Preaching Christ from the OT: Practice

20 Mar

Session 11

Dr Jared Hood

I’m meant to begin with something humorous, aren’t I? Yesterday, I began with something my wife said. Perhaps I should say something that she said this morning and hope that she doesn’t hear the recording. I asked her what shirt I should wear because I can’t match my clothes. She said, “Wear the ones with the French cuffs. You know that he wears cufflinks, don’t you?” Perhaps she was thinking that if her husband was more like Iain Murray…

The task this morning is to provide some examples of preaching from the OT. All I’ve done today is select some of my sermons and I will hold them up to you as examples and we’ll assess whether they measure up to my principles yesterday. Remember Principle 8: Do not be formulaic for force the text into a particular mould. I am quite sure that my preaching is filled with all kinds of weaknesses and idiosyncrasies.

People find all kinds of books difficult to preach. Some say Romans or Ecclesiastes or Proverbs. The book I find hardest is 1 John with its repetitive, cumulative nature.

1         Wisdom Material

The wisdom material is poetic, including speculative wisdom (Ecclesiastes and Job), normative wisdom (Proverbs and Song of Songs). We link to think that we have genre anxiety. It is actually the contents of the book which is the problem. Why do we struggle about it? Because it doesn’t seem to have much of an evangelical feel to it. Where is the atonement in that? We would much rather go to narrative. It is us that have the problem. The reason is that we have a truncated Christ. We think it is only about the atonement.

Proverbs is not disconnected from the cross, but it gives us a bigger picture of Christ than what we’ve become accustomed to today. What does the wisdom material add to our understanding of Christ?

  1. There is a thematic link. The books are about wisdom and the NT expands about wisdom. Christ is our wisdom, has wisdom, exemplified wisdom, is the ultimate man of wisdom. When you preach Proverbs, you are always free to go forward to the life of Jesus and the moral teaching of the whole NT.
  2. There is an authorial link. Jesus is the author of the wisdom books. They are a reflection of the character of Jesus. It is Jesus’ will for you. Preach these books as part of the program of sanctification that Jesus wants for His people.
  3. There is a typological link. This hasn’t always been understood. The best comment I can find from someone on this topic is from Graeme Goldworthy (He is outstanding. I put him in the same basket as Edmund Clowney, which is high praise. He does have a problem with the level of human intention in prophecy, but I could have said the same about Greidanus or Poythress), “To the classic Reformation Christology, based on the offices of prophet, priest and king, we need to add ‘wise man’.” I am going to go one step further. I don’t think we need to add to or redefine Calvin’s munus triplex. Think about the office of king. What did a good king look like and do? He was a warrior, and brought about justice among his people. He would defend the underprivileged and the widow. What did the king need to do those things? Wisdom (1 Kings 3). That’s why Solomon was such a great king. This is the Biblical way of looking at kingship. We wish our leaders today knew more about wisdom. Guess who writes most of the wisdom books? Solomon, because is that wise king. This is royal wisdom. The OT picture of wisdom is incomplete without this, and therefore the picture of the Messiah is incomplete without this. These books tell us something about who the Messiah will be.

1.1       Proverbs 10:1-5

This is the start is the harder section of Proverbs which is not clearly thematically connected.

  1. First, I established the limits: I thought I saw a connection between these, being about works, with verse 6 moving to words. It seems to be about work, and how you need to work. This is not about the atonement. Christ wants His people to learn something about work.
  2. I isolated the points. This was hard to do, so I came up with three logical points from the text: The need not to be lazy, the need to work, the outcomes or incentives. Which would I put first? Which is more important, the outcomes or the work? Solomon wants to be glad about his son and doesn’t want him to die. This changes the main point, “How to live your life to please your father.”
    1. What God wants for you.
    2. How to get there: don’t be lazy.
    3. How to get there: work.
    4. The introduction was an explanation that Solomon wanted to be happy with his son and happy about the way his life turned out. The inspirer of the text says it to all sons and all people in the covenant; it is about how God can be pleased with you. This comment is open to wide explanation, so I went to another canonical explanation. Solomon isn’t saying, ‘I’ll only love you if you do these things.’ We are accepted in Christ, but we have a real relationship with God.
    5. What does God want for you? A long life (What does this mean if you die long?). Is there anything that you can do that will lead to you having a long life and getting these things that God wants for you?
    6. Don’t be lazy. Laziness leads to the opposite of what God wants for you and makes God displeased. I went to the NT to show that this theme is continued in the NT. “It’s not just an OT thing.” Paul talks about people who don’t provide for their own, and James talks about spiritual laziness, the filling out of the OT text (James 2:20).
    7. Be active: work. Use your opportunity. Have busy hands. I often tell my children, ‘Don’t watch the tele; Do something.’ This is in the NT too. Paul talks to rich people, telling them to be rich in good works (2 Timothy). Use Gospel opportunities, with the thematic link of harvest.
    8. I probably could have stopped there. I had explained the text and made a Gospel link. This is wisdom from Christ, reflecting the character of Jesus and shows us what Christ’s life was like. So I went on talked about Jesus’ work and showed how I was making this link. Solomon wrote this probably for Rehoboam wondering if he would drop the ball, but he knew that someone greater was yet to come because of the Davidic covenant. Jesus worked in summer. He made the best of a few short years here, talking about working while it was yet day. He was not lazy. He perfectly balanced work and sleep. He spoke about His work a number of times, including as a child (see John’s Gospel). I explored whether Jesus made the hearts of His parents glad. We don’t know about Joseph, but know about Mary (‘He grew in wisdom and she treasured these things in her heart’ Luke 2:52). Then we went to the cross because Jesus’ work is redemption. He was always righteous and was vindicated by His Father in resurrection, which is the basis on which we are vindicated. I got Isaiah 52-53 in there too, the servant who sees His work and is vindicated. We need to rest and rely on Jesus’ finished work.

Was I true to the principles I outlined yesterday? I hope I was. I showed the thematic and typological link, and showed it in the sermon. I also preached the morality of the passage. I stated the Gospel, which came through the typological link. Proverbs was not disconnected from the Christ.

There is something in Proverbs which implies that wisdom is Messianic (Proverbs 8).

1.2       Ecclesiastes 12

  1. I determined the limit of the text.
  2. In the light of the fact that we live in an empty, fallen and futile world, how do we live? I went back to Genesis 3, going back to the Fall as the book does; the Fall is real and we have to deal with that. Solomon knows all about the covenant and redemption, but how do you live in the fallen world waiting for the eschaton?
  3. The text gives us three points:
    1. Seek Your Creator (v1-8)
    2. Seek Wisdom (v9-12)
    3. Seek Obedience (v13-14)
    4. Seek Your Creator. He is a good God, which creation shows. I took a shot at Darwin here too. I pointed out that then we have a tension: a good Creator God and a fallen world. How did we get here? Will it always be like this? I said that Solomon knows that there is more than the Fall, but he doesn’t mention the Gospel promise of Genesis 3:15. I mentioned the cross at this point, showing the God of Creation putting things right.
    5. Seek Wisdom. This world is fallen, but God has given us a way to live. Living the life of wisdom will not deliver you from the futility of this life. I didn’t go to anything outside this passage, but worked with it. What does it mean to be wise and make good decisions?
    6. Seek Obedience. At this summary point, I was obliged to explain whether this makes sense to a NT believer. Is that the sum of it all, obedience to the Law? Evangelicalism today struggles with this. I went to the Sermon on the Mount and Romans (Matthew 7:12 and Romans 7). The Law is of the Spirit. Christ is our all, justification is our all, faith is our all, and obedience is our all. There are a whole lot of things which are indispensable in the Christian life. Maybe a Puritan could classify the different kinds of ‘all-ness’ there. I could have stopped there. I had explained the text there and spoken of redemption in a few places.
    7. But I wondered if anyone would respond to the book with depression. It shows that God understands me. He knows where I am at and He has lived it. Solomon and these writings are typical. This isn’t just Solomon’s wisdom; it is the awareness of the Christ as He walked in this world. It was hard and filled with pain. This was His path through it: He sought His creator, wisdom and obedience. I contented myself with having mentioned the atonement already: we have a Saviour who understands this.

1.3       Song of Songs

In Psalm 45, we have the key to understand the Song of Solomon. It is typological of the relationship of Christ and His people. So too does the central statement of the book (Song of Songs 2:4) This is an echo of the covenant, “I will be your God and you will be my people.” (Genesis 17:7).

Preaching on this, I mentioned the atonement, but this is higher. It is about union with Christ.

2         Poetry

2.1       Psalm 8

I choose Psalm 8 because we are not equipped to understand it normally. It is dubbed a creation Psalm. Verse 1 is the theme, with two points: God is great, seen in infant children (v2), and God is good, He takes care of us (v3-8). But there is a third point in v2-8; it is about the grace of God’s majesty in the consummate man. This is a Davidic recreation Psalm. It is about the rule of David and his greater Son. God visits man (v4)! These are covenantal terms. This is not the covenant of works/creation, but of redemption. His grace is evident in the Davidic kingdom, which is the kingdom of the second Adam. This explains how the NT applies it to Christ. This isn’t just allegory. This makes more sense of verse 2 as well. How better could a baby silence God’s enemies than by the Messianic line continuing?

2.2       Psalm 104

This is of the same ilk. There is more going on here than creation. The Psalm focuses on the world today as well as back then. Then, the end of the Psalm is the eschatological triumph of the Lord (34-35).

3         The Prophets

This seems like safe ground because we believe in total depravity.

3.1       Haggai 2

The returnees are rebuilding the Temple, but the comparison to the first Temple is not flattering.

  1. Don’t lose your focus by looking back to how things used to be.
  2. Right focus #1: What you are going now is glorious because the Spirit of God is with you. How is God present with us? (Genesis 1-2, John 1). Is it a small thing to you that God is with you, even if you don’t have the numbers? Remember the cost for you to have the Spirit of God with you. It cost the Son of God His life. (See also Matthew 14).
  3. Right focus #2: This present Temple you are working on will one day be great. When? When ‘the desire of nations’ will come into it. Is that when Herod rebuilds it, Jesus enters it, when the disciples preach the Gospel in it? It may be all of these. The pastoral point is that their work is part of the eschatological picture.

I had a thematic connection. I didn’t explicitly find the atonement there, though it is there in Haggai 1. The thought of the presence of the Spirit is a link too.

4         Conclusion

We don’t have time to consider narrative with 1 Samuel 1. Hannah is a model of piety and is important because she is praying. We need to consider her so we can get to Samuel and to David. We can’t get to law either, which has clearer links to Jesus. I’m hoping that that is enough to set your minds working.

With apologies to Gregory of Nazianzus, ‘I can’t think of the OT without thinking of the NT or of the NT without thinking of the OT.’

Lessons from the Life and Ministry of John MacArthur

20 Mar

Session 10

Iain Murray

Some people think that dates aren’t very important, but they are. What happened in February 1969? The end of Dr Lloyd-Jones’ ministry and a 29 year old Californian became the minister of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley. Don’t ignore dates. They are full of encouragement to Christians.

