Through the years there is kind of a running discussion about how to preach and when you preach, what you should say and how you should say it. And I’m outside the box of kind of most contemporary discussions about preaching and I often have to sort of defend myself.
The criticism is this, MacArthur is biblical, he’s just not relevant. MacArthur is biblical, he’s just not practical. MacArthur is good on interpretation, he’s weak on application. And I think that people have said this and by virtue of the way they view what I do, they think they’re right, and I understand that. I don’t have a quarrel with that.
But I want you to understand, if you don’t already understand, what I think should happen in effective biblical preaching. You heard a testimony tonight in the waters of Baptism from Juan about how he kept coming to Grace Church. And in spite of the fact that he wanted to be a hypocrite, the power of the Scripture began to overwhelm him.
Now let me tell you what happens when you preach effectively. You do explanation. In other words, you explain the meaning of Scripture, okay? The explanation carries with it implication. In other words, there are implications built into this truth that impact us. You add to that exhortation. And I’ve said things tonight to exhort you to follow what is implied by the text. Now when you deal with the text and the armor of God, like tonight, all I can do is explain it. That’s all it does. There aren’t any applications in that text. It doesn’t say, “And here’s how to do this if you’re 32 years old, and you live in North Hollywood.” “Here’s how to do this the next time you go to a Mall.” “Here’s how to do this when you go in your car and you’re driving in a traffic jam.” It doesn’t tell you that. And if I made my message mostly a whole lot of those little illustrations, I would be missing 90 percent of you who don’t live in that experience.
It’s not for me to do that. Application belongs to the Spirit of God. All I’m interested in is explanation and its implications. And the power comes in the implication and the Spirit of God takes the implications of what I’ve said tonight, all these things I’ve said, I don’t need to say all kinds of little scenarios to you and paint all kinds of little individual circumstances. All I need you to know is this is what the Word of God says and the implications are powerfully brought to bear with authority on your life and I exhort you to respond to those implications, it is the Spirit’s work to drive those implications into direct and personal application. That’s why you’re not going to, like so many preachers, you’re not going to hear me create all kinds of practical scenarios about how this all fleshes out in everybody’s world because you may hit somebody, you may hit a person here or there, that’s kind of a rifle-shot approach, the shot-gun approach that sprays everybody is the implicational essence of Scripture. That’s the power. And that’s when everybody walks out and says, “Wow, that hit me!” because you already have a commitment to the authority and the power of Scripture.
You already have a commitment to the truthfulness of Scripture. All I want you to understand is what it means. And in the meaning expanded beyond the given text to other texts so that you build all the theological implications, I leave you with the implications and an exhortation to be obedient and I leave the application to the Spirit.
Now I’m not trying to defend myself, but I was at a Pastors’ Conference in the Midwest a few weeks ago and they were asking me, “Why don’t you ever give any application?” And I had to explain myself that that’s not my job. I think what I’m saying is the most practical thing. You know, there’s a lot of application without interpretation or implication…just application. That’s not what we do when we do expository preaching. The power is in the truth from the text, blended with other texts so that the full implications of this text break in upon your mind and you understand and you feel the weight of that of those implications against your own life and the Spirit of God drives that into the particular zones where you need to make application, okay?
So now you know. You’ve been experiencing this. You had no idea what you were experiencing, right? (Applause) Okay.
Available online at: http://www.gty.org/Resources/Sermons/GTY117
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Monthly Archives: September 2009
Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
What a gracious attainment! There is no boasting in this declaration; Paul only spoke what was literally the truth.
The ESV Study Bible adds this
This does not mean God will bless whatever a person does; it must be read within the context of the letter, with its emphasis on obedience to God and service to God and others.
Thomas Watson wrote, The Christian’s strength( “The One Thing Necessary”)
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13
Always labor in the strength of Christ. Never go to work alone. Samson’s strength lay in his hair. The Christian’s strength lies in Christ.
When you are . . .
to do any duty,
to resist any temptation,
to subdue any lust,
set upon it in the strength of Christ!
