The Greatest Preachers

“Throughout the history of the church the greatest preachers have been those who have recognized that they have no authority in themselves, and have seen their task as being to explain the words of Scripture and apply them clearly to the lives of their hearers. Their preaching has drawn its power not from the proclamation of their own Christian experiences or the experiences of others, nor from their own opinions, creative ideas, or rhetorical skills, but from God’s powerful words. Essentially, they stood in the pulpit, pointed to the biblical text, and said in effect to the congregation, “This is what this verse means. Do you see that meaning here as well? Then you must believe it and obey it with all your heart, for God himself, your Creator and you Lord, is saying this to you today!” Only the written words of Scripture can give this kind of authority to preaching.” -Wayne Grudem, Bible Doctrine, p. 40. (HT: Justin

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Can a Christian Deny the Virgin Birth?

Dr. Mohler takes on this question. His answer? “The answer to that question must be a decisive No. Those who deny the virgin birth reject the authority of Scripture, deny the supernatural birth of the Saviour, undermine the very foundations of the Gospel, and have no way of explaining the deity of Christ.” Read the whole thing here. (HT: Tim Challies)

The Danger of Practical Preaching!

From Daryl Dash. Amen! One of the best little articles I’ve ever read on preaching is found in The Art and Craft of Biblical Preaching. The title of the article is “The Danger of Practical Preaching: Why People Need More than the Bottom Line.” The author, Lee Eclov, writes: The Bible spends much more time on shaping the spiritual mind than commanding particular behavior. We need far more training in the ways of grace, of spiritual perceptions, and of what God is really like than we do on how to communicate with our spouse. Understanding the glory of Christ is far more practical than our listeners imagine. Properly preached, every sermon based on a passage of Scripture is fundamentally practical. Every author of Scripture wrote to effect change in God’s people. It is our job as preachers to find the persuasive logic of that author and put that clearly and persuasively before our people through biblical exposition.

Phillip Jensen on the Word of God and Preaching

. Some helpful bits and pieces from Phillip Jensen on the word of God and preaching: The gospel proclamation falls into the category of true or false, not opinion and interpretation. Our preaching of it is faithful and accurate or faithless and inaccurate. Effectiveness is not the only criterion of judgment–false prophets can be effective. Truthfulness is more important than effectiveness. —————————– Unlike reading a fellow human’s writings, we are reading the writings of our Creator, Ruler, Judge, and God. The right framework for Bible reading is obedience. The right posture for Bible reading is on one’s knees. The right context for Bible reading is amongst the family of those who live according to its message. —————————— The preacher must learn to trust the interpretive power of the Bible. We do not need to be clever or scholarly but faithful to what the Bible is saying. God can be trusted to make himself clear to the hearers. His Word will

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Top 10 Ways to Write Bad Worship Songs

You  don’t have to be a song writer or worship leader to benefit from this: Bob Kauflin: 1. Aim to write the next worldwide worship hit. 2. Spend all your time working on the music, not the words. 3. Spend all your time working on the words, not the music. 4. Don’t consider the range and capabilities of the average human voice. 5. Never let anyone alter the way God originally gave your song to you. 6. Make sure the majority of your songs talk about what we do and feel rather than who God is and what he’s done. 7. Try to use as many Scriptural phrases as you can, and don’t worry about how they fit together. 8. Cover as many themes as possible. 9. Use phrases and words that are included in 95% of all worship songs. 10. Forget about Jesus and what he accomplished at the cross. Read the whole thing for explanations behind each of

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Five Truths about God

From The Thirsty Theologian: J. I. Packer lists “five basic truths, five foundational principles” that will form the foundation of his study of God. 1. God has spoken to man, and the Bible is his Word, given to us to make us wise unto salvation. 2. God is Lord and King over this world; he rules all things for his own glory, displaying his perfections in all that he does, in order that men and angels may worship and adore him. 3. God is Saviour, active in sovereign love through the Lord Jesus Christ to rescue believers from the guilt and power of sin, to adopt them as his children and to bless them accordingly. 4. God is triune; there are within the Godhead three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; and the work of salvation is one in which all three act together, the Father purposing redemption, the Son securing it and the Spirit applying it. 5. Godliness

