A sermon I preached on John 3:16-21:
It is because preaching is not exposition only but communication, not just the exegesis of a text but the conveying of a God-given message to living people who need to hear it.John Stott
Recently I preached a two part series on “Finding the Will of God” at Nansemond River Baptist Church. You might be surprised at my take on the matter from 2 Peter 1. So many people want to find God’s will but go about it in a completely incorrect way. God’s design is much clearer and straightforward than most of the faux-spiritual hoops we try to jump through.
“Finding the Will of God” (Part 1)[vimeo https://vimeo.com/48242688]
“Finding the Will of God” (Part 2)[vimeo https://vimeo.com/48691164]
Here’s a sermon I preached at Nansemond River Baptist Church in July from Acts 9 and the famous conversion of Saul.
“Preachers” can be the worst at this telling me that God has “laid something on their heart.” I am still a firm believer that the task of a pastor, when he gets up to speak to the church, is to communicate the intended meaning of the Scriptures.
If (and this is a huge if) God has “laid something on your heart,” then it sure better line up with the revealed message of God from the Scriptures.
When people do read today (and they don’t read often), they read almost exclusively for information or content; they almost never read for the pleasure obtained by reading an author whose command of language is exception. Many ministers, for instance, will read the occasional book about history. But with few exceptions, the interest in historical writing resides in the events narrated, not in the skillfulness of the narration…
[Modern readers ask what a] passage is about?… but they don’t raise questions about how the passage is constructed.
— T. David Gordon
I have, both anecdotally and formally, observed this to be the case in reference to the Bible. Most teachers of the Bible are concerned only with the words and principals of the sacred text. There is little concern for the syntax and grammar. Word studies abound with no interest in paragraph structure or the flow of discourse. This sort of textual myopia is further encumbered by a faulty view of much of Scripture regarding the importance of events recorded in the text. John Sailhamer has been influential in cogently explaining the necessity of viewing the intentionally constructed text of Scripture in its final form as the only element worth interpreting. Whatever so-called “event” might “lie behind” the inspired text is of no importance to the Christian interpreter. Rather, one must spend their time understanding how the text of Scripture is intentionally constructed to communicate a message.
Recently I have been wrestling again with the insider language that Christians use. I remember reading a few different articles about Tim Keller (Pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City) in which he discussed the importance of preaching with a non-Christian audience in mind.
So often American culture wars are couched by Christians in “us versus them” language. Statements such as “the liberals” or “the homosexuals” really distance the people whom we want to hear the message of the gospel.
What happened to the idea that we are no better than persons with whom we disagree? Many people have tremendous sin problems, however, “there but for the grace of God go I.” I must always be reminded that my sin is as grievous to God as any other sin. As I’ve heard it said, “The ground is level at the foot of the cross.”
This will be my turn to brag a little about my dad. He is the most talented musician I have ever met. However, I have watched him sacrifice personal acclaim for the service of Jesus. This past Sunday night he taught from Psalm 118 at his church. If you are familiar with SBC churches you might understand how rare it is to find a “Music Minister” who is genuinely qualified and gifted to be a pastor.
When I was in high school I was tired of “church.” I was sick of people who called themselves Christians and demonstrated the opposite in their living. It was only the consistent example of my parents at home and in public that reassured me that Christianity was for more than just “show.” My dad has always modeled a servant’s heart, a scholar’s mind, and genuine commitment to the Lordship of Christ in all things.
The Bible is clear that the home is an essential component in the discipleship of children. I once heard a youth pastor say about the role of the church, “we can’t fix in four hours what you screw up in seven days.” Maybe not the most sensitive statement, but definitely true. Parents provide the framework for Christianity and the way they live and parent will either affirm or deny the legitimacy of the gospel in the life of their children.