Preaching well known portions of Scripture

While preparing a sermon on Jude 5 i came across a great quote by Pastor Matthew Henry. This comment reflects Jude’s thought in a fresh way (Jude 1:5 “Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed those who did not believe”).

Henry writes, “Preaching is not designed to teach us something new in every sermon, somewhat that we knew nothing of before; but to put us in remembrance, to call to mind things forgotten, to affect our passions, and engage and fix our resolutions, that our lives may be answerable to our faith. Though you know these things, yet you still need to know them better. There are many things which we have known which yet we have unhappily forgotten. Is it of no use or service to be put afresh in remembrance of them?”

Jude asks his audience to dig into their memory banks to recall some important lessons. Mature Christians do this very thing all the time. Most of the people at my current church have probably heard a sermon on just about every Scripture passage in the N.T. They know what I’m going to say before i say it.

May we remember this point and apply it to our ministries: Even mature Christians (yes pastors included) need to be reminded of the truths they know so well. Forgetfulness sometimes leads to non-application. All of us have memorized a passage in Holy Scripture only to find ourselves needing to re-memorize it a few years down the road (for some of us a few weeks down the road is more like it). It’s part of our human fallibility. In some ways it keeps us dependent on the Holy Spirit and on the Holy Bible…

Jude begs his readers to apply the truth they know so well. Their knowledge is fully adequate. Thus, remember and apply these things.
Those of you, who like me, have grown up in the Church need to take this point to heart. You know the Scripture inside and out, but are you faithfully living them out? Are you applying what you know so well?

It’s similar to the inspired words found in 2 Peter 1:12-14, Therefore, I shall always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in b)the truth which is present with you. And I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder, knowing that the laying aside of my earthly dwelling is imminent, as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me.

8 responses to this post.

  1. Thanks Caleb, that was encouraging and providentially timed.


  2. In my opinion quotes like this are why it’s important to read devotional commentaries. They are not nearly as helpful in determining the meaning of the text (like ICC or NIGTC) but they do help in applying it.


  3. Caleb,
    Hi there, spencer deburgh here. thanks for the post. I’m preaching next Sunday on Joshua 4 and the stones of remembrance.
    The difference between the great success in Joshua and the miserable failure in Judges was remembering and forgetting.
    I’ve got another M. Henry quote for you from my passage:

    All memorials of this kind have their outlook towards the past and towards the future. They serve a double purpose; they keep alive precious memories and awaken buoyant hopes, they excite gratitude and strengthen faith. We do well to set up such way marks in the pilgrimage of our life. Their value lies not so much in the fact that they record the extraordinary — that which happened once and is not likely to happen again — but rather in the fact that they link the past with the future. They show us that through all change something abides.
    God is the same in His loving regard for us and His power to deliver. Every passing experience of His grace is a pledge that He will not fail us in emergencies yet to come.

  4. Wow!
    I love your blog. What an edifying post. I agree, we need constant reminders and we need to constantly reevaluate our spiritual lives as well.

  5. Spencer,

    It’s great to hear from you. I trust ministry is going well for you!?! Thanks for the additional quote and your great thoughts from Joshua/Judges.
    The principle you mention from Joshua is one of the reasons why i think churches need to be careful who they baptize (maybe better said, when they let someone be baptized). Our baptism service should be a spiritual landmarker, something we can truly look back on.

    Thanks for your comments as well!

  6. Spencer,

    I often wonder how many stone altars I should have built but did not. I hear stories of people who keep prayer journals (stones???) and reflect back over and over on God’s faithfulness. I wish I had kept that kind of heritage.

    Thanks for the reminder.

    P.S. Give Keith K a “hello” from me. He’s family.

  7. […] some reason, an old post from Paul Lamey at Expository Thoughts showed up in my RSS reader this morning. No worry, […]

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