Some go out against sin, in the strength of their resolutions and vows—and they are soon foiled. Do as Samson did—he first cried to God for help and then having taken hold of the pillars, he pulled down the house upon the Philistines! Likewise, only when we engage Christ in the work, can we bring down the house upon the head of our lusts!
Prayer beats the weapon out of the devil’s hand—and gets the blessing out of God’s hand!
source: PreceptaustinRomans 11:36
Grace and Peace to youin Him who saves -Lenny
I decided to take a break from the James study and share a few reflections I have been thinking about in the past week. I am currently going back to school for a music education degree and I am daily inundated with music. From practicing the piano many hours a day, singing in the college choir, attending concerts, to just walking the halls of the music building, I am in contact with music. I have always enjoyed music, whether playing it or listening to it. But more and more I have been thinking how music can be used to bring glory to God. I know that as Christians, everything we do should be for the glory of God, so how does music factor into that equation. Aside from the obvious of playing music in a church service or some sort of worship setting, how can music bring glory to God? That is what I have been thinking about. How can what I do here and now, in the practice room bring honor to my Creator? And the answer is simple, do it for Him and Him alone. I cannot get worried about grades or the next performance, I need to focus on who I am making this music for, that ultimately it is for God and no one else. When I have this mindset, all else fades away, the pressures of this world are gone. I can focus on the reason why I make music and the rest will fall into place. Think about what you do everyday and are you doing that to the best of your ability for the glory of God? Something to ponder.
By John Piper October 3, 2001
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
Practically speaking, when we read or hear “the word of God,” we sense ourselves pierced. The effect of this piercing is to reveal whether there is spirit or not. Is there marrow and life in our bones? Or are we only a “skeleton” with no living marrow? Is there “spirit,” or only “soul”? The word of God pierces deep enough to show us the truth of our thoughts and our motives and our selves. Give yourselves to this word of God in the Bible. Use it to know yourself and confirm your own spiritual life. If there is life, there will be love and joy and a heart to obey the word. Give yourself to this word so that your words become the word of God for others and reveal to them their own spiritual condition. Then in the wound of the word, pour the balm of the word. Pursuing the pierce of God’s word with you,
The term “word of God” may mean a word spoken by God without a human mouthpiece. But in the New Testament it regularly means a word or a message that a human speaks on God’s behalf. So, for example, in Hebrews 13:7 it says, “Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.” So the “word of God” in Hebrews 4:12 probably refers to the truth of God revealed in Scripture that humans speak to each other with reliance on God’s help to understand it and apply it.
“Living and active.”
The word of God is not a dead word or an ineffective word. It has life in it. And because it has life in it, it produces effects. There is something about the Truth, as God has revealed it, that connects it to God as a source of all life and power. God loves his word. He is partial to his word. He honors his word with his presence and power. If you want your teaching or witness to have power and produce effects, stay close to the revealed word of God. Sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow. What does this living and effective word do? It pierces. For what purpose? To divide. To divide what? Soul and spirit. What does that mean? The writer gives an analogy: it’s like dividing joints and marrow. Joints are the thick, hard, outer part of the bone. Marrow is the soft, tender, living, inner part of the bone. That is an analogy of “soul and spirit.” The word of God is like a sword that is sharp enough to cut right through the outer, hard, tough part of a bone to the inner, soft, living part of the bone. Some swords, less sharp, may strike a bone and glance off and not penetrate. Some swords may penetrate part way through the tough, thick joint of a bone. But a very sharp, powerful double-edged sword (sharp on each side of the point) will penetrate the joint all the way to the marrow.
“Soul and spirit” are like “bone joint and bone marrow.”
“Soul” is that invisible dimension of our life that we are by nature. “Spirit” is what we are by supernatural rebirth. Jesus said, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6). Without the awakening, creative, regenerating work of the Spirit of God in us we are merely “natural” rather than “spiritual” (1 Corinthians 2:14-15). So the “spirit” is that invisible dimension of our life that we are by the regenerating work of the Spirit. What then is the point saying that the “word of God” pierces to the “division of soul and spirit”? The point is that it’s the word of God that reveals to us our true selves. Are we spiritual or are we natural? Are we born of God and spiritually alive, or are we deceiving ourselves and spiritually dead? Are the “thoughts and intentions of our heart” spiritual thoughts and intentions or only natural thoughts and intentions.
