In the most recent issue of Themelios, D.A. Carson has written a stimulating article on appealing to heart motives in our preaching. Although his focus is on heart motives in unbelievers, he helpfully stresses that these same motivations are present in believers as well. Here is an outline to whet your appetite:
A Survey of Possible Heart Motivations
- The Burden of Guilt
- The Need for “Future Grace”
- The Attractiveness of Truth
- A General, Despairing Sense of Need
- Responding to Grace and Love
- A Rather Vague Desire to be on the Right Side of What is Right, of What is from God, of What is Biblical, of What is Clean, or What Endures
He then offers Four Theological and Pastoral Reflections on This Survey
- We do not have the right to choose only one of these motivations in people and to appeal to it restrictively.
- On the other hand, we may have the right to emphasize one motivation more than others.
- Nevertheless, the comprehensiveness of our appeal to diverse motivations will reflect the comprehensiveness of our grasp of the gospel.
- To put this another way, all of the biblically sanctioned motivations for pursuing God, for pursuing Christ, say complementary things about God himself, such that failure to cover the sweep of motivations ultimately results in diminishing God.
As usual, Carson helps us to think through the high calling of preaching the riches of the gospel to the poverty of sinfulness. I highly encourage you to read this short but valuable article.