January 2006

I would like to finish the impromptu series on preaching with a quote. I believe that others are able to answer questions better than me, so I will leave this to a professional on the topic of preaching. If any are interested in further study on the topic of preaching and what preaching looks like in the scriptures, I would recommend, Feed My Sheep edited by Don Kistler. The need is so great for preaching to be founded in the scriptures, and the need is even greater for the people who are called by the name of God to reclaim the book of the Bible and to devour it and to fall in love with it. Preaching is the means by which men and women of God are able to eat the Words of the Lord.

“Perhaps that is why [expository preaching] is so rare. Only those will undertake it who are prepared to follow the example of the Apostles and say, ” It is not right that we should give up preaching the Word of God and serve tables…We will devote ourselves to prayer and to the Ministry of the Word (Acts 6.2,4). The systematic preaching of the Word is impossible without the systematic study of it. It will not be enough to skim through a few verses in daily Bible reading, or only study a passage when we have to preach from it. No. We must daily soak ourselves in the Scriptures. We must not just study, as through a microscope, the linguistic minutiae of a few verses, but take out our telescope and scan the wide expanses of God’s Word, assimilating its grand theme of Divine sovereignty in the redemption of mankind. “It is blessed,” wrote CH Spurgeon, “to eat into the very soul of the Bible until, at last, you come to talk in Scriptural language, and your spirit is flavored with the words of the Lord, so that your blood is Bibline and the very essence of the Bible flows from you.'”

John RW Stott, The Preacher’s Portrait, pp30-31


I find it to be expedient in the light of the last post (see post below) to allow the Apostle Paul, the New Testament theologian, to give his insights on preaching and the necessity of preaching well. Paul’s view was that people would not BE SAVED without preaching (from a sent preacher)! If this is the case, and I believe that it is, then we should, as preachers and hearers of preachers, be careful to know what scripture says about preaching:

Romans 10.13-15

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?

And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

* There were a variety of questions in the last post that I will address this Sabbath evening.

There are very few preachers who preach good biblical sermons today. The Christian minister should preach sermons that are exegetical in nature and give the congregation an understanding of what the text means, its historical context, as well as ways in which to apply the sermon to living out the Christian life. This is the pattern that is found within scripture- the preachers of scripture open the law and gospel and give the hearers its meaning as well as its application.

Here are a few unbiblical ways in which preachers preach today. We discussed these in Homiletics and they are quite fun (although they should be avoided):
Hobby horse sermons:
The minister relates every sermon to their favorite secondary or tertiary doctrine. (Examples: Satan, the Millennium, the Nation of Israel, Evangelism, etc.)
Rocket sermons:
This type of sermon is begun from the text but quickly launches into space and goes off on tangents that no-one can follow.
Heart on the sleeve sermons:
The sermon is preached with such great emotion that the hearers are moved to great emotional highs or lows….but they do not know what the text was about.
Sky scraper sermons:
Patchwork quilt of entertainment and other things. They are one story piled on top of another. The text is never really developed but the stories and illustrations are piled high as the sky.
Grasshopper sermons:
A preacher takes a text and he finds a theme and then hops all through the bible making the listener try to follow in their Bibles. It is a string of texts that are connected with a few sentences. (A child with a concordance can preach like this).
Sherlock Holmes sermons:
The preacher wows everyone with the depths and the mystery of the Bible but never really tells you anything about what the text means.

I think that all preachers tend to lean in one way or another to one of these errors. As a Calvinist I have heard some of these from time to time. Although I believe in the doctrines of grace whole-heartedly (and would die defending them) I do not think that every page of the Bible is talking about unconditional election!

Hypocrisy is when one claims to hold a belief that they do not really possess. The term hypocrite was used in Old French as a play-actor; someone pretending to be something that they were not. Hypocrisy has its roots in Greek and was someone who wore a mask; someone pretending to be someone that they were not or someone that had “two faces” concerning a belief.

Many non-Christians see the hypocrites in the church and they are rightly disgusted. Hypocrites make up a number of the members of the church; but these people are not genuine professors of religion, merely frauds playing the role of the Christian. The hypocrites are what the Bible calls tares and Jesus is quite content with allowing the tares to be in the Church. These hypocrites have always been a part of genuine religion, and they will remain a part of genuine religion until the day of judgment when the wheat is separated from the tares. Jesus speaks of this in the Gospel according to Saint Matthew:

Another parable put he [Jesus] forth unto them [his disciples], saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.

