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Archive | Preaching

Bungling My Way Through Romans

As a young seminarian I was told: “You would be crazy to try and preach through the book of Romans without twenty years of pastoral experience.” I trust there is probably wisdom in that. I don’t think it’s mere coincidence that many of those men I regard as great preachers have not preached through Romans without such requisite experience. So, I admit, it may have been a bit of youthful indiscretion combined with hastiness that drove me to the pulpit to preach Romans as the first series of my first pastorate. But, as my two and a half year endeavor comes to an end in the next couple of weeks, I wouldn’t change it if I could.

Romans is an intimidating letter. In it Paul plunges us to the depths of human depravity and then ascends to gospel heights where it’s hard to breath. I have sensed that every step of the way. Indeed, and I don’t mean this as a false show of humility, I’ve been acutely aware that my ignorance far outweighs my understanding, my weaknesses are far more than my strengths, and whatever zeal I have is often no match for my dullness. But even in my bungling […]

Evangelistic Preaching

In conversations I have had recently with both seasoned ministers and young men preparing for pastoral ministry, the subject of what constitutes evangelistic preaching has been discussed. As we wonder why we do not see more conversions in Reformed churches, generally speaking, certainly one simple reason is that we do not preach for them. Are there not times where a preacher should preach not only an edifying gospel-centered sermon, delivered faithfully in his weekly Lord’s Day preaching, but an evangelizing one, whether in the church for special seasons and services or outside the church along the highways and the hedges (Luke 14:23)? If so, what would such a sermon look and sound like?

Below are thirteen characteristics, briefly explained, which help distinguish an evangelistic sermon from what we might call an edification sermon. These qualities should not be understood as mutually exclusive, but rather as weighted tendencies or features.

An evangelistic sermon is aimed primarily at unbelievers; an edification sermon is aimed primarily at Christians. An obvious quality perhaps, yet this question is worth asking. When is the last time you preached or heard such a sermon? We may rightly scoff at the excesses of the widespread Arminian, revivalistic preaching of our day. Certainly I […]

The Call of God

Several young men have approached me as of late who are wrestling with the call of God on their lives regarding ministry. They have asked questions, common to many who begin considering pastoral calling, such as:

“How do I know whether this is the Lord calling me or just my own ambition?”

“Should I not feel more confidence rather than doubts about my gifts?”

“What if I go through preparing for ministry then realize I am not called?”

As I interacted with them personally about these questions and others, memories were stirred of my own struggles many years ago with this same matter. A graduate student in mathematics at Purdue University in the 1980’s, I had not gone to West Lafayette to become a pastor. Yet my growing desire to share God’s truths with others, enhanced by my friendship with Pastor Dave Long, could not be shaken. In one of the many times discussing this with Dave, he handed me a study on the call of God. I recently dug this study out of my files and gave copies to these young men.

I thought I would share this study in case it may be of help to others. I […]

3GT Episode 13: Hey, Johnny! Don’t Preach Like That!

That’s right!  Another episode already!

The men spend most of their time talking about the don’ts of preaching.  While the topic may seem to only be of interest to preachers, Austin stirs the pot a bit, offering a perspective from the side of the pew.

The other segment explores the black hole of time.  If you’re wondering what the black hole of time is, well, tune in and see!

To Listen or Not To Listen: Audio Sermons

We live in a day of instant access. Digital media has made most things available to us with a single click. This, of course, has brought untold benefits. We have more opportunities and resources at the tips of our fingers than any other generation in the history of humanity. But it also comes with its cost. I suspect one area where this is true is the modern phenomena of audio sermons.

Now, to be fair, the mass production and distribution of sermons isn’t new. For instance, when Joseph Passmore and James Alabaster began printing and distributing Charles Spurgeon’s sermons in The Penny Pulpit they could hardly keep up with the worldwide demand—though, I should note Spurgeon’s own hesitancy in this endeavor. But the instant access has become even more instant and we have available to us—literally, millions of sermons from tens of thousands of preachers. This has many of its own benefits. I, for one, am grateful for every contact the people in my church can have throughout the week with the Word of God. I’m also glad for the chance they have to benefit from particularly gifted preachers in a way that perhaps they cannot benefit from me. As Richard […]

