Are Your Sermons Too Long?

Denny Burk: Here’s a bit of wisdom from the Prince of Preachers on sermon length: Brethren, weigh your sermons. Do not retail them by the yard, but deal them out by the pound. Set no store by the quantity of words which you utter, but strive to be esteemed for the quality of your matter. It is foolish to be lavish in words and niggardly in truth. – C.H. Spurgeon, Lectures to My Students, p. 71 There is no intrinsic value in an overlong sermon. Nor is there anything to boast about that a congregation has become conditioned to endure them. What constitutes a long sermon is a relative term anyway, isn’t it? In any case, a long-winded preacher is just as capable of wispy words as a short-winded one. Likewise, a short sermon is just as capable of filling a room with hot air as is a long one. Twenty minutes of gospel power would do far more for a

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Sunday’s Coming – Getting The Most Out Of Sermons

I like this from Nancy Leigh DeMoss: How to Get the Most Out of Your Pastor’s Preaching. Can’t help but think that this active (as opposed to passive, or non-preparation) preparation would yield far greater fruit in discipleship, and conversions, week by week. My thanks to Colin Adams for this. Here’s the abbreviated outline: Before the service 1. Pray for your pastor as he prepares for Sunday. 2. Take time during the week to read ahead and meditate on the text. 3. Prepare for public worship the night before. 4. Ask God to prepare your heart for the preaching of the Word. 5. Ask God to give you a sense of anticipation. During the service 1. Participate—you need to be there. 2. Spend a few minutes before the service quietly preparing your heartfor worship. 3. Don’t be a spectator. 4. Open your Bible and follow along. 5. Listen attentively to the reading and the preaching of the Word. 6. Listen humbly to the preaching of the Word. 7. Take notes. 8. Don’t

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How to listen to sermons

John Newton penned a brilliant letter on how to profit from sermons [Works, 1:224–225]. First, Newton explains how one should listen to sermons: As a hearer, you have a right to try all doctrines by the word of God; and it is your duty so to do. Faithful ministers will remind you of this: they will not wish to hold you in an implicit and blind obedience to what they say, upon their own authority, nor desire that you should follow them farther than they have the Scripture for their warrant. They would not be lords over your conscience, but helpers of your joy. Prize this Gospel liberty, which sets you free from the doctrines and commandments of men; but do not abuse it to the purposes of pride and self. Then Newton explains how not to listen to sermons: There are hearers who make themselves, and not the Scripture, the standard of their judgment. They attend not so much to be

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A Practical Guide to Listening to Sermons

From James Grant: Christopher Ash has a small booklet titled, Listen Up! A Practical Guide to Listening to Sermons. This is a great resource for all members of the church. He provides “seven ingredients for healthy sermon listening” that make up the table of contents: Expect God to speak Admit God knows better than you Check that the preacher says what the passage says Hear the sermon in church Be there week by week Do what the Bible says Do what the Bible says today—and rejoice!

The primacy of expositional preaching

Mark Dever: “Expositional—a sermon which takes the point of the text as the point of the sermon . . . an exposition of Scripture simply seeks to uncover, explain, and apply the divinely intended meaning of the text.” “. . . expositional preachers are modern day prophets, serving merely as conduits through which the Word of God may flow into the people of God in order to do the work of God in them.” “Pastoral authority is directly related to Authorial intent. The preacher only has authority from God to speak as His ambassador as long as he remains faithful to convey the Divine Author’s intentions. This means that the further the preacher strays from preaching the intention of the text, the further his divine blessing and God-given authority are eroded in the pulpit.” “Does a commitment to expositional preaching mean that I should never preach other kinds of sermons? No. Topical and biographical sermons still have value. It is

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At Minimum, Biblical Exposition Involves…

Some helpful bench marks from Colin Adams. 1. Reading or quoting from the biblical passage to be expounded. 2. Giving the basic thrust of that passage’s message. 3. Positively demonstrating the meaning of the text by supplying relevant supporting evidence to your interpretation (historical background, literary context, grammatical support, word studies, wider Scriptural cross-reference, etc) 4. Negatively clarifying what the passage does not mean; ruling out possible faulty interpretations. 5. Drawing out the lessons of the passage for believer and non-believer. 6. Relating the passage to Christ and his gospel (setting the text within the wider framework of biblical theology). (Note: non essentials to exposition include catchy introductions or conclusions, illustrations, numbered points, alliteration. No doubt some of these can be helpful on ocassion, but you could do exposition without them).

