Dennis Johnson: Two Truths Of Apostolic Preaching

The skillful and pastoral interweaving of theological discussion and exhortation, of doctrine and application, [as demonstrated in Hebrews] illustrates two truths about apostolic preaching that are often ignored in the polarized atmosphere of contemporary preaching. On the one hand, truly apostolic preaching is not ethical imperative ungrounded in theological indicative. It is not psychological manipulation, moralistic harangue based on guilt, or pragmatic life coaching, untethered to the truth of Christ’s redemptive accomplishment on behalf of believers. When the apostolic preacher directs his hearers in God’s name as to their way of life, that direction flows naturally and inevitably out of Christ’s redeeming work on their behalf. Apostolic preaching is profoundly practical because it is profoundly theological. Transformed convictions transform attitudes and behavior.

Dennis Johnson | Him We Proclaim: Preaching Christ from All the Scriptures, ed. John J. Hughes (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2007), 177.


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Posted by Tony Phelps | Tuesday, August 29, 2023 | Categorized HeidelQuotes, Hermeneutics, Scripture | Tagged Bookmark the permalink.

About Tony Phelps

Tony grew up in Rhode Island. He was educated at BA (University of Rhode Island) and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He worked in the insurance industry for ten years. He planted a PCA church in Wakefield, RI where he served for eleven years. In 2015–18 he pastored Covenant Reformed Church (URCNA) in Colorado Springs. He is currently pastor of Living Hope (OPC). Tony is married to Donna and together they have three children. Meet all the Heidelberg contributors»

2 comments

  1. Oh where have all the Preachers gone!—I love the use of the indicative mood in preaching throughout the Scriptures —You could write a book about it (J. Carrick actually did – “The Imperative of Preaching”). However, my two favorite books on preaching: “Thoughts on Preaching, ” J. W. Alexander and, “R L Dabney on Preaching” and, the most underrated: “The Christian Ministry” by Charles Bridges.
    Just this morning in reading in Acts 13 I see Paul’s use of the indicative mood unfolding the truth by which salvation is purchased through Christ (Acts 13:16-37) and then reveals the glory of the believers benefits—‘remission of sins’ and ‘justification!’ (Acts 13-38-40)
    However, my question is; (I should read the book before asking the question) what is the context of the authors statement: “When the apostolic preacher directs his hearers in God’s name as to their way of life, that direction flows naturally and inevitably out of Christ’s redeeming work on their behalf.” Who is the subject here? the preacher or his hearers? And who is he describing? Believers or everyone who hears his sermon? Is the author saying the Word of God is the means of convicting the sinner of his unbelief? And is he then saying that only through the Scriptures do the hearers have a natural and certain understanding of the Christian faith?

  2. I just started reading this book. It’s wonderful. Johnson’s review of different preaching methods and reasoning are very helpful. Pointing the hearers to the Object of their faith for conviction, warning, assurance, and growth sure seems to be the goal.

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