Archive for March, 2008


Shepherd’s Conference

March 5, 2008

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The Wider World of the Text

March 4, 2008

I remember being shocked a few years back to read the following comment by John MacArthur: “context is the most important hermeneutical principle.” Surprised, I thought to myself, could context really be THAT important?

Well, in my slender experience of studying and preaching biblical texts since then, I’ve found MacArthur’s statement to be spot on. Taking note of the context – the ‘wider world’ or setting of the text (both in literary and historical terms) – is of paramount importance.

(Photo by Matrix2003, Creative Commons License)

I think the reason for this is simple: the wider environs of any text informs the meaning of the text itself. For example, this would be my own definition of literary context:

Literary context describes those elements that surround the text which in turn inform the meaning of the text.

If this definition is correct then rightly interpreting any passage is nigh on impossible without considering the context.

And yes, I know about the book of Proverbs! But EVEN in Proverbs the context of what is said of a given topic within the whole book is of vital significance. No stated theme in Proverbs can be absolutised without first considering balancing or caveat verses that refine the point elsewhere in the book.


Looking For Something To Listen To?

March 3, 2008

Ready to load up your listening devices with sermons to feed your soul? Here’s a quick note about what some of the workmen are doing. Believe me, you are spoiled for choice!

Tim Keller recently preached seven sermons which are the distilled-form of his recent book release, The Reason for God.

Alistair Begg is about to conclude the book of James. Incidentally, you can watch the last six weeks of Parkside services online.

Conrad Mbewe’s
latest online sermons have been in Ecclesiastes and Romans.

Dale Ralph Davis
has just started a series in 2 Thessalonians.

At All Souls, London, listen into Hugh Palmer on Ecclesiastes, or Rico Tice on Matthew’s gospel.

Don Carson’s recent trio of talks on Fatherhood in the context of pastoral ministry are well worth a listen.

John MacArthur
has been working through Luke’s gospel and 2nd Timothy.

William Taylor (St Helen’s, London) is also working toward the end of Luke’s gospel.

Dominic Smart, a new addition to the ‘Workmen’ list, is a faithful expositor in Aberdeen, Scotland. Dominic is doing a short series through the parables.

Josh Harris is wading through Jeremiah. A great book!

John Piper is making his final approach to land his series on ‘The New Birth’ with a series of studies in the book of 1st John.

Liam Goligher is still preaching ‘the Gospel according to Isaiah’, as well as 2nd Timothy.

Mark Dever continues with his series “Pierced for our Transgressions.”

Mike Bullmore
continues with 1st Corinthians.

Philip Ryken is still managing to dig nuggets out of 1st Kings.

Richard Phillips is going through John’s gospel.

Steve Lawson ploughs further into Mark’s gospel.

Vaughan Roberts
is preaching on the Ten Commandments and Romans.

Steve Cole works through Ephesians.

Sinclair Ferguson
is expounding James.

Charles Holt shows us how we might preach through Proverbs.

Thabiti Anyabwile is expounding Matthew.


Q & A – How Long To Prepare?

March 3, 2008

From last week’s Question and Answer session:

Questioner: Give us a ball park figure on how long it takes you to prepare a sermon?

Peter Grainger
: It depends on the passage. It depends on whether I’ve preached on it before and how much research I have to do. When we were studying Jeremiah (which was really hard work) – long passages, a lot of research: probably 15 to 20 hours. I’ve preached on Luke’s gospel before [the other current series], so I’m trying to reword in different ways: probably a little less than that – 10 hours. So when someone says ‘we’ve got a pastor, he preaches morning and evening and he does a midweek bible study’, I say ‘he doesn’t have time to do anything else then, has he?’ But they say, ‘no, he’s got to visit all the old people and a hundred and one other things!’

Colin Adams: I’m shorter in prep than I used to be (!) but I take a little longer than Peter. However, I think that when you’re starting out it naturally will take you longer. Is it fair to say, Peter, there’s an irreducible minimum though? Its not like certain fields of employment where you can become so expert that you can do the job in an hour!

Peter Grainger: Sure. The fact that you are more skilled at it, in that you know the materials and you know where to find them, means that you’re quicker at doing certain mechanical exercises. But beyond that, I find that the more I go on, the more I realise how ignorant I am! All the greater need to plead for God to give me insight!