Friday, July 31, 2015

Preaching From the Overflow

He (the preacher) must not be always trying to make sermons, but always seeking truth, and out of the truth which he has won the sermons will make themselves . . . Here is the need of broad and generous culture. Learn to study for the sake of truth, learn to think forth the profit and the joy of thinking. Then your sermons shall be like the leaping of a fountain, not like the pumping of a pump. Philip Brooks from the 1877 Yale Lectures in Between Two Worlds by John Stott, p. 181

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Necessity of Addressing Difficult Subjects in Preaching

It is to help Christian develop a Christian mind.  The Christian mind is not a mind which is thinking about specifically Christian or even religious topics, but a mind which is thinking about everything, however apparently 'secular,' and doing so 'christianly' or within a Christian frame of reference.  It is not a mind stuffed full with pat answers to every question, all neatly filed as in the memory bank of a computer; it is rather a mind which has absorbed biblical truths and Christian presuppositions so thoroughly that it is able to view every issue from a Christian perspective and so reach a Christian judgment about it.  John Stott, Between Two Worlds, p. 170.

Monday, July 27, 2015

The Soul of Preaching

Enthusiasm for Christ is the soul of preaching.  James Stalker, Yale lectures, 1891.  Oh God, give those who preach and teach your word a passion for your Son!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Calvin on the Necessity of Preaching

The preaching of heavenly doctrine has been joined upon the pastors . . .  Many are led either by pride, dislike or rivalry to the conviction that they can profit enough from private reading and meditation; hence they despise public assemblies and deem preaching superfluous . . . this is like blotting out the face of God which shines upon us in teaching.   Quoted by John Stott in Between Two Worlds, p. 119.

The Necessity of Sitting Under the Preaching of the Word

Despite not, good brethren, despise not to hear God's Word declared.  As you tender your own souls, be diligent to come to sermons; for that is the ordinary place where men's hearts are moved, and God's secrets revealed.  For, be the preacher never so weak, yet is the Word of God as mighty and as puissant as ever it was.  John Jewel, as quoted by John Stott in Between Two Worlds, p. 119.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Central Necessity of Preaching to the Health of the Church

Decline of spiritual life and activity in the churches is commonly accompanied by a lifeless, formal, unfruitful preaching, and this partly as cause, partly as effect.  On the other hand, the great revivals of Christian history can most usually be traced to the work of the pulpit, and in their progress they have developed and rendered possible a high order of preaching.  E. C. Dargan, as quoted by John Stott in Between Two Worlds, p. 114-115

Monday, July 20, 2015

Biblical Reflection on "Forgiving Ourselves."

The Decisive Factor of Preaching in the health of a church

E. C. Dargan comments on the decisive factor of preaching in the spiritual vitality of the church . . . Decline of spiritual life and activity in the churches is commonly accompanied by a lifeless, formal, unfruitful preaching, and this partly as cause, partly as effect.  On the other hand, the great revivals of christian history can most usually be traced to the work of the pulpit, and in their progress they have developed and rendered possible a high order of preaching.  quoted by John Stott, Between Two Worlds, p. 115

Friday, July 17, 2015

The Dependence of the Church on God's Word

The Church is the creation of God by his Word.  Moreover, God's new Creation (the Church) is as dependent upon his word as his old creation (the universe).  Not only has he brought it into being by his Word, but he maintains and sustains it, reforms and renews it through the same Word.  The Word of God is the sceptre by which Christ rules the Church and the food with which he nourishes it. John Stott, Between Two Worlds, p. 109.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Relationship between Homiletics and Theology

I am not despising homiletics as a topic for study in seminaries, but rather affirming that homiletics belongs properly to the department of practical theology and cannot be taught without a solid theological foundation.  To be sure, there are principles of preaching to be learned, and a practice to be developed, but it is easy to put too much confidence in these.  Technique can only make us orators; if our theology is right, then we have all the basic insights we need into what we ought to be doing, and all the incentives we need to induce us to do it faithfully. John Stott, Between Two Worlds, p. 92.

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Role of the Preacher

His throne is the pulpit; he stands in Christ's stead; his message is the word of God; and around him are immortal souls; the Savior, unseen, is beside him; the Holy Spirit broods over the congregation; angels gaze upon the scene, and heaven and hell await the issue.  What associations and what vast responsibility! Matthew Smith as quoted by John Stott in Between Two Worlds,  p. 82. 

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Power of the Word to Work

Here is the testimony of Luther about the power of the word . . . I simply taught, preached, wrote God's word: otherwise I did nothing.  And when, while I slept, or drank Wittenberg beer with Philip and my Amsdorf, the Word so greatly weakened the papacy that never a Prince or Emperor inflicted such damage upon it.  I did nothing.  The Word did it all.  Quoted by John Stott, Between Two Worlds, P. 25.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Necessity of Preaching to Christianity

Preaching is indispensable to christianity.  Without preaching a necessary part of its authenticity has been lost.  For christianity is, in it's very essence, a religion of the Word of God.  No attempt to understand Christianity can succeed which overlooks or denies the truth that the living God has taken the initiative to reveal himself savingly to fallen humanity; or that his self-revelation has been given by the most straight forward means of communication known to us, namely, by a word and words; or that he calls upon those who have heard his Word to speak it to others. John Stott, Between Two Worlds, P. 15.

