It’s not my job on Sunday morning, or the job or responsibility of any preacher on Sunday mornings, to stand up and give you a checklist for how you can have your best life now…that is not the job. It is to announce God’s two words. It’s to basically say “Be perfect. I can’t be. I know. Jesus was.” Every sermon! Every sermon…. Where else are you going to hear that?… And because that’s not happening every week, the Church is in trouble.
Because it’s become sort-of self-help time on Sunday morning. Just give me helpful tips for practical living with a twist of Jesus on it. And the twist of Jesus usually happens in the form of singing before the motivational speaker gets up and says, “Here are the things you should do in order to impress God and others, in order to feel good about yourself.” As if that’s the goal.
The first word of God is intended to make us feel bad about our self. God’s intention on Sunday morning is to kill you and make you alive, over and over and over again. And so when we fail to distinguish Law and Gospel, the Law gets softened into helpful tips for practical living instead of God’s unwavering demand for absolute perfection, and at the same time, the Gospel gets hardened into a set of moral demands that we must live out instead of God’s unconditional declaration that He justifies the ungodly. That’s the Gospel. The Law demands everything but gives nothing. The Gospel demands nothing but gives everything. That’s how God’s two words work together.
Watch the sermon here.