Archive for September, 2009


How Much Time to Prepare?

September 28, 2009

I like Ligon Duncan’s answer.

ligon Duncan

I particularly appreciate his explanation of his order of priorities, if he has a very limited amount of time.

  1. Exegesis
  2. Application
  3. Illustrations, introduction, conclusion

Advice for Expository Preachers

September 27, 2009

Andrew Sherwood’s notes – from Mark Dever’s talk at the God Exposed Conference:

Advice for Expositional Preaching:

1) Normally, preach consecutively through parts of the Bible.

2) Good expositional preaching is canonical (through the whole Bible). See Acts 20. He also took us to I Samuel (listen to this talk for this section alone) where Samuel and Eli speak about God’s Word coming to Samuel. Perhaps the most powerful few minutes of the whole conference.

3) Good expositional is connected. Show how it fits with the whole message of the Bible.

4) It should be centered on the Gospel.

5) It is theological.

6) It is critical. It instructs about and criticizes idols. Don’t always preach nice and happy. Think of Jesus’ ministry.

7) It is evangelistic. Distinct from #4. As you preach, don’t shy away from talking about sin and the need for Christ. Teach people to take their hopes off of themselves and put it on Christ. Speak to non-Christians in your sermons.

8 ) It is applied. Do not think that application is only the Holy Spirit’s work. Our whole lives are to be transformed.

9) It is integrated (work it into your life). Read what is being preached on in your quiet time, prepare your heart for it. Teach your congregation to prepare for the sermon. It is the highlight of their week!


Thought Provoking Questions

September 27, 2009

James McDonald is asking some good questions about expository preaching:

  • 1) How do you make repetition interesting and engaging?
  • 2) Do you need to handle everything sequentially or can you group sections by topic?
  • 3) Why do so many commentaries seem to need to report significance beyond the obvious understanding gained by knowing what the text actually says?
  • 4) How much text is too much to cover in one weekend? How much depth do you go into?

Evangelistic Preaching: Spurgeon’s Way

September 23, 2009

Jonathan Watson (General Editor of the Banner of Truth) has put together an insightful paper which brings together Spurgeon’s thoughts on how to preach appropriately to unbelievers.  You can read the full article over at Reformation Theology: Spurgeon on the Goal of Preaching. The bare-bones outline: 

1. Depend entirely upon the Spirit of God and look to him for power over the minds of men.


2. Give prominent place in your preaching to those truths which are most likely to lead to conversions.

a. First and foremost Christ and him crucified. ‘

b. Teach the depravity of human nature.

c. Preach the necessity for the Holy Ghost’s divine operations.

d. Set before your hearers God’s justice and the certainty that every transgression will be punished.

e. Be most of all clear on the soul-saving doctrine of the atonement.

f. ‘If men are to be saved we must in plainest terms preach justification by faith alone, as the method by which the atonement becomes effectual in the soul’s experience . . . Justification by faith alone must never be obscured, and yet all are not clear upon it.’

g. Preach earnestly the love of God in Christ, and magnify the abounding mercy of the Lord; but always preach it in connection with his justice.


3. If we are anxious to see souls saved, we must not only preach the truths which are likely to lead to their conversion, but we must also use modes of handling these truths which are appropriate for securing that end.

a. Instruct.

b. Appeal to the understanding.

c. Plead with sinners by way of emotional persuasion.

d. Be careful to vary your tone – at times you need to threaten, at times to invite.


4. Think carefully about the times when you address the unconverted.

5. Among the important elements in the promotion of conversions are the preacher’s own tone, temper and spirit in preaching.

a. Don’t be dull and monotonous

b. Guard against a hard, unfeeling spirit in preaching.

c. Preach believingly, always expecting the Lord who has sent you to bless his own word.

d. ‘Preach very solemnly, for it is a weighty business, but let your matter be lively and pleasing, for this will prevent solemnity from souring into dreariness.’

e. Aim for conversions, expect them and prepare for them.


6. In addition to earnest preaching it will be wise to use other means. These may include:

a. Pastoral visitation – make yourself available to and converse with all your people

b. Special meetings for the awakened and anxious with a view to further instruction, prayer, and the sharing of testimonies by recent converts.

c. ‘Seek out the wandering sheep one by one, and when you find all your thoughts needed for a single individual, do not grudge your labour, for your Lord in his parable represents the good shepherd as bringing home his lost sheep, not in a flock, but one at a time upon his shoulders, and rejoicing to do so.’

d. ‘Call in every now and then a warm-hearted neighbour, utilize the talent in the church itself, and procure the services of some eminent soul-winner, and this may, in God’s hands, break up the hard soil for you, and bring you brighter days.’


MacArthur On Spurgeon

September 21, 2009


September 21, 2009

Some good suggestions by Joe McKeever about how to read through the Scriptures we are studying, and a novel suggestion about writing out Scripture texts. I particularly liked this quote:

Let it soak in. You can’t rush this. Proper sermon-building is more about marinating than microwaving.

His whole article: Before the Sermon Preparation Begins.


10 Question Comeback

September 18, 2009

10 Questions for Pastor’s wives returns over at Titus2talk, this time interviewing Mae Milton (the wife of Mike Milton, RTS).