The message is more important than the messenger, but the Word of the Lord endures forever. MacArthur, “It’s not the man. It’s the truth of God and the power of God that’s in the man.”

1         Transforming Moments in MacArthur’s Life

He was brought up in the Christian home with a father who was a pastor, as was his grandfather. He never knew a time when he didn’t savingly truth in Jesus Christ.

In his second year at Bob Jones University in South Carolina, he was in a car accident and had 3rd degree friction burns. He was in hospital for 3 months. Then, he gave up any ambitions of his own for the future. He had been reluctant to the pastoral ministry, but God called him to it at that time. He finished his degree in California, then trained at Talbert University. He was going to go to Claremont School of Theology to prepare for doctoral studies. He was told that part of his preparation for the course was to survey many films and decide what part the ‘Jesus ethic’ had in these films. He told his advisor, “I have spent all my life learning the truth, and I cannot see the value of spending the next few years studying error.” This seemed to shut a door to him and led him to the opening of a much wider door.

He married Patricia Smith in 1963. He said that he was successful as a father and a minister because of his wife and her investment in him every day. Marriage must begin with their individual commitment to Christ and to each other, in that order. Next to our conversion, the most important thing in our life is whom we marry.

The controversy in the 1980s began around 1978 to preaching from Paul’s epistles to  Matthew’s Gospel, thinking it would be less didactic. But it brought his theology into sharp focus, becoming the backbone of everything he thought and taught. His friends had been fundamentalists. They believed that much of Christ’s teaching was works-based and to be done away with as the church age came with its emphasis on grace. Therefore, the Law was not part of the presentation of the Gospel. Men had only to trust in Jesus Christ. MacArthur came to the conclusion that Jesus was speaking the truth for the presentation of the Gospel for all ages. Repentance towards God is essential for Gospel preaching of all ages because we have fallen. MacArthur offered a book to Moody Press called The Gospel of Christ: How It Should Be Preached. When they read the book, they found it too embarrassing. One of their leaders was criticised in the book, and he was not able to change that section. It was eventually printed by Zondervan about 10 years after 1978. It caused a storm. He was accused of abandoning the Gospel because salvation was nothing to do with works. They called it ‘Lordship Salvation.’ He was not saying that works had anything to do with our acceptance with God, but that God accepts the unworthy because God in His grace has come with power and as part of that renews that person. It isn’t just a change of mind about Jesus. They had misplaced regeneration. This threw MacArthur away from his old friends and towards men who held to the old Puritan teaching.

2         What Faith in the Word of God Should Mean to Faithful Preachers

There isn’t any formula for MacArthur’s success. It is only the will of our sovereign God. There are no marketing initiatives or worldly methods to explain it. He was simply put into a situation by God.

We believe that Scripture is the word of God, not because of arguments, but “He that believeth on the Son of God has the witness within himself.” (1 John 5:10).

After finishing at Claremont, he looked for somewhere where he could give his life to studying the word of God. When Grace Community Church asked him to preach for a call, he said he would need 30 hours a week to prepare his sermons.

What happens when the authority of Scripture is undermined?

  1. The true knowledge of God is lost. Deliverance from darkness comes from teaching God in His word with a concern for His glory. The desire to serve Him comes from this. MacArthur, “Evangelism must take the sinner and measure him against the standard of God.”
  2. “Remove the reality of sin and you take away the possibility of repentance.” Satan would orchestrate all of society to this end.
  3. The church turns to other means of influence. Pastors organise church meetings to look like the world. This is the church diluting her message under the pressure of the present age. Does our mindset begin with what is glorifying to God or what is pragmatically helpful?
  4. Church discipline is ignored. When the church is truly God-centred, she makes an impression on the world which she doesn’t at other times. That idea that we must be relevant or contextualised is wrong. Otherwise, how could MacArthur’s preaching be repeated all over the world? MacArthur, “If they don’t hear the truth, music won’t help… The task is to go on preaching, not ourselves. We have the message of everlasting life.”
  5. Doctrine is always discounted. Strong churches are built by doctrinal foundations and they arrive at discernment that way. The truths of Scripture have to be distilled into principles. Asking how the law relates to the Gospel and how God’s justice relates to Calvary is asking doctrinal questions. MacArthur, “All true Christians must be concerned with an understanding of true doctrine… Doctrine forms the belief system which controls behaviour.” Why don’t we fight for the truth? The Evangelical academic world wants to make our faith more acceptable in academic circles, leading us away from anything that will cause offense.

In 1816-1817, a Scotsman, Robert Haldane, went to Geneva. He went through Romans with the students, leading to the Second Reformation in Geneva especially as they came to Romans 3. Some years later, people asked how Haldane did it. ‘It was his finger!’ He put his finger on the text of Scripture.

One of MacArthur’s helpers said, “Our current level of ministry seemed impossible in 1969, and humanly speaking, it was impossible. What we have seen happen in our first 30 years is no monument to John MacArthur or our staff, but to God’s faithfulness to bless His word.”

Question: You’ve focused on John MacArthur’s message which has been helpful. What about the opposition from within his own congregation?

In the 1970s, he had a crisis with the team of men who were his assistants. They told him one Friday, ‘We don’t agree with you.’ It isn’t just that he is likeable.

Question: Both Lloyd-Jones and MacArthur had different styles about confronting people with doctrine. Are there advantages to one approach or other?

Lloyd-Jones could be very confrontational too, but MacArthur has been put in situations where he has either had to duck or speak out, and he did. MacArthur was reading Lloyd-Jones The Sermon on the Mount as he began preaching

Question: What about the Young, Restless and Reformed movement? Has MacArthur influenced or interacted with it?

I dislike a lot about it. The word ‘movement’ suggests that there is some coordination. There is a resurgence of Reformed belief and life which has arisen from various sources. This is the work of God, not this man or that man. Hansen deals with it far too much at the personality level and concentrates on individuals. These men who are leaders have come to the recognition that they are holding truths that are more important than themselves, by the Gospel itself. It will take time. Undoubtedly, there are hangers on. The great need is for real conviction of sin and for the outpouring of the Spirit. If so much truth is being preached, the prayer is that this is leading to something greater and there will be a breaking through into society.

Question: MacArthur has written 3 books on the Charismatic movement, including Strange Fire. What is his influence given the presence of Charismatic Calvinists?

MacArthur has opposed the Charismatic movement when others would not. These books need to be read and acted on. You honour fellow Christians, which MacArthur does, but he deals with their claims to miraculous gifts and tongues.

Matt Question: What does MacArthur do out of the pulpit? Does he visit? Did Lloyd-Jones?

They were both strong on balance. Lloyd-Jones said, “If a man love preaching and doesn’t love people, he shouldn’t be preaching at all.” This means there has to be personal interaction. He wouldn’t leave the Chapel until he had seen everyone who wanted to see him.

John MacArthur is available to anyone who wants to see him at the end of the evening service. There are elders and Sunday School classes through which he comes to know who is sick and needs attention. He doesn’t go house to house, but he does do hospital visits. He is approachable and genuinely concerned for the people.

Question: This is the age of the counsellor and the shrink. How can the church fulfil that role again as first port of call?

They need to understand the Bible better. Some people need medical help, but they are a minority. One proof is, if they are Christians, the Scriptures won’t help them. But if they are Christians and are depressed and are taught Scripture’s message, and they are lifted up, it is spiritual. Sometimes Christians need medication, which is not distrusting God, if a medical man recommends it. By and large, good preaching answers big problems.

Strange Fire strikes right through the Charismatic movement. Why aren’t we hearing about it?

There are many books being promoted these days and it is hard to know what is worthwhile. Read Strange Fire.

Lessons from the Life and Ministry of Martyn Lloyd-Jones

19 Mar

Session 9 – Public Lecture

Iain Murray

At 16, he was admitted to St. Barthelomew’s Hospital to train. By the time he was 26, he was rumoured to be about to be offered the assistant professorship there. But he left there to go to Sandfields in South Wales to a small mission hall, the same month he was married to Bethan. He served there for 10 years. Campbell Morgan asked him to come and assist him at Westminster Chapel, where he remained for 33 years. It is right in the middle of London, between the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace. He had surgery for cancer, which ended his ministry at Westminster Chapel, but he kept preaching and turned many of his recordings into books. He died in March 1981, not having been invalid for a day.

When he could preach no longer after preaching for 50 years, a friend asked him whether that was a disappointment to him. He said, “I did not live for preaching.” Elsewhere he said, “A life lived in communion with God is the only life worth living.” Our Lord said, instead of working for God, “Rejoice rather that your names are written in heaven.”

1         His Theology

To understand someone, you need to understand God. This is theology, speaking about God. Speaking of preaching, he said, “Preaching is theology coming through a man who is on fire.” The theology is the important part.

Engaging with Lloyd-Jones has been recently published. To my mind, it has one outstanding weakness, it says very little about his theology. It describes his “reading of history with a firm Calvinistic bias.” Preaching has to start with theology and the life has to start with theology. Asking after a successful person is the wrong place to start. What is important is the message. Paul wrote, “I believed and therefore I spoke.” (2 Corinthians 4:13 ) What the man believes is far more important than the man himself.

As a medical student, Lloyd-Jones was taught to look at the whole person and identify the big thing. What he believed is foundational: The Bible is a message from God. God is working all things for His own glory. The work of salvation is at the centre of his purposes. “The sovereignty of God and God’s glory is where we must start… Everyone would be lost if God had not elected some… The church is a collection of the elect.” (Titus 1).

The key to Lloyd-Jones is what he believed. He may not have used the word ‘Calvinism’ much in his preaching or books, and he didn’t like parading the label. But with regard to the fundamental truths that were also taught by John Calvin, he lived them and believed them. Understanding the message comes before understanding the messenger. In the book of Acts, Luke focuses on the message, the word of God.

2         Where Did His Theology Come From?

Sadly, not from the denomination where he grew up. He became a communicant member without anyone asking him what he believed. In fact, he believed the opposite of what his denomination was supposed to taught.

This changed in his twenties. He was at the height of human success. The Hospital was a temple of Rationalism full of scientists proclaiming evolution. He found a problem they couldn’t explain. He found it in his colleagues, and then in himself: it was guilt. In His mercy, when he was 24 or 25, God saved him. He wrestled for months about whether he should join the Gospel and lost a lot of weight. Concluding that he was, he left the Hospital and moved to industrial Wales. There God used him. He said, “I found myself living a kind of life I had never imagined for a moment. There is only one explanation, the guiding hand of God… It is God who plans everything that happens everywhere.”

In Glasgow to speak, he was introduced by a professor who praised him for giving up his career in medicine. When he arose, he said, “I gave up nothing; I received everything. I count it the greatest honour God can give to any man to call him to be a herald of the Gospel.”

He discovered the works of Jonathan Edwards, and then B.B. Warfield (while in Canada). As his theology developed, it led him into declension. The newspapers spoke of him as ‘The Last of the Puritans.’ When he came to London, the ethos was different to what he believed in. Campbell Morgan wasn’t interested in theology and was an Arminian. Evangelicalism was perversely Arminian. Dr Lloyd-Jones came to a place where “the Reformed faith… was almost extinct.”