Monday, July 6, 2015

The Most Important Secret in Preaching

I started a doctoral program this year at Talbot Seminary with a focus on Ministry Skills.  The three year track focuses on preaching, leadership, and discipleship.  This first year is focused on preaching so I have been reading as much on preaching as I can.  I will be focusing the blog on quotes or thoughts from my reading.

"I believe that by far the most important secrets of preaching are not technical but theological and personal." John Stott, Between Two Worlds, p. 10.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015


Here is thoughtful advice I found on the Gospel Coalition for churches to do in response to the Supreme Court decision on same sex marriage . . .

By now, you have heard the Supreme Court issued its long-anticipated decision that imposed a 50-state same-sex marriage mandate. Pastors and churches have exhibited a great degree of uncertainty preceding this moment, wondering what the effect will be on their ministry. Now that the decision has been released, though, we can respond with greater clarity. 
Here are the immediate things you need to know.

The Court’s Decision

The Supreme Court, in a 5–4 decision authored by Justice Kennedy, held that the Equal Protection Clause requires a state to license a marriage between two persons of the same sex and to recognize a same-sex marriage entered into lawfully in another state. In so holding, the Supreme Court struck down the state constitutional amendments of Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee that defined marriage as between one man and one woman. The decision redefines marriage for the entire country to include same-sex couples.
The majority opinion stated the following with respect to religious opposition to same-sex marriage:
Finally, it must be emphasized that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned. The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths, and to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered.
This statement is welcome to be sure. But the greatest threat for churches lies in the application of the Court’s decision to believers who live in jurisdictions covered by so-called “non-discrimination” laws and ordinances. Everywhere that marriage has been redefined in the last several years has seen an awakening of non-discrimination laws that prohibit discrimination in employment, housing, or places of public accommodation on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. These laws are peppered throughout the states and local governments and are a linchpin of the sexual revolution’s broader legal and political strategy: to establish non-discrimination laws at all levels throughout the country and to “ensure that religion is not used as an excuse to discriminate.”
In coming days, the threat from these non-discrimination laws will materialize in numerous ways as same-sex couples marry. But there are proactive steps your church can take to protect itself.

What Should Your Church Do?

1. Churches should update their statement of faith on the issues of marriage, human sexuality, and gender.
Now is the time for churches to maintain a clear witness to biblical truth about marriage, human sexuality, and gender. Churches should update their statement of faith to include the congregation’s belief on these issues. Doing it in the wake of the Supreme Court decision will not be viewed negatively by a court if a legal issue ever arises. Instead, putting clarifying language in the statement of faith merely serves to codify a church’s long-standing religious beliefs. Alliance Defending Freedom has sample language in our Protecting Your Ministry manual that provides a starting point. Clarifying the statement of faith can help a church in numerous ways. If your church has not done so already, now is the time.
2. Pastors will not be legally compelled to officiate same-sex wedding ceremonies—for now.
In the near term, no pastor will be forced to officiate any wedding ceremony with which he disagrees. Pastors remain free to make a theological determination about whom they will marry and whom they will not. For example, pastors will often not marry a believer to an unbeliever, and many will not perform ceremonies for someone they know didn’t have biblical grounds for a previous divorce. Nothing in the Supreme Court’s opinion changes the freedom of pastors to continue to make those theologically based decisions about whom they will marry.
Consequently, pastors should refrain from retreating from marriage ceremonies. Some have suggested pastors disengage from “civil marriage” and only perform religious ceremonies. This type of reaction is not only legally unnecessary, but it sends the message pastors have “abdicated the field” on the battleground of marriage. Instead, pastors should engage more fervently in advocating and expounding the truth about marriage by maintaining a faithful witness to whom they will marry and whom they will not.
3. Churches should ensure their facilities usage policies are revised to allow only uses consistent with the church’s religious beliefs.
In the wake of the Supreme Court ruling, some churches may be approached by same-sex couples seeking to be married in the church facility. Churches should not feel as if they have to close their doors to the community just to prevent wedding ceremonies with which they disagree. Churches must continue to be a welcoming presence in the community and can do so through updating or revising their facility usage policy. The key point is to tie usage of the church’s facility to the statement of faith and religious beliefs of the church. And then to make clear that uses inconsistent with those religious beliefs will not be allowed. Alliance Defending Freedom has a sample facilities usage policy available in our Protecting Your Ministry manual.
There are other suggestions for churches contained in the Protecting Your Ministry manual. Now is an opportune time to download the manual and follow the suggested guidelines to ensure your ministry is protected.
Despite the ruling of the Supreme Court, marriage has not changed. Society may suppress the truth in unrighteousness, but it cannot any more change the truth than it can the color of the sky. The church has always proclaimed the gospel to cultures and societies who have rejected truth. Now, more than ever, the church must fulfill its mission. We may not know in every detail how the marriage decision will affect America’s churches, but groups such as Alliance Defending Freedom will continue to work aggressively to keep the legal door open for the spread of the gospel. You and your church are not alone.

Editors’ note: For more resources on same-sex marriage and homosexuality, visit Equip, a joint initiative of The Gospel Coalition and the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention to provide a broad range of resources on homosexuality and same-sex marriage issues to prepare your church for this changing culture.
Erik Stanley is senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom. Stanley leads the litigation team specializing in defending churches and ministries from state encroachment on their gospel mission and witness. He obtained MDiv, summa cum laude, from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary in 2013.