A sample question: What one piece of advice would you pass on to a new pastor’s wife?

Be yourself. If you love to cook, feed people in your home. If you love children, work with them. Old people, work with them. Use the gifts the Lord has given you. But, your most important mission is to take care of your husband, because if you don’t take care of him, he won’t be able to take care of his flock.


Remember, Jesus Preached…

September 15, 2009

From his Expository Thoughts on Mark: a typically forthright quote from JC Ryle…

“Let us never be moved by those who cry down the preachers office, and tell us that sacraments and other ordinances are of more importance than sermons. Let us give to every part of God’s public worship its proper place and honour, but let us beware of placing any part of it above preaching. By preaching, the Church of Christ was first gathered together and founded, and by preaching, it has ever been maintained in health and prosperity.

By preaching, sinners are awakened. By preaching, inquirers are led on. By preaching, saints are built up. By preaching, Christ is being carried to the heathen world…Above all, its is the very work that Christ Himself undertook. The King of kings and Lord of lords Himself was once a preacher. For three long years he went to and fro proclaiming the gospel.””

I also love this follow-up quote:

“The sermons that we listen to may be weak and poor. But after all, preaching is God’s grand ordinance for converting and saving souls. The faithful preacher of the Gospel is handling the very weapon the Son of God was not ashamed to employ.”

(JC Ryle’s comments on Mark 1:38: ‘This [preaching] is why I have come.”)


Celebration and Challenge

September 14, 2009

Article from the Ballymoney Times newspaper about our recent induction weekend and anniversary celebrations:  Celebration and Challenge.



Questioning Piper’s Preaching

September 14, 2009

From John Piper and Desiring God:

Are there any books of the Bible that you have purposefully avoided in preaching? January 23, 2009 Read  |  Listen   |   Watch   |   Download

Can a pastor preach to 12 people?  April 18, 2007  |   Watch   |   Download

How can a pastor uphold good doctrine in a denomination that doesn’t?  February 11, 2008                    Read  |  Listen   |   Download

How do stories fit into expository preaching?  September 7, 2009                                                                        Read  |  Listen   |   Watch   |   Download 

How do you respond to criticism? October 12, 2007                                                                                                   Read  |  Listen   |   Download 

How does the spiritual diversity among your listeners affect your preaching? January 16, 2009                    Read  |  Listen   |   Watch   |   Download

How should a pastor decide what to preach?   December 14, 2007                                                                         Read  |  Listen   |   Download

Should a pastor skip teaching some passages because he lacks confidence in his own interpretation?December 10, 2008  Read  |  Listen   |   Watch   |   Download

What are the pros and cons of using video preaching in the church?   November 12, 2008                         Read  |  Listen   |   Watch   |   Download

What books are you using in your sermon preparations as you go through the Gospel of John?    March 20, 2009                                                                                                                                                                                            Read  |  Listen   |   Watch   |   Download 

What is the place of practical application in preaching?   March 26, 2007                                                                   |   Watch   |   Download 

What would you say to a pastor who wants to rush his preaching of a book of the Bible just to be done with it?    October 24, 2008                                                                                                                                                       Read  |  Listen   |   Watch   |   Download


Reasons to Preach Mark

September 12, 2009

At Ballymoney Baptist, we have just commenced a new series in Mark’s gospel. I’ve entitled it “Jesus Christ, Son of God.” Here are a few reasons I’m preaching on it.

There’s nothing better to ‘preach on’ than Jesus. And there’s no better way to preach Christ and Him crucified than preach through a Gospel. During the action of Mark’s gospel, the ‘camera’ incessantly follows Jesus. Only for one small section is Jesus unmentioned (the story of John the Baptist’s beheading). A relentless focus on Jesus can’t be bad. 

Unbelievers are confronted with the question: who is Jesus, and why did he come to earth?  The questions of the characters in the story, “who is this [man]?” become our questions; the answers, “You are the Christ…..the Son of God” (Mk 8:29 & Mk 15:29) become testimonies for our consideration.

Followers of Jesus are encouraged to keep following Him whatever the cost. Tradition has it that Mark’s gospel was written somewhere near to the time of Peter’s martyrdom, and certainly during a time when Christians were being heavily persecuted under the Roman regime. Believers facing the lions needed to know that great cost was integral to true discipleship. They needed to know that the Messiah Himself was a Suffering Servant who came to lay down his life as a ransom for many. That is what Mark’s gospel conveys: “The Son of Man must suffer many things…” and “if anyone would come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.”


Induction Audio

September 8, 2009

So last Saturday I was finally inducted as pastor of Ballymoney Baptist. The church went to extraordinary efforts in order to prepare for a memorable day; but the Lord still managed to surprised us all with the tangible experience of his presence and power, as we met together in solemn-celebration.


What stands out most in my memory? The hearty singing? The gracious words from former pastors? Choking back tears in the pulpit? Hearing the history of the call and being reminded of the sure leading of a God of Providence? Or perhaps, the poigniant sermon from Peter Grainger, reminding me that I’m just a jar of clay. The full audio of the 2 hour service can be listened to here, or downloaded here.