No two people will observe the same event in the same way. So it’s no surprise that no three hundred people will hear the same sermon in the same way. When a preacher opens holy Scripture on a Sunday morning, he’s delivering a message of divine weight and eternal truth not just to bodies, but to souls. To complete people, hundreds of them, all listening in their own way. This is why a heart-wrenching sermon isn’t enough. It’s why a thought-provoking sermon isn’t enough. It’s why a motivational sermon isn’t enough. Each person in those pews has his own needs, and they don’t all need their hearts wrenched or their thoughts provoked or their wills motivated.
What each person needs, however, is to hear the whole gospel addressed to their whole person. Jesus Christ took on our human nature to redeem our human nature – the whole mess of it. As a result, his gospel has nothing less than a total claim on our being, on our emotions, our thoughts, and our wills. It was this conviction that lay behind the theme of this year’s CRTS conference: “Preaching the Whole Gospel to the Whole Person.”
Rev. Eric Watkins, pastor of Covenant OPC in St. Augustine, Florida, opened the conference with a public talk on Thursday evening. His talk was titled, “The Relevance of Redemptive-Historical Preaching in a Postmodern Context: An Optimistic Proposal.” Rev. Watkins became a believer as an adult, and only encountered redemptive-historical preaching well after his conversion. So the fact that he was speaking about such preaching to a crowd of people raised in that tradition led him to remark, “I feel like a lion in a den full of Daniels.”