Archive for the ‘While wandering . . .’ Category
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.
The prodigal is at the swine-trough but finds that he cannot as a rational creature feed himself with the husks that non-rational creatures eat. It is in this situation that the present volume goes out, beseeching the prodigal to return to the father’s house. In the father’s house are many mansions. In it alone will the “son” find refuge and food. The presupposition of all intelligible meaning for man in the intellectual, the moral and the aesthetic spheres is the existence of the God of the Bible who, if he speaks at all in grace cannot, without denying himself, but speak in a self-contained infallible fashion. Only in a return to the Bible as infallibly inspired in its autography is there hope for science, for philosophy and for theology. Without returning to this Bible science and philosophy may flourish for a while with his father’s substance. But the prodigal had no self-sustaining principle. No man has till he accepts the Scripture that Warfield presents.
Cornelius Van Til in his foreword to Warfield’s Inspiration and Authority, via Heavenly Worldliness.
For Ridgley, economic relations between the Trinitarian persons, as in the Covenant of Redemption, are not necessary to establish the eternal divine relations, but economic relations are sufficient to discriminate these relations. They identify the parties as three distinct, divine persons. The Father sends the Son who becomes incarnate as the Mediator, and the Spirit undertakes the task of applying what the Son has achieved to those chosen in Christ before the world was. But these relations so displayed are not are eternal, ontological distinctions of the Trinity in se. What these economic relations show and even entail, are the operations ad extra of a tri-personal God. From the economic language regarding Sonship we can infer that there is an eternal Logos who in his economic role is also human through the overshadowing and power of the Holy Spirit.
Paul Helm walks us through Thomas Ridgley’s thinking on the Trinity. Fascinating.
I enjoyed this piece by Mez McConnell giving a firm affirmative to the question.
Reviews filled with venom have often been condemned socially for their bad manners, or ethically for their spite. I am not prepared to defend them from either charge; but I prefer to stress their inutility. . . . Automatically, without thinking about it one’s mind discounts everything [the venomous critic] says, as it does when we are listening to a drunk or delirious man. The critic rivets our attention on himself. When we get to the end we find that the critic has told us everything about himself and nothing about the book. Thus in criticism, as in vocabulary, hatred over-reaches itself. Willingness to wound, too intense and naked, becomes impotent to do the desired mischief.
Justin Taylor quotes Lewis on scathing reviews.
Over the past few years I’ve been bookmarking blog articles on subjects that interest me. When preparing a lecture on electronic resources for my Preaching Class students, I was surprised to discover that I had accumulated 200+ of these on the subject of preaching. So here you go, a Homiletics Course in one blog post!
David Murray gives us the benefit of his bookmarking.
. . . you could get the impression that the biggest stumbling block to the gospel is a tie, a piano, and hymnbook.
My friend Jim Savastio identifies the real problem and hope for a real solution.
Mike Kruger heads into a useful ten part series at Canon Fodder:
This new blog series is designed to help the lay believer learn some basic facts about the New Testament canon—the kind of facts that might be helpful in a conversation with a skeptic or inquisitive friend. The first of these facts is one that is so basic that it is often overlooked. It is simply that the New Testament books are the earliest Christian writings we possess.
This is interesting not just for students but for anyone involved in public discussion: Do You Really Want to Raise Your Hand?
We must all fight for the ministry of the word and prayer. Elders and pastors must fight to keep it and congregations must fight to support it, to encourage it, to give time for it. Because most pastors and most parishoners don’t notice Acts 6:4 is missing until it’s too late.
Excellent stuff from Kevin DeYoung.
I mentioned this principle on Sunday, but nothing like as beautifully as Calvin does here:
The Holy Spirit so inheres in his truth, which he expresses in Scripture, that only when its proper reverence and dignity are given to the Word does the Holy Spirit show forth his power…. For by a kind of mutual bond the Lord has joined together the certainty of his Word and of his Spirit so that the perfect religion of the Word may abide in our minds when the Spirit, who causes us to contemplate God’s face, shines; and that we in turn may embrace the Spirit with no fear of being deceived when we recognize him in his own image, namely, in the Word. So indeed it is. God did not bring forth his Word among men for the sake of a momentary display, intending at the coming of his Spirit to abolish it. Rather, he sent down the same Spirit by whose power he had dispensed the Word, to complete his work by the efficacious confirmation of the Word.
Calvin, Institutes, 1.9.3
via The Old Guys.
If you are celebrating the Lord’s supper tomorrow, you might do worse than prepare by considering this.
The book is full of that earnest, earthy pastoral theology that is so much bypassed in our day. It is written by a man who intends to know, love and serve Christ’s people with a Christlike spirit and through a Christ-soaked ministry. There are high points of insight and fervour throughout the work (look out for a couple of nuggets in coming days), and a thoroughly evangelical tone permeates the whole. The author determines to put Christ at the centre of his work by putting him at the centre of his life. Christ is not only the topic of the minister, but the source of all his power. The congregation is enjoined to earnest prayer for those who seek so to serve them.
Full review at Reformation21.
Helpful thoughts from Kevin DeYoung.
So, let me urge you, if you have not already done so (and even if you have), to get to grips (perhaps, again) with Spurgeon’s Lectures to my Students. To open the pages is to walk into a family gathering, and to listen to a spiritual father among his labouring sons, an older pastor among his younger brothers. It will not be long, I hope, before you are made to feel thoroughly at home, and – listening in to that rich voice from a warm and full heart – start to obtain a blessing.
Farewell, thou dear old man! We leave thee in possession of death till the resurrection day: but we will bear witness against thee, oh king of terrors, at the mouth of this dungeon; thou shalt not always have possession of this dead body; it shall be demanded of thee by the great Conqueror, and at that moment thou shalt resign thy prisoner. Oh ye ministers of Christ, ye people of God, ye surrounding spectators, prepare, prepare to meet this old servant of Christ, at that day, at that hour, when this whole place shall be all nothing, but life and death shall be swallowed up in victory.
The conclusion of a piece on the funerals of old preachers, and how to go about them, at Reformation21.
Tom Chantry tries to temper my alleged seasonal sourness a touch, while still pointing out the irredeemable lie.
Kevin DeYoung with three thoughtful posts on the dangers of busyness:
- The first danger is that busyness can ruin our joy.
- The second danger is that busyness can rob our hearts.
- The third danger is that busyness can cover up the rot in our souls.
For a Helopolous bonus, some thoughts on matters that are vital and matters that are significant:
let us never say or act as though the other doctrines and teachings of the Scripture are unimportant. “All Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16). We can continue to uphold that which is at the heart of our faith and all the while not neglect or relegate the “secondary” doctrines to that of unimportance.
Those that are full of the Holy Spirit are fit for any thing, either to act for Christ or to suffer for him. And those whom God calls out to difficult services for his name he will qualify for those services, and carry comfortably through them, by filling them with the Holy Spirit, that, as their afflictions for Christ abound, their consolation in him may yet more abound, and then none of these things move them.
via The Old Guys.