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Resolutions for [good/godly] mental health

From James Grant: I remember reading John Piper’s book The Pleasures of God and the list of 10 resolutions from Clyde Kilby on how to benefit your soul and mental health. Justin Buzzard posted them this week, and it was a helpful reminder. John Piper writes about Kilby, “He pled with us to stop seeking mental health in the mirror of self-analysis, but instead to drink in the remedies of God in nature.” Here are the resolutions: 1. At least once every day I shall look steadily up at the sky and remember that I, a consciousness with a conscience, am on a planet traveling in space with wonderfully mysterious things above and about me. 2. Instead of the accustomed idea of a mindless and endless evolutionary change to which we can neither add nor subtract, I shall suppose the universe guided by an Intelligence which, as Aristotle said of Greek drama, requires a beginning, a middle, and an end.

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Defeating Doubt

“Simply put: defeat doubt by immersing your mind in the Word of God. This is the ordained means by which the Spirit will indelibly imprint on your heart the joyful and undeniable assurance that what God has said, God will do. Paul said much the same thing when he prayed that the Romans might ‘abound in hope’ Romans 15:13b). But abundant hope or full assurance only comes ‘in believing’ (Romans 15:13a) or in connection with and as a result of our faith in what God has made known. Sin-killing, Satan-silencing confidence doesn’t fall from heaven like manna, nor do we serendipitously bump into it as we skip blissfully and ignorantly down the yellow brick road to a heavenly Oz. The Spirit imparts hope and confidence and assurance by means of and only in connection with our growth in the knowledge and understanding of God in his Word.” (Sam Storms, The Hope of Glory,  p.151) (HT: Erik Raymond)

Five Trends in the Church Today – D A Carson

From Acts 29, via Justin Taylor: If you ever want to feel like you have the intelligence of a NASCAR fan that just finished off a six-pack (I think it’s a Red Neck law), then listen to D.A. Carson talk about, well, anything. Don is fluent in something like 7 languages and has written over 45 books. He is the esteemed Professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School near Chicago. For instance, Carson said in his talk to us, “To be a non-perspectivalist is to be omniscient.” Nobody in the room was smart enough to argue with him over that. Don spoke at a luncheon at Bethlehem Baptist Church (John Piper) on Friday September 26, 2008 just before the Desiring God Conference. I attended this lunch with about 40 other church leaders. Don spoke for an hour about five trends in the American church that are troubling to him. Five Trends in the Church Today By D A

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Sinclair Ferguson on Union with Christ

I love this post from James Grant: My friend Justin Taylor did an excellent job with the recent panel discussion at the DG conference. One question in particular stands out for me. Justin asked Sinclair Ferguson this question: “Sinclair, can you say something about the importance of the doctrine of union with Christ? Any resources you recommend on this subject?” It would be worth your time to hear Ferguson’s whole answer, but here is the part that I typed out to share with everyone: “[You begin to] understand that from the moment you become a Christian you are someone who has died to sin and been raised to newness of life. You are somebody over whose life the dominion of the power of sin has been broken. You begin to learn to interpret your life in terms of what God says about you because you are united to Christ instead of interpreting the gospel in terms of where you are

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The Answer to Practical Problems Must Involve Robust Doctrine

Justin Taylor posts this great quote from Donald Macleod’s The Humiliated and Exalted Lord, cited by Ligon Duncan: Theology exists in order to be applied to the day-to-day problems of the Christian church. Every doctrine has its application. All scripture is profitable and all the doctrine is profitable. Similarly all the application must be based on doctrine. In both the Philippians example-passage and the Corinthian example-passage, Paul is dealing with what are surely comparative trivia, the problem of vain glory in a Christian congregation and the problem of failure of Christian liberality. As a Pastor one meets with these difficulties daily. They are standing problems. Yet Paul, as he wrestles with both of them, has recourse to the most massive theology. It’s not only that you have the emphasis on the unity between theology and practice but you have the emphasis on the applicability of the profoundest theology to the most mundane and most common-place problems. Who would ever imagine

