Preaching Christ or preaching about Christ?

Outstanding from Ray Ortlund: There is a difference between preaching Christ and preaching about Christ.  Preaching Christ is presenting him so clearly and directly that the people experience the sermon this way: “It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified” (Galatians 3:1).  Preaching about Christ is presenting ideas related to him.  It’s a good thing to do.  But preaching Christ is more profound, more daring and more helpful. In Intellectuals, page 31, Paul Johnson wrote of the poet Shelley, “He burned with a fierce love but it was an abstract flame and the poor mortals who came near it were often scorched.  He put ideas before people and his life is a testament to how heartless ideas can be.”  It is not enough for us preachers to burn with a fierce love.  We must burn with a fierce love for Christ the crucified Friend of sinners and for the sinners right there before us who need that Friend. 

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What is good preaching?

From Adrian Reynolds. . Good preaching is: . Biblical – the Bible, God’s word, sets the agenda, rather than the speaker. Anything else is little better than an interesting talk. “Arsenal goalkeepers 1950-1978” is atalk, you might be interested or not. A sermon is expounding the Bible. Ultimately God talks. It’s always interesting (even if it’s not engaging) because he is talking. Intellectual – I don’t mean high brow or complex; the preacher must not confuse profundity and complexity. But it must be thought through. This means it must be based on studying God’s word to rightly understand its meaning. Spiritual – unlike my Arsenal goalkeepers talk a sermon is a sermon because it is spiritual. How else could God be speaking unless something miraculous is going on? This is the theme of our EMA next week. “We ought to be driven forth with abhorrence from the society of honest men for daring to speak in the name of the Lord if

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God’s Great Grace

I’m preaching through Romans midweek, and Ephesians on Sundays for my friends at King’s Church, Southend. I like this from Justin Taylor: One of the beautiful things about the book of Ephesians is the way in which Paul celebrates God’s grace, power, might, wisdom, love, and glory. Follow the adjectives and superlatives to see an example of worshipful pastoral theology in action. We are saved “to the praise of God’s glorious grace” (Eph. 1:6) Our redemption and forgiveness through the cross is “according to theriches of his grace, which he lavished upon us” (Eph. 1:6-7). We are called to know “the riches of [God’s] glorious inheritance in the saints” and “the immeasurable greatness of his power . . . and his greatmight” (Eph. 1:18-19). Because God is “rich in mercy” and because of his “great love” toward us, we were saved” (Eph. 2:4). In the coming ages God will show us “the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:7). Paul

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Preaching with a redemptive focus

Christ-centered preaching is not merely evangelistic, nor is it confined to a few gospel accounts. It perceives the whole of Scripture as revelatory of God’s redemptive plan and sees every passage within this context—a pattern Jesus himself introduced (Luke 24:27) . . . Without a redemptive focus, we may believe we have exegeted Scripture when in fact we have simply translated its parts and parsed its pieces without reference to the role they have in God’s eternal plan. John Calvin said, “God has ordained his Word as the instrument by which Jesus Christ, with all His graces, is dispensed to us.” No such process occurs when passages of the Word are ripped from their redemptive context and are seen as mere moral examples and behavioral guidelines. ~ Bryan Chapell in Christ-centered Preaching: Redeeming the Expository Sermon, pg. 40 (HT: Jimmy Davis)

The Cross and Christian Ministry

I totally agree with Justin Childers: Carson’s The Cross and Christian Ministry is must reading for all Christian leaders. This book is basically an exposition of the first 4 chapters of 1 Corinthians. Carson shows how the Cross of Jesus Christ must be the content and method of our preaching and ministry. The Cross stands as the test and standard of all vital Christian ministry. In every generation, the gospel is in danger of being dismissed from the central place it must enjoy. Carson calls us back to the centrality of Christ and Him crucified. One of the many things I have found helpful about this book is in the way it presses home some of the foundational characteristics of a Cross-centered leader. Here are a few examples: A Cross-centered leader focuses on the content rather than the form of preaching. A Cross-centered leader ties every subject to the Cross. A Cross-centered leader follows the crucified Messiah in to suffering. A Cross-centered leader

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Honest questions? Wait to hear honest answers!

From Thabiti Anyabwile: Once you ask that question, you should really be quiet and listen to the answers of people who think they know.  Otherwise, the question is insincere or you’re in danger of passing off ignorance as a plausible answer.  Reading a few things and listening to a few conversations of late, I’m struck by how often in various ways this question is posed, then followed by a rejection of answers given.  It’s as though some people think agnosticism about the text provides the meaning of the text, or makes the meaning unknowable.  Whatever happened to asking an honest question then carefully considering the answers offered?

