Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Proclamation Without Demonstration is Empty; Demonstration Without Proclamation is Blind

At Redeemer we just keep preaching through the Christological texts of Paul. We're not finding texts to fit holidays or holy days. So, e.g., for Christmas and Easter, we just preach on the text that is in queue. I really like doing it this way. It gives a freshness, and unexpectedness, which is like the character of the Holy Spirit.

Yes, this Sunday is Mother's Day. I have a special gift for all the moms who are there. And God has special gifts for us all. One way I expect this to happen is that God will make his preached word living and active.

The text is Romans 8:12-17, which reads:

12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.

14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
As usual, these words are so rich, so deep. Part of my focus will be: Actively use the Spirit to put to death the misdeeds of the body. So, it will be another "Go free from sinful addictions" Sunday at Redeemer. My expectation is that the clear proclamation of God's Word is accompanied by the demonstration of God's power in relation to that Word. That is what it means for God's Word to be "living and active." God's preached Word is causally efficacious.
Now I'm thinking of it this way. The philosopher Kant wrote: "Concepts without percepts are empty; percepts without concepts are blind." Kant's famous categories of the understanding need perceptual experience to operate on or be applied to. And, there is no such thing as an uninterpreted perceptual experience. In a similar way: Proclamation without demonstration is empty (it's just a theory at that point); demonstration without proclamation is blind (in the sense of being unguided or, perhaps, ungrounded and potentially heretical).
This Sunday: I shall proclaim and, by the Spirit, God shall demonstrate. It's never some dry, boring thing that happens when we live with this kind of expectation.