The Wanderer

As I walked through the wilderness of this world …

Posts Tagged ‘Banner of Truth

Ryle’s writings

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This morning I received a packet of books in the post. I wish to recommend them.

The Banner of Truth has finally succumbed to the pressure/made a wise decision on their own initiative and produced a reset, hardbound edition of J. C. Ryle’s Expository Thoughts on the Gospel. Now, I admit that there’s one font used – sparingly – that I would probably not have chosen, but this is a cracking set of volumes. No longer will your paperback copies start to unbind after a couple of readings; no longer will the spines crack when you try to hold them open on your desk; no longer will you strain your eyes to read the often fainter text of other hardbound editions.

These are beautiful to behold, excellent in their quality, and outstanding in their substance. Although the later volumes in the series have more in the way of exegetical notes, to none of these books will the technical exegete turn in order to find his exhaustive and exhausting way. There will be times when the good Bishop’s Anglicanism will skew his interpretations, and others at which his Amyraldism raises its head, but these are relatively easily negotiated. What you will get, by and large, are pastorally sound, eminently practical, thoroughly Christ-centred, happily straightforward expository thoughts, ideal for private or family worship, stimulating for preachers, instructive for pastors, models of earnest simplicity.

In short, then, this is a set which could and perhaps should replace any other more modern edition (and many older editions) of Ryle’s Expository Thoughts. What is more, the seven volumes are currently being sold for £45 (or $65) , reduced to £15 ($25) for ministers. In other words, there is no better time to bag these puppies.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Wednesday 15 August 2012 at 12:56

Posted in Book notices

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Out and about in Scotland

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It’s been a busy few days here chez J. I spent several days in Edinburgh, having been invited to preach at the conference of many names (“The Call”, the “Shepherd as Leader” conference). I arrived fairly early on Friday morning, and promptly sped out to Glenrothes with Brian Croft and company, where a seminar was running over lunch at Glenrothes Baptist Church (I won’t bother with all the connections). A pleasant surprise was the presence of Ali McLachlan, now heading up Grace Baptist Partnership, Scotland. We had a pleasant chinwag, and then I headed over with a small group to St Andrews, where – around a range of small meetings – I had the privilege of showing a few of the gents around the town, including the cathedral ruins, the castle ruins, and the sites of the martyrdoms of George Wishart and Patrick Hamilton. It seems particularly grievous that – as far as could be determined – Reformed evangelical witness in St Andrews is slight to non-existent. A stop at the Old Course on the way out to allow the golf-appreciating Brian to hug the fairway was followed by a drive home via Anstruther to allow us to visit a famed fish’n’chip shop before we headed back to Edinburgh.

I was staying with a couple from Charlotte Chapel, Tim & Shelagh Prime, and they were outstandingly gracious to a guest who was invariably finding out what he was doing in any given hour about ten minutes before the hour dawned. I was up early on the Saturday with a sense of spiritual pregnancy, eager to be delivered of my sermon. We got to Charlotte Chapel in good time, and soon the ninety or so attendees were trickling in. The conference was well-organised (I saw a time sheet with minute long increments where it was deemed fit!) and smoothly-run. I was on my feet at the appointed moment, and – though I cannot say it was an easy birth, and I had some sense that it was not an altogether lovely baby – I had some sense of the Lord’s help in preaching, though I was shedding chunks of prepared sermon at an alarming rate by the end.

Brian Croft followed with a dense but balanced overview of pastoral priorities, followed by breakout sessions which – despite my best efforts in kicking off the day – were not concerted attempts to leave the premises. After lunch, Matthew Spandler-Davison bounced off Matthew 28.18-20 to give some overarching thoughts on evangelism. This was followed by Ray van Neste giving a paper, at the request of the organisers, on the priority of soul-care in pastoral ministry. Though it was an address more than a sermon, Ray delivered it with soul, and I found his Scriptural and historical evidences compelling in every sense, and thoroughly appreciated it. For me, it was undoubtedly one of the high points of the day. I will let you know when it all goes online.

