Thursday, May 27, 2010

A Commitment to Expository Preaching

My duty as a minister of the Gospel is to “preach the Word” (2 Timothy 4:2). Of all the things a pastor can do and should do, faithfully preaching to and teaching the people of God in his care is the most important. The apostles devoted themselves to prayer and the ministry of the Word (Acts 6:4). Pastors today are to follow this example today. A myriad of activities compete with the pastor’s attention, but a faithful pastor must be committed to and not dissuaded from this sacred charge (see John 21:15-17).

My commitment to the church I pastor is to preach the Word each and every week. I do this through “Expository Preaching.” Expository preaching is the method of studying a particular passage of Scripture, discovering the main point or big idea of that passage, explaining that point to the church and making points of application from that passage’s big idea.

It is my conviction that all sermons should be expository sermons in order to be faithful to the Word of God. When a preacher chooses to preach on a topic or a theme, he runs the risk of injecting his personal opinions or agendas into the sermon and neglecting the main idea of the Biblical text. Every expository sermon follows the same format: the text is read, the text is explained, and the text is applied.

This is why I normally preach through a book of the Bible in a consecutive fashion (like I’m currently doing in the Gospel of John). However, one does not have to preach through an entire book to preach an expository sermon. The key in expository preaching is to take a passage of Scripture, discover its main point, and shape the sermon around that main point.

This approach is exemplified by the great Old Testament priest Ezra. In Ezra 7:10, we read, “For Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the Lord, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel.” Ezra committed himself to studying God’s Word and applying it to his life on a personal level. He then read the Word, taught the Word, and applied the Word to the nation of Israel.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Book Review: C.H. Spurgeon on Spiritual Leadership by Steve Miller

This little book is a gem. Steve Miller has served us all well by cataloging and synthesizing eight leadership lessons from the Prince of Preachers. We are living in an era where spiritual leadership is sorely lacking in many areas of the church. The wise counsel collected from Spurgeon's writings, lectures, prayers, and sermons in this book will help strengthen true spiritual leadership. We need fewer worldly ideas about leadership and more Biblical, Christocentric ideas about leadership.

Chapter One covered a passion for prayer. Spiritual leaders must be committed to walking and communing privately with God.

Chapter two took up the theme of faith that endures. Without bold confidence in the Lord, a minister will give up quickly.

Chapter three focused on a commitment to holiness. I looked over this chapter a couple of times, and feel the need to return to it. We face a famine of holiness in our day.

Chapter four pointed out Spurgeon's lifestyle of service and offered wise counsel in this area.

Chapter five urged us to love the Lord and His word in ever greater intensity.

Chapter six reminded us that a willingness to suffer is a key to spiritual growth and effectiveness in ministry.

Chapter seven called us to zealously proclaim God's Word and chapter eight drove home a passion for lost souls.

Miller concludes the book by noting that Spurgeon, although he was involved in numerous activities and developed dozens of large and significant ministries, ultimately had only one driving purpose and aim in his life. Everything Spurgeon did was to glorify God. God's glory was his motive. There was nothing else.

As Spurgeon said, "We must see to it that His glory is the one sole object of all we do." (Miller, p. 181)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

When Christianity is Illegal

Al Mohler is reporting that a street preacher in London, England has been arrested. His crime, preaching the Gospel and telling people that homosexuality is sin.

We are living in dangerous times. In an age of so called "tolerance" and "pluralism," the only worldview and belief system that is out of bounds is a Biblical one. In Europe, Christianity is slowing being criminalized. Is the US far behind?

In 2 Timothy 3:1, the Apostle Paul warned "There will be terrible times in the last days." Jesus told us that the world will hate us because it hated Him (John 15:18) and we will face persecution (John 15:20).

What will we do when Christianity is declared illegal? I pray we will remain faithful to the Word of God, not matter the cost.

2 Timothy 2:1-3 (NIV) "You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others. 3Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus."

Acts 5:27-32 (NIV) "Having brought the apostles, they made them appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. 28"We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name," he said. "Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man's blood."

29Peter and the other apostles replied: "We must obey God rather than men! 30The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead—whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. 31God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel. 32We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him."