Only the “word of God” can “judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” as Hebrews 4:12 says.Romans 11:36
Grace and Peace to youin Him who saves -Lenny
by Jonathan Edwards
The first and worst cause of errors that abound in our day and age is spiritual pride. This is the main door by which the devil comes into the hearts of those who are zealous for the advancement of Christ. It is the chief inlet of smoke from the bottomless pit to darken the mind and mislead the judgement. Pride is the main handle by which he has hold of Christian persons and the chief source of all the mischief that he introduces to clog and hinder a work of God. Spiritual pride is the main spring or at least the main support of all other errors. Until this disease is cured, medicines are applied in vain to heal all other diseases.
It is by spiritual pride that the mind defends and justifies itself in other errors and defends itself against light by which it might be corrected and reclaimed. The spiritually proud man thinks he is full of light already and feels that he does not need instruction, so he is ready to ignore the offer of it. On the other hand, the humble person is like a little child who easily receives instruction. He is cautious in his estimate of himself, sensitive as to how liable he is to go astray. If it is suggested to him that he is going astray, he is most ready to check into the matter. Nothing sets a Christian so much out of the devil s reach than humility and so prepares the mind for divine light without darkness. Humility clears the eye to look at things as they truly are. Psalm 25:9-He leads the humble in justice, and He teaches the humble His way.
If spiritual pride is healed, other things are easily corrected. Our first care should be to correct the heart and pull the beam of pride out of our eye and then we shall see clearly.
Growing Christians Beware!
Those who are most zealous in the cause of God are the most likely to be targeted as being filled with pride. When any person appears, in any respect, to be noticeably excelling others in his Christian walk, odds are ten to one that it will immediately awaken the jealousy of those about him. They will suspect (whether they have good reason or not) that he is very proud of his goodness and that he probably thinks no one as good as he is, so that everything he says and does is observed with this prejudice.
Those who are themselves cold and dead, and especially those who have never had any experience of the power of godliness on their own hearts, will easily entertain such thoughts of the best Christians. This arises from nothing less than a secret hostility against essential and fervent holiness.
But the zealous Christian should take heed that this does not prove a snare to him, and the devil take advantage of it to blind his eyes from beholding the true nature of his heart and to think that because he is charged with pride wrongfully and with an unkind spirit, that such charges are not sometimes valid. Alas, how much pride the best have in their hearts! It is the worst part of the body of sin and death; the first sin that ever entered into the universe and the last that is rooted out. It is God s most stubborn enemy!
Pride: a Secret Enemy
Pride is much more difficult to be discerned than any other corruption because of its very nature. That is, pride is a person having too high an opinion of himself. Is it any surprise, then, that a person who has too high an opinion of himself is unaware of it? His thinking is that he thinks that the opinion he has of himself has just grounds and therefore is not too high. If the grounds of the opinion of himself crumbled, he would cease to have such an opinion. But, because of the nature of spiritual pride, it is the most secret of all sins. There is no other matter in which the heart is more deceitful and unsearchable and there is no other sin in the world that men are so confident in. The very nature of it is to work self-confidence and drive away any suspicion of any evil of that kind. There is no sin so much like the devil as this for secrecy and subtlety, and appearing in great many shapes that are undetected and unsuspected.
Spiritual pride takes many forms and shapes, one under another, and encompasses the heart like the layers of an onion: when you pull off one, there is another underneath. Therefore, we have need to have the greatest watch imaginable over our hearts with respect to this matter and to cry most earnestly to the great Searcher of hearts for His help. He that trusts his own heart is a fool. Since spiritual pride in its own nature is so secret, it cannot be so well discerned by immediate intuition on the thing itself. It is best identified by its fruits and effects, some of which I will make mention of below together with the contrary fruits of Christian humility.