I trickled back to the Primes, where we were joined by Tim’s dad, Derek Prime of Derek Prime fame, who was kind enough to give me a copy of his new biography of Charles Simeon, of which more anon. We watched the Wales vs. England rugby match and ate a meal together before an evening of reading (for me).

On the Lord’s day I headed out to Penicuik Baptist Church where I had the privilege of preaching morning and evening to some old friends and some new faces, spending the day with hosts from previous visits and enjoying a good catch-up. Returning to the Primes’s home, I was probably nearly assaulted by Andy Prime, their son and an assistant pastor at Charlotte Chapel, as I am not sure that he expected me and I might very well have been considered an intruder. Blows averted, Andy, his fiancée, and I enjoyed a toast feast while chewing the fat, as it were, and I discovered that he will be preaching at this year’s Banner of Truth Youth Conference. As the night wore on, I eventually headed to bed.

On Monday morning I leapt sprightly from twixt the sheets and headed for the Banner of Truth offices, where I spent a day annoying people, messing about with proofs, giving my opinion on matters which are none of my business, getting in the way, and generally making myself a nuisance. I am sure that they love me there. When Jonathan Watson finally managed to get rid of me, I headed back to Edinburgh airport where I got the plane home.

So, plenty going on, and plenty more to come in the next few days. Watch this space . . .

Written by Jeremy Walker

Tuesday 28 February 2012 at 23:26

Posted in Updates

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Slow going

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I have been away for a few days at a generally excellent Banner of Truth Ministers’ Conference in Leicester.  Good preaching and warm fellowship made for a great week.  Unfortunately – and some of you may remember my previously-expressed awareness of entropy – I have run into more problems.  I had a pleasant ride home with Martin Holdt, during which we discussed God’s care of his people by various means, some more obvious and others better hidden.  I was aware that the car was not running too smoothly, but it was not until I reached home that I realised that the Lord had been preserving us even as we discussed his preserving mercies: it was not the road surface that was ropey, but a strut in one of the wheels that was collapsing, and leaving a large portion of the tyre bare.  I also got home to find that my computer – which has been a touch unstable for a few months – has again been just stopping.  Hard drive?  Heat event?  Software crash?  Who can tell, but it may be on its last legs, which is a touch awkward.  In God’s kindness, we are looking after my mother’s somewhat limited laptop (operating system, nothing more!) which at least allows me to do some of the basics online.  We may now be past mending and into replacing.  If things are a little quiet here for a while, you will know why.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Friday 30 April 2010 at 12:27

Posted in Updates

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Murray on expository preaching

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A simple and conversational yet forceful delivery commands both respect and response. Enthusiasm inspires. Logic is convincing, the illogical confusing. As preachers let us have a heart. Let us stop wearying our audiences. Let us make our preaching so absorbingly interesting that even the children would rather listen to us than draw pictures and will thus put to shame their paper-and-pencil supplying parents. But we may as well make up our minds that an absolute prerequisite of such preaching is the most painstaking preparation.

With this challenging quote from R. B. Kuiper, Iain Murray sums up another provocative article in the Banner of Truth Magazine.  What with Stuart Olyott’s toothsome contribution on mediate regeneration last month (which stirred up plenty of debate, although I think its central thrust was both accurate and helpful), it looks like the Banner magazine may be rediscovering its bite.

Murray’s argument is not for the abandonment of ‘expository preaching’ (by which he means systematic, consecutive exposition of a book or passage of Scripture), but a warning to take account of its weaknesses compared with what might be called the ‘topical’ or ‘textual’ sermon.

Of course, there is a danger in such terms.  Is a topical sermon expository?  Certainly it ought to be in the basic sense of an opening up of a given portion of the Word of God.  Consider Spurgeon, for example.  While Spurgeon is rarely held up as a model exegete, you can read almost any one of Spurgeon’s sermons and you will find a very thorough grasp of its context and meaning lying behind the form that he gives it.  In that sense, Spurgeon is thoroughly expository.  At the same time, Spurgeon knew himself, and was confident that both he and any congregation to which he preached would be bored to tears within weeks if he began to preach a consecutive expository series: his genius lay in another direction.  The preacher who would be a textual sermoniser must know his Bible and be willing and able to understand and, if necessary, situate the verse in its immediate and wider context.

