You Must Know Grace To Preach It

You must know grace to preach it. No matter how great your skill or accolades, you are unlikely to lead others closer to God if your heart does not reflect the continuing work of the Savior in your life. A testimony that reinforces the message of the gospel is not merely a matter of public conduct. It is a product of consistent private meditation on the gospel that character daily requires. Grace-focused ministers recognize the daily repentance that private prayers must include, confess to others the divine aid that grants them the strength of their resolutions, obey God in loving thankfulness for the forgiveness and future Christ supplies, model the humility appropriate for a fellow sinner, express the courage and authority of one confident of the Savior’s provision, exude the joy of salvation by faith alone, reflect the love that claims their souls, and perform their service without any claim of personal merit. Preaching without a grace focus concentrates on means

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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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A Great Summary of Gospel Ministry

From David Wayne: There is so much right with this quote in so many ways . . . We declare what has been accomplished, not what we would like to be accomplished. It’s on a live blog of the Desiring God National Conference for a talk by Doug Wilson.  Gospel ministry is all about what Christ has accomplished, yet it seems to me that most of what passes for life and ministry in the church is focused on what we would like to be accomplished, hence we miss Christ. Of course I suppose you could argue that it is permissible, even necessary to discuss what could/should be accomplished based on what has been accomplished.  But it would help if we discussed this in reference to what Christ would like to accomplish, and then make sure we limit ourselves in this regard to what is revealed in the Word, to keep our own imaginations out of it. And of course there is

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What Kind of Man Is He?

Jerram Barrs, The Heart of Evangelism, p. 76: I regularly tell our seminary students that if I happen to visit the church in which one of them serves, I will not ask first, “Is this man a good preacher?” Rather, first of all I will ask the secretaries, office staff, janitors, and cleaners what it is like to work for this pastor. I will ask, “What kind of man is he? Is he a servant? Is he demanding and harsh, or his he patient, kind, and forbearing as a man in authority?” One of our graduates may preach great sermons, but if he is a pain to work for, then you know he will cause major problems in any congregation. Leaders in the church are required by Scripture to set an example in the areas of love, kindness, gentleness, patience, and forbearance before they are appointed to preach, teach, and rule. If we obediently require these attitudes and character traits of

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Chuck Swindoll: 10 Leadership Lessons Learned in 50 Years of Leadership

Chuck Swindoll, accepting a Lifetime Achievement Award at Catalyst 09, offered the following lessons he has learned: It’s lonely to lead. Leadership involves tough decisions. The tougher the decision, the lonelier it is. It’s dangerous to succeed. I’m most concerned for those who aren’t even 30 and are very gifted and successful. Sometimes God uses someone right out of youth, but usually he uses leaders who have been crushed. It’s hardest at home. No one ever told me this in Seminary. It’s essential to be real. If there’s one realm where phoniness is common, it’s among leaders. Stay real. It’s painful to obey. The Lord will direct you to do some things that won’t be your choice. Invariably you will give up what you want to do for the cross. Brokenness and failure are necessary. Attitude is more important than actions. Your family may not have told you: some of you are hard to be around. A bad attitude overshadows good

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CHRISTIANITY: All About Christ

“To behold Christ and to make others behold him is the substance of his [Paul’s] ministry. All the distinctive elements of Paul’s preaching relate to Christ, and bear upon their face his image and superscription. …The entire Christian life, root and stem and branch and blossom, is one continuous fellowship with Christ.” Gerhardus Vos (HT: Matthew Morizio)

The Focus of Puritan Preaching

“Puritan preaching revolved around ‘Christ, and him crucified’ – for this is the hub of the Bible. The preachers’ commission is to declare the whole counsel of God; but the cross is the center of that counsel, and the Puritans knew that the traveler through the Bible landscape misses the way as soon as he loses sight of the hill called Calvary.” – J.I. Packer (HT: Erik Kowalker)

The Loving Meaning of the Leftovers

I love this from John Piper: After Jesus had fed both the 5,000 and the 4,000 with only a few loaves and fish, the disciples got in a boat without enough bread for themselves. When they began to discuss their plight, Jesus said, “Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand?” (Mark 8:17). What didn’t they understand? They did not understand the meaning of the leftovers, namely, that Jesus will take care of them when they take care of others. Jesus said: “When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” They said to him, “Twelve.” “And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” And they said to him, “Seven.” And he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?” Understand what? The leftovers. The leftovers were for

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Ministry Idolatry

My thanks to Justin Childers for this challenging piece: Driscoll’s second message at the Advance ’09 conference a few weeks ago was the best message on idolatry I’ve ever heard. I would highly encourage you to listen to the audio or watch the video from that message. It is time for the church to begin identifying and repenting of the good things we’ve used to replace God. Here are the 11 types of idolatry Driscoll ended the message with, along with a penetrating question to help us identify these subtle idolatries (keep in mind he is talking to church leaders): . 1. Attendance idolatry: Does your joy change when attendance at church goes up or down? 2. Gift idolatry: Do you feel as if God needs you because you are so skilled? 3. Truth idolatry: Do you consider yourself more godly than more simple Christians? 4. Fruit idolatry: Do you point to your success as proof that God loves you? 5. Tradition idolatry: What traditions are

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Zeal and Resolve

The righteous are bold as a lion. Proverbs 28:1 “Two things urgently needed in ministers, if they would attempt great advances for the kingdom of Christ, are zeal and resolve. Their influence and power for impact are greater than we think. A man of ordinary abilities will accomplish more with zeal and resolve than a man ten times more gifted without zeal and resolve. . . . Men who are possessed by these qualities commonly carry the day in almost all affairs. Most of the great things that have been done in the world, the great revolutions that have been accomplished in the kingdoms and empires of the earth, have been primarily owing to zeal and resolve. The very appearance of a intensely engaged spirit, together with a fearless courage and unyielding resolve, in any person that has undertaken leadership in any human affair goes a long way toward accomplishing the intended outcome. . . . When people see a

