Jump directly to the Content

Preaching Hard Truth in the Age of Grace

Toolkit: Preaching

A young man approached me after I'd preached on Mark 8:34 ("If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me"). I'd quoted Bonhoeffer: "When Jesus calls a man, he bids him come and die." The young man hemmed and hawed, then said plaintively, "I feel I never do enough for God, so a sermon like that is hard for me."

There it was—the theological tension between doing and grace. The tension was clearly expressed in that young disciple's face. I felt the weight, too. Had I somehow turned "deny yourself and take up your cross" into a way to earn salvation? Had I shortchanged grace?

In-your-face, prophetic preaching poses a challenge for gospel preachers. How do you get up and preach, "Repent and sin no more," when the congregation has just sung "Jesus Paid It All"? Prophetic preaching often goes to the dark heart of bad behavior just when our people have gotten used to hearing about ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe to Christianity Today magazine. Subscribers have full digital access to CT Pastors articles.

Homepage Subscription Panel

Read These Next

Related
IDEAS THAT WORK
IDEAS THAT WORK
From the Magazine
‘How Could All the Prophets Be Wrong About Trump?’
‘How Could All the Prophets Be Wrong About Trump?’
After the 2020 election, a remnant of charismatic leaders are trying to revive their movement from within.
Editor's Pick
5 Ways Collaborative Sermon Writing Can Help Pastors
5 Ways Collaborative Sermon Writing Can Help Pastors
How a cross-cultural experiment with a half-dozen church leaders offered me a fresh perspective.
close