The gospel produces a unique blend of humility and boldness/joy in the convert. If you preach just a demanding God, the listener will have “low self-esteem”; if you preach just an all-loving God, the listener will have higher self-esteem. But the gospel produces something beyond both of those. The gospel says: I am so lost Jesus had to die to save me. But I am so loved that Jesus was glad to die to save me. That changes the very basis of my identity- -it transforms me from the root. ” Tim Keller

Its all in the blend,” said my barista buddy. If you want a great latte its about how the barista puts the steamed milk with the espresso shots, when he or she puts them together, how he or she steams their milk, and where they let them meet. According to Tim Keller preaching the gospel is a lot like creating the perfect latte, if you add a little too much of one thing you’re bound to produce another thing that you’re hoping not to. If you emphasize the demands of God in sanctification you’ll have people encouraged toward ‘low self-esteem’, but if all you focus on is the love of God not connecting it to a transforming lifestyle in them you’ll encourage a false sense of ‘high self-esteem’.

What do we do with all this, how can we preach a balanced gospel message that’s not full of fluffy milk but isn’t too bitter either?

My friends, welcome to the art and agony of homiletics…

I personally have always appreciated preaching that emphasizes what the passage of scripture is emphasizing, that doesn’t use the text like a ‘proofing-index’ for theology or moral exhortation but really takes you into the living drama of the original audience as they were impacted by God’s word. Spurgeon used to close all of his sermons by tying it all up in the cross, I have to say that this is an immensely helpful way to remain gospel centered in our preaching.

And why is it so important to be gospel centered? “That changes the very basis of my identity – it transforms me from the root.” Simply put a great latte can change the tone of your whole day, and the real gospel…well…it changes everything!