Posted by: Standing Solus Christus | May 8, 2006

Life Enhancement or Rescued from Eternal Judgment

About three years ago I had a conversation with a Lutheran seminarian about the message of the Bible.  He asserted that the Bible was primarily a message about the salvation of man.  At the time I was unable to disagree with this claim, however something about it troubled me.  Based on the discussion in our last post a more accurate characterization of the Bible message is that it is primarily about Christ.  We also posed a question at the end of our last entry that if the central message of the Bible is about Christ, shouldn’t this also be the central message of most preaching. 

Unfortunately, the probable answer is that most preaching in Churches currently does not focus on Christ.  Rather than being Christ centered much popular preaching is human centered in nature.  Recently on a radio show I listen to called the White Horse Inn ( ) they have been discussing this very issue.  They characterize the message of popular preaching as therapeutic life enhancement.  The Gospel is rarely mentioned, since it is assumed that this is only needed when a person is first converted.  Thus, the majority of sermons contain practical tips on Christian living, how to’s, ought’s and should’s.  These topics essentially consist of commands, however they are not necessarily the Law of God.  Rather than the Law of God it’s a diluted version of it, similar to the topic we discussed on 4/20/06.       

Is this true of the majority of preaching in Christian Churches?  Certainly, we cannot be too dogmatic about it without irrefutable evidence to substantiate the claim.  Nonetheless, the clips that I have heard on the show from Joel Osteen, Robert Schuller, and other popular high profile preachers is cause for some concerns.  The therapeutic life enhancement preaching is difficult to distinguish from good secular advice on life from Dr. Phil or Dr. Laura.  The Christian message, however consists of content that is so much more profound than practical self-help advice.  Fortunately, we have been able to review these rich truths in our examination of the Apostles Creed.  Today we move to Question 40 of the Heidelberg Catechism, which asks the following concerning the Creed:

Q. Why did Christ have to go all the way to death? 

A.  Because  God's justice and truth demand it: 1 only the death of God's Son could pay for our sin. 2     

1 Genesis 2:17:  …but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.
2 Romans 8:3-4:  For what the Law was powerless to do in the it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the Law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit. Philippians 2:8:  And being in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross. Hebrews 2:9:  But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because He suffered death, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone. 

We are saved by Christ from the eternal judgment that we deserve, which is a beautiful message that is worth repeating especially while preaching.  This is the message that should excite us to go to Church on Sunday.  To worship our High King who has suffered the ultimate price to rescue us from God's wrath and justice.  This is the basic message of the Christian faith, however for too many periods throughout Church history it has been abandonded for something else.             



  1. […] Hopefully this is familiar territory, if you have read any of the previous entries on this site.  Some of the best explanations from Scripture of this concept are summarized in the questions and answers of the Heidelberg Catechism. We treated Q & A 40 in this entry: life-enhancement-or-rescued-from-eternal-judgment.  However, another great series of questions about our deliverance are found in Heidelberg Catechism Q & A 12 – 15 and Heidelberg Catechism Q & A 1. […]

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