Bible Conference – Saturday, September 24th

August 26, 2011

I’m involved in a conference in about a month from now in Edinburgh. Looking forward to it.

Bible Conference 2011  at Duncan Street Baptist

Duncan Street Baptist Church, Edinburgh

May we take this opportunity to warmly invite you to this year’s conference which takes place on Saturday the 24th of September from 09:30-16:00.  The theme for this year’s conference is God’s Glorious Gospel of Grace.

The aim of this year’s conference is simple – to encourage & equip believers in Gospel ministry.

On the theme of God’s Glorious Gospel of Grace, there will be 3 talks and also a panel discussion.

John Brand will preach on the topic ‘What is it?’  In this session, John will explain the content of the Biblical Gospel and will outline the key doctrines that are central to a proper understanding of the Gospel.

Following on from this, Colin Adams will preach on the topic ‘Why do I need it?’  In this session, Colin will set out why Christians need the Gospel each and every day and why we must preach the Gospel to ourselves.

In our last session, Craig Dyer will preach on the topic ‘Why should I share it … and how?’  Craig will set out the Biblical basis for evangelism and will explain to us how we can be more effective in communicating the Gospel.

At a time when there is much confusion over the content & centrality of the Gospel, this is very much a conference in season.

In addition to the sessions, there will be a fully stocked bookshop which the Faith Mission will run for us and there will also be other resource partners who will provide great Gospel resources.

We look forward to welcoming you and spending time with you in September as we partner and unite around God’s Glorious Gospel of Grace.

Bible Conference website.


Tim Keller: Prayer Is Your Life

August 16, 2011

Praying & The Preacher

August 16, 2011

Michael Lawrence wrote a stellar article in Christianity Today about how prayer affects a preacher’s preaching. I’m planning to employ one of his practical suggestions:

‘I pray each day for some of my members by name out of the text I’m going to preach on. As I do this, I move beyond the circumstances of life—health, jobs, and relationships—to address spiritual realities as well. Prayer like this produces divinely directed sympathy for the congregation and leads to divinely directed agendas in our sermons. We’re not content any longer with pious platitudes or personal hot-buttons. Instead, through prayer, our sermons reflect the heart of God for his people.’


How Long The Sermon? Appendix.

August 16, 2011

Brian Croft gives us three great guidelines:

1) Based on where your people are, not where you think they should be. 

2) Based on how good and seasoned a preacher you are.

3) To leave your people longing for more, not less.

I would add a few more:

4) Give yourself sufficient time to explain your ‘particular’ text. The length of a sermon is partly, though not entirely, dictated by the density of the text itself. Some passages require little explanation: even if application is extensive, these sermons may be slightly shorter.  But others passages are more oscure. A sermon on Revelation 20 will understandably  involve  more explanation than an exposition of Psalm 1. It is likely, and perhaps necessary, that some sermons will be slightly longer.

5) Don’t take more time than you need to explain a text sufficiently. One reason why some preachers preach too long is because their discussion of a text is not ‘sufficient’ but   ‘exhaustive.’ They want to say everything about everything. Every fine point of Hebrew grammar is pointed out; every rabbit trail of historical background is followed. But that is a commentary, not a sermon.

6) Don’t completely ‘can’ your sermons. There are ocassions when I know God’s ‘special help’ in preaching in His Word. I wish these rare ocassions were more frequent! When I know God’s unusual assistance, I have a tendency to go slightly longer. When that doesn’t happen, I may shut up shop more quickly. We must always evaluate what God is doing in the moment of preaching. To put it another way, I don’t think we can entirely ‘can’ our sermons beforehand. This doesn’t mean that preachers will not have a ‘typical sermon length’ at a given point in their ministry. At the moment, I’m about a ’40 minute preacher’. But that doesn’t mean I can never preach 30 or 50 minutes. It depends.


Brand’s 100 Books

July 26, 2011

John Brand recommends 50 commentaries and 50  other books  for a pastor’s library: Take up and read!



Simeon Trust: Principles of Exposition

June 16, 2011

The Simeon Trust website is really helpful. For example, there is a great page called “Principles of Exposition.” Whether you need to re-sharpen your tools or learn the basics of being a workman, there is much material that you will find useful.

All the material below is taken from the Simeon Trust Principles of Exposition page. I realised in listening to the talks that I have fallen back into some of the mistakes that David Helm (and others) warn us of!


Principle:We must let the Bible shape our frameworks rather than letting our frameworks shape our ‘interpretations’ of the Bible.Explanation:Some people are Calvinists and others are Wesleyans. Some are neither. Many lean to the left. Many others lean to the right. We all have frameworks. And frameworks can often be very helpful. But in order to get at the meaning of a text, we must begin by suspending our frameworks and, instead, let the text be sovereign. Where there is discrepancy, we must adjust the framework rather than fall into the traps of ignoring or bending the text until it says “what we want it to say.” We must hear it for “what it says.”Strategies:identify your own frameworks (political, theological, health and wealth gospel, etc.), constantly approach the text with fresh eyes, consult many translations of the Bible (both conservative and liberal, dynamic and literal)Practice Texts: Mark 2.1-12 or 8.22-33, Hebrews 6.1-8, James 2.14-26

