"a bad preaching of the judgment to come depersonalizes the matter. . . . The Scriptures know nothing of a hell in which God is absent from unbelievers but only of a hell that is hell precisely because God is present forever in his wrath. He does not merely let the wheels of justice do their thing, while he wrings his hands in disappointment and frustration, but exercises vengeance, with the zeal of a righteous judge who will right every wrong and clease his world from sin, suffering, evil, and pain. . . .
"It is essential that we see Jesus Christ as the divine resuer who saves us from divine wrath! That is why the good news is so good. It is not that God is inherently unloving or full of wrath but that he is inherently just and full of righteousness. Furthermore, it is God who 'so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life' (John 3:16). God is not the world's enemy who must be placated by Jesus. Rather, 'God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ' (2 Cor. 5:19). The offended One and the propitiator are both God. Before the world was ever created, God had already planned a rescue for those whom he had chosen and given to Christ as a people. A biblical preaching of the law, then, will relate the coming wrath to God himself, as difficult as that is for us in any age but especially in ours." - Michael Horton, A Better Way: Rediscovering the Drama of Christ-Centered Worship (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2002), 75.
So Horton argues that the key to relevant preaching today is not to minimize law and judgment. When we suppress those or refuse to talk about God's righteous wrath against sinners then we lose sight of the gospel (lit. "good news"). The good news is only as good as the bad news is bad. When the transgression is against the infinite holiness of an infinite God then only the perfect sacrifice provided by that infinite God can satisfy divine justice. Check out Horton's book to see more of what he says about relevant worship and preaching in the 21st century.
Here are a few book deals that are out there right now:
- Until Saturday, WTS Books is offering When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor . . . and Yourself by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert for just $4.89. I have not read this but it has gotten some stellar reviews recently and it's hard to beat the price.
- Reformation Heritage Books is offering a special deal on Wilhelmus a Brakel's The Christian's Reasonable Service through August. A Brakel's work is a uniquely practical theology as his pastoral focus really comes through in his writing. I highly recommend it and here's how you can get $10 off.
- Finally, Greg Bahnsen's lost manuscript that has been found and published is now available from WTS Books as Presuppositional Apologetics: Stated and Defended. My copy ought to be waiting for me when I get home tonight and I have no doubt that this will be a fantastic treatment of Reformed apologetics.