We must ever strive to be God-centered in our teaching and preaching. People everywhere need to know there IS a God in Heaven and that He wants to have a deep and rich relationship with us! We must not get the proverbial “cart before the horse” of telling people what they need to do before they have a proper understanding of who God really is and what He’s like.
This does not mean we fail to tell others what they need to do in responding to God; it simply means that understanding and motivation concerning God should precede our response to Him in faith and obedience (cf. Jer. 9:23-24; John 17:3; John 14:15; Heb. 5:8-9). A failure to emphasize this results in a type of moralism that is ultimately man-centered and that terribly misses the point of Christianity. We no longer live in a world (if we ever did) where it is safe to assume people have a basic knowledge of God. And telling people what they need to do and be without properly introducing them to Who and why is setting them up for discouragement and failure on one side or for self-righteousness and sinful pride on the other.
One of the best ways to accomplish this is to ask ourselves when studying any passage, “What is this passage saying about God?” And while there is certainly more to be considered than this in studying God’s word, there most assuredly is not less. Let’s use Romans 8:28-39 as an example. This beautiful section on Christian assurance speaks volumes about God Himself! Notice what Romans 8:28-39 reveals about God.
- It Speaks of God’s Providential Care (28). God especially cares and provides for His own – those who “love” Him and are “the called according to His purpose.” What a marvelous thought!
- It Provides a Picture of God’s Saving Purpose (29-30). A sweeping panoramic picture of God’s plan for saving man is found in these verses. Words like “foreknowledge,” “predestination,” “called,” “justified” and “glorified” occur, indicating something of the richness of God’s eternal plan for saving us in Christ.
- It Indicates That God Is For Us (31). Most people have no idea how much God really is for them! And they have little idea about how much Satan and the world are against them (John 8:44; 1 John 2:17-18).
- It Tells Us of God’s “Unsparing” Grace In Jesus (32). Far too many people have a few of God that doubts His goodness or His ability. This verse uses a greater-to-lesser argument to refute such thinking. If God provided Jesus for our sins (the GREATER), won’t He also graciously provide what is needed in this life? (the LESSER).
- It Says That God Is Both Just and Merciful (33-34). There are two questions in these verses: (1) Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? (2) Who condemns them? The answers: (1) God justifies. (2) Christ Jesus died, arose, is at the right hand of the Father and is interceding for us. God, due to Jesus and His sacrifice and our loving response to Him, declares us right.
- It Tells Us of God’s Amazing Love (35-39). The only thing that can separate us from God’s love is us. Please notice the crucial aspect of responding to God and His love with love, humility and faithfulness ourselves. If any Christian is lost, it will be in spite of the amazing love God has for us!
- It Mentions God’s Complete Victory (37-39). And it is a victory in which we can share. We can be “more than conquerors” through Jesus! We are super conquerors in Christ. The results of this victory are breathtaking – we will live with God forever and Satan and sin will be no more.
How desperately the world needs to hear of this God! Let’s remember the great priority of proclaiming an awesome and preeminent God.