29 July 2009

Interlude: Y-O-U

by Frank Turk

I had planned to do a part 2 to last week's post, but the week (!) got away from me. So, given that we're sort of phoning some stuff in this summer, I dug up the following post from my blog which ought to hold you over for a week.

What, exactly, is supposed to be happening on Sunday Morning? The Presbyterians, of course, have a very high-minded view of the way we ought to worship, and I can’t really fault them for that – they have a high-minded view of everything. They’re thinkers (well, the good ones anyway), and their view of freeing up the act of worship from preferences and human conceits looks pretty good until you realize that their theology of worship is exactly a human conceit, top to bottom.

That’s not a criticism, really: just one of those things Baptists have to say to Presbyterians in order to keep the prebsys on their toes and to maintain street cred with the weaker-brother Baptists.

Anyway, if that’s how I’m going to play off the regulative principle, let’s imagine for a second (you can’t maintain this mentally for more than a few seconds, so asking for a minute would be gratuitous) that Baptists and their non-denominational kin are right about the broad strokes and that Sunday morning doesn’t have to be one particular “way” but does have to include some things and exclude others.

You know: like God. Sunday morning ought to be about God and not about me personally. It’s like having a birthday party for your 87-year-old Grandma, inviting a bunch of people who say they love her, and then having to bake a different flavor cupcake for each to make sure they all come. They shouldn’t be coming for the cake: they should be coming for Grandma – because they love her, and this party is about loving her, right?

Yeah, OK – so what’s that got to do with preachin’? Adrian Warnock was trying to get my dander up earlier this week by quoting Rick Warren to me in an e-mail, and if I wasn’t so danged busy at work, I would have had 3 parts on that e-mail, but I am, in fact, busy like a bee. But in that, Pastor Warren wanted to say that preachin’ ought to be about application – about “how-to” in the pew.

You know what – that’s pretty good. If I had to vulgarize 1 Corinthians, I’d say it’s Paul’s “how-to” letter to the church at Corinth. But look at what that crazy exegete Paul does in 1Cor: he demands of the Corinthians that all their problems are because they have a wrong view of Jesus Christ -- from their dumb squabbles about who has status to their inability to solve disputes, to their misunderstanding of daGifts, to their abuse of the eucharist, they could get it all right if they just understood who Jesus Christ was and what He has done.

Yes: Paul had to understand that there were people in Corinth, and that they were doing things in real time and space, and that they ought to be doing something else than what they were doing – but the solution was not a self-help program. The solution was Jesus Christ. You may not understand this today, but eventually you will:

Jesus Christ is the SOLUTION to CULTURE.

So if you have a marriage problem – like yours is bad – Jesus Christ is the solution. If you have poor people in your town that you think are causing problems, Jesus Christ is the solution. Your kids are spoiled rotten and you don’t know how to communicate with them? Jesus Christ is the solution. Your church is a miserable bore and you don’t “get anything out of it”? Jesus Christ is the solution.

Many of you right now are thinking, “cent, that’s facile and sloganeering. In what way is Jesus Christ the solution?”

That, my friends, is the primary purpose of reading and expositing the Scriptures every Sunday from now until Christ returns: not to get a better life, but to get Jesus. Time to get Jesus.

So for that purpose, be with God’s people in God’s house on God’s day this week, and try to get a little Jesus while you’re there. You. Not the person you think needs Jesus: you.


So spricht der HERR said...

Thanks for the encouraging post. It is funny how simple the solution is, yet it becomes so complicated when we aren't willing to take the simple solution (Christ, the Word) as enough... we want more and that's when we find ourselves in trouble: when we introduce man's wisdom.

Anonymous said...

I what I find even more amazing than the simplicity of that statement is the amount of people who disagree with it.

Thanks Frank.

Bob said...

Yeah! I find it very interesting that the more focus I consistently put on Jesus in our worship, the more opposition I get from the religious crowd for more of a variety. As if we could ever plumb Jesus and need something else.
Good thoughts Bro.

Deb_B said...


Michael Adams (ReformedEvangelist) said...

Thank you, I will be digesting some of this throughout the day. It is good food for more than thought though.