Though Dead He Still Speaks–C.H.S

Hanging on my wall just to the left of my desk is a small framed sheet of paper. The fragile paper is the palette upon which in faded purple ink are scribbled the almost unintelligible handwritten notes of a sermon entitled, “The Joyous Return.” Everything about it bears the marks of age. And rightly so! For the sermon was preached on March 1, 1891 at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London by the Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon. The name and influence of Spurgeon has attained near ubiquity among contemporary preachers and students of preaching—and that’s to say nothing of the impact he has had on thousands who have read his sermons. It’s probably not advisable to try and quantify who is or is not the greatest preacher, but I don’t think it’s overly ambitious to agree with the consensus of many that he remains the Prince of Preachers.

It was a little over ten years ago that I was first introduced to Charles Spurgeon. At a very pivotal and difficult time in my life my brother recommended that I try reading some of his sermons. I quickly began to devour them as I read under the conviction of sin, the joy of […]

A Word in Season

Many Christians believe that God still gives words of knowledge and prophecies just as he did in the days of the apostles. They are excited to think that God would speak directly to their circumstances. Compared to the immediacy of such revelations, the weekly consecutive exposition of God’s word can seem something of a straitjacket.
But how many times have you found in your daily Bible reading that the passage assigned for the day is exactly the word from the Lord that you need? How often has the next passage to be preached by your pastor spoken right into your situation in a way that could only be because of the supernatural ordering of things by the Holy Spirit. Is this not an even more miraculous evidence of the Lord’s power than a prophecy – that the Lord can arrange a series of sermons or readings months in advance so that exactly the right passage comes before exactly the right person at exactly the right moment?
We’ve seen this many times in our congregation, but most recently just last Lord’s Day. A week ago a three-year old boy in our congregation was diagnosed with acute lymphatic leukaemia. What was the passage ordained […]

Browse Worthy: Heaven and Hell

In April of 2008, the congregation where I served as pastor in Indiana had Pastor Edward “Ted” Donnelly of the Trinity Reformed Presbyterian Church of Belfast preach five times for outreach services. He addressed the topics of heaven and hell.

Though you can read his book on this subject, there is such power in hearing them preached.  Though the videos below are not the best quality, the messages certainly are. Why not encourage someone you care about to listen?

Qualities of Urgency in Preaching Seen in Peter’s Pentecost Sermon

Martyn Lloyd-Jones once stated to preachers, “You are not simply imparting information, you are dealing with souls, you are dealing with pilgrims on the way to eternity, you are dealing with matters not only of life and death in this world, but eternal destiny. Nothing can be so terribly urgent.”

With that quote in mind, what does urgent preaching look like? With over half of its content sermonic, the Biblical record contained in the Acts of the Apostles would support the thesis that true preaching is urgent preaching.  Using Peter’s message at Pentecost as a paradigm, we can see urgent preaching would appear to possess at least these seven qualities.

1) A yearning to glorify God for his salvation (Acts 2:17, 22, 36). Peter makes it clear throughout his message that salvation is the work of God from beginning to end.

2) An aim in the message to touch hearts as well as minds (Acts 2:14, 22-23, 29, 36-37). When those gathered at Pentecost heard this message, they were “cut to the heart,” which is clearly Peter’s aim.

3) An eschatological sense that the gospel is the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. Eleven of the twenty-three verses of Peter’s sermon are Old Testament quotations, which add […]

Augustine on Using Another Preacher’s Material

In the Digital Age, with so many other men’s work available at SermonAudio, blogs, ministry websites, etc., every preacher wrestles with using another man’s material. Augustine, in his fourth book on On Christian Doctrine, has some wisdom to offer us regarding this matter.

In his frankly titled Chapter 29, “It is permissible for a preacher to deliver to the people what has been written by a more eloquent man than himself,” we find the following words of wisdom.  I have broken this chapter up into sections and added above them my own summary statements of the principles.

1) If your conscience will not allow you to use another man’s work, then do not do it.

If, however, he cannot do even this, let his life be such as shall not only secure a reward for himself, but afford an example to others; and let his manner of living be an eloquent sermon in itself.

2) If you do not know how to compose a text for a sermon, but have found someone who has done it well, then use it.  Just be sure to give credit to the one you quote so as not to plagiarize.

There are, indeed, some men who have a good delivery, but cannot compose […]