Pride: the Great Fault-finder
Spiritual pride causes one to speak of other persons sins, their enmity against God and His people, or with laughter and levity and an air of contempt, while pure Christian humility disposes either to be silent about them or to speak of them with grief or pity. The spiritually proud person shows it in his finding fault with other saints, that they are low in grace and how cold and dead they are, and are quick to discern and take notice of their deficiencies. The eminently humble Christian has so much to do at home and sees so much evil in his own that he is not apt to be very busy with other hearts.
He complains most of himself and complains most of his own coldness and lowness in grace. He is apt to esteem others as better than himself and is ready to hope that most everybody has more love and thankfulness to God than he, and cannot bear to think that others should bring forth no more fruit to God s honor than he. Some who have spiritual pride mixed with great learning and joy, earnestly speaking to others about them, are likely to be calling upon other Christians to emulate them and sharply reprove them for their being so cold and lifeless.
There are others who are overwhelmed with their own vileness, and when they have extraordinary discoveries of God’s glory, they are taken up by their own sinfulness. Though they are disposed to speak much and very earnestly, yet it is very much in blaming themselves and exhorting fellow Christians, but in a loving and humble manner. Pure Christian humility causes a person to take notice of everything that is good in others, to make the best of it and to diminish their failings; however, he turns his eye chiefly on those things that are bad in himself and to take much notice of everything that aggravates them.
Pride: Ministering in a Harsh Spirit
It has been the manner of spiritually proud persons to speak of almost everything they see in others in the most harsh, severe language. It is frequent with them to say of other’s opinion, conduct, advice, coldness, silence, caution, moderation, prudence, etc. that they are from the devil or from hell. Such kind of language they will commonly use, not only towards wicked men, but towards those who are true children of God and also towards ministers of the gospel and others who are very much their superiors. Christians who are but fellow-worms ought at least to treat one another with as much humility and gentleness as Christ treats them.
Pride: Putting on Pretenses
Spiritual pride often causes persons to act different in external appearance, to effect a different way of speaking, to use a different sort of dialect from others, or to be different in voice, countenance or behavior. But he that is an eminently humble Christian, though he will be firm in his duty, however different – going the way of heaven alone, though all the world forsake him – yet he does not delight in being different for difference s sake. He does not try to set himself up to be viewed and observed as one distinguished, as desiring to be accounted better than others – despising their company or conformity to them – but on the contrary, desires to become all things to all men, to yield to others and conform to them and please them in all but sin.
Pride: Takes Offence Easily
Spiritual pride takes great notice of opposition and injuries that are received and is prone to be often speaking of them and to be much in taking notice of their aggravation, either with an air of bitterness or contempt. Pure and unmixed Christian humility, on the other hand, causes a person to be more like his blessed Lord when reviled: quiet, not opening his mouth, but committing himself in silence to Him who judges righteously. For the humble Christian, the more the world is against him, the more silent and still he will be, unless it is in his prayer closet, and there he will not be still.
Pride: Presumption Before God and Man
Another effect of spiritual pride is a certain self-confident boldness before God and men. Some, in their great rejoicing before God, have not paid sufficient regard to that rule in Psalm 2:11 – Worship the Lord with reverence, and rejoice with trembling. They have not rejoiced with a reverential trembling, in a proper sense of the awful majesty of God and the awful distance between Him and them. There has also been an improper boldness before men that has been encouraged and defended by a misapplication of Proverbs 29:25 – The fear of man brings a snare… It is as though it became all persons, high and low, men, women and children in all Christian conversation to wholly abandon all manner of modesty or reverence toward man.
Not that any should refrain from Christian conversation, but with such humility as in I Peter 3:15-But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.
Pride: Hungry for Attention
Another effect of spiritual pride is to make the subject of it want attention. People often tend to act in a special manner as though others ought to take great notice and regard of them. It is very natural to a person that is very much under the influence of spiritual pride to take all the respect that is paid to him. If others show a disposition to submit to him and yield in deference to him, he is open to it and freely receives it. It becomes natural for him to expect such treatment and to take much notice if a person fails to do so, and to have an ill opinion of those who do not give him that which he feels he deserves.