When I say digest, I meant not just to comprehend it, but to grow muscle from it.

In other words... Part of digesting is to be ready to apply, and share effectively with others.

Because if we truly eat(read), digest(comprehend), and grow muscle(learn to apply inwards first-then-outwards), then we will truly grow as one should in the body of Christ.

Anonymous said...

Well done.

This reminds me of the sufficiency of the Scriptures/the sufficiency of the Gospel. When Rick W. and others preach outside the context of the Gospel and the Word they are really teaching that Gospel does not work, that we must add psychology to the Gospel to really make it work in our daily lives. If they would only understand that its not about us.

DJ said...

Preachin' only the "how to" is like building a house on a mud slab. The house may be well built, but without the proper foundation the whole thing's gunna fall.

TAR said...

Amen !

Great article!~!

Mike Riccardi said...

That, my friends, is the primary purpose of reading and expositing the Scriptures every Sunday from now until Christ returns: not to get a better life, but to get Jesus. Time to get Jesus.


Mesa Mike said...

But I want my best law-driv..., er, Purpose Driven life, NOW!

Jmv7000 said...

Amen Frank, so simple, profound, and yet so often missed when we (pastors too) diagnose problems and make the solution so difficult because we leave out the foundation.

I remember someone pointing out that before Paul dealt with marriage to the Ephesian church (ch. 5), he dealt with Christ, man, our relationship to Him, the church, and worship (ch. 1-4).

Respectabiggle said...

Would you say that this approach implies that a pastor shouldn't preach a "topical" sermon? (Say, preaching about marriage in the context of Ephesians 5.)

Or is the implication more that a sermon about marriage must have a righteous view of Christ as its underlying assumptions?

lawrence said...

No need to complicate.

Very well said, my man.

~Mark said...

Amen! *yelled from the back. loudly*

Frank Turk said...

I have no idea what a "topical" sermon is unless you mean something that sort of has a topic but no Scripture.

If you preach expositionally and systematically, you will preach from the text to the pew -- and there will be no alternative but to connect the text to the pew. Well, there will be alternatives, but they will either leave the text or miss the pew to one degree or another.

Scripture is full of topics. The pre-eminent one is Christ. Preach Christ to unbelief; preach him to sorrow; preach him to joy; preach him to envy, strife and those who are losing or have lost their way.

Christ is the topic -- the rest is in relation to Christ.

That's 1 Cor 14:1-4.

Frank Turk said...

sorry -- 1 Cor 15:1-4

Respectabiggle said...


Thanks. That makes a lot of sense.

I was asking because I grew up around a lot of Christians who interpreted "preach the Word in and out of season" as meaning that every sermon was an altar call and the only appropriate subject was getting you to the Sinner's Prayer.

Stefan said...

Not only is the solution so simple (per So spricht der HERR and Jude), but its scope is so stunningly all-encompassing.

The Gospel is the solution to EVERYTHING under the Sun, and beyond it as well. The Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.

Reconciliation to God; sin and forgiveness; love and friendship; marital life; parenthood and childhood; church governance; war and peace; wealth and poverty; sickness and death; work and idleness; education and culture; government and law; business and landlordship; crime and justice; civil society.

There isn't a single one of those things that the Gospel doesn't address, and there isn't a single one of those things that has a viable solution outside of the sphere of the authority of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Beyond Zaphon said...

You said: "That’s not a criticism, really: just one of those things Baptists have to say to Presbyterians in order to keep the prebsys on their toes and to maintain street cred with the weaker-brother Baptists."

Me... being a reformed baptist, having attended Covenant Seminary and spent a long time in a SBC....well I simply have to tell you I have not laughed out loud by myself for fairly long time. Thanks for the spontaneous grin.


Anonymous said...

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

Frank Turk said...


I am glad I'm not the only one who gets the jokes around here.

Rachael Starke said...

Y'know, if I didn't know better, I'd say that what you've got here is a pretty great five minute sermon.

I found myself really burned out this afternoon and locked myself in my bedroom and read the first half of First Corinthians just to check.

Yep. It was really great. My kids had a more patient Mom today because of this - thanks.

Ed said...