Preach Faith Into Hearts Without Mentioning Faith if You Want to Preach a Christ-Centered Sermon
I ran across a sermon on Jesus famous story about the Pharisee and tax collector and sadly, though preached by a Lutheran pastor, it got the whole point of the story wrong. The preacher used the occasion to wax on about faith and how we must have genuine faith, real faith, living faith, repentant faith and that’s the difference between the two. That’s like preaching about electricity and putting all the focus on the electrical cord, instead of on the power source! Here’s what C.F.W. Walther wisely noted in his magnificent book on Law and Gospel
A preacher must be able to preach a sermon on faith without ever using the term faith. It is not important that he din (shout) the word faith into the ears of his audience, but it is necessary for him to frame his address so as to arouse in every poor sinner the desire to lay the burden of his sins at the feet of the Lord Jesus Christ and say to Him: “Thou art mine, and I am Thine.” Here is where Luther reveals his true greatness. He rarely appeals to his hearers to believe, but he preaches concerning the work of Christ, salvation by grace, and the riches of God’s mercy in Jesus Christ in such a manner that the hearers get the impression that all they have to do is to take what is being offered them and find a resting-place in the lap of divine grace.
A great paper by Daniel Preus, an oldie but a goodie, reminded me of this quote. Here’s a link to it.