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Biblical Preaching is Spiritual in Its Essence

This is one of the most vital truths about biblical preaching. Let me explain what I mean: the task of true preaching is not essentially intellectual or psychological or rhetorical; it is essentially spiritual. Left to ourselves, we may do many things with a congregation. We may move them emotionally. We may attract them to ourselves personally, producing great loyalty. We may persuade them intellectually. We may educate them in a broad spectrum of Christian truth. But the one thing we can never do, left to ourselves, is to regenerate them spiritually and change them into the image of Jesus Christ, to bear his moral glory in their character. While that is the great calling of the church of Christ, it is essentially God’s work and not ours. So it is possible to be homiletically brilliant, verbally fluent, theologically profound, biblically accurate and orthodox, and spiritually useless. That frightens me. I hope it frightens you, too. I think it is

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The Main Thing to Rejoice About in Ministry

By Bill Walsh at Desiring God: Praise God for the times of effective ministry that he allows us to experience. If you’re like me you get excited when you see the fruitfulness of any ministry that God calls you to do. It is a thrill to see him at work, putting to use the gifts and callings that he has granted to us for the cause of the Kingdom. But in Luke 10 Christ challenges us to test our own hearts, by examining what we rejoice in most. The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven…. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven. (Luke 10: 17-20) We easily slip into over-emphasizing results rather than rejoicing most in our redemption. According to the Lord,

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The kind of men God used

From Ray Ortlund: Horatius Bonar, writing the preface to John Gillies’ Accounts of Revival, proposes that men useful to the Holy Spirit for revival have been marked in these nine ways: 1. They were in earnest about the great work on which they had entered: “They lived and labored and preached like men on whose lips the immortality of thousands hung.” 2. They were bent on success: “As warriors, they set their hearts on victory and fought with the believing anticipation of triumph, under the guidance of such a Captain as their head.” 3. They were men of faith: “They knew that in due season they should reap, if they fainted not.” 4. They were men of labor: “Their lives are the annals of incessant, unwearied toil of body and soul; time, strength, substance, health, all they were and possessed they freely offered to the Lord, keeping back nothing, grudging nothing.” 5. They were men of patience: “Day after day

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Concentrate on Depth!

John MacArthur celebrated 40 years as pastor of Grace Community Church this weekend. In the book, Stand: A Call for the Endurance of the Saints, MacArthur shares the secret of his success in conversation with Justin Taylor: Early in my first year or so at Grace Community Church, I had this little kind of motto that I used: “If you concentrate on the depth of your ministry, God will take care of the breadth of it.” My ministry hasn’t changed since that first year in that small, little church. For me, it’s all about getting into the depth of Scripture and my own personal walk with the Lord. Breadth is something that God does. . . . (HT: Between Two Worlds)

“Dyed with Jesus’ Blood”

From Michael Haykin. On what constitutes a call to the ministry: “Now we need numbers in the Ministry. The plenteous, perishing harvest wails out a despairing cry for more laborers. But we need purity more than numbers; we need intelligence more than numbers; we need zeal more than numbers. Above all, we need consecrated men, men who have stood beneath the Cross, till their very souls are dyed with Jesus’ blood, and a love like his for perishing millions has been kindled within them.” [Basil Manly, Jr. A Call to the Ministry (Greenville, South Carolina: G.E. Elford’s Job Press, 1866), 16].

Suffering for Christ

by C.J. Mahaney What constitutes suffering for the name of Christ? Often we recall the most severe examples of suffering—Stephen crying out to the Lord as enraged Jewish leaders hurled rocks at his body; Paul and Silas with feet shackled to a Philippian prison, still feeling the pain of their earlier beating; Jim Elliot and his four missionary friends rushed by armed Huaorani Indians. These are all graphic examples of Christians enduring great sacrifices for the advance of the gospel. Scripture teaches (even promises) that all Christians will suffer, but these graphic examples are not the norm for faithful Christians in the West today. So what does suffering for the name of Christ look like in twenty-first century America? During one panel discussion at the Together for the Gospel conference, Ligon Duncan and I interviewed our friend John Piper on this issue. —— Ligon Duncan: John, you have done a pretty extended exposition on kinds of suffering, available on the

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“…that I might be a flame for you”

Justin Childers posts some of his favourite Jim Elliot quotes: “God, I pray Thee, light these idle sticks of my life and may I burn for Thee. Consume my life, my God, for it is Thine. I seek not a long life, but a full one, like you, Lord Jesus.” “Father, let me be weak that I might loose my clutch on everything temporal. My life, my reputation, my possessions, Lord, let me loose the tension of the grasping hand.” “I covenanted with the Father that He would do either of two things: either glorify Himself to the utmost in me or slay me. By His grace I shall not have His second best.” “O Christ, let me know Thee–let me catch glimpses of Thyself, seated and expectant in glory, let me rest there despite all wrong surging round me. Lead me in the right path, I pray.” “Father, take my life, yea, my blood if Thou wilt, and consume

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Evangelism is the fruit of Devotion

“In vain do we seek to awaken our churches to zeal in evangelism as a separate thing. To be genuine it must flow from love to Christ. It is when a sense of personal communion with the Son of God is highest that we shall be most fit for missionary work, either ourselves or to stir up others.” .-Archibald Alexander (HT: Reformed Voices)