Preaching centred upon God

I love this paragraph from a post by Dave Bish: “Man-centred preaching will either become self-esteemism that tells us what we want to hear, or it’ll be sin-focussed which will unwittingly end up convincing us that our sin isn’t quite so bad as it actually is. By contrast God-centred preaching that cries ‘Behold your God’ and feeds on the grace of Christ will be reviled by sin but delighted with the gospel of Jesus. It’ll drive changed living out of clear conviction about who God is and our new life in him.”

Worship is a response to what?

“Worship begins with the response to divine revelation. But if little time or attention is given to the revealed Word of God, read, proclaimed, or taught, then to what do people respond? The result is that worship becomes superficial or sentimental. If the church is truly interested in recapturing the spirit and nature of the prophetic and apostolic ministry of the Word in worship, then there will have to be a greater emphasis placed on reading, teaching, and preaching the Word of God, but it has to be with clarity, accuracy, power, and authority” (Allen P. Ross, Recalling the Hope of Glory, 429). (HT: Expository Thoughts)

Preaching the majesty of God

. The Majesty of God in the Old Testament, a recent book by Walter C. Kaiser Jr., is designed to provide preachers and teachers with insight on appreciating and preaching the majesty and greatness of God as presented in the Scriptures. Kaiser writes: Alas, however, much of our teaching and preaching suffers from a mediocre view of God’s majesty. We are too much like those chided in Psalm 50:21, who “thought [God] was altogether like [one of them].” As presenters of the Word of God, we desire to soar to the heights of the heavenlies and to lift the sights and hopes of our listeners to the very portals of the throne room of God himself; yet, more often than not, we feel frustrated and vacuous in the final results, both in our private study of the Word of God and in our listening habits on Sunday. Therefore, we and the people we serve, starve for the awesomeness, greatness, and

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“Bad Doctrine is Tolerable” – MacArthur

  “Bad doctrine is tolerable; a long sermon most certainly is not. The timing of the benediction is of far more concern to the average churchgoer than the content of the sermon. Sunday dinner and the feeding of our mouths takes precedence over Sunday school and the nourishment of our souls. Long-windeness has become a greater sin than heresy.” – John MacArthur (HT: Reformation Nation)

11 Innovations for Your Church!

I Love this from Jared Wilson: This stuff is really innovative! It is completely “outside the box”! Implementing some of these radical approaches to church ministry and programming may be risky and controversial, but they may just revolutionize the spirit of your congregation and take your ministry to the next level. 1. Sing hymns. 2. Preach through a book of the Bible. 3. Talk about sin. 4. Celebrate the Lord’s Supper more frequently. 5. Have a Scripture reading in the service. 6. Transition creative content from aping popular commercials and other media to creating your own, wholly original content. 7. Read, study, and teach theology. 8. Put as much effort and resources into men’s ministry as you do women’s. On the flipside, pair up younger women with wise, older women in mentoring relationships with the same conviction you have about men being in accountability and mentoring partnerships. 9. Hire from within. 10. In promotional material, use actual photos of actual

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Jonathan Edwards on preaching

This is an excellent quote from Edwards’ ‘Religious Affections’, posted by Michael Jensen. “…the impressing divine things on the hearts and affections of men is evidently one great and main end for which God has ordained that His Word delivered in the holy Scriptures should be opened, applied, and set home upon men, in preaching. And therefore it does not answer the aim which God had in this institution, merely for men to have good commentaries and expositions on the Scripture, and other good books of divinity; becasue although these may tend as well as preaching to give men a good doctrinal or speculative understanding of the things of the Word of God, yet theu have not an equal tendency to impress them on men’s heats and affections. God hath appointed a particular and lively application of His Word to men in the preaching of it, as a fit means to affect sinners with the importance of the things of

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On Union with Christ!

