Archive for January, 2006

Expositor Interviews

On a recent Al Mohler Radio Program, Dr. Mohler interviewed John MacArthur and John Piper together. You can hear the broadcast here.

“Keep me in tune with Thee”

It should go without saying that expositors should pray before they preach. However, we all know too well the painful reality of a sermon preached without the proper petitioning of the Lord. I found a helpful prayer in the Puritan classic, The Valley of Vision called “A Minister’s Preaching” which is humbling and instructive all at once as to the task of preaching. The author is unnamed.

My Master God
I am desired to preach today, but go weak and needy to my task;
Yet I long that people might be edified with divine truth, that an honest testimony might be borne for thee;
Give me assistance in preaching and prayer, with heart uplifted for grace and unction.
Present to my view things pertinent to my subject, with fullness of matter and clarity of thought, proper expressions, fluency, fervency, a feeling sense of the things I preach,
and grace to apply them to men’s consciences.

Keep me conscious all the while of my defects, and let me not gloat in pride over my performance.
Help me to offer a testimony for thyself, and to leave sinners inexcusable in neglecting thy mercy.
Give me freedom to open the sorrows of thy people, and to set before them comforting considerations.
Attend with power the truth preached, and awaken the attention of my slothful audience.
May thy people be refreshed, melted, convicted, comforted, and help me to use the strongest arguments drawn from Christ’s incarnation and sufferings, that men might be made holy.

I myself need thy support, comfort, strength, holiness, that I might be a pure channel of thy grace, and be able to do something for thee;
Give me then refreshment among thy people, and help me not to treat excellent matter in a defective way, or bear a broken testimony to so worthy a redeemer, or be harsh in treating of Christ’s death, its design and end, from lack of warmth and fervency.
And keep me in tune with thee as I do this work.

What to Preach???

One of the biggest problems many preachers face is deciding what book or topic they should preach on next. Obviously for the expository preacher this problem occurs less frequently. The expositor has no other choice but to preach through the next passage of Holy Scripture. This is the joy and the challenge of expository preaching.

But how does an expositor determine which book of the Bible they ought to preach through next? When is it time to start a brief topical series instead of another lengthy in-depth fifty part series through Nahum?

I recently came across a comment written by John Calvin that in some ways helps solve this problem. Calvin wrote, “We hence learn that a good and faithful pastor ought wisely to consider what the present state of the Church requires, so as to accommodate his doctrine to its wants.” Dr. Calvin is not advocating Rick Warren ministry (preach to the “felt needs”). He is simply saying a good pastor will discern the real spiritual needs of his sheep and respond appropriately.

Some preachers are so disconnected from their flock that they could never apply this pastoral advice. I know this is a temptation I often face. I get so into the Word that I am tempted to neglect my other pastoral responsibilities (administration, counseling, discipleship, evangelism, etc). This is the advantage of being a complete pastor-teacher/shepherd/elder. I have found the better I know my congregation (my flock) the easier it is to apply Calvin’s principle.

If your church needs help in ecclesiology why not preach through the Pastoral Epistles? If your church is struggling with joy and unity take your congregation through Philippians. If your church is apathetic in evangelism teach through the book of Acts. If your church body is ready to embrace the doctrines of grace why not begin a series on Ephesians? If your church has become self-centered begin a series on the “one-anothers.”

The more you love your sheep and the better you know their spiritual needs the more effective preaching ministry you will have. I believe that is what John Calvin was simply trying to say. “We hence learn that a good and faithful pastor ought wisely to consider what the present state of the Church requires, so as to accommodate his doctrine to its wants.”

That’s some excellent practical pastoral preaching advice from one of the church’s greatest theologians. Who says Calvinists can’t be practical?

By Caleb Kolstad

Preaching Christ in All of Scripture

Some of our readers my be interested to know that the new issue of The Master’s Seminary Journal has arrived (Volume 16, Number 2, Fall 2005). The entire issue is devoted to “The New Perspective on Paul.” As always there are also numerous book reviews on various disciplines. Of interest to expositors is Professor Keith Essex’s review of the late Edmund P. Clowney’s book Preaching Christ in All of Scripture. Clowney was a proponent of the “redemptive-historical” school of preaching. I’m sure this will be the subject of a future post for one of us here as we are all concerned with how we understand the relationship of Christ to all of Scripture while safe-guarding the authorial intent of the text. Another way of looking at this is to ask how we preach Christ from passages that seemingly have no connection in the way of near context. How does this take place without exaggerating typology or “tacking Christ on” to the end of every sermon in a forced manner? On second thought, this might become a future series for our contributors. Thoughts anyone?

Preaching the Sermon on the Mount

I have been preaching through the Gospel of Matthew and have finally come to the “Sermon on the Mount” (chaps. 5-7). The sermon poses a number of hermeneutical obstacles for the expositor. How do you understand 5:17? How do you understand the nature of the kingdom as it relates to the present and future? Is the sermon for the church today? How should we understand Jesus’ use of the OT and is His usage normative for today? Not to mention the difficult ethical statements that pepper the sermon throughout. I will try to give a brief overview of the various views of the Sermon on the Mount in a future post and conclude with my own thoughts. In the meantime, I would like to hear any insights some of you may have into some of these issues.

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