Teaching through Romans

Tonight I begin teaching through the book of Romans at our church. I have recently started reading R.C. Sproul’s new exegetical commentary on Romans and can recommend it as a helpful verse by verse guide. It’s not technical or verbose so is a great introduction to the great book of the gospel. I particularly appreciate how Sproul integrates aspects of church history – especially the Reformation – into his exposition. Here’s a nice video clip of RC introducing his book: . (HT: Justin Taylor)

Words Of Encouragement From God

Oswald Chambers (1874-1917) went through a growth spurt in his faith as he sat under the preaching of J.T. Briscoe in his late teens/early twenties. I love how Chambers’ biographer, David McCasland, describes Briscoe’s preaching: When the Rev. Briscoe rose to preach, his warmth melted every barrier of position and distance between him and the congregation. It was “Pa” Briscoe speaking fervent, unforgettable words of encouragement from God.” When we preach and when we open up the Bible together in one-on-one meetings, let’s speak “fervent, unforgettable words of encouragement from God.” (HT: Justin Buzzard)

We need preachers like this

“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

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Preaching vs. Worship?

I love this from Jeff Purswell. My only caveat is I’m sure there will be many readers out there whose experience of preaching week by week is woefully inadequate, and does not qualify as biblical exposition. Still, the principles outlined here by Jeff remain true. Let’s pray for preachers! I am no musician. I play no part in a choir or a musical team. I do love words, and as a sidebar to my job I get to participate in editing worship song lyrics. But there you reach the limits of my musical gifting. Even so, my friend Bob Kauflin recently invited me to speak at the WorshipGod09 conference and to address an audience populated by faithful servants engaged in leading worship, singing, and serving musically in diverse ways. These are gifted people and we benefit from their example, leadership, and service each Sunday in our local churches. But as much as I appreciate what they do, I told them the following: What

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Dual Citizens: Worship and Life Between the Already and the Not Yet

Just ordered my copy! . New covenant believers live between “the already” and “not yet,” a point in redemptive history between the partial and complete fulfillment of God’s promises. This means they are exiles and pilgrims in the divinely ordained overlap of the ages. As Rev. Jason J. Stellman argues in his book Dual Citizens: Worship and Life Between the Already and the Not Yet, this biblical motif shapes the identity of Christians at every turn and affects their every activity in both the sacred and secular realms. Stellman explores the Christian pilgrimage with deep biblical insight, humor, and relevance to our contemporary context, revealing how Christians are to think of themselves and their role this side of heaven. Retail $18.00 | Ligonier’s Price $14.40 Hardcover 6.25 x 9.25 | 193 Pages ISBN 1-56769-119-6 | Released August 2009 Order for $14.40 Table of Contents and Sample Chapter High-Res Image: Front Cover | Back Cover (HT: Ligonier Ministries)

The Best Single Chapter on Preaching

From Justin Chiders: One of the best books on preaching is Christ-Centered Preachingby Bryan Chapell. However, the best single chapter on preaching is a chapter in Chapell’s new book on worship: Christ-Centered Worship. Preachers, get this book for chapter 20 (it is worth the price of the book). Here is a taste: “Most preachers approach the text with only one question in mind: What does this text instruct me to tell my people to do? But if we only tell people what to do without leading them to understand their dependence on the Savior to obey, then they will either be led to despair (I cannot do this) or false pride (If I work hard enough, I can do this). No one can serve God apart from Christ. A message full of imperatives (e.g., Be like…a commendable Bible character; Be good…by adopting these moral behaviors; Be disciplined…by diligence in these practices) but devoid of grace is antithetical to the gospel. These “be

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Why You Need to Start Talking to Yourself More

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Spiritual Depression, pp. 20-21: Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take those thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated them but they are talking to you, they bring back the problems of yesterday, etc. Somebody is talking. Who is talking to you? Your self is talking to you. Now this man’s treatment [in Psalm 42] was this: instead of allowing this self to talk to him, he starts talking to himself. “Why art thou cast down, O my soul?” he asks. His soul had been depressing him, crushing him. So he stands up and says, “Self, listen for moment, I will speak to you.” (HT: Justin Taylor)

John 7:37-38

“If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” John 7:37-38 “The fulfillment of . . . the promise could be testified by thousands of living Christians in the present day. They would say, if their evidence could be collected, that when they came to Christ by faith they found in him more than they expected. They have tasted peace and hope and comfort since they first believed, which, with all their doubts and fears, they would not exchange for anything in this world. They have found grace according to their need and strength according to their days. In themselves and their own hearts they have often been disappointed, but they have never been disappointed in Christ.” J. C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels: John 1:1 through John 10:9, page 472. (HT: Ray Ortlund)