Monday, December 31, 2007

Fallen Condition Focus

This is a paper that I wrote for PESM.

The main purpose in God’s existence is to glorify Himself through the redemption of all creation. Said redemption is needed because mankind exists in a fallen state, incapable of overcoming the curse that sin has wrought without divine intervention. The Scriptures, then, reveal the response of God by his incarnation, showing him to be faithful and loving towards those he made in his own image. According to Bryan Chapell in his book, Christ-Centered Preaching, “all Scripture has a Fallen Condition Focus…so that it can expose God’s redemptive purposes” (Chapell 14).
Chapell takes his theory of the FCF and applies it to preaching. He proposes that the message of a sermon and the Holy Spirit’s purpose in the inspiration of a text can be one and the same through the determination of the FCF (Chapell 50). So, finding the FCF becomes the first, and most important, step in sermon preparation. The preacher must find what FCF “required the writing” (Chapell 51) of a particular passage. The FCF is found by first understanding what the text says and, then, what spiritual concerns it addresses that are common to both the original context and today’s listeners. If he is able to specifically discern the FCF, the preacher will be able to develop a message that is relevant for his modern listeners while remaining true to the original intent of the Scripture.
In Deuteronomy 6:4-9, we find this Scripture,
“Hear O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord
your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all
your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be
upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them
when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you
lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands
and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames
of your houses and on your gates” (NIV).
I believe this passage is written in response to the FCF that asks, “How can I follow the Lord in a way that leads my children to also follow Him?’ This question of passing on the faith to the rising generation is applicable to both the original context of the Scripture and to today’s families. God honoring parents deeply desire for their children to experience the love of God to the same saving measure that they do personally, yet sometimes struggle to know how to do so.
From this FCF several applications directly flow. The first would be for a parent to love God with all their being, exemplifying the kind of passionate relationship with God that they would like to teach. Secondly, the parents should talk about the Scriptures as much as possible. A parent that talks about the Scripture will be more likely to pass on a positive relationship with God to their children. Finally, families should create visual reminders of the Scripture in the places that they live as a way of creating homes soaked in the Words of God.
The story of the woman at the well appears in John chapter 4. Towards the end of the story, the woman goes to her own people and tells them all about meeting Jesus and many of the townspeople place their belief in Him. In verse 40-42, the texts reads,
“So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with
them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more
became believers. They said to the woman, ‘We no longer believe
just because of what you have said; now we have heard for ourselves
and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world” (NIV).
This passage addresses the FCF of how people need to avoid following God with a second hand faith. Both for those who lived in this story and for modern followers of Jesus, it is absolutely necessary to grow in one’s faith to the point where Christ is known personally and not just through another person’s experience.
This FCF applies itself first by showing the way to experience Christ first hand is to push past the stories and find the source of the joy that is being expressed. Then the person must spend extended time with Jesus, allowing the words of Christ to work their way into the soul. Finally, the Word must be received personally and the joy of a saving faith will be experienced.
In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians we read,
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does no envy, it does not boast, it is
not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered,
it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but
rejoices with the truth. I always protects, always trusts, always hopes,
always perseveres” (13:4-7).
Today’s world has much in common with the city of Corinth because of a perversion of what true and real love looks like. The FCF of this passage tells people with a stained experience of love that perfect love really does exist and this is what it looks like.
The primary application of this FCF is to respond to the perfect love of God by receiving the hope of his loving salvation, purchased on the cross and available to all. Secondly, for those who are Christians, or perhaps have positive experiences of love, this FCF applies itself with a challenge to become Christlike by reflecting God’s perfect love to others and helping them to see the love of God in their lives.


John said...

My (admittedly fallen) thinking was that God's purpose in existence is something that explains itself, without creation. "I am that I am."

If God's purpose in existence begins in redemption of creation, than...I don't know where we go from there.

God's purpose in being, is "to be." Does that make sense?

James said...

good stuff...i think that even our thinking about God needing to have a purpose is kinda funny. I've never thought about it, but why does God need a purpose for being?

Awesome. And I now hate my opening sentence. It should read "The purpose of God's relationship with man is to glorify Himself, mainly through His redemptive giving of life to mankind."

John said...

"i think that even our thinking about God needing to have a purpose is kinda funny. I've never thought about it, but why does God need a purpose for being?"

total agreement. sorry for making you hate your first line-- i like the rest of the paper!