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“God is plotting for your joy”

The Lesson of the Book of Ruth – John Piper Here’s what I would suggest as the main lesson: the life of the godly is not a straight line to glory, but they do get there. The life of the godly is not an Interstate through Nebraska, but a state road through the Blue Ridge Mountains of Tennessee. There are rock slides and precipices and dark mists and bears and slippery curves and hairpin turns that make you go backwards in order to go forwards. But all along this hazardous, twisted road that doesn’t let you see very far ahead there are frequent signs that say, “The best is yet to come.” And at the bottom right corner written with an unmistakable hand are the words, “As I live, says the Lord!” The book of Ruth is one of those signs for you to read. It was written and it has been preached to give you some midsummer encouragement and

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Spurgeon on the Gospel

From Adrian Warnock: “The gospel is a reasonable system, and it appeals to men’s understanding; it is a matter for thought and consideration, and it appeals to the conscience and the reflecting powers. Hence, if we do not teach men something, we may shout, “Believe! Believe! Believe!” but what are they to believe? Each exhortation requires a corresponding instruction, or it will mean nothing. “Escape!” From what? This requires for its answer the doctrine of the punishment of sin. “Fly!” But whither? Then must you preach Christ, and His wounds; yea, and the clear doctrine of atonement by sacrifice. “Repent!” Of what? Here you must answer such questions as, What is sin? What is the evil of sin? What are the consequences of sin ? “Be converted!” But what is it to be converted? By what power can we be converted? What from? What to? The field of instruction is wide if men are to be made to know the

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DG Conference: The Power of Words and the Wonder of God

If, like me, you can’t make it to the Desiring God National Conference this year, the next best thing (apart from listening to all the messages after the event!) is to feast on these video clips of this years speakers. There is plenty here to stimulate and edify. And make you wish you could be there! My thanks to Justin Taylor for posting these links. John Piper John Piper’s Topic John Piper on Why He Invited Sinclair Ferguson John Piper on Why He Invited Dan Taylor John Piper on Why He Invited Mark Driscoll John Piper on Why He Invited Paul Tripp John Piper on Why He Invited Bob Kauflin John Piper on the Importance of Conferences John Piper on Why He Chose This Topic Bob Kauflin Bob Kauflin: Should Christians Sing the Good News? Bob Kauflin on Singing and Preaching Bob Kauflin on Style of Music Bob Kauflin on Why Christians Sing Bob Kauflin: Does God Sing? Bob Kauflin

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Piper on Open Theism

“How does this worldview help us conceal the idolatry of our soul? It works like this. Open Theism denies that God is the final, purposive disposer of all things (Job 2:10; Amos 3:6; Rom. 8:28; Eph. 1:11). Therefore it asserts that God’s wisdom does not hold final sway (Rom. 11:33-36), and thus God is not fulfilling a plan for our good in all our miseries (Jeremiah 29:11; 32:40). Open Theism implies, therefore, that we should not think about the wisdom of God’s purpose in causing or permitting our calamities. In other words, Open Theism discourages us from asking what sanctifying purpose God may have in ordaining that our misery come about.” -John Piper (HT: Reformed Voices)

“fossilized” theology?

My thanks to Martin Downes for these excellent quotes: A. A. Hodge once said to a Yale teacher who was making fun of the “fossilized” theology of Princeton: “The trouble with you Yale theological professors is that you only teach your students to think…In Princeton we let God do the thinking and teach the students to believe.” From David Calhoun’s wonderful book Princeton Seminary Volume 2: The Majestic Testimony, 1869-1929, p. 408-9