May God grant the grace to be as bold as Peter and as faithful as Paul in the face of persecution and opposition.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Must Read-- The Glory of God: Our Supreme Passion

[Note: This article was originally posted at I came across it as I was preparing to preach on the Glory of God.]

The Glory of God: Our Passion

[This article is written by a missionary for other missionaries working in the "Last Frontier." For security reasons, the author must remain anonymous.]

This is the first and most important of the basic principles of our work. Real Christianity is God--centered. Real Christianity recognizes, as Jesus Himself said, that the first and greatest commandment is to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, strength and mind. Those who have glimpsed the greatness, the grandeur, the majesty and the excellence of our God through the eyes of trust in Jesus never get over that vision. An obsession with the glory of God is the hallmark of true knowledge of God.

What is the glory of God? The original meaning of glory has to do with weightiness. The glory of God summarizes the seriousness, the perfection, and the infinite significance of all of the attributes of God. It sums up who He is, in the awesome brightness and weightiness of all His perfections. What does it mean then for us to glorify God? We cannot add to His glory, for He is already perfectly and infinitely glorious. Rather, for us to glorify God means for us to ascribe the glory that is due His Name in worship. It means that we acknowledge His glory by living as though His perfections are as serious and significant as they really are, so that we reflect His glory through a pure mirror. It means that nothing horrifies us more than the thought of bringing dishonor to His glorious Name, and nothing delights us more than to feel His pleasure as we live to the praise of His glory. It also means that we declare His glory among the nations, inviting others to join us in our love affair with His glorious perfection. Glorifying God thus consumes and defines every aspect of our life and witness as well as our worship.

We urgently need to recapture the centrality of glorifying God in our lives and work. Too much of what passes for evangelical Christianity in America is man-centered or even self-centered. God is reduced to a means to some other end, whether it be my own self-fulfillment or the welfare of others. The results are disastrous for worship, for discipleship, and for witness. Worship either becomes tepid, or it becomes an experience we offer to people as a sort of consumer product rather than adoration and consecration we offer to God. Discipleship becomes a self-help program that leaves huge areas of life untouched, rather than a life-long love affair with God that lays every area of life on the altar to be consecrated to Him and to be conformed to His image. Witness becomes an invitation to sample a product rather than a royal summons to flee to a sovereign Savior. In effect, we reduce the Good News to mere good advice.

If the glory of God is our supreme passion, this will redefine both the goal of our task and the manner in which we pursue that task. The goal of our task is that the earth be filled with the knowledge of His glory as the waters cover the sea. Our passion is to see Him receive the glory that is due His Name from every tribe, tongue, people and nation. Everything else is simply a means to that end. We are not seeking to add numbers that we can report to the organization; we are seeking to add worshippers to the choir of heaven, who will live every area of their lives to the praise of His glory. This focus invests a new, holy seriousness to discipleship and the life of the church. We are not content unless His glory is proclaimed, reflected, upheld and adored among the people to whom He has called us. The task is not about us, and it's not even ultimately about the nations. The focus is on Him.

A passion for the glory of God will also redefine the manner in which we pursue our task. If our supreme goal is to glorify Him, we will not be able to separate our personal lives from our work lives. The way we treat our families, the way we entertain ourselves, the way we spend our money, the way we relate to others, the way we treat our bodies, the hidden attitudes of our hearts, the time we spend nourishing our own relationship with Him, cannot be compartmentalized away from our "work." It is our job to glorify Him in every area of life, not just through the tasks written on our job descriptions. Failure in the former will mean failure in the latter as well. We also cannot accept any means to the end that does not equally bring glory to God. This passion thus has a purifying effect, safeguarding us from the temptation to take shortcuts or utilize worldly means in the pursuit of our work.

As I read over the words I have just written, I get overwhelmed with the conviction that I fall very far short of my own counsel. That brings me to my final point. We can only live for His glory by His grace. Apart from His enabling, I can do nothing. And even what I do by His strength is still tainted by my sinfulness, so that it must be covered by the blood of His sacrifice to be acceptable to my holy Father. Bless His Name that both His power and His grace are infinitely sufficient to meet all my need! Brothers and sisters, I plead with you to seek His grace to make the glory of God your supreme passion. It is His supreme passion, and the pursuit of anything else would constitute failure to fulfill our calling.