He was consoled by the thought that he wouldn’t be in London for too long. He went for 6 months and God put him there for 33 years in order to introduce a major change in English Evangelicalism. It was a change which was not welcomed by any means. There was not a church officer who understood what Lloyd-Jones was about.

Lloyd-Jones didn’t highlight doctrinal differences. He said, “We must take people as they are and not as we wish them to be.” He knew that people couldn’t be argued into change. The difference could not be ignored when war came. As others tried to comfort people, he preached his sermons published as “Why Does God Allow War?” saying, “What if we don’t deserve peace?” Dr Lloyd-Jones then faced the question of facing controversy. He believed that everyone united to Christ is one. A man may have orthodox theology and not be a Christian at all, but a person may have weak faith and be a Christian. How could he work within English Evangelicalism without provoking controversy?

It turned out not to be possible because:

  1. He believe that the prevailing idea on Gospel preaching was wrong on certain vital points. It has lost sight of the fact that the message is the Gospel of God. It doesn’t start with Jesus. It includes the Fall and the Law. “It is not good going to Jesus and saying, ‘Come to Jesus’… They have never seen their need of Him.” True Evangelical preaching begins with conviction of sin. The idea had become acceptable that these days, people don’t get convicted of sin. They would preach for man’s happiness and satisfaction rather than man’s Saviour. But Lloyd-Jones believed that the real purpose of preaching to the unconverted is to bring them to the end of themselves. If conviction is missing, the problem is with the preaching. Lloyd-Jones had a different approach to preaching the Gospel. The other approach is a complete denial of the Apostles’ teaching. “With man it is impossible, but not with God.” (Luke 18:27, also Romans 3:19). One lady said, “He speaks to us as though we are sinners.” Many left, but God brought them back. We needn’t be afraid of preaching the truth if we preaching it lovingly with the help of God. The solution is not a victorious life and a second blessing. But a Christian is a new creation. Lloyd-Jones’ book on the Sermon on the Mount and his printing of Ryle’s book on Holiness were both bombshells. He the view of the presentation of the Gospel was not the prevailing view.
  2. He disagreed over the way which Evangelicalism was moving on the worship of God. A reporter said of visiting the Chapel, “The worship at Westminster Chapel would have been easily recognisable by worshipers 300 years ago.” Imitating the 17th century is not the goal. Public worship is under God; it is not up to us to decide what happens. The form didn’t change for 300 years, not because of tradition but because what was done was what God appointed. Lloyd-Jones said, “As we think of God, we will we worship.” If they have a casual view of worship, they think that God is not to be feared. People who believe the WSC Q&A4 do not think this way: “God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.” He said “The worship of God is preferred before the safety of men and angels.” Before the Reformation, worship was an appeal to the senses “like a theatre,” Erasmus said. “We conceive salvation, not as something that brings us to God, but as something that gives us something… If we began with the greatness of God, all of our thinking would be revolutionised.”
  3. He disagreed on the subject of revival. Arminian belief led to a different view of revival. It said that spiritual revival would be continuous if we were obedient enough. Just as a person could decide to become a Christian, so the church could decide to have a revival. They confused evangelism with revival. Revival is accompanied by conviction and great fear (Acts 5:5, 11). The Holy Spirit doesn’t leave the church, but at times, God arises at indignation at the godlessness of men and pours out His Spirit. This has happened in Australia in the past. Lloyd-Jones said this belief disappeared because Calvinistic belief had been undermined. Our business is to go to God and find what He would do and have us to do. Continue in prayer and the ministry of the word (Acts 6:4). “It is only since the decline of Calvinism that revival has been less and less common… Nothing so promotes prayer as Calvinism. Calvinists who do not pray are not Calvinists. The true Calvinist is concerned with revival because he is concerned with the glory of God.” It was a great shock to Lloyd-Jones that many Calvinists didn’t expect God’s work.

3         Preaching

Be clear about the purpose of preaching. It is not about imparting Biblical information, but bringing people into the presence of God (1 Corinthians 14:25). “It is a great thing to be a listener. You want something for your soul. I don’t want a great sermon. I want to worship God… If I get that, I do not care how good the sermon is.” It staggers me how may sermons begin with a little story. What’s wrong with that? The assumption that we have to start with something to attract people’s attention. What’s the whole service been about? It is a condemnation of the worship to do this! It is a great loss that we don’t have a single tape recording of a single service at Westminster Chapel. The worship of God began long before the sermon.

Know yourself. This is vital. Everyone is different. You mustn’t imitate. Our business is to know ourselves and pray to God that He will help mature us.

Some said that Lloyd-Jones wasn’t an evangelist because he didn’t invite people to the front of the building. Publishers are guilty, including Banner of Truth. The reality is that at least half of Lloyd-Jones’ ministry was directed to the unconverted, but they didn’t get printed. Mrs. Lloyd-Jones said, “My husband is first of all a man of prayer and next an evangelist.” We have many good preachers, but we are woefully short of evangelists.

Iain Murray, “Preaching has great power. Don’t be diverted from it. There are a thousand things to divert you from it. No. Preaching… Turn men to righteousness. Don’t let the Devil turn you aside.”

Challenges Facing the Preacher: Turning the Tsunami

19 Mar

2 Timothy 3:1-4:5

Session 8

Simon Manchester

Here is a passage which begins with a vice list, and then focuses on Scripture. So, you think, ‘We’d better get through this vice list and the strange stuff, then focus on Paul’s example and the Scriptures because verses 16 and 17 are classic terms on the Scriptures.’

But the vice list is different. This one doesn’t include murderers, God-haters, faithless… adulterers… irreligious… etc. They could come into the church, but they would stand out in the church. 2 Timothy 3 is a tamer vice list, ‘proud, ungrateful, unforgiving…’ There are ‘respectible sins’ as Jerry Bridges calls them. We should ask where this list belongs. Does it belong in the world or in the church? Verse 5 seems to suggest that it is inside, ‘having a form of Godliness but denying its power.’ People outside don’t pretend to be Godly! This can search the Pharisee, the pretender or the nominal. If you want to pass over it saying the world is dreadful, that will be nauseating for everyone and will miss the point of the text. This is the blindside breakaway, the person you can’t see who can do something unpredictable. This is a religious vice list. If you are tempted to say something about sin, the talk about Scripture, this is a much more interesting and significant passage.

Paul is describing:

  • Terrible church days (v1-5)
  • Secular leadership pretending to be spiritual (v6-9)
  • How Timothy should lead the church (v10-15)

Church ministry can be very hard (v1). Sin dressed up as religion can be a terrible thing to grapple with. The list is book-ended with being a lover of self rather than a lover of God. This isn’t a frail Christian (who are like this), but is about people who are driven by love for self and have no love for God at all. There are people who “have a veneer of religion, but have no grace.” How do we deal with them? Have nothing to do with them (v5). Be faithful, not a compromiser. Verses 2-5 describe people in the church who are unstoppable and unrecognisable. Don’t let them run you, model you, or join you. There is pressure for young pastors to give in to utterly secular pressures, like avoiding the challenging, rebuking and correcting. Casting vision in business is just getting workers to work harder because no one in business knows how to make things grow. Avoiding confrontations is not Godly.

Is Timothy going to avoid the self-serving model? In verses 6-10, Paul gives his model. He sets himself up as the model. Ministry will be costly. Paul calls him to remember. Now we see why the Bible is so important. It is what has transformed you and will transform your people (v16-17). A Bible ministry is what will turn the tsunami turn around.

We could spend a lot of time talking about inspiration and infallibility, but 2 Timothy 3 is about what to do when the world is coming into the church. When the world comes into the church, you can be a worldly leader, or follow the apostolic teaching and reject it. We can be orthodox, but where are the churches where the word is at the centre and changing people?

Question: Should we have nothing to do with people?

Such people should not be given leadership positions or be allowed to run your life. Warn against them. Minimise their influence, especially on you, the pastor.

2 Timothy 2:23-26 speaks a lot about words, but you must keep handling the Word.

Challenges Facing the Preacher: Letting the Text Speak for Itself

19 Mar

Or ‘Avoiding the Water Beetle’

Session 7

Simon Manchester

I asked David Cook, “What is a Presbyterian? Is it like a Mormon?”
He replied, “It just means we take the Reformation more seriously than you do.”

A bunch of men were praying for the businessmen of London. When St. Helens fell vacant, they suggested that Dick Lucas apply. He was appointed. The first Sunday, there were 400, then 600, then 800. For 33 years, his ministry was Tuesday lunchtime, then the students started coming and Sunday became important. The Proclamation Trust and Cornhill were set up, bringing together Protestants together. He began training ministers in 1980s with 15 or 20 young pastors. I was his assistant for 3 years. He showed the original meaning of the text in a way which meant people remembered what they heard.

Think of sermons on Nehemiah. Is it really about leadership?

Dick would explain the thinking of the author writing that section of the Bible until you began to see it. John 20 is a bunch of cameos. Breaking it up the four misses that he moves from the eye to the ear. It is what is written which saves (John 20:30-31).

I questioned Dick privately after one of his preaching seminars. He said that he didn’t want us to be water beetles, skimming across the surface. It must penetrate into your heart so that you are taught and trained by it so that you can preach it to others.

Don’t say what the passage says, or what you want it to say, or what your framework says. We need the text to drive the system. You will be orthodox and no one will complain, but you will be predictable. You might say something that is doctrinally powerful but not what the passage says. Is Luke 18:1-8 a comparison or a contrast? A contrast: God is not like the judge and we are not like the widow.

The principle is summarised in Isaiah 50:4:

“The Lord God has given Me
The tongue of the learned,
That I should know how to speak
A word in season to him who is weary.
He awakens Me morning by morning,
He awakens My ear
To hear as the learned.”

Be a good listener to the text: listen to the text, be instructed, then speak.

False prophets didn’t listen to the word of God, but said what they wanted. We get to study Scripture and bring God’s message to His people.

Where do you go for the word of God in this city? Where do you go for the word of God which makes you sit up, not back? This comes when the preacher has had a thrilling, humbling effect.

There are many passages where we think we know the real meaning, but miss the point. Consider the context in which parables are given (to the unregenerate or the regenerate).

Do your ministry with a shovel. Keep digging and digging and digging until you find the meaning of the text. We are often satisfied as preachers, but the people are dissatisfied. If we were more dissatisfied, they might be more satisfied.

Preaching Christ from the OT: Principles

19 Mar

Session 6

Dr Jared Hood

Yesterday, we looked at where Christ is spoken of in the OT. Today, we look at how to preach Christ from the OT. There is felt to be some uncertainty in this whole area. I would much rather be preaching Christ from the OT than talking about it. It would be more edifying. What the church needs is not more lecturing, or more preaching, or more Bible studies, or more board of management meetings, but more preaching. As Martyn Lloyd-Jones asked and answered, “What is it that always heralds the dawn of a reformation or revival? It is renewed preaching, not only a new interest in preaching, but a new kind of preaching.” We are interested in preaching, but have we come to the kind of new preaching that accompanies the dawn of a new reformation or revival. It won’t be a preaching what worries about whether we follow the rules of preaching, but about hearts that are ceased about the Spirit of God. It won’t be driven by notes or illustrations, but by God speaking through the Scriptures. Ultimately, we need the movement of the Spirit of God and to be convinced of the importance of what we do when we preach.

