Archive for July, 2007

Spurgeon VS Hyper-Calvinism

If you’re a Reformed Christian i would highly recommend that you read this short work by Iain. H Murray. It is very easy to fall into unbiblical extremes and Charles Spurgeon was well aware of this during his preaching ministry. 

I love this quote by Murray, “The final conclusion has to be that when Calvinism ceases to be evangelistic, when it becomes more concerned with theory than with the salvation of men and women, when acceptance of doctrine seems to become more important than acceptance of Christ, then it is a system going to seed and it will invariably lose its attractive power.”

As Biblical Calvinists may we learn from those who’ve gone before us.  Sell a shirt and read this short book this weekend, “Spurgeon V. Hyper-Calvinism: The Battle for Gospel Preaching.”

Sunday Prayers

Adapted from Richard Baxter’s Puritan Non-Conformist liturgy of 1660:

Eternal, Almighty, and most gracious God: heaven is your throne, and earth is your footstool; holy and reverend is your name; you are praised by the angels of heaven, and in the gathering of your church on earth. Despite our unworthiness, you have invited us through our Mediator, Jesus Christ, to present ourselves and our prayers to you. Receive us graciously. Help us by your Spirit. Let us stand in awe of you. Put your law into our hearts, and write it on our minds. Let your word come to us in power, and help us receive it in love, with attentive, reverent, and teachable minds. Through your word, allow us to taste the flavor of eternal life. Make us fervent in prayer and joyful in praise. Help us serve you this day without distraction, that we may find that a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere, and that it is good for us to come near to God; through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Amen.

Is personal application necessary: part three

In his book Truth Applied (pg. 54), Jay Adams offers a few questions which help aid the expositor in thinking through application:

1) What is the telos [end, or purpose] of the preaching portion? Is
that also the telos of your sermon?

2) In what sort of situation does the telos occur? What was going on? To what is it addressed?

3) In the passage, who is doing what about the situation

a) to understand it?

b) to change it?

c) to complicate it?

4) How does God view the situation? Is He

a) Pleased with it?

b) Displeased with it?

5) What response does He require?


Is personal application necessary: part two

Our contributor “emeritus” Jerry Wragg has weighed in with the following helpful comment:

“Preaching for life change is the duty of all shepherds charged with
feeding the flock. However, just how true life change occurs cannot be
reduced to making general (or even specific) suggestions as to how one
might “practice” the principles of the sermon. What’s the missing piece? I believe the problem arises from not understanding the dynamics of thoroughly preaching the “inner-man” implications of a text before we suggest practical life changes. By implications, I mean every way in which the scriptures confront and expose wrong thinking, errant convictions, unholy motivations, and idolatrous affections. It is not enough to explain the meaning of the ancient text in its context, outline some principles, and then offer circumstantial “ways to apply” the principles. The Bible is
clear that life transformation occurs when the mind is renewed!

Preaching should first renovate the hearers reasoning, confront their humanistic worldview, cement new theological convictions, bring sinful
motivations under the captivity of Christ, and smash all idols of the heart. As I’ve said before, by the time a sermon has traversed these crucial matters of the heart (implications)–first for the original hearers and then for today–practical life changes will become much clearer as the Spirit “applies” the surgical word, renewing the heart and mind.

What about application? Should preachers include practical ways of changing one’s life? Application should involve two kinds of material: (1) The preachers own life changes which have resulted from new convictions, fresh theological depth, and corrected thinking; (2) Exhortations for practical change that naturally and universally rise from the implications of the text. Congregations should be cautioned, however, that such exhortations are limited, and that mere behavioral changes without mind renewal will lead to superficiality, weakness, and hypocrisy. They should be encouraged to walk by faith, think deeply about the implications by meditating on sound biblical truth (a lost practice), and never become dependent upon someone else’s practical applications. Where the universal practice of a principle is obvious, change your life…but the Spirit may desire other specific changes in your personal life that others cannot see and wouldn’t themselves be helped by applying to their lives.”

Happy 4th of July

From C. S. Lewis:

“I am a democrat [believer in democracy] because I believe in the Fall of Man. I think most people are democrats for the opposite reason. A great deal of democratic enthusiasm descends from the ideas of people like Rousseau, who believed in democracy because they thought mankind so wise and good that every one deserved a share in the government. The danger of defending democracy on those grounds is that they’re not true. . . . I find that they’re not true without looking further than myself. I don’t deserve a share in governing a hen-roost. Much less a nation. . . .The real reason for democracy is just the reverse. Mankind is so fallen that no man can be trusted with unchecked power over his fellows. Aristotle said that some people were only fit to be slaves. I do not contradict him. But I reject slavery because I see no men fit to be masters.” (“Equality,” in C. S. Lewis: Essay Collection and Other Short Pieces, ed. by Lesley Walmsley [London: HarperCollins Publishers, 2000,] p. 666).

Cited from JT

“What the Reformation did was to return most clearly and consistently to the origins, to the final reality, God; but equally to the reality of Man – not only Man’s personal needs (such as salvation), but also Man’s social needs.

What we have had for four hundred years, produced from this clarity, is unique in contrast to the situation that has existed in the world in forms of government. Some of you have been taught that the Greek city states had our concepts in government. It simply is not true. All one has to do is read Plato’s Republic to have this come across with tremendous force.

When the men of our State Department, especially after World War II, went all over the world trying to implant our form-freedom balance in government downward on cultures whose philosophy and religion would never have produced it, it has, in almost every case, ended in some form of totalitarianism or authoritarianism.”

– Francis Schaeffer, A Christian Manifesto (Crossway: 1982/2005) pages 27-29.

Is personal application necessary?

Is personal application necessary in expository preaching? Short answer: yes. However, there are many who say no.

If you haven’t already noticed there is a sort of rebirth happening in regards to the “Biblical-theological” school of preaching which stands in the line of Geerhardus Vos. Those who are quick to jump on this bandwagon should be careful to note that many of its chief proponents (Vos included) view application as “moralistic.”

However, by saying application is necessary should not mean that it must be contrived, forced or “moralistic.” Some of the most effective forms of application are more organic and permeate the message throughout. Accomplishing this takes diligence and careful thought. One way to immediately apply a message is to remove generic application pronouns like “we” and “some people.” There are times where these make sense but a personal “you” can be more to the point. Ryle, using the example of George Whitefield, makes this point:

“For another thing, Whitefield was a singularly bold and direct preacher. He never used that indefinite expression “we,” which seems so peculiar to English pulpit oratory, and which only leaves a hearer’s mind in a state of misty confusion. He met men face to face, like one who had a message from God to them, “I have come here to speak to you about your soul.” The result was that many of his hearers used often to think that his sermons were specially meant for themselves. He was not content, as many, with sticking on a meager tail-piece of application at the end of a long discourse. On the contrary, a constant vein of application ran through all his sermons. “This is for you, and this is for you.” His hearers were never let alone.”

Sunday Prayers

From the liturgy of John Chrysostom, 4th century:

Shine within our hearts, loving Master, the pure light of Your divine knowledge, and open the eyes of our minds that we may comprehend the message of your Gospel. Instill in us, also, reverence for Your blessed commandments, so that having conquered sinful desires, we may pursue a spiritual life, thinking and doing all those things that are pleasing to You. For You, Christ our God, are the light of our souls and bodies, and to You we give glory together with Your Father who is without beginning and Your all holy, good, and life giving Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

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