One under the influence of spiritual pride is more apt to instruct others than to inquire for himself and so naturally puts on the airs of control. The eminently humble Christian thinks he needs help from everybody, whereas he that is spiritually proud thinks everybody needs his help. Christian humility, under a sense of other’s misery, entreats and beseeches, but spiritual pride tries to command and warn with authority.
Pride: Neglecting Others
As spiritual pride causes persons to assume much to themselves, so it treats others with neglect. On the contrary, pure Christian humility disposes persons to honor all men as from I Peter 2:17. To enter into disputes about Christianity is sometimes unseasonable, such as in meeting for Christian conference or for exercises of worship. Yet, we ought to be very careful that we do not refuse to converse with carnal men, as though we counted them not worthy to be regarded. On the contrary, we should condescend to carnal men as Christ has condescended to us, to bear with our unteachableness and stupidity. (Taken from the bibleteacher website)Romans 11:36
Grace and Peace to youin Him who saves -Lenny
by Jonathan Edwards-from Grace Gems
Humility may be defined to be a habit of mind and heart
corresponding to our comparative unworthiness and vileness
before God; or a sense of our own comparative lowness in His
sight, with the disposition to a behavior answerable thereto.
A truly humble man is sensible of the small extent of his
knowledge, and the great extent of his ignorance, and of the
small extent of his understanding, as compared with the
understanding of God.
He is sensible of his weakness, how little his strength is,
and how little he is able to do.
He is sensible of his natural distance from God,
of his dependence on Him,
of the insufficiency of his own power and wisdom;
and that it is by God’s power that he is upheld and provided for;
and that he needs God’s wisdom to lead and guide him,
and His might to enable him to do what he ought to do for Him.
Humility tends to prevent an aspiring and
ambitious behavior among men.
The man that is under the influence of a humble spirit is content
with such a situation among men, as God is pleased to allot to
him, and is not greedy of honor, and does not affect to appear
uppermost and exalted above his neighbors.
Humility tends also to prevent an arrogant and assuming behavior.
On the contrary, humility, disposes a person to a condescending
behavior to the meekest and lowest, and to treat inferiors with
courtesy and affability, as being sensible of his own weakness
and despicableness before God.
If we then consider ourselves as the followers of the meek
and lowly and crucified Jesus, we shall walk humbly before
God and man all the days of our life on earth.
Let all be exhorted earnestly to seek much of a humble spirit, and
to endeavor to be humble in all their behavior toward God and men.
Seek for a deep and abiding sense of your
comparative lowness before God and man.
Confess your nothingness and ill-desert before Him.
Rely Only On Christ.
Renounce all glory except for Him.
Yield yourself heartily to His will and service.
Avoid an aspiring, ambitious, ostentatious, assuming, arrogant,
scornful, stubborn, willful, leveling, self-justifying behavior;
and strive for more and more of the humble spirit that Christ
manifested while He was on earth.
Humility is a most essential and distinguishing trait
in all true piety.
Earnestly seek then; and diligently and prayerfully
cherish a humble spirit, and God shall walk with
you here below; and when a few more days shall have
passed, He will receive you to the honors
bestowed on His people at Christ’s right hand.
