One is unlikely to assert that we are justified by our sanctification, but whether done intentionally or not, that is what happens when we allow the teaching of Christian living, ethical imperatives, and exhortations to holiness to be separated from the clear statement of the gospel.

We can preach our hearts out on texts about what we ought to be, what makes a mature church, or what the Holy Spirit wants to do in our lives. But if we do not constantly in every sermon show the link between the Spirit’s work in us and Christ’s work for us, then we will distort the message and send people away with a theology of salvation by works.

Preaching from the epistles demands of the preacher that the message of the document be taken as a whole, even if only a selection of texts or just one verse is expounded. Every sermon should be understandable on its own as a proclamation of Christ. It is no good to say that we dealt with the justification element three weeks ago and now we are following Paul into the imperatives and injunctions for Christian living. Paul wasn’t anticipating a three week gap between his exposition of the gospel and his defining of the implications of the gospel in our lives. Nor was he anticipating that some people would not be present for the reading of the whole epistle and would hear part of its message out of context.

– Graeme Goldsworthy

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