Remember the problem: we are afraid of preaching perfectly decent Jewish sermons. We want to preach distinctly Christian sermons, but we are not settled in our minds what a Christian sermon is. This is a problem for consecutive, expository preachers who want to stick within the text. I might mention the Christ, but it will be the veiled, shadowy Christ. What do we do? Tack the name on to the end of the sermon? How do we Christianise it?

1         The Goal of Our Preaching is to Preach Christ from the OT

Preach the OT text according to what it means, and the NT update and completion of the OT picture. Our duty is to say that the OT text says (which is from Christ and is about Him and the Christian age), but we also want to bring in the light of the NT. We do not preach only Old Covenant sermons. That would be to betray both covenants, because even the old wants you to look forward and the new cannot exist without the old. We must keep both covenants together.

Preach the OT in the way which Jesus and the Apostles preached it. See the Sermon on the Mount. There He explains what He is doing (Matthew 5:17-18). We heard the word ‘fulfil’ and think it is about the Messianic prophecies, but Jesus is talking about the whole OT, if anything the moral teaching of the OT. He is explaining aright the meaning of the OT. ‘Fulfil’ means to ‘give the true or complete meaning of something’ (standard Greek Dictionary). That surely must be Christian preaching. This is our warrant to preach the OT and bring it into the light of the NT. We do not have to add to the OT meaning, but explain it with the NT.

Acts 2 shows us how Peter used prophetic texts from the OT. He insists that these are now fulfilled. We go to the NT and show that this is what has happened.

2         Follow the Usual Steps of Sermon Preparation

There is nothing magical here. Just follow the texts as you have been trained to do. One prepares a sermon in the OT in the same way as one preaches on the NT (Harman on Preaching in the Psalms, in a tribute to Prof. Wilkinson, Supplement to RTR): Explain the text and apply it to the hearts and consciences of the congregation.

  1. Find the limits of the passage.
  2. Find the main point of the passage. What is Christ saying to His people through this text? Bryan Chapel would say that you have to find the text’s ‘fallen condition focus’. Every text is pastoral theology. It is all God seeking to address the listeners and impact their lives (2 Timothy 3:16). We do this even when we are trying to make out the main point. When you work out the main point, that will include what the text means for the congregation that Sunday. The main point is not, ‘YHWH is king.’ It is ‘You must believe/accept/be encouraged that YHWH is king.’ Please, no more perfect lectures from the pulpit. That betrays the text because the text has an intention there, seeking to impact the listener.
  3. Divide the text up into its sub-points. Every sub-point will speak to your congregation too. Throughout the sermon, you will call your congregation to faith and obedience in the text you are preaching from. Call them to believe ‘whatsoever is revealed in the Word… to rest on Christ alone.’ If that call doesn’t engage people, there is a spiritual problem there.

3         Determine if the Text is Speaking of Christ or Not

Is the text eschatological? Does it point to the finalised and ideal future? It could be Messianic. “It would speak of an ideal individual who is somewhere along a human-divine continuum and who will come or is present to set the world to right.”

  • Genesis 3:15 is Messianic because he does what kings do, crushing the head of his enemies. That’s why Genesis 49 talks about a sceptre in the tribe of Judah.
  • Psalm 22 is eschatological, because there is the ideal worshipping community. How do we get there? By suffering.

If the text is eschatological, then, you can go to the NT to show how Jesus fulfils it.

Ask why the prophecies are there. Genesis 3:15 is there to give hope. Psalm 22 is to get people to praise the Messiah. Preach it as such.

4         Discern if Typology is Present

At the end of the book of Samuel, there is a plague which is stopped by a sacrifice where the Temple will later be built. It must be about the Christ. The Christian preacher will say that there is a typological hope here. Christ is the one who stops the plague for the people of God.

Typology is hard, though. It isn’t flagged by the future text, like prophecy is. You have to discern from the text.

  • Abraham is a type, but isn’t explicitly identified. He is compared to Adam and the Seed. Genesis 26:5 leads us to wonder if he is the Messiah. He shows us what Adam was meant to be, but we discover that he is not. He is more like Adam in what he did. Abraham’s ultimate fault is that “he listened to the voice of his wife” (Genesis 16:2) just like Adam did.
  • Why is Samuel shown as a prophet, priest and judge, and likewise David? David is the ultimate type of the Christ, joined to Him by covenant and family. 2 Samuel 15:30 mentions David going up on the Mount of Olives crying with his head covered. What do we do with that? Do these specific connections link to Jesus? Note that David was leaving Jerusalem while Jesus was entering it.
  • The Psalms are the most intently typological content in the OT. Psalm 2 tells you that this is a book about the Messiah. Your default setting the Psalter is typological. The main concern is whether a passage is prophecy or typology (which is a small distinction to make). Peter takes Psalm 16 as prophetic, but could it by typological as well.

Typology can be turned around. We think of the type being used to explain the antitype (David explains Christ), but sometimes the antitype explains the type (Psalm 69:21). The Messiah’s experience is used to explain what the Messiah is going through. Was David concerned about having broken bones (Psalm 34:20)? It was relevant to Christ (John 19:26). I think David knew that this was more true about the Christ than about him because he had direct revelation and because he had the Passover lamb in mind (Exodus 12:46).

Determine what the NT fulfilment is. How do you work the typological fulfilment into a sermon. It might be the final point of the sermon or maybe you could have two separate sermons, one dealing the type and one with antitype, or integrate the type and antitype. Your job isn’t done by pointing out that there is a type here. What is the pastoral theology of the text.

5         Every Theme of the OT Connects to the NT

We are not trying to get every text to go to the atonement. Don’t flatten the Scriptures.

Thematic fulfilment can be worked into a sermon as the last point. In Haggai 1, the people have returned to the land but haven’t rebuilt the Temple. Temple and building are taken up in the NT for the life of the church and service to Christ. But the high point is Haggai 1:13, “I am with you, says the LORD.” How is that fulfilled in the NT? Your obligation is to go there! We have the Christ who has given His life for us and He has sent His Spirit to us. This is the fulfilment of what Haggai is talking about.

We need to make transitions to the NT perspective. Use phrases like ‘this leads us to the NT’, ‘this speaks of a reality which is only realised in the NT’, ‘let’s go where the text wants us to go’.

6         In Normal Circumstances, Explain in the Sermon How You Found Christ or Joined the Dots between the OT and the NT

Explain how you got there. Why?

  1. Peter did it in Acts 2! He said, that can’t be about David because David is dead. It must be about Christ.
  2. Do it so that the congregation can do it too. Also say that the OT saints knew that it was prophetic or typological. This isn’t just allegory. When making a thematic link to Christ, say so. ‘This great theme of the OT is fulfilled in Christ.’ The writer knew that this wasn’t all there was to it.
  3. Point out what an OT text does not say. It might not have the same clarity as the NT. There may be a contrast with the Gospel age in the peripherals. The OT may be veiled at this point, ‘let’s go to some passages that are clear.’

7         Do not say, ‘This is as That’

It is hard to resist the comparisons with Jesus, but how are you going to make the jump? There is nothing implied in the text about this being an aspect in the life of Jesus. Employing ‘This is as that’ is allegory. That is the Alexandrian method. The word ‘as’ masks a host of exegetical errors.

8         Do not be Formulaic, nor Force a Text to a Particular End

Not every text ends with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It will probably lead to allegory. Ending up at the Gospel story alone sells the OT short. The OT is not just a freeze-dried version of the NT. The Psalm particularly tell us more about the emotional life of the Christ than the Gospels. There is a lot more in the Scriptures than the atonement. The life of the Christ is a means to an end. What is the end? Obedience that comes from faith (Romans 15

In preaching, you always have to cherry pick. Chapell said, “Christ-centred preaching, rightly understood, does not seek to discover where Christ is spoken of in every text but where the text stands in relation to Christ.” Haddon Robinson said, “The OT writers did not write to provide illustrations for NT writers.”

9         Preach the Morality of the OT

Some forms of Biblical theology decry moralising the OT. This is a loaded term. We cannot have morality without Christ. But there is nothing wrong with morality. Why should we preach the moral concerns of the OT? It is the word of God, and He has moral concerns. The Apostles preached on it. We sell Christ short if we only preach His cross and His resurrection. He is Saviour and He is Lord. Today in evangelicalism, we are not comfortable with morality. But if we have the cross without morality, it is not the cross at all.

When you preach morality, you preach Christ. We want to draw on the OT saints as moral examples. They are there for that purpose (Hebrews ) The Goldsworthy acolytes and Clowney are against this because there is redemptive history there. If they read Calvin, they would be stunned; read his sermons on Genesis 15. He uses Abraham as a moral example. Why can you do that? Because you believe by justification by faith. Then you can talk about obedience because Christ is Lord. Evangelicalism has struck with a malaise by Karl Barth, he Moriarty of Christianity.

Don’t be afraid of extended morality. See what James does with Elijah; he uses him as a moral example! Don’t disconnect it from the redemptive context. We are not Pelagian, are we? The redemptive message must be there too. The Law in the OT is not disconnected from the redemptive history. There was grace all through.

10    Say That This is What Jesus Said

These are Jesus’ instructions, and they are also the words of the Father and the Holy Spirit. The prophets spoke in the name of the Lord (James).

11    Adopt the NT Exegesis of the Text

IF the NT deals with the text, adopt that exegesis. That might not be all there is to say about the OT text, but you must agree with it.

12    Be Patient with the Text and With Yourself (and Don’t Believe Everything the Commentaries Tell You Either)

It can take you time to understand what the text means. It can take years.

13    State the Gospel in Any Case

Get to the Gospel in every sermon. Spurgeon “The sermon cannot do any good if there is not a savour of Christ in it.”

Don’t force the atonement into the text, but force it into the sermon. Every passage has a redemptive context.

It is okay to jump outside the text for a moment. In a section that has no glimmer of hope in it, take them to the place with hope in it. That is using the wider context.

14    Preach as a Herald of Christ, in the Power of Christ, to Get People to Know Christ

Christ is not the subject of theological discussion, but someone for people to know.

Lessons from the Life and Ministry of Kenneth MacRae

19 Mar

Session 5

Iain Murray

Kenneth MacRae lived from 1883-1965. He was born in the Highlands of Scotland and ministered in the north and west of Scotland, including on Skye, then in Stornoway on Lewis. Every week he had between 10 and 15 services, including 2 in Gaelic and 1 in English, and a prayer meeting on Thursday night. Sunday morning saw 500 people and more like 1000 in the evening.

