Archive for October, 2009


Commentaries: Necessary But Dangerous

October 29, 2009

Exiled Preacher has some helpful notes on a recent lecture: “Tools for Sermon Preparation.”

Commentaries are generally commended in the lecture, but 9 potential  dangers are also pointed out:

  1. Redundant material
  2. Vain discussion
  3. Weak exegesis
  4. Weak in biblical integration
  5. Failure to point to Christ
  6. Often weak in application
  7. Concessions to unbelieving theology
  8. Dull!
  9. Turn the handle mentality




Augustine’s Biblical Rambles

October 26, 2009

Its been a spur to my preaching to read Nigel Clifford’s “Christian Preachers.” The following quote about Augustine is interesting. If true, it suggests that Augustine was really a topical preacher:

“His sermons were biblical rambles: biblical, for they were exclusively concerned with the words of Scripture, with Christ and His Church, with Christian belief and behaviour; rambles, for they rarely fully explained any one text but passed quickly to many others drawn from all over the Bible, so that his talks were littered with hundreds of quotations. In this way his hearers acquired a knowledge of Scripture, for many could not read and very few possessed one of the bulky manuscripts of the Bible. He did not prepare the content of the messages in detail, nor keep to one subject, nor divide up his talks by clear headings, nor even tell Bible stories. His sermons were strictly spiritual, applying the word of God to the hearts of people.”

(Nigel Clifford, Christian Preachers, p 25)


Reliable Preaching

October 23, 2009

The Gospel Coalition website just seems to be getting better and better. At this rate, its getting very close to becoming becoming my homepage!


Take for example this excellent article by Tullian Tchividjian, How To Identify a Reliable Preacher. He has five helpful question to help us discern:

1. Does the preacher ground everything he says in the Bible?

2. Does the preacher freely emphasize that because of sin, a right relationship with God can only be established by God’s grace alone?

3. Does the preacher stress that salvation is not achieved by what we can do, rather salvation is received by faith in what Christ has already done?

4. Does the preacher underline that Christ is the exclusive mediator between God and man?

5. Does the preacher exalt God above all?

The unpacking of each of these points is well worth reading.


4 Simple Hallmarks of Good Exposition

October 21, 2009

The Cornhill Training Course is an excellent introductory course in handling the bible well and then presenting it in understandable fashion. It originated in London, then branched out to Glasgow, but has most recently leapfrogged the water to Belfast, Northern Ireland. 


(Moore Casement, Director of Cornhill Belfast)

It was a joy for me to spend time at Cornhill yesterday. Leading feedback sessions for five minute expositions, I was stimulated by the simplicity of the areas we were evaluating. Surely, we should look for these four hallmarks in any clear exposition:

  1. The Big Idea: Did the talk have one? If so, what was it? And was this  idea faithful to the text?
  2. The Context: Did the expositor pay adequate attention to literary context? Were the verses under consideration being taken ‘out of context?’
  3. The Content: Was the scope of the passage covered, or was something important missed out? Was the content simply explained and easy to follow?  Did the content reflect (and prove) the big idea ? Was anything unclear?
  4. The Implications: What might the relevance of the passage be for Christians, churches, and even for unbelievers today? (note: this fourth area actually isn’t covered in the earliest Cornhill expositions, but is a component added later)

Ministers: Always Happy & Distressed

October 17, 2009

Since taking up my new charge, I’ve found the following quote to be true:

“To be a true minister to men is always to accept new happiness and new distress…The man who gives himself to other men can never be a wholly sad man; but no more can he be a man of unclouded gladness. To him shall come with every deeper consecration a before untested joy, but in the same cup shall be mixed a sorrow that it was beyond his power to feel before.”

(Philip Brookes, quoted in R Kent Hughes, Success Syndrome, p147)


Are You Too Popular A Preacher?

