Archive for February, 2009

Why Expositional Preaching is Particularly Glorifying to God

“George Whitefield believed in preaching and gave his life to it. By this preaching God did a mighty work of salvation on both sides of the Atlantic. His biographer, Arnold Dallimore, chronicled the astonishing effect that Whitefield’s preaching had in Britain and America in the eighteenth century. It came like rain on the parched land and made the desert spring forth with the flowers of righteousness. Dallimore lifted his eyes from the transformed wasteland of Whitefield’s time and expressed his longing that God would do this again. He cries out for a new generation of preachers like Whitefield. His words help me express what I long for in the coming generations of preachers in America and around the world. He said,

Yea…that we shall see the great Head of the Church once more . . . raise up unto Himself certain young men whom He may use in this glorious employ. And what manner of men will they be? Men mighty in the Scriptures, their lives dominated by a sense of the greatness, the majesty and holiness of God, and their minds and hearts aglow with the great truths of the doctrines of grace. They will be men who have learned what it is to die to self, to human aims and personal ambitions; men who are willing to be ‘fools for Christ’s sake’, who will bear reproach and falsehood, who will labor and suffer, and whose supreme desire will be, not to gain earth’s accolades, but to win the Master’s approbation when they appear before His awesome judgment seat. They will be men who will preach with broken hearts and tear-filled eyes, and upon whose ministries God will grant an extraordinary effusion of the Holy Spirit, and who will witness ‘signs and wonders following’ in the transformation of multitudes of human lives.1

Mighty in the Scriptures, aglow with the great truths of the doctrines of grace, dead to self, willing to labor and suffer, indifferent to the accolades of man, broken for sin, and dominated by a sense of the greatness, the majesty, and holiness of God. Dallimore, like Whitefield, believed that preaching is the heralding of God’s word from that kind of heart. Preaching is not conversation. Preaching is not discussion. Preaching is not casual talk about religious things. Preaching is not simply teaching. Preaching is the heralding of a message permeated by the sense of God’s greatness and majesty and holiness. The topic may be anything under the sun, but it is always brought into the blazing light of God’s greatness and majesty in his word. That was the way Whitefield preached.”

This is an excerpt from John Piper’s sermon at T4G 2006.  I’ve listened to this 20 minute intro at least 8 times.   I’ve received a lot of bad advice about preaching (what it is, should be, is not, etc. This sermon sheds great light on this matter).

The Glory of the Ministry

In 1911, in his book The Glory of the Ministry, A.T. Robertson quoted James Denney: “There always have been men in the world so clever that God could make no use of them.  They could never do His work; they  were so lost in admiration of their own.  God’s work never depended on them, and it doesn’t depend on them now.  The power is not the product of human genius, or cleverness, or technique, or ingenuity; the power of the gospel is in the gospel.”  (1 Cor 3:7, 2 Cor 4:5)

Preaching to Suffering People

In the book Feed My Sheep: A Passionate Plea for Preaching Pastor John Piper writes, “It is true that we must be bold in the pulpit and afraid of no man but courageous as we contend for the truth.  But it is just as true that our boldness must be a brokenhearted boldness, that our courage must be a contrite and lowly courage, and that we must be tender contenders for the truth.  If we are brash and harsh and cocky and clever, we may win a hearing with angry and pugnacious people, but we will drive away those who suffer (2 Cor 1:4).”

True Preaching

David Wells, in his new book The Courage to be Protestant:

“Preaching is not a conversation about some interesting ideas. It is not the moment in which postmoderns hear their own private message in the biblical words, one unique to each one who hears, and then go their own way. No! This is God speaking! He speaks through the stammering lips of the preacher where that preacher’s mind is on the text of Scripture and his heart is in the presence of God. God, as Luther puts it, lives in the preacher’s mouth.

This is the kind of preaching that issues a summons, which nourishes the soul, which draws the congregation into the very presence of God so that no matter what aspect of his character, his truth, his working in this world is in focus, we leave with awe, gratitude, encouragement, and sometimes a rebuke. We have been in the very presence of God! This is what great preaching always does.”

(David Wells; The Courage to be Protestant; p 230)

Biased NT reductionism: Matthew 16:21 as a test case

During my sermon preparation, I generally read through commentaries last. It is often a helpful exercise but it can also be frustrating. I never ceased to be amazed at the imaginative lengths some commentators will go to be accepted by their peers rather than useful to the church. Many commentaries are essentially commentary on the biases of the scholar rather than on the text of Scripture.

Compare the following two comments concerning Matthew 16:21 which says, “From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day.”

Donald Hagner in the WBC on Matthew notes, “That Jesus’ predictions in these passages line up with the kerygma of the church is not sufficient reason to reject the possibility of their authenticity,or at least of an authentic core. A variety of scripture passages were available to Jesus in understanding what lay ahead (e.g., Pss 22; 118:17-18, 22; Isa 53; Dan 7; 12; Wis 3).”

D. A. Carson in the EBC on Matthew asks, “Is it reasonable to think that Jesus could have predicted the details of his passion only if he read about them somewhere? This is not to question the applicability of some of the OT allusions to him; it is rather to question the historical reductionism of some Gospel research.”

The Preacher of God’s Word.

Pastor Steve J. Lawson contributed the following chapter in the helpful new book John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion Doctrine & DoxologyLawson points to 10 Distinguishing Marks of Calvin’s pulpit ministry.

1. Calvin’s preaching was biblical in substance.

2. Calvin’s preaching was sequential in its pattern.

3. Calvin’s preaching was direct in its message.

4. Calvin’s preaching was extemporaneous in its delivery.

5. Calvin’s preaching was exegetical in its approach.

6. Calvin’s preaching was accessible in its simplicity.

7. Calvin’s preaching was pastoral in its tone.

8. Calvin’s preaching was polemic in its defense of the truth.

9. Calvin’s preaching was passionate in its outreach.

10. Calvin’s preaching was doxological in its conclusion.

In the words of Calvin himself, “A rule is prescribed to all God’s servants that they bring not their own inventions, but simply deliver from hand to hand, what they have received from God.”

Seeker Leader Resigns

The big religious news story in my neck of the woods is not a really good one friends.

For a number of biblical reasons the band of brothers that make up Expository Thoughts have not been in favor of the Church Growth Movementthat Bill Hybels has led.  Nevertheless, this is a very sad news story.  The Church does not need another Ted Haggard situation but we may have one.  You can read the full Chicago Tribune article below.,0,6292991.story  Please pray for those involved in this situation. 

“The pastor of Willow Creek Chicago—the city campus of the evangelical megachurch Willow Creek Community Church—has resigned and admitted to “sexual impurity,” a church spokesman said.”

The pastor, Rev. Steve Wu, could not be reached, and the church would not specify what took place.  Wu, 43, moved from California‘s Silicon Valley in early 2006, hired by senior pastor Rev. Bill Hybels to lead Willow Creek Chicago, the downtown branch of the South Barrington-based church.  Click on the link above for full story.

1 Timothy 4:16 Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.


1 Corinthians 9:27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

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