Why go to a culture and an area which are so different to ours, and someone who is comparatively little-known? He is an example of faithful ministry. He was a man who would have made an impression at any time and in any place. The principles of effective ministry are the same everywhere. The methods need no modification. The business of preaching isn’t coming to terms with our age but of overturning it.

He had a very high view of preaching. Where that is present, the man sees that he has scarcely learned to preach. Preaching is altogether above us. We learn it slowly.

MacRae had a lot of natural ability. He could have been an author or a professor, but when asked to speak at a conference, he said, “But I can’t lecture. I can only preach.”

1         The Preparation for His Ministry

The indispensable beginning for a good ministry is a sound conversion. It is possible to have an orthodox theology but no saving relationship with God (Matthew 7:22). Brethren, take that seriously. We need a sound, saving conversion to be effective in ministry.

MacRae’s family moved from the Highlands to Edinburgh when he was a teenager, and thought he was converted. He trained to work in telegraphy. Then in his twenties, his fiancé broke off their engagement. He came to the awakening that he had never been a Christian at all. “Instead of calling on God, I was only raving at Him.” On 9th August, 1909, “that day, God changed by will, my affections, my mind, the whole outlook of my life.”

He joined the Free Church College to train for the ministry, having joined a congregation of the Free Church of Scotland. The Highlands saw no awakening until the 18th century, when the northern parts of Scotland were revived with the printing of the Gaelic Bible. It was led, not only by ministers, but also by school teachers and catechists. One of the last of them was Dr John Kennedy of Dingwall who died in 1884. Spurgeon said about him, “He was every inch a man of God.” MacRae then entered into that tradition. By 1900, it was a small minority denomination; by they sought to hold on to what had come before. These were men whose influence and books impressed him. What would men like this do if they ended up in Australia? MacRae was invited to preach at St Georges (Free) Presbyterian Church in Sydney. He made a profound impression on Marcus Loane.

MacRae’s first church was in a small village in Argyle which had only 60 members but many adherents. It was a difficult one. A party in the congregation began to work in opposition to him. The newspaper was against him. All of the congregations in town joined together for a ‘Mission for National Rededication’, but he refused to join. He wrote that they should first repent of frivolous practices.

During World War I, many young men from Scotland went to the front. In 1916, despite all his family losses, the paper attacked him for not going himself. However, he had begged the denomination to go, but they were 5 ministers short in that part of Scotland. He had been trained in the territorial army, but couldn’t go.

2         Principles that Governed His Ministry

  1. The necessity of living and working under the authority of the word of God. This is not simply a matter of belief, but it must rule all that we do. All that we do which is not from God’s word is wood, hay and stubble in the day of judgement. Our task is teaching them to observe all that Jesus taught. He took very seriously the privilege of singing the Psalms, observing the Sabbath, and family worship as a duty for all church members, and occasional fasting. They were falling into the background then. His principle was to stick to Scripture, dig in, and stand there. The call to be up to date was a pressure then as it is now. Don’t stick to tradition for tradition’s sake, but with sticking with Scripture. Today we are almost giddy with new ideas. How are they to be tested? Not by the personalities of those who propose them or by their successes, but by the law and the testimony. Everything that has an importance are to come straight from the word of God and we cannot go anywhere else. Gospel ministers must live by faith. If we look at things temporal, we will very soon be discouraged. Faith is reliance upon God and Scripture. “Lo, I am with you always.” The certainty that God is with us is linked to faithfulness to His word. Early on, preaching at Dingwall, he was dejected. An elder told him, “Nevermind, young man. It is not ‘Well done, good and successful servant’ but ‘well done, good and faithful servant.’”
  2. Give special attention to the young. When he considered an attractive call to an area he knew and loved, 5 deputations came to him to ask him to stay. He wrote to The Scotsman, ‘It is only Reformed doctrine which will bring people back to church.’ In Stornoway, he could count on an evening congregation of 1000 people, and over 80% are young people. That was the opposite of what was supposed to be the case. His preaching and public prayer always included them. He held the view that children should always be in church from the earliest age.
  3. Devotion to the person of Christ. His diary is the book to read on that point. It illustrates something Lloyd-Jones said, “The minister’s greatest problem is himself.” This can only be overcome by a devotion to Christ and a good spiritual life. That is at the centre of real usefulness. When he was 50, he was seriously ill for several months. Afterwards, he realised that all his busyness and efforts would be vanity if not accompanied by the Holy Spirit. “One sermon preached in the power of the Holy Spirit is more effective than hundreds without Him.” Among the last things he was heard to say was, “Beware of self, beware of self.”

3         The Sermon

He took the skeleton of his sermon on a small card. The important thing is that we should know ourselves and what we can do and what we can’t do. It will vary depending on who we are and what we can do. It is a fixed rule that the preacher should be able to face the people and speak straight to them.

He had many mission halls for his people scattered around Stornoway, so he trained his elders as lay preachers. He set 15 lectures to train them.

  • 1st rule: Be natural. Don’t imitate any other speaker. It is good to get your mind under the influence of stalwart mentors, but when it comes to preach, be yourself. Give out your text slowly and distinctly.
  • There is nothing more powerful than the word of God. Start with the text.
  • Avoid unnecessary noise. Don’t bang the Bible.
  • Be careful of gestures in preaching. Don’t stand like a wooden doll, but don’t flail around.
  • Don’t draw attention to yourself.
  • He would have agreed with the words of another Highland preacher, ‘I never preached the Gospel except I felt myself the greatest sinner in the congregation.’
  • People have immortal souls. Feed them, but don’t ruffle the tender ones.
  • Right to the end, he was visiting 3 hours a day, 5 days a week. He kept a record. He visited 1003 homes in the first year, 1250 in the second. It is vitally connected to preaching that the preacher is in the homes of the people they preach to. The ‘senior’ minister should never be above pastoral visiting; this is not New Testament Christianity.
  • A sermon should be planned, logically set out and divided under heads. Things need to be nailed down. Heads are vital so it is clear to you and so they can take it away with them. The sticking is connected to how clearly it is explained. How do you get your heads? They come out of the text. Soak yourself in the text. Make outlines and throw them away if you need to, and do another.
    • Go to the sermons of John Murray on and hear his sermon on Romans 8:32:
      • Introduction: The Love of God the Father.
      • 1. The Uniqueness of the Person: His own Son.
      • 2. The extremity of the sacrifice: He spared not, but delivered Him up.
      • 3. The Particularity of the provision: “For us all” the context tells us who the ‘all’ are.
      • 4. The Guarantee of Grace.
      • Don’t be self-satisfied. You may be satisfied, but the congregation may not be satisfied with him. The need to take advice and criticism. Murray, “You men who are not yet married, a wife is the most important thing to be a help and critic of your preaching.”

4         The Place of the Holy Spirit in Preaching

The inability that we have and our human weakness is the essential precondition to dependence on the Holy Spirit. If we are fairly competent and able, we do not need the Holy Spirit. “Who is sufficient for these things? But our sufficiency is of God.” “When I am weak, then I am strong.” Why so little prayer? We are fairly confident to go on without divine strength. When churches know their need, the prayer meeting takes on a new priority.

  1. The Holy Spirit in the preparation of our message. Prepare leaving room for the Holy Spirit. Don’t depend on you preparation.
  2. While high place is given to preparing the sermon, first place is given to preparing yourself.
  3. It is a serious error to ignore the need for the continuing receiving of the Holy Spirit. (?) The command to be filled with the Spirit is an ongoing command (Ephesians 5:18)
  4. The more we know the Spirit’s enabling, the less we will think of ourselves. As Lloyd-Jones said, “If you are depending on yourself, you will feel lifted up. If you are depending on the Spirit, you will feel awe and humility.”
  5. Disbelief in the agency of the Holy Spirit is a barrier to effectiveness of preaching. Teach them about God’s work, including on revival. (Isaiah 60:2)

Allan Harman on Mr MacRae in Stronoway: I knew Mr MacRae from his visit to Australia and met him again as a student in Scotland in 1957. I was his assistant for two summers, looking after the English services and prayer meeting. He gave me a list of people to visit. His practice was to spend 10-15 minutes with 6 people over an afternoon. He left me in charge for a month and I had to do 16 funerals. Mr MacRae was different to the Lewisman, and his preaching was good for Lewis. Introspection can be a problem in the Highlands, both for people and preacher. On a Sunday evening in the Manse, you were not to speak to him for half an hour. Then he would try to draft the outline of a sermon. Sometimes he was called upon unexpectedly to preach and would have an outline. He had a great sense of humour. His wife was a wonderful helper, from Uist and a native Gaelic speaker.

Bob Thomas: In the late 1960s, I went to the United Faculty of Theology (so called). I gained my theological education from Banner of Truth. The diary of Kenneth MacRae brings it all together and puts it into practice. Do buy a copy for yourself and analyse it as you go on pastoral work, preaching, personal life. I think it is the most valuable book that Banner has published. In the diary, he mentions that the minister of Scots’ Church wrote a letter to the age denying the Trinity or that any church still believed in it. MacRae wrote to the Age pointing out that his own church did. Preach a felt Christ; MacRae demonstrates that to us. P506 “I hearby put on record that since the Lord in His sovereign mercy entered my heart… I have sought to serve Him as my only Lord. I have been long in His service here, but have not been tired in it… But soon I shall serve Him with a perfect service.”

Q&A Session

18 Mar

How important is eye-contact in preaching and the use of notes?

IM: The key to the whole thing is your sermon preparation. Some sermons are too complicated so they can’t be memorised. It is better to forget some things and still connect to people. “Stop while they’re still interested.” Don’t depend on your notes.

MC: I always use notes, but never a manuscript. I have down the idea, the truths, the points I want to say, but not the words I will say. They are a prompt. I treasure the rapport with the congregation. Be personable. Being stuck to notes kills rapport and restricts you.

JH: Eye-contact is interesting. Eye-contact can be somewhat off-putting. I tend to look slightly above heads some of the time. Personally, I like it when my children are in the congregation. I have thought about notes very carefully. I recommend taking reasonably full notes in to the pulpit on the proviso that you have them in your head. I practice my preaching, going over it a few times the night before so that it flows fluently. I personally see it that I want to set the preaching done well. It’s not something that I want to do on the spot. Especially for new preachers, use fairly full notes.

You’ve written in many sorts of literary genres (history, polemics, biography), is there a reason people should think about Christian biography?

IM: Lloyd-Jones recommends biographies to make us humble. ‘Make sure they are saints, spiritual men.’ We learn truth slowly and gradually. Biographies show how people do that. It is a good way to write and help other people. Why fish into modern films to illustrate their sermons when there are treasures in people’s real lives?

When you make a test, do you proof text them?

MC: The text will itself furnish the evidences or you might draw more generally on Christian wisdom and insight. When we preach, preach out of the text but also out of our reservoir: pastoral experience, reading, thinking, our own heart, failures and successes.

Ben Shaw: Iain, having observed the movements in the Church over a big chunk of the last century, where is the Church in the West now? Are we on the way up or down?

