At Trinity, we like to call ourselves Christ-centered. Since this is a label often thrown around, it is necessary to define what we mean. Essentially, we are acknowledging that the primary story of the Bible is about salvation. It’s about how God saves a people unto himself. And how did God accomplish that? He accomplished that salvation chiefly through the work of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. And so from cover to cover, we find that the Bible is a story about the Christ being used by God to bring about this salvation. In the Old Testament, this is told in advance through many promises, and through many things that foreshadowed and/or typified (i.e. patterned or modeled) Christ’s work in advance. This was especially the work of the prophets in the Old Testament to proclaim in advance this coming salvation. In the New Testament, we see Christ fulfill this promised work, through his life, death, resurrection, and ascension. The apostles then in the New Testament bore witness to this completed work of Christ. Now, we still focus on Christ, as we’ve been given the promise of Christ’s future return as he brings the New Heavens and the New Earth. And at the present time, the Spirit of Christ is at work inside us to remind us of Christ’s teachings, and fulfilling Christ’s promise that he will be with us always, even until the end of the age (John 16:14, Matthew 28:20). We live now out of our union with Christ, being conformed by grace more and more into the image of Christ (Rom 6:1-14, 8:29)
And so to say that we are Christ-centered describes how we approach the Holy Scriptures and the teaching ministry of the church. The Apostle Paul could summarize his own teaching ministry as one that preached Christ (1 Cor 1:23, 2 Cor 4:5, Col 1:28), and that is what we endeavor to do at Trinity as well. This, of course, does not mean that we discount the whole “counsel of God” (Acts 20:27) to only preach a narrow message about Christ and the gospel. Rather, it’s to say that the whole counsel of God’s Word has as its focus the redeeming work of Jesus Christ. It’s to acknowledge that this is the driving story in the Bible. That the Bible is about the history of redemption among God’s people. That is a history that centers around Jesus Christ.
This also does not mean that being Christ-centered means we are not God-centered, nor Trinitarian. In fact, our church name reflects that we are. Christ himself sought to bring glory to God the Father (i.e. John 12:28, 21:19, etc); that is our desire as well. But, to be Christ-centered is to recognize that we know God and behold God’s glory through Jesus Christ (John 1:14, 14:7). And it is to acknowledge the central character he is in the Bible’s story of redemption. It is that story we are proclaiming as we teach the whole counsel of God, so that means our proclamation will especially center around him and his work.
A related theological discipline is the field of study known as Biblical Theology. That’s a label used differently in certain contexts, but I’m referring to that which was pioneered by Geerhardus Vos at Old Princeton Seminary. His book Biblical Theology, though very technical, expounds a view of reading Scripture that is redemptive-historical and Christ-centered. Herman Ridderbos’s book Coming of the Kingdom demonstrates this approach with the synoptic gospels and Christ’s teaching on the kingdom. These are examples of some of the theological influences that are behind this Christ-centered teaching ministry at Trinity.
There are many reasons why such a Christ-centered approach is important. One, as already stated, is that it’s what we find both in the content of Scripture, and the example of preachers in Scripture. Two, this helps us to make use of the Old Testament books in a way that is chiefly Christian, and not just in some merely exemplaristic fashion (preaching that just reduces the Bible into character studies). Third, it helps to safeguard against moralism, by seeing the application of the text through the lens of our union with Christ and in the context of God’s grace working in our salvation. These reasons, and others, show the benefit of Christ-centered preaching and teaching.