or if we limit the cross so that we do not see Christ’s lifelong obedience, then we do not see the full Christ. Then this repugnant notion might begin to creep in: It is my works, my life of obedience, my fulfillment of the law that obtains or acquires various aspects, elements, or experiences of salvation. Yes, we do good works, and we must do good works, but our works do not and cannot obtain or acquire salvation.

When we preach the gospel and get to the point of Christ crucified, we are not preaching something small and paltry, but something full, rich, wonderful, comforting, and peace-instilling: Christ, His glori­ous and eternal person, His mighty works strong to save, His cross. We need to know Christ in all His fullness. The lofty calling of the preacher is to exhibit with great joy the Christ who is fairer than the fairest. We must all know that we are in Him, bone of His bones and flesh of His flesh, today, tomorrow, and forever.

There is something beautifully simplistic about the gospel with its sharp tip. We complicate the gospel with our own wisdom, strange expressions, unprofitable tangents, shoddy exposition, and itch for something new. But the gospel is simple and it corresponds to the simplicity of our misery: sin. To be sure, sin is complicated, messy, entangling, multifaceted, deeply-rooted, and far-reaching in its conse­quences. What horrific, fiery damage one little sin, one little slanderous word of the tongue, can unleash! But identifying our problem is not complicated: sin. So the gospel is simple: Christ. To be sure, that Christ is God in the flesh in whom are hid all the treasures of knowledge and wisdom is beyond our comprehension. So is the work that He does, coming not merely to repair what we broke in Adam, but to elevate the whole universe and elect mankind to heights no eye has seen, no hear has heard, and no heart has ever imagined. But to identify our comfort is not complicated. A child can do it. It is Christ.

Illustrating the Point

1 Corinthians 10:31: Explaining the Meaning

Let us apply the point of the arrowhead. Suppose the text for the minister’s sermon is 1 Corinthians 10:31, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” In preaching this text, the preacher must situate himself in the context and must expound and develop the main concept of the glory of God. Then he must explain the calling to do all things, even our mundane eating and drinking, to the glory of God. He must explain “doing all to the glory of God” so clearly, and with direct connection to our life and experience, that everyone knows exactly what a life devoted to the glory of God looks like. But the preacher may not merely explain. In keeping with the form of the text, which is a command, he must exclaim: “Do all the glory of God!” When you eat, when you drink, and in whatever you do, do all to the glory of God! That call must ring in the auditorium and in the ears of God’s people. We must hear it through the whole week, at the breakfast table, on the job site, in the classroom, before those who mistreat them, while on the computer, or on a date on Friday night. Do all to the glory of God!

But if all we hear in the sermon is what we must do, then we go home feeling terribly discouraged and fearful. The bar has been set so high, to heaven itself, and yet we cannot reach above our frame. We say to ourselves, “Everything? Everything? Even my eating and drinking must be done to the glory of God? I don’t do that. I want to, but I don’t. Even when I consciously aim for God’s glory, my doing is so tainted with sin. I need more! Preacher, give me more!” To be sure, the Spirit uses the preaching of that command to work obedience to it (see the following article), but never apart from the gospel.

1 Corinthians 10:31: Getting to the Point

The preacher must get to the point of the gospel by showing the people Jesus. Jesus came under this command, “Do all, even eating and drinking, to the glory of God!” He heard it His whole life, from childhood to the cross, when He ate and when He drank, when with friends and before foes. He heard that command when everyone for­sook Him and fled, when the way for Him became so agonizing that He began to sweat in the garden, when Pilate mercilessly scourged Him, and the soldiers cruelly buffeted and mocked Him. He heard that command when all the vials of God’s wrath from heaven were being poured out upon Him for our sin of failing to do all to the glory of God. He heard that command as our substitute, standing in our place, called to do what we could never do. And He did it. That is the gospel: He did it! He reached all the way to the bar in heaven! With a perfect heart of love for and praise to God, He did everything to the glory of God, even in His last agonizing hours when all men everywhere would have cursed God.

For us, that means forgiveness! In His perfect obedience is forgive­ness for all our daily failures. In His perfect obedience is righteous­ness before God so that legally it is as if we have perfectly kept that command. We need to know what Christ did for us as a completed act in the past (not merely what He is doing right now inside us, which is not yet perfected), and out of that knowledge of faith springs so much gratitude, joy, and yearning to serve Him. Sanctification! In His perfect obedience He obtained for us the quickening Spirit. When the command comes flowing out of that gospel, the Spirit works through the command to produce within us the willing choice and ability to live for the glory of God. When we hear the command, “Do all to the glory of God!” we not only hear our duty, but our privilege in the bond of God’s covenantal love.

Conclusion

“Get to the point!” The fundamental calling for which the Protes­tant Reformed Theological Seminary exists is to train men to be gospel preachers. The task is to prepare seminary graduates to be able to stand in the pulpit and to preach a sermon that will explain the words of the text in such a way that the congregation is brought to the point, or better, the point is brought to them in their hearts. That the graduate can parse Hebrew verbs or recite the entire history of the Marburg Colloquy is not enough. Can he preach the gospel?

Please continue your prayers for the seminary. Who is sufficient for these things? May God be our sufficiency, and through our instruction give us gospel preachers who “get to the point.”

 

This article was originally published in the Protestant Reformed Theological Journal, and has been reproduced here with permission from the PRTS faculty. You can find the original full issue PDF and subscribe to PRTJ here: https://www.prcts.org/past-journals