Morden’s often excellent work must be considered in any further Spurgeon studies, and sheds genuine light at many key points. His marshalling of the data and thoroughness of the treatment cannot for one moment be denied, and are to be applauded. However, those who are either less shackled by the conventions of this way of doing history, or, perhaps, share more of Spurgeon’s convictions more openly, may conclude with me that something is missing, and that Spurgeon’s constraining intention to be governed by Christ speaking in his Word by his Spirit is bypassed when it might have provided a far more complete and satisfying key to the life of this servant of God.
Read the whole review at Reformation21.
From Main Things:
I have been involved in one form or another in the public ministry of God’s word for over 35 years. In those years I have taught or preached nearly 3,000 times. Over the past several years I have noticed a general sense of weariness or fatigue in the ministry. I now believe I have been battling discouragement. This discouragement, for me, has been rooted in what I will term a ‘theologically informed pessimism’. This reality was exposed recently in my own preaching on Paul’s defense before Agrippa and Festus as recorded in Acts 26. Paul had every reason to be discouraged and pessimistic in bringing the gospel to these men. He was seeking to present the truth to men whom he knew were dead int their sins and trespasses. They were furthermore from a group (the rich and powerful) where conversions are rare (see 1 Cor. 1:26-29). He also knew that the core message he brought (Christ and Him crucified) was offensive and foolish to the very men he sought to reach. What struck me and convicted me is not only that Paul preached the truth anyway (always the faithful plodder), but that he did so with such passion. When Festus tells him that his great learning has driven him mad, Paul pleads with him that his message is one rooted in truth and reality. When the King mocks Paul’s attempts to ‘convert’ him, Paul tells him that desires all men to have to what he has (with the exception of his chains). How often had Paul faced just this kind unbelief, skepticism, and rejection? And yet, he carried on. And he did so in hope.
In this light, I have been meditating upon Paul’s word to the Corinthians as found in chapter 9. He is dealing with subject of teachers and preachers receiving a financial reward for their labor. In that context he says, 1 Corinthians 9:10 ..[it] is written, that he who plows should plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope.
Paul makes his argument based upon a certain ‘truism’. Those who plow and sow and thresh do so in hope. They do not do it merely to be faithful to their task. They are thinking of all the lunches and dinners down the road that make the labor and toil worth it all. I have labored all my ministerial life to be faithful. In the midst of this I have at times lost hope. I have taught with a desire to please God but, at times, with little hope that it would do anything. That it would change people or help people or convert people. Why? Because of what I so often seen and experienced. But God’s word is powerful. It does sanctify and it does save. It is a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces and a sword which cuts into the inner being of saints and sinners. I am repenting of my pessimism. I am taking up God’s Word with fresh hope. I do so as one who plows and one who sows anticipating the fruits of my labors.
In a recent article, Barnabas Piper criticizes Christians for the manner in which they confront the sin of homosexuality. The problem with these confrontations, argues Piper, is that they are not equally distributed over other sins. What about the sin of fornication? Or divorce? Why do these not get equal attention?
This is certainly one of the most common objections to Christians who confront homosexuality. But, I think there are a number of problems with it.
Read Michael’s response at Canon Fodder.
Joshua Reich offers a stimulating survey of what he calls the “skills of great preachers.” You may or may not agree with all of them, but they are certainly interesting observations.
Thoughtful comment from David Murray on the fact that the problem is not the interweb, it’s me.
OK, folks, we are still in chapter eight, this time in paragraph six, which reads in the original as follows:
6. Although the price of Redemption was not actually paid by Christ, till after his Incarnation, (*) yet the vertue, efficacy, and benefit thereof were communicated to the Elect in all ages successively, from the beginning of the World, in and by those Promises, Types, and Sacrifices, wherein he was revealed, and signified to be the Seed of the Woman, which should bruise the Serpents head; (h) and the Lamb slain from the foundation of the World: (i) Being the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.
* 1 Cor. 4.10. Heb. 4.2. 1 Pet. 1.10,11.
h Rev. 13.8.
i. Heb. 13.8.
Here I offer two questions for the price of one:
First, in modern glosses, the word “successively” is almost invariably dropped altogether. I am not sure why this is (enlightenment appreciated). However, my question is, what might be the precise signification of the word? Let me offer some possibilities (feel free to suggest others): could or does “successively” mean “in their turn” and/or “by increasing degrees” and/or “continuously”?
Second, and this is one where no-one has yet offered me a satisfactory answer, one of the proofs for the price of redemption paid by Christ following his incarnation is 1 Corinthians 4.10, which reads: “We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are distinguished, but we are dishonoured!” I understand that in considering the reasons why certain proofs were chosen you have to take into account the whole interpretive tradition but I am intrigued by what the framers of this document intended, and am still trying to work out precisely what sense and nuance they had in mind. Any answers, ideas or suggestions are welcome.
So, fire away, with thanks.