What does this all mean for you and for me? How does this apply to our lives?
-If you are a genuine Christian, someone who has professed faith in Christ’s atoning sacrifice for sins and are being renewed by the power of the Holy Ghost, then you should strive to be more and more conformed to the image of Christ. We should never allow the unbeliever to blaspheme Christ and his bride on account of our carelessness in sanctification.
-If you are not a Christian, then it is my Christian duty to warn you that your fate is the same fate of those tares. Hypocrisy and unbelief will be eternal bed-fellows in the fires of hell. Hypocrite: flee to Christ for redemption. Unbeliever: flee to Christ for redemption.

“Tell me, you vain professor [of Christianity], when did you shed a tear for the deadness, hardness, unbelief, or earthliness of your heart? Do you think that such an easy religion can save you? If so, we may invert Christ’s words and say, ‘Wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to life.'” -JOHN FLAVEL

“Knowledge without repentance will be but a torch to light men to hell.”

Earlier this month I gave the English Puritan, Richard Greenham’s suggestions on how to read the Scriptures with diligence. (See: 4 Jan. 2006) I would like to give another Puritan, Thomas Boston (1676-1732) on how to profit from the reading of the scriptures. Thomas Boston was a Scottish Presbyterian and he was best known for his aid in the Marrow Controversy. Boston gives nine ways to improve on the reading of the scriptures:

1. Follow a regular plan in reading of them, that you may be acquainted with the whole; and make this reading a part of your private devotions. Not that you should confine yourselves only to a set plan, so as never to read by choice, but ordinarily this tends most to edification. Some parts of the Bible are more difficult, some may seem very barren for an ordinary reader; but if you would look on it all as God’s word, not to be scorned, and read it with faith and reverence, no doubt you would find advantage.

2. Set a special mark, however you find convenient, on those passages you read, which you find most suitable to your case, condition, or temptations; or such as you have found to move your hearts more than other passages. And it will be profitable often to review these.

3. Compare one Scripture with another, the more obscure with that which is more plain, 2 Pet. 1:20. This is an excellent means to find out the sense of the Scriptures; and to this good use serve the marginal notes on Bibles. And keep Christ in your eye, for to him the scriptures of the Old Testament look (in its genealogies, types, and sacrifices), as well as those of the New.

4. Read with a holy attention, arising from the consideration of the majesty of God, and the reverence due to him. This must be done with attention, first, to the words; second, to the sense; and, third, to the divine authority of the Scripture, and the obligation it lays on the conscience for obedience, 1 Thess. 2:13, “For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.”

5. Let your main purpose in reading the Scriptures be practice, and not bare knowledge, James 1:22, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” Read that you may learn and do, and that without any limitation or distinction, but that whatever you see God requires, you may study to practice.

6. Beg of God and look to him for his Spirit. For it is the Spirit that inspired it, that it must be savingly understood by, 1 Cor 2:11, “For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.” And therefore before you read, it is highly reasonable you beg a blessing on what you are to read.

7. Beware of a worldly, fleshly mind: for fleshly sins blind the mind from the things of God; and the worldly heart cannot favour them. In an eclipse of the moon, the earth comes between the sun and the moon, and so keeps the light of the sun from it. So the world, in the heart, coming between you and the light of the word, keeps its divine light from you.

8. Labour to be disciplined toward godliness, and to observe your spiritual circumstances. For a disciplined attitude helps mightily to understand the scriptures. Such a Christian will find his circumstances in the word, and the word will give light to his circumstances, and his circumstances light into the word.

9. Whatever you learn from the word, labour to put it into practice. For to him that has, shall be given. No wonder those people get little insight into the Bible, who make no effort to practice what they know. But while the stream runs into a holy life, the fountain will be the freer.

If feminism was defined as women having equal worth before a Triune God as well as equal worth before humanity than I can accept that as a definition. Feminism has gone well beyond its original intentions. Feminism was not intended to give women an authority over their own body that God does not even grant under his law.

In what the evangelical world calls “Sanctity of Life Sunday” may we pray that the Lord would serve justice as an estimated 40 million children have been slaughtered from the womb. (This is over 6 times the numbers of people murdered in the Holocaust.)

“When we consider that women are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit.”
-Elizabeth Cady Stanton

“The woman is awfully guilty who commits abortion…It will burden her conscience in life, it will burden her soul in death.”
-Susan B. Anthony

For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them. How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them!
-Psalm 139.13-17 (NASB)

A tour of the Westminster Assembly’s place of work is something that many Reformed Christians attempt to do in their life. The last time that a whale took this historic tour was in 1913.

Whale On the Thames

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