Another consideration with the method Murray advocates is the need for wisdom and courage.  The expository series often hits issues that might not otherwise be addressed.  In the kindness of God, these are often particularly apposite.  Gossip or anger becomes a problem just as we reach James 3; financial commitment is fading as we arrive at 2 Corinthians 8; a legal spirit is cut down in working through Galatians; weak love for the brethren is addressed by John’s first epistle.  At the same time, there may be matters that need to be addressed but are not (or are not addressed well) because the passage in hand does not immediately deal with them.  Perhaps the saints need to be stirred up, reminded of their primary commitments, encouraged to preach the gospel to the unconverted, to minister to the poor, to address particular sins of faith or life.  If the preacher sets out to hit those notes he can be accused of harping on the same tune, riding a hobbyhorse, or targeting particular people.  Thus the preacher who would regularly preach the topical sermon must be wise to identify the particular needs that need to be addressed and how and when they should be addressed, spiritually sensitive to the work of the Spirit in his own heart and in the life of the church he serves, and courageous to hit the targets that need to be hit without a sinful regard for the opinions of men.

Anyway, Murray identifies disadvantages of the ‘expository’ method under five headings:

  • Know your gifts – different men have different capacities for different kinds of work.
  • What is preaching? – it is more than an agency of instruction: it must also be an agency of ignition, striking, awakening and rousing men and women.
  • Sermon or lecture? – understanding different purposes and functions of different approaches to sermons.
  • What helps the hearer most is best – what are the needs of the particular people before the preacher?  Does a running commentary result from the expository method?  If so, is that preaching, and/or is that of most benefit to believers and unbelievers?  Not all preachers are able to combine the expository and textual elements as could, say, Lloyd-Jones.
  • The best ‘fit’ for evangelistic preaching – bringing particular truths to bear on the souls of the unconverted with a prayerful view to their awakening is often best served by ‘topical’ or ‘textual’ sermons.  Again, Spurgeon used to refer to those passages and verses that seemed to have been designed by God for the specific purpose of bringing in his elect, without denying the power of God to work his saving purposes from any part of the truth.

I find myself in substantial agreement with Mr Murray on this, and hope that his exhortation to consider the advantages and disadvantages of various methods of public ministry, together with an honest assessment of a preacher’s own graces and gifts, will help me to pursue the right path, and churches to recover a vibrant and pointed pulpit ministry.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Friday 22 January 2010 at 12:14

Banner gets Challiesd

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I am not sure ‘Challiesd’ was a word before a few moments ago.  That is neither here nor there.

Banner of Truth do a sponsored post (with a great offer of a free book for those who have never read the Puritans).  As you would expect, it is a puff piece, but at least it has to do with books that are generally worthy of being pushed and should not need to be puffed.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Tuesday 13 October 2009 at 13:50

Banner bloggeth

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Written by Jeremy Walker

Saturday 19 September 2009 at 15:51


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A fairly busy few days.  After plenty going on last week, I flew to Edinburgh first thing Saturday morning, and spent the day at the Scottish Reformed Conference, listening to Sinclair Ferguson and Eric Alexander (sermons here).  Sinclair preached the first and last sessions, sandwiching what was – for me – the outstanding message of the day, Eric Alexander on the glory of Christ.  It is not that Sinclair was bad, it is just that Eric Alexander was – I believe – unusually helped by the Spirit of God.  Maybe it is simply that this was what I needed to hear.

On the Lord’s day I was preaching morning and evening at Penicuik Baptist Church, meeting some old friends and gracious saints (mainly both simultaneously!).  On the Monday I spent a few hours at the Banner of Truth offices in Edinburgh, generally getting in the way and making a distracting nuisance of myself.  I flew home Monday evening, and spent most of the day afterward in a stupour before heading out to Ashford, where I preached at a meeting for the Sovereign Grace Union on the unchanging gospel.  I got home late and slept long.  I think I am catching up.  This weekend I have all three ministries here, and am trying to get my act together with these and many other bits.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Thursday 14 May 2009 at 09:04

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