October 14, 2009

(HT: Grace Dependent)


Ask, Seek, Then Bang the Door

October 12, 2009

John MacArthur explains his preaching prep in terms of the ask, seek, and knock principle:

“I mean, I don’t just sit at my office and say, “Lord, I want to preach a great sermon Sunday. Please, I ask you, give me a great sermon.” No, what I do is I ask the Lord all week for that, and then I seek that by going through the Word of God and reading and reading. And then I begin banging on the Lord, in a sense, by saying, “Lord, I’m struggling with this thing and I want to understand it,” and this one this morning, which isn’t so hot, anyway, I rewrote three times. And on and on you go, struggling with it. But the point is, I realize that God is the only one who can produce through me, but at the same time, I’ve got to be involved in that.”

(from the sermon: “Loving people“; Matthew 7, 7-12)


CJ’s Study

October 10, 2009

8 Steps To Preparing A Sermon

October 6, 2009

Some solid suggestions about sermon preparation are found here at Dr. Tim White’s Blog:

(HT: Sermonfire)


For Pastor’s Wives

October 6, 2009

Ryan Townsend:

This Tuesday, September 8, 2009, we at Clifton Baptist Church (Louisville, KY) had the joy of hosting Connie Dever. Connie spoke to women about supporting their husbands in the ministry in a talk entitled, “Juxtaposition: Being Closely Connected for the Glory of God.” While the talk was oriented to pastors’ wives, the truths are applicable and edifying for all audiences. You can listen to the audio here. You can download the handout from the talk that provides a very useful, detailed outline here: Download Juxtaposition Outline Connie Dever Talk. And you can get the whole 9-Session study that Connie developed on this topic here from the 9Marks website. Listen, study, and be encouraged.


Yes, to Preaching Bigger Sections

October 5, 2009

You could get the impression from some expository theorists that the only way to preach through a book is 7 to 12 verses at a time. Exceeding that length is unhelpful, so it is claimed.

My recent experience has been challenging that assumption, however.

Here in Ballymoney, we are currently working through Mark’s gospel at a rapid pace. It probably fits Mark’s racing style that we aren’t meandering one pericope at a time! We are instead striding across two, three or even four pericopes per sermon.

Of course, there are disadvantages of this. We cannot give  the congregation a word study on every verse. We certainly cannot follow every rabbit trail to its conclusion. In yesterday’s sermon on Mark 3:7-35, I had to *briefly* cover matters such as the unforgivable sin (3:29-30); similarly, I could not explore the identity of the twelve appointed apostles in detail (3:17-19).

On the plus side though, covering larger amounts of text helped me see more clearly the flow of Mark’s narrative. When examining singular stories in isolation, it is harder (though not impossible) to see the connections between different chunks of narrative.

For example: chapter 3 as a whole has the pervading theme of the “crowds”; crowds who constantly clamour around Jesus (3:7-12; 20). Yet sandwiched within these crowded scenes is Jesus removing Himself to a mountain and appointing the twelve apostles (3:13-19). Looked at things with the wide-angled lens, we see that amidst the pressurised atmosphere of the multitudes, it was the Christ, not the crowds, who was still setting the agenda.

When preaching bigger sections, we may not be exegeting every word so closely. But we are exegeting the context and structure of the book in a much more careful way.


Well Worth Downloading…

October 1, 2009

God Exposed conference on preaching:

  • Session 1: Mark Dever – “The Power of God’s Word” (Mark 4:26-34)
  • Session 2: Daniel L. Akin – “The Preaching on Preaching” (Eccl. 12:9-14)
  • Session 3: Michael McKinley – “The Centrality of the Word” (Luke 10:38-42)
  • Session 4: CJ Mahaney – “Expository Faithfulness” (2 Timothy 4:1-5)
  • Session 5: Thabiti Anyabwile – “Will It Preach? Exposition in Non-White Contexts”
  • Session 6: Mark Dever – “Expositional Preaching: A Defense and Charge” 

icon for podpress  Session 1: Dever [84:42m]: Play Now | Download

icon for podpress  Session 2: Akin [76:23m]: Play Now | Download

icon for podpress  Session 3: McKinley [74:17m]: Play Now | Download

icon for podpress  Session 4: Mahaney [113:34m]: Play NowDownload

 icon for podpress  Session 5: Anyabwile [96:26m]: Play NowDownload

icon for podpress  Session 6: Dever [69:37m]: Play Now | Download

(HT: 9 Marks)