IM: There are wide variations. The churches in the book of Revelation were in different situations. The striking difference between the US and the UK is that in the UK, older Christians are nervous about guiding young Christians because they see it as tradition. In the US, people are interested in the things that God has done in the past. A lot of it comes from good leadership. Lloyd-Jones was asked if revival was near. He said, “No, because we’re too healthy.” We are self-satisfied, not hungry.

What if your set piece doesn’t work and do you have a Plan b? How do you get their attention?

IM: Sometimes Christmas is a hard time to get people’s attention. It is hard to drop what you’ve got on your heart.

JH: All I can say is, I’m not big on extempore preaching. I don’t think I could pull that off. If I’ve prepared from the text, the text should draw people in. I’d rather try and find a way from the text how to bring them back.

MC: For myself, I don’t really have a Plan B, but in Plan A, I have options. I’ll have more illustrations than I use.

It’s easy to fall into thinking that God’s sovereignty means my sermon will be used however He wants, but how can we guard against that, knowing that we need to do the best we can?

MC: God is also sovereign over the daily food that we eat, but our family doesn’t appreciate it if my wife serves up raw potatoes and chunks of meat. It is responsible stewardship of the truth to serve it up so that it is well-presented.

JH: There is nothing wrong with preparing carefully. At a funeral, it is a serious business and you want to get everything right. If not, it can be very upsetting. You spend a lot of effort in it. Sunday morning service is a serious business. I’ll think carefully about the words I use there too. I want to use word pictures that are quick and get back to the text.

Iain, you gave the example of how we leave out the judgement of God from our preaching. What other aspects are in our church culture now that we don’t realise now?

IM: This is a very controversial question. We’ve gone a long way from following our Lord’s command to “teach whatsoever I have commanded you.” We see women leading worship services and singing. In music, we have gone far too far. The musical apparatus of the Temple was never carried into the synagogue or the church. We are adapting our musical worship into what is popular. We have abandoned the simplicity of NT worship. In Scotland in recent years, the authority of the Scriptures has been questioned and little concessions have piled on top of each other as long as they were able to preach the truths of the Scriptures. This question needs a lot of prayerful thought.

Preaching to Set Hearts on Fire

18 Mar

Session 4

Murray Capill

I wish there were a few more spiritual arsonists. If hearts are to burn under God’s word, the heart of the preacher must be set on fire. Even if our hearts are on fire, we must overtly and intentionally preach to hearts of other people.

1         The Mind

We must speak to the mind. This isn’t all we must do, but we must do it. Speak clearly. Know what it is that you want to say. Think about how to structure things. We ought to do the hard mental work of making things clear and giving excellent examples.

We also need to think about being substantial without being heavy. We want people to learn and engage with the text by asking questions of it. We don’t want to dumb down the Gospel. Be simple without being simplistic.

Use mind-centred questions: What are the central truths of the text people must know and believe? What might stop people from accepting the truth?

It is useful to raise the objections others might raise. Paul does it in Romans 9. Anticipate the question everyone will ask.

We cannot go straight to the bottom of the heart, the passions. We want to explain well and reason with people.

However, if we only preach to the mind, we easily have a dry intellectualism, a cold, heartless Christianity. We will also end up with a boring kind of preaching. There is a tendency to pack sermons with information. In many ways, less is more. With less content, we can spend more time thinking about it.

2         The Conscience

As we preach, we want to awaken people to a sense of where people relate to the truth. Not only do they need to know it and believe it, but do they believe it and feel it. Jesus often did this. He would tell a parable to get people to assess the situation in the parable then see that they had judged themselves (Luke 7, 15).

How can we do this? Ask what the text should convict and challenge in us. In what ways should people be testing and examining themselves? If you examine them, the state of their conscience will affect the answer. Preachers of old would provide tests or measure for self-examination. We help people work out where they are at by giving them some measures for where they are at. Them those who are easy on themselves are confronted and the ones who are sensitive are comforted.

This is preaching to the conscience. But if you only deal with the conscience, you will have a distressing and potentially manipulative ministry.

3         The Will

Typically, ministers like to preach to the will: Love more, give more, pray more, witness more, go to church more. We narrow down application down to the will, then we narrow it down to the basic evangelistic duties. The time for that is when that is explicitly what the text is about.

We should never appeal to the will without appealing to the other faculties of the heart. We must give reasons and incentives to do it. Ask, ‘Have I given them Gospel reasons for doing this?’

Think about Romans 12:9-21:

Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. 10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honour giving preference to one another; 11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; 13 distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.

17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.20 Therefore

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”

21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Don’t preach to the will predictably saying, ‘Do more.’

4         The Passions

The passions are what inspire or disturb us. Our passions have the ability and tendency to overwhelm our thinking, our conscience and our will. The advertising industry knows that. They used to aim for the mind (someone in a lab coat explaining the product), but now they aim for the passions (a hot woman).

We have to begin with identifying the passions of the text. Ephesians 1 is connecting mind and passion; deep praise and gratitude comes from understanding. This is logic on fire. What are the drives (sinful and holy) that the text speaks to. We ought to speak to them. We can’t command passions, but we can encourage them. Show that we expect truth to sink to the deepest part of the heart.

Do this by using language that connects to people’s hearts. If you want to communicate love to someone, don’t use a legal document but a poem. What genre is a sermon? It is probably a mix, but a sermon is not an essay. It is not an academic piece of writing. Both skills are important, but writing a paper is not writing a sermon.

The Bible has a law, but there is also a lot of poetry. Use illustrations and stories which spark passions.

The Puritans spoke of the plain style of speech. Richard Baxter studied to speak plainly and truly. They reacted against the Anglican preaching of the day, which was very flowery with marvellous rhetoric, witty and learned. The plain style is plain; just say it how it is. Speak honestly. Shoot straight. Don’t try to entertain (not being boring), but preach straight to the heart.

Speaking to people’s hearts means using real language and real stories, and calling it how it is. You’re not putting on a performance. You’re being you, talking in the most serious way you can about matters of life and death. Say it as if you mean it.

If we are going to unleash the passions of the text, those passions of the text must have stirred our heart first. If you’re almost falling asleep in your own sermon, don’t be surprised if some other people join you. We must set the tone.

5         Conclusion

As we speak to people’s hearts in this way, we need to realise that not everyone’s hearts will be in the same way. When we preach, there are going to be different kinds of hearts. Some are self-pitying, some are legalistic, some are fatalistic.

The Puritans spoke to spiritual conditions (perhaps you feel, maybe you think, etc.) rather than to sociological groups (young, old, etc.). You might say who an application is not for (they might listen harder!). These are engaging ways of speaking to different people. Truth stands for all people in all time, but you want it to penetrate people in different situations.

You can’t do this all the time. Pick and choose. Do some this week and maybe they’ll come back next week.

Don’t depend on any of these things as a technique to set hearts on fire. Hearts will only be set on fire if the Holy Spirit accompanies our preaching. They are ways of setting our sail to catch the wind of the Spirit when He blows. If we will preach with hearts that are on fire, think about hearts and shape messages for them, maybe people will say, “Did not our hearts burn within us?”

Preaching with a Heart on Fire

18 Mar

Session 3

Murray Capill

There are good Reformed people who are serious about the word, serious about theology, but they are boring. Martyn-Lloyd Jones, “The preacher must never be dull, he must never be boring. He must never be what is called heavy… I would say that a dull preacher is a contradiction in terms. If he is dull, he is not a preacher.”

After hearing Jesus open the Scriptures to them, the two disciples compared hearts and said theirs burned (Luke 24:32). Wesley described how at his conversation his ‘heart was strangely warmed.’

If that is to happen, our hearts must be burning. Few things will affect our hearts more than our own hearts. MLJ “The preacher’s first and most important task is to prepare himself and not his sermon.” James Stalker, “If we grow strong and large inwardly, our people will draw the benefit eventually…” Our hearts will have a tremendous impact on how we preach.

1         How can we do this?

This requires understanding four faculties of the human heart.

When the Bible talks about the heart, it means who you really are. It includes the mind, will conscience and passions. When you are converted, it means that your whole self is regenerated. Proverbs 4:23 says “Above all else, guard your heart for it is the well-spring of life.”

1.1       The Mind

In Biblical thinking, the mind is part of our heart. Often in Western thinking, the mind is rational/objective/intellectual and the heart is passionate/subjective. But in Hebraic thinking, you don’t have a right heart unless you have a right mind. Our entire lives are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:1-2). We are to set our minds on things above, not on earthly things. We are to love God with all our mind.

We need minds that are engaged with the Scriptures, with the things of God. If you don’t love thinking about the Bible and about Christian truth, don’t go into Christian ministry. It will be your job to grow in knowing God. That doesn’t mean you have to be academic. You don’t have to be an intellectual, but you have to have intellect. “An intellectual is someone who learns more and more about less and less until he knows everything about nothing.” You don’t have to be a great reader or a fast reader. Read slowly in order to think. That is better than reading vast amounts of material.

You need a mind that can get to the essence of things. You might not know everything about a text, but you need a mind that can distil the very essence of it and shape the message of it.

This comes down to some basic skills: a clear structure and a main theme or purpose statement. If we don’t have clarity about the text, we can’t expect we will ever have clarity among our people. If there is a little mist in the pulpit, there will be thick fog in the congregation.

You often won’t get the sharp mental clarity from commentaries. That doesn’t mean you don’t read them. If we are going to preach with a heart that is on fire, we are going to have to get to the heart of the passage. What really, really matters? You have to love doing it.

1.2       Conscience

When we know the truth, we must press that truth against our conscience.

God has built into us a sense of right and wrong. They are not perfectly calibrated. Some people’s consciences are overly sensitive. As we prepare a sermon, we need to press it against our own conscience. We need to let that truth search us. We need to let it test us and convict us. Maybe it does need to make us feel guilty or maybe this truth will comfort us. What we don’t want is to handle truth in a detached way. We want it to get up close so that we feel it and it exposes us. That means we have to get real with our own sermons. As we expose certain things, our own hearts are going to be tested. We want to go and preach with a clear conscience, and that doesn’t come from being perfect but from being real and being driven to Jesus Christ. As you prepare sermons, you should be experiencing the Gospel afresh. Your sins and fears and failings drive you to the Gospel.

If you preach with a guilty conscience, it will rip the heart out of your application. Other you will blunt your application or you will rile against those sins in particular. When Paul talks about having a clear conscience, he means both before God and before the people in the churches (Acts 20; 1 Thessalonians 2).

What do we do when we don’t have a clear conscience before God? Do we confess publically? What if it all goes wrong at the last minute? It may be that sometimes we are disqualified from preaching. There might be issues that prevent us from going on. If the worshipper must leave his sacrifice at the altar, sometimes we must go and be reconciled to our wives. But ordinarily, we must not use the pulpit as a confessional. If we are humble with God and will soon deal with those issues, and go to the pulpit feeling terribly inadequate, we are in a good place. If there is integrity in our lives as a whole, growing in grace, and if we grab the chance to deal with stuff immediately afterwards, we can stand before the congregation with integrity.