Book Review The Inner Sanctum of Puritan Piety: John Flavel’s Doctrine of Mystical Union with Christ by J. Stephen Yuille At the very heart of Puritanism is the saints’ mystical union with Christ. We are in Christ! He is our wisdom, our righteousness, our sanctification, our redemption. From this union to Christ we experience all the blessings and delights of communion with God and find spiritual vitality for obedience, prayer, ministry and sacrificial love. This powerful union is mystical because we cannot see it with our eyes. It is a spiritually-revealed truth. Puritan John Flavel is certainly one of the most valuable (and perhaps one of the more overlooked) of the Puritans. The theme of mystical union with Christ is threaded throughout his entire ministry. A study of Flavel on this theme has become one of my favorite books of the year: The Inner Sanctum of Puritan Piety: John Flavel’s Doctrine of Mystical Union with Christ by J. Stephen Yuille

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Piper on Edwards on video!

My thanks to Tony Reinke for this. If you have not listened to John Piper on Jonathan Edwards in a message entitled A God-Entranced Vision of All Things: Why We Need Jonathan Edwards 300 Years Later you are missing one great message! And if you’ve never seen the video, that’s because it’s been unavailable. Until now. Today DG released several conference videos from the years (see here). The priceless message A God-Entranced Vision of All Things can be read, heard and watched here. Evangelicalism today in America is basking in the sunlight of ominously hollow success. Evangelical industries of television and radio and publishing and music recordings, as well as hundreds of growing megachurches and some public figures and political movements, give outward impressions of vitality and strength. But David Wells and Os Guinness and others have warned of the hollowing out of evangelicalism from within… What is missing is the mind-shaping knowledge and the all-transforming enjoyment of the weight

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Sermon on the Fall of Satan

Abraham Piper posts the outline from an excellent sermon by his father John. This is an important teaching in the light of so much theological confusion and unscriptural practice in matters of so-called ‘spiritual warfare’. You can read the whole sermon here: The Fall of Satan and the Victory of Christ. When Satan deceives Adam and Eve in Genesis 3, obviously he is already evil. So where did he come from? How could a perfect being have ever sinned? And why does God tolerate him? The biblical answer to these questions actually creates more questions. What does the Bible say about God’s power over Satan? Satan is the “ruler of this world,” but God is in ultimate control. (Daniel 4:17, Psalm 33:10) Satan does what Jesus tells him to. (Mark 1:27) The suffering that Satan causes is willed by God. (1 Peter 5:8-9, 3:17) Even though Satan is a murderer, God is still in charge of life and death. (Deuteronomy

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Be Significant…Be Still!

One of the reasons we invest our lives in some insignificant ways is that we never become still enough to let the great realities hit us. We are always on the move. Always in a hurry. Or when we do stop, we flip on the radio or the TV and let somebody else’s hurry fill our minds. Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still [or cease striving, cease hurrying, be still, be quiet] and know that I am God. I am [or: will be, it’s probably a promise] exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” What that text says is that the life-revolutionizing impact of God’s supremacy in the world and his inevitable triumph over the nations, and the coming of his glorious kingdom of righteousness and peace—the impact of this awesome reality doesn’t hit us and hold us and shape us unless we become still, and quiet before God. GOD hits home in the stillness. If you

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I Love Church!

Having just had surgery on my shoulder (Very painful. Not even been able to use my laptop for over a week!) I missed church on Sunday. The Sunday before that we were on vacation as a family. I have missed the saints! This post at ‘between two worlds’ sums up my feelings. “As many of you know, the word for “church” in the New Testament is the Greek word “Ekklesia.” It refers to those who have been called out of darkness in order to be called together by God into his presence. In other words, we have been “called out” of bondage and “called into” community so that we might worship God the Father, through God the Son, in God the Spirit together. Thirsting for God together and receiving from God together is what we were all created and designed for. This is why I look forward to Sunday mornings more than any other time of the week. When I am with God’s

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