Last week I attended a webinar by Preaching Rocket called “Preach Better Sermons.” It was really good. Some of the topics discussed were double barrel preaching, telling better stories, and how to prepare. Fascinating, right?
All of those things were really good, and yes, they were helpful. However, what stuck out the most had nothing to do with how to preach a better message. It had nothing to do with how to preach to first time guests or how to create an awesome video for an even more awesome message series. Now that I think about it, it was probably a 30 second blip in a four hour event. Don’t blink.
Louie Giglio was sharing his thoughts on what it takes to preach better sermons. He came to the table with six things and one of them was “stay true to the text.” His point was so many people add their own ideas to scripture when scripture speaks for itself; if we take the time to figure out what it’s actually saying.
The Bible is a collection of books, inspired by God, but nonetheless written by people to people. Each book is written in a specific language to a specific group of people, and as such, certain words or phrases simply may not have the same impact or carry the same weight when translated into English.
All that to say, when we take the time to dig into the text and look at words and phrases in the context with which they were written, we may be surprised.
So, Louie continued on this train of though and gave an example. He said he was looking at the story of the crucifixion and got stuck when Jesus says, “It is finished.”
What’s finished? Have we ever stopped to think about it?
When Jesus remarks, “It is finished” he is making the claim he had done all the Father had set for him (even before the beginning of time) to do. Chief of these, among many things, is the atonement of the sins of the world. The gap between man and God had been closed through the death of Jesus on the cross and the way to everlasting life was set before us through the finished work of Christ.
It. Is. Finished.
In a sense, our sin-debt had been paid. Justice had been served as one man received the punishment for all. This is the finished work of Christ, and as such, there is no more you and I can do to add to it or take away from it. It simply is because it is.
It truly is an amazing act of grace. There will be never be another like it in the history of the world.
And yet, we try to add to it our own way all the time. There’s a little voice inside of our head always telling us we need to do more or try harder or be more “righteous.” We hear it all the time and we try to live up to some unseen standard created by the someone out there somewhere. All the time.
On top of that, we feel guilty. A lot. And while guilt is okay sometimes, it’s God’s kindness and patience which leads us to repentance, not our sense of self-shame.
In 1 Peter 5:8, Peter says this,
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
When we look at the words in the original greek, the word ‘enemy’ means an adversary as in a court of law.
Think about it. The enemy, the devil, continues to try to put us on trial for what we have already been forgiven for. Peter warns us to be alert and of sober mind. In other words, your enemy the devil is the great accuser and he will keep trying to put you on the witness stand for the crime that’s already been forgiven and when you start to feel condemned, remember Christ’s work is absolutely and totally finished.
The voice of the accuser is finished.