The biggest thing about facing our conscience before, during and after preaching is realising that we are sinners in need of grace. Our seriousness in dealing with our hearts is essential to preaching with authority, feeling and compassion.

1.3       The Will

This is our God-given capacity to choose and make decisions. We are not only rational beings and beings with an inner sense of right and wrong, but we are people who do things which have consequences.

The Gospel changes the way we think and speak and behave. As preachers, we will call others to be doers of the word, so we must be doers of the word. What you are calling for in other people’s lives, you are calling for in your own life. The test of application is the test of reality: do we do it, could we do it, will we do it? Sometimes that is somewhat theoretical, but the test is whether you could. It will be good for our application to be tempered by the reality of our own lives.

1.4       The Passions/Affections

These are the deep longing and desires of the heart. Baxter called them “the bottom of the soul, the deepest part of the heart.” Preaching with hearts on fire means being moves and excited by that truth. We want to cry and out be hungry. What we are looking for in our preaching is a resonance between our passions and the passions of the text so that you can’t speak of hell lightly or flippantly, you can’t speak of Christ disrespectfully, you can’t speak of joy gloomily, you can’t speak of love aggressively.

We must work in our hearts to feel it, to be stirred by it. How you express passion will be different from preacher to preacher, but you must feel the truth and find the way in which you will communicate what you feel. Lest you think that this is very subjective for a Reformed man to say, Martin Lloyd-Jones said, “Patheos… has been lacking among Reformed people… We tend to describe feeling. What is preaching? Logic on fire. Eloquent reason. Is that contradiction? Of course not… Reason should be eloquent… A theology which does not take fire is a defective theology… Preaching is theology from a man who is on fire.” Preaching is the faculties of our heart being engaged by what we are going to say. It has searched our hearts and have some to the point where we are itching to get up and tell the message about the Gospel that’s grace, the God who’s great.

2         Conclusion

2.1       Looking after your heart

Keep your heart finely tuned. In the course of a day, your heart can go out of tune. We need to have time with God.

Have you identified what sin is most likely to take you out of ministry? What are you doing about it to make sure it doesn’t? Something worse than going out of tune can happen. If you don’t keep your heart finely tuned, maybe one day sin will take you out of usefulness to God because you have disqualified yourself from preaching God’s word.

Be in the word, not just to get your next sermon, but to know God. Be in prayer to be in fellowship with God.

2.2       Use your own heart as an index for application

Read out of your own heart your joys and failings. There you will find temptations that are common to man and will be helpful to others.

2.3       Warm your heart before you preach

When it comes time to preach, warm your heart. Maybe read something about revival. Find the things and the ways that you need to go to the pulpit to feel excited and expectant to preach.

2.4       Exert your heart in the act of preaching

When you preach, you have to put your whole heart into it. Put some energy into it. Labour to be interesting and slightly dynamic. Try to sound like you mean it. A monotone will not do it. Reading a carefully prepared essay will not do it. You have a message from God for His people, so try to preach with vigour and passion. Speak with energy. Be yourself, but be yourself at your best because you are speaking for God on His behalf.

If you preach with a heart on fire, maybe God will use that to ignite something in the hearts of those you preach to as well.

Preaching Christ in the Old Testament: Prerequisites

18 Mar

Session 2

Dr Jared Hood

If we are clever, there is a lot we can do with allegory. Allegory is eisegesis. The rejection of allegory was an important point of the Reformation. The theology may be true, but the exegesis is appalling. Tim Keller even uses allegory in his book, The Prodigal God. If this is how we handle Jesus’ words, how will we handle the Old Testament?

I don’t have a particular axe to grind with Keller, but he is helpful to interact with. Keller writes that finding where Christ is in the Old Testament “is more like an instinct.” He concludes that Christ is the better Moses, Job and David. “This is not typology; that’s an instinct.” Is it just instinct finding Christ from the Old Testament? Keller seems to read every story to the atonement.

To preach Christ from the OT, you need to believe that Christ is spoken of in the Old Testament. To have a particular hermeneutic so that when you find Christ in the OT, He is actually being spoken of there.

Luther, on a bad day, didn’t know quite what to do with large swathes of the Old Testament. Karl Barth said the OT was the expectation or witness to Jesus Christ, speaking of types. Somethink of him as Calvin-lite. But beware of universalists bearing gifts. Therefore, his eschatology and soteriology are different, and so is his doctrine of Christ and of God. He had a different Scripture to us, not as revelation but as becoming revelation to us.

There is a trajectory of thought in Barth that is critical towards the OT. It is Christian, but it seems to become more Christian once Christ has come. You find more meaning there than what is written on the page, perhaps. This is Barth’s famed Christocentrism.

Brevard Childs (Yale), one-time student of Barth, used canonical criticism. He focused on the text itself in the context of the canon. When you get to the OT, you have to look at it in the light of the whole canon. You then find the whole Scriptures to be Christian. The catch is that he was willing to take OT prophecies about Christ because the NT told him they were about Christ, but he didn’t believe that they were originally about Christ. There is a clash here between the original intention and what it meant to the church, and Childs says, ‘just live with the clash.’

That’s fine. That’s all out there. But think of Tremper Longman and Peter Enns (formerly of Westminster). Enns accepted that the OT wasn’t originally about Christ in Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament. He said that the Apostles used midrash/allegory to take a passage out of its context to make it say what you want it to say. He calls this the Christotelic nature of the OT. This is coming out of Reformed heartland!

Is this what we are going to do when we come to the OT? Allegory is spiritual junkfood. You may give your congregation a bit of a buzz with allegory, but in the end it will kill you.

You have to earnestly believe that the OT is speaking about Christ, and you have to be able to find Him there in the text. If not, your teaching is fraudulent.

Our God is always in control and always intended to send His Son into the world, and He always reveals His actions first. Do you believe that the intention of both the human and divine author was to write about the Christ?

1         Why Believe that Christ is in the OT?

1.1       Because the NT tells me it is about the Christ

The human authors intended on writing about the Christ. 1 Peter 1:10-12 says that the OT prophets were pre-witnessing, witnessing in advance. Peter was placing his own witness and ministry on a par with the OT prophets and their witness (1 Peter 5:1). The only distinction is one of chronology. But did they know what they were writing? They searched out to find only one detail of what they were talking about. They wanted to know when/who (1 Peter 1:11).

Luke 24:27 says that there are numerous texts in the OT about Jesus. Luke 24:44-48 explains how we are meant to understand the NT: Look at it through the lens of the resurrection. But something else is happening in this passage. It cuts the other way as well. Jesus isn’t simply saying, ‘Here’s a new way to understand the OT,’ but ‘Here’s how to understand the resurrection.’ It is the resurrection that the problem, that’s hard to understand. The meaning of the resurrection is not obvious. It is just a random event until you can put it into some sort of context, and then it makes sense. The NT isn’t just allegorising the OT to cram it into a NT agenda. It isn’t starting with the resurrection. It is explaining everything in the NT through the lens of the OT. The OT is the interpreter, it is the goggles.

1.2       Because the OT is actually about the Christ

When I get to the hard work of explaining the text, the plain reading of it shows that he is there. He is not there in code or divinely hidden. Sometimes there is some ambiguity, but here is there as the seed-redeemer-king. I agree entirely with Walter Kaiser: Messianism is rooted in the authorial intention of the OT, both divine and human. If you’re not finding Christ there, you are not reading it correctly. Maybe you have Marcian in your head, or Luther on a bad day, or the higher critics.

1.3       Because the Doctrine of Revelation requires it

The whole point of God’s revelation is to speak to us in ways which we can understand. He speaks to us in His Son who is 100% divine and 100% human.

2         How is Christ in the OT?

2.1       Prophetically

This is no real surprise. There are specific, predictive prophecies about Christ which were fulfilled or are being fulfilled by Him now (Genesis 3:15; Psalm 2; 110). Genesis 3:15 casts its shadow over the whole OT. You can debate whether Messiah is the correct word to use there because it isn’t mentioned there, but that’s who it is speaking about. These are salvational, covenantal promises. They look backwards as well as forwards as they look to the eternal promises of God for the world.

2.2       Typologically

We also have typology in the OT. This is not so well-understood. The OT is Christ-focused in a typological way. A type is a symbol or analogy of the coming Christ. The institutions of Israel, the ministries and experiences of some of her prominent individuals, all speak of His person, experiences, rule and people. The sacrifices are obvious. The highs and lows of David’s experiences. Paul takes Adam as a type of Christ in Romans 5, not only because Paul says so, but because that’s what the Pentateuch is telling you. The unfortunate thing about typology is that it is currently being spoken of as a sort of sensus plenia. This means that the intention of the human authors. Goldsworthy speaks of this; typology was intended by the divine author, but not be the human author. The moment we do this, we lose all possibility of there being meaningful communication to us because we are human. The example most-trumpeted is Matthew 2:15, “Out of Egypt I called my Son,” quoting Hosea 11:1. But Hosea seems to be speaking of the Exodus, where God’s son (Israel) was brought out of Egypt. The usual explanation is that the divine intention in Hosea is that the Exodus be taken as a type of Jesus, but that Hosea didn’t mean that. Somehow Matthew tapped into that, probably by divine revelation.

This is nonsense. What would be the point of divinely encoded messages in the OT that can’t be understood until Christ came? Then how would we know what God meant in the OT.

What did Hosea mean by it? Verse 1 is about the Exodus. But you have to pick up on the context, as with every NT quotation of the OT. Verse 11 is about the second exodus. This is prophecy, not typology. Hosea is talking about both. This is not about the 586 exile, but the eschatological return of all of Israel. Israel will for a second time come out of Egypt. Hosea also says that it will be accompanied by “the Holy One in your midst.” Matthew says that Jesus is the central figure of the second exodus. With Jesus, the second Exodus begins.

2.3       Thematically

What are the great themes of the OT? YHWH rules by covenant. In covenant there is law. This metanarrative is announced in Genesis 1-3. The OT knows that the fullest revelation of this will not come until the king-redeemer comes. When you come to any text of Scripture, you are entering into that metanarrative that finds it fulfilment in Christ. The road will ultimately lead you to Christ.

Esther doesn’t mention God, but it is still plugged into that theme: YHWH is king and his seed in coming. There is redemption and judgement there too.

Where is Christ in the Ten Commandments? He is there in the introduction, but He is also there in the expressions of God’s will and law for His people, which will be ultimately be fully explained by Christ (Matthew 5). Even the Ten Commandments are not understood until you see that it is pointing towards the day in which the law will exist in the new covenant.

The OT is self-critical. It knows that there is more coming. Exodus carefully explains that the people do not have the power to keep that law. Look at the molten calf story. It is not a digression! The Old Covenant is not enough. You disobey it when you are receiving it. Jeremiah come out and says what you knew: we need a new covenant. The OT is crying out for this completion, the Christ who brings back Eden and will be present in glory with His people. Every text is at least eschatologically about Christ and the New Covenant age.

2.4       Authorially

Christ is present authorially. Perhaps we don’t think about that often.