We who are called to be Christian preachers today should do all we can to help the congregation to grow out of dependence on borrowed slogans and ill-considered cliches, and instead to develop their powers of intellectual and moral criticism, that is, their ability to distinguish between truth and error, good and evil. Of course, we should encourage an attitude of humble submission to Scripture, but at the same time make it clear that we claim no infallibility for our interpretation of Scripture. We should urge our hearers to ‘test’ and ‘evaluate’ our teaching. We should welcome questions, not resent them. We should not want people to be moonstruck by our preaching, to hang spellbound on our words, and to soak them up like sponges. To desire such an uncritical dependence on us is to deserve the fierce denunciation of Jesus for wanting to be called ‘rabbi’ by men. (Matt 23:7,8) By contrast, the people of Beroea are commended as ‘noble’ . . . because they combined enthusiastic receptivity with critical listening. . . . (Acts 17:11)
This kind of open but questioning mind is implicit even in the ‘pastoral’ metaphor. . . . The way in which the shepherd feeds [the sheep] is significant. In reality, he does not feed them at all (except perhaps in the case of a sick lamb which he may take up in his arms and bottlefeed); instead he leads them to good grazing pasture where they feed themselves. John Stott, Between Two Worlds: The Art of Preaching in the Twentieth Century, (Eerdmans, 1982) p. 177.Romans 11:36
Grace and Peace to youin Him who saves -Lenny
This morning I need to go to Him who sits on His throne, With Christ my Savior and my God!
Isaiah 41:10 ‘Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’
Romans 8:28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
Before the Throne of God Above
Charitie L. Bancroft
Before the throne of God above
I have a strong and perfect plea.
A great high Priest whose Name is Love
Who ever lives and pleads for me.
My name is graven on His hands,
My name is written on His heart.
I know that while in Heaven He stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart.
When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end of all my sin.
Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free.
For God the just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me.
Behold Him there the risen Lamb,
My perfect spotless righteousness,
The great unchangeable I AM,
The King of glory and of grace,
One in Himself I cannot die.
My soul is purchased by His blood,
My life is hid with Christ on high,
With Christ my Savior and my God!
Articles, Sermons, web-sites and thoughts from other people I’ve read through out the week. To help edify you in your walk with Christ. Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification. Romans 15:2
Be Slow to Speak- from Portraits of Grace-By John MacArthur
From The Christian Soldier, or Heaven Taken by storm-The Thomas Watson Reading Room
A Letter from George Whitefield to the Rev. Mr. John Wesley -From Spurgeon.org
Programs, Get Your Programs: Exposing the Flaws of a Fad-Driven Church- by Phil Johnson or listen to it Here
Charles Simeon: His Trials and Patience in the Ministry-by John Piper
Finally this from the prince of preachers
How instructive to us is this great truth that the Incarnate Word lived on the Inspired Word! It was food to him, as it is to us; and, brothers and sisters, if Christ thus lived upon the Word of God, should not you and I do the same! He, in some respects, did not need this Book as much as we do. The Spirit of God rested upon him without measure, yet he loved the Scripture, and he went to it, and studied it, and used its expressions continually. Oh, that you and I might get into the very heart of the Word of God, and get that Word into ourselves! As I have seen the silkworm eat into the leaf, and consume it, so ought we to do with the Word of the Lord; not crawl ever its surface, but eat right into it till we have taken it into our inmost parts. It is idle merely to let the eye glance over the words, or to recollect the poetical expressions, or the historic facts; but it is blessed to eat into the very soul of the Bible until, at last, you come to talk in Scriptural language, and your very style is fashioned upon Scripture models, and, what is better still, your spirit is flavoured with the words of the Lord.
I would quote John Bunyan as an instance of what I mean. Read anything of his, and you will see that it is almost like reading the Bible itself. He had studied . . . [the Bible] till his very soul was saturated with Scripture; and, though his writings are charmingly full of poetry, yet he cannot give us his Pilgrim’s Progress – that sweetest of all prose poems – without continually making us feel and say, “Why, this man is a living Bible!” Prick him anywhere; his blood is Bibline, the very essence of the Bible flows from him. He cannot speak without quoting a text, for his very soul is full of the Word of God. I commend his example to you, beloved, and, still more, the example of our Lord Jesus. If the Spirit of God be in you, he will make you love the Word of God; and, if any of you imagine that the Spirit of God will lead you to dispense with the Bible, you are under the influence of another spirit which is not the Spirit of God at all. I trust that the Holy Spirit will endear to you every page of this Divine Record, so that you will feed upon it yourselves, and afterwards speak it out to others. (The Last Words of Christ on the Cross,” #2644, on Luke 23:46. Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Volume 45)Romans 11:36
Grace and Peace to youin Him who saves -Lenny