But Pastor, what about the indicative?

Posted: June 10, 2010 by adamrodriguez in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

My goal is to explain the difference between the indicative and imperative and explain why we need to bring back the indicative in our churches.

Much like English, New Testament Greek has at least two different moods for verbs: the indicative and imperative. The indicative mood states a matter of fact (“The cat is on the mat”). The imperative mood commands you to do something (“Put the cat on the mat”). In many of Paul’s epistles, the first half (or so) of the letters are indicatives (“You were dead in trespasses and sin”) and the second half are imperatives (“Walk as children of light”). What do you hear more of in the churches you attend?

There is nothing wrong with preaching and teaching imperatives. There is a reason why they are in Scripture. Undeniably Christians NEED to be told what to do and how to live their lives. However, just at important, Christians NEED to know the indicatives. These magnificent indicatives are the wind in the sails of the imperatives, that is, the Christian life. How can Christian living exist without the Christian indicatives (declarations of fact)? There is a reason why Paul spends so much time in the first half of his letters discussing the triumphant indicatives. They are essential for Christian living. What new believers (and mature believers) need most (usually) is not to be told what to do; rather, they need learn who they were, and who they presently are in Christ Jesus. They need to know what has been accomplished on the cross, through Jesus Christ, on their behalf.

Sadly, imperative (Christian life) preaching alone, many times, turns into moralism. That is, doing good for the sake of the good. This kind of teaching can also breed legalism; a congregation more concerned about rules and regulations rather than the Gospel. Not to mention, this kind of teaching only condemns and convicts us. It shows us how imperfect and jacked up we are. I’m fine with this; however, sadly enough this is where the sermon ends. This is where the indicative should come in; telling us that our debt has been paid, we are sons of the King, and we have a future hope to look forward to.

Remember, I am not saying that the imperative is bad. I am saying that the imperatives are incomplete without the indicative. We need to reclaim these triumphant biblical and theological indicatives. The Gospel begins with indicatives and ends with indicatives. Without the indicatives, our souls may starve to death.

Do you go to a church where the primary focus of teaching is the imperative? Do you go to a church where they preach a lot from the book of James, or Romans 12-15, Colossians 3-4, Ephesians 4-6, and neglect to preach the book of Galatians, Romans 1-11, Colossians 1-2, or Ephesians 1-3?

What do you guys think of this?


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