Listen: David Helm teaches at the 2005 Wheaton workshop [mp3, 63mb]

text and framework


Principle:We will preach from a particular passage better if we understand what the whole book is about.Explanation:Books of the Bible and the Bible (as a whole) have a coherent, sustained message similar to the unique melody of a song—waiting to be heard. It unites the whole book, concisely stating what the whole book is about. The theme of any passage will be related (directly or indirectly) to this theme or melodic line. In other words, the Bible does not need an interpreter (it is, itself, an interpretation). Our job is not to interpret the Bible, but to listen well enough and long enough to hear the melody.Strategies:read and reread, identify a top and tail (e.g. Romans 1.5 and 15.26), find a purpose statement (e.g. Luke 1.1-4), find repeated words and phrases and ideas (e.g. “joy” and “fellowship” in Philippians), follow the Old Testament quotationsPractice Texts: John 2.1-11, 2 Corinthians 8.1-15, 2 Timothy 3.10-17

Listen: Kent Hughes teaches at the 2007 Spokane workshop [mp3, 27mb]

melodic line


Principle:We must understand how the original audience understood the words in order to know how those words apply today. We must understand the context.Explanation:In preaching, there is a great pressure to be relevant. This pressure often means that we are tempted to read what is written and then apply it directly. In other words, we go straight from the text to what we consider a relevant application. By understanding the text in its context, that is, understanding the verse as it would have been understood by the original audience, we can begin to understand the author’s intention in the passage for our congregation.Strategies:read the entire book, if paired with another then read both books (e.g. 1 and 2 Corinthians), find references in other books to the people in your passagePractice Texts: 1 Corinthians 13.1-7, 2 Corinthians 6.14-7.1

Listen: Paul Rees teaches at the 2007 Philadelphia workshop [mp3, 63mb]

traveling instructions


Principle:We must stay on the line of Scripture, never straying above it or below it.Explanation:We are often tempted to venture above the line of Scripture into fanaticism or pietism, expressing a zeal that may or may not hide legalism. In so doing, we add unto the Scriptures. We are also often tempted to dip below the line into liberalism and pragmatism, ignoring both the content and point of Scripture and appearing as subtle or even blatant antinomianism. In so doing, we subtract from the Scriptures. And so, we must consider the text in light of both extremes.Strategies:consider the text in light of both extremes, anticipate how those who are the furthest above and the furthest below might treat the text, test consistency of your reading with the rest of ScripturePractice Texts: Genesis 3.1-3 (who is above or below?), Mark 7.6-13, John 3.16-21

Listen: David Helm teaches at the 2005 Wheaton workshop [mp3, 84mb]

staying on the line


Principle:A preacher cannot preach a text well without first apprehending the skeletal structure of the passage.Explanation:Every text has a structure. We must find the organizing principle of the author. This organizing principle, or emphasis, must dictate the shape and emphasis of the sermon. This is the frame. In structural engineering—if you don’t get the frame right, the house will never come out right. To use another metaphor, we must get the ‘bones’ straight in order for the sermon to be healthy.Strategies:recognize that much of the material in the Bible was originally preached material and look for the outline the original preacher used, look at the text with x-ray eyes in order to see its skeletal structure, be familiar with different genres of Biblical literature as they will have correspondingly different shapes (e.g. in Old Testament narrative, look at major characters, crisis, resolution, chiasms, and God or narrator speech moments; in the Pauline Epistles, diagram the sentences and find repetitions)Practice Texts: Genesis 11.1-9, Amos 1.3-2.4, Luke 15-24, Ephesians 5, Philippians 2

Listen: David Helm teaches at the 2007 Chicago workshop [mp3, 46mb]

bone and marrow

Helen Roseveare

June 13, 2011

Dr Helen Roseveare spent a Saturday in Ballymoney earlier this month.  As part of the 25th anniversary celebrations of our church, she spoke to 250 women on the subject “The Wheel of Life – Complete in Him.” Despite advancing years, Helen was as articulate and inspiring as ever.  It is good that we have the following videos for posterity. You can also find the audio for download here.

Session 1 – The Hub (part one)

Session 1 – The Hub (part two)

Session 1 – The Hub (part three)

Session 1 – The Hub (part four)

Session 2 – The Spokes (part one)

Session 2 – The Spokes (part two)

Session 3 – The Rim (part one)

Session 3 – The Rim (part two)


Dale Ralph Davis on Preaching and Praying the Psalms

June 2, 2011


The Getty’s

May 31, 2011

One of our elders recently interviewed Keith and Kristyn Getty. It is well worth a listen.  They speak of their upbringing in Northern Ireland, their ongoing hymn writing ministry, and their plans for the future.


Piper’s Preaching Course

May 23, 2011

The video of John Piper’s preaching course at Re:Train is now available in Desiring God’s Resource Library.

Download the course’s 42-page syllabus (PDF).


Cautions About Preaching Christ In The OT

May 23, 2011

Don Carson, Tim Keller and David Murray highlight some common mistakes in our preaching Christ from the Old Testament.

I found Keller’s advise especially helpful:

1. Don’t “get to Christ” so soon in the sermon that you don’t unfold the meaning and application of the text to the original hearers. If you “jump to Christ” too soon that often means you inspire people but you don’t give them concrete application for how they are supposed to live.

2. Don’t “get to Christ” so late in the sermon that he seems like an add-on, a mere devotional appendix. If you wait too long to get to Christ listeners won’t see how Jesus’ work is crucial if the listeners are going to obey or heed the text.

3. Don’t get to Christ artificially. This is a big subject of course, but I believe two of the best ways are (a) by identifying in your text one of the many inner-canonical themes that all climax in Christ (Don Carson’s language), and (b) identifying in your text some “Fallen Condition Focus,” some lack in humanity that only Christ can fill (Bryan Chapell’s language).


Christ’s Inner Life…In the Psalms

May 19, 2011

“Not only do the Psalms help shape our response to God in the trials and joys of life, then, but they also reveal to us something of the inner life of Jesus Christ, glimpses we do not have through the Gospels alone.” (L Michael Morales)