The priests are types of Christ. Israel’s kings are types of Christ. There is a third type of office too: the prophets are types of Christ. Moses knew that (Deuteronomy 18). When they speak and write, they are not doing so on their own behalf. They are illustrating what the greater prophet will be. Just as Christ was ministering through the other types, so too Christ was ministering through the prophets.

Therefore, the writings of the prophets are the writings of the Messiah, the Christ. Hebrews leads our minds in that direction as well, telling us that Moses was a servant in the house, but Christ is over all. Everything we read in the OT is an expression of His will and His character. Then we don’t have to force Christ into the text, because it is all from Him.

3         Conclusion

Christ is spoken of prophetically, typologically, thematically, and authorially in the OT.

Lessons from the Lives and Ministries of Charles Spurgeon and Archibald Brown

18 Mar

Session 1

I have spoken under all four principals of the PTC (Professors Swanton, Harman, Milne and Rev. Hastie). I will speak on the lives of men from the past 150 years. The lessons of their lives help to explain how we got to be where we are. There have been tremendous changes, including the downgrade, and the struggle for the recovery today.

We begin on 11th February 1892. Thousands of people stood at the funeral of Charles Spurgeon, conducted at the graveside by Archibald Brown. The weather was so bad that people were instructed to keep their hats on. Brown was very well-known in his day. Spurgeon, “Few men are like-minded with Mr Brown, a brother tried and true.” By the time of Spurgeon’s death, his position was the minority position in the land and Brown stood by him. Brown died in 1922. Spurgeon, “I am willing to be eaten by dogs for 50 years, but the distant union will vindicate me.” His opponent was appointed the head of the Baptist training college 3 years after Brown’s death in 1925.

His life

Brown was born of Scottish parents with Baptist convictions. He entered the tea trade at the age of 16. There was a Sunday School teacher there called Annie Bigg. She asked him if he was a Christian and would go to hear Rev. Blackwood preach. He gave his word to go, going unwillingly but happy to be going with Bigg. Blackwood asked and Brown confessed that he was not a Christian and had no desire to be. Blackwood replied, “How sad. How sad.”

He was converted soon after and left his apprenticeship. At 18, he became the youngest to enter Spurgeon’s college. There were 4 Baptist colleges already, but Spurgeon started another. He wasn’t concerned with the contemporary theology, but about the foundational truths of Christian faith. He insisted that they continued their evangelistic work as students. Brown went to Bromley to found a Baptist church, stayed for 6 years and married Anne Bigg.

Spurgeon recommended Brown to the church at Stepney Green Tabernacle. He was to be inducted in 6th February in 1867, but something happened before the induction which changed everything. Before the induction meeting, at the prayer meeting on Sunday night, “a very tempest of prayer… an agonised cry went up, ‘Save souls tonight’.” Some 70 people were brought into the Kingdom of God as Brown preached a sermon he had used before in Bromley with no visible effect. That taught Brown that it isn’t the means, but the work of God which awakens people. For 5 years, people flocked to the prayer meeting as the world flocks to its pleasures.

Every revival has definite marks to it. One of them is prayerfulness. Hundreds of people would meet for prayer at 7am on a Sunday morning. Where the Sprit is present, the fruits of the Spirit are present, including love. They visited 2,900 families on a Sunday. This was spontaneous action, a sign of true love.

A new building was necessary in 1872, which could hold 3,000 people. Spurgeon reminded people that they had seen lions turn into lambs and places of East London transformed. Whenever God greatly honours men, He almost invariably gives them deep trials. Browns trials largely centred on domestic bereavements. After being married for 8 years, Annie became very ill to the point that she prayed that God would take her home. Her funeral was a great joy because she was delivered from great pain.

A year later, Brown married again. A year after that, his new wife died in childbirth and her child died with her. Brown was overwhelmed by the unexpectedness of it. He had kept working after Annie’s death, but after his second wife’s death, he stopped for at least a couple of weeks.

One night when he was depressed, his eye fell on Revelation 22:16. He soon preached, “Jesus is alive, though children die and wives be cut down.. A voice comes through the darkness saying, ‘I, Jesus, am alive.’”

His third wife, Edith, died comparatively young. When Spurgeon died, the papers expected Brown to follow him at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, but she was so ill, he couldn’t move.

The other trial was the downgrade controversy. He and Spurgeon opposed the view that contemporary scholarship had taken us further and thrown doubt on the Scriptures, but that it didn’t matter because we have a living Saviour who we can rely on instead of an old book. It turned out that the Christ who was being proclaimed was different from the Christ of the Scriptures. He was not the Christ who bore the curse of sin or who said the Scriptures would be preserved.

One of his contemporaries said, “Mr. Brown has been taught some by books, more by men, and most by sanctified afflictions.” He came through it stronger, with deeper sympathy and love for others.

At a time of great poverty, he personally employed two missionaries, then nine to help destitute families. They discovered that “want is the short history of thousands.” “Change a man’s nature and he will change his environment… Let a man be saved from his sins and he will be saved from dirt into the bargain.”

At the age of 52, Brown was exhausted from ministry and retired. Within months, another church pleaded him to come to them and he went for 10 years. Now more than 60, he went to the Metropolitan Tabernacle for 3 years. Then, he travelled the world, preaching here in Melbourne and Hobart, and in every Baptist chapel in South Africa.

His preaching

Preaching is to effect a change into the likeness of Jesus Christ. Brown’s ministry blended the message with the man. How vital that is. There were no appeals to help to Brown that he every turned down. When he was preaching here in Australia, a newspaper wrote of him, “It is the sheer lovableness of the man that is unmissable.” “To compel love is the greatest gift God has put in man’s hands [though it is in the Holy Spirit’s hands]”.

Brown convinces me that we have been far more effected by apostasy than we think we have. “There has been the severest onslaught on the doctrine of the severity of God.” If a preacher is concerned with his hearers, he will be concerned with their sin as against God.” “Far better to be awoke from pleasing dream now than from the cold hand of death when it is too late.” “The beauties of the Saviour will only be seen when what He saves from has been shown to some degree.”

To the objection, ‘we live in New Testament days’, Brown pointed to Herod, Annanias and Sophira who were struck down in a moment. There is something surely missing in our preaching. In Acts 20, Paul speaks of being among the Ephesians with many tears, “warning them night and day with tears”. What was he concerned with? The deceitfulness of sin and the coming judgement. We are more effected by our time and our culture than we think we are. This has led to an omission from our preaching. Reverence and the fear of God are thin in many of our churches. “To offer a saviour to a man who is ignorant of his sinnership is pointless.”

We have many new hymns focused on the atonement, but if people don’t understand the justice and horrors of God, there is a real danger of antinomianism. In past time, there were many hymns on contrition and repentance. Brown said that the evidence that we are getting the Gospel right is that men are humble and we are humble as preachers.

Humility was a mark of the man. “Every hour of every day, there is need of pardon.” “There are times when I would for all the world not be without the doctrine of God’s election… God find the reason for His love in Himself and not in you.” At the time of the downgrade controversy, there was a lot of evangelical work going on, but “There is an unholy lust after mere outward success… We are responsible not for success, but for faithfulness.” “God has been pleased to make preaching the means of his power.” Preaching on the multitude converted in Acts 2, “all instrumentality without the Holy Spirit is useless… What an amount of powerless machinery we have in the religious world.” “May the Spirit of God return again with power to His church, but do not be looking here and there for revival… The only revival worth having is inaugurated by a sound from heaven.”


You might think Brown died a depressed soul, but he knew who reigned. “The only thing that can be the destruction of the saint is the end of Christ being the Saviour.” Do read Archibald Brown prayerfully.

God’s Goodness = Love = Sharing Himself with Us

06 Nov

It could be a dry exercise to investigate a topic like the attributes of God. Thankfully, it is not.

In Our Reasonable Faith Herman Bavinck outlines the different names given to God’s goodness (p140-141):

Called longsuffering or forbearance when it is manifested to the guilty (Romans 3:25).

Called grace when it is manifested to those who receive the forgiveness of sins (Ephesians 2:8).

Called love when God, out of grace towards His creatures shares Himself with them, John 3:16 and 1 John 4:8.

Called loving-kindness or mercy when this goodness of God is manifested to those who enjoy His favour (Genesis 39:21; Numbers 14:19; Isaiah 54:10; and Ephesians 2:7).

Called good will or good pleasure when the emphasis falls on the fact that the goodness and all its benefits are a free gift (Matthew 11:26; Luke 2:14; 12:32; and 2 Thessalonians 1:11).

What a good God to love us, to give Himself to us!

Be Wise, O Kings!

10 Jun

It’s appropriate to have spent the Queen’s Birthday long weekend studying Psalms 2 and 8.

Psalm 2

10 וְ֭עַתָּה מְלָכִ֣ים הַשְׂכִּ֑ילוּ הִ֜וָּסְר֗וּ שֹׁ֣פְטֵי אָֽרֶץ׃
11 עִבְד֣וּ אֶת־יְהוָ֣ה בְּיִרְאָ֑ה וְ֜גִ֗ילוּ בִּרְעָדָֽה׃
12 נַשְּׁקוּ־בַ֡ר פֶּן־יֶאֱנַ֤ף׀ וְתֹ֬אבְדוּ דֶ֗רֶךְ כִּֽי־יִבְעַ֣ר כִּמְעַ֣ט אַפּ֑וֹ אַ֜שְׁרֵ֗י כָּל־ח֥וֹסֵי בֽוֹ׃

10 So now, O kings, be wise;
Be instructed, O Judges of the earth.
11 Serve the LORD with fear,
and worship in trembling.
12 Kiss the Son, lest He be angry,
and you perish in the way,
for his anger burns quickly.
Blessed are all who seek refuge in Him.

If her last few Christmas Messages are anything to go by, it seems that we are blessed to have a blessed monarch.

Paul’s Pastoral Paradigm for Preachers III

28 Mar

Session 14: Bruce Winter

We need to deal, not only with the presenting problem but also with the underlying cause.

Resurrection or Insurrection?

Many of the issues in Corinthians can be traced to men who are addicted to sex. Paul commands them to be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, 1 Corinthians 15:58. 1 Corinthians 15 is as much about the insurrection of our body as the resurrection of Jesus’ body.

Paul is having to deal with anthropology: Who am I? What is my body? and, What should I do with it?

The resurrection is a reality. We must all stand before the judgement seat of Christ, 2 Corinthians 5:10. Life is not about me living how I want to. Not only is Christ to be raised, but we are to be raised. We are to die every day, 15:31. Even as an apostle, he had to fight sexual passion, 15:32.

The Christian life isn’t about having it all and living our best life now. Paul is calling the Christians to serious business; we will all be accountable for how we life our lives. Eternal life is not in doubt, but accountability is. God is not here to serve you (that is paganism); you are here to serve Him.

We need to teach people this because people have a concept of hedonism. It dominates our world. You pursue pleasure, but never to the point of pain. Philosophy is very much at the heart of things.

The resurrection drives us to us how we can abound in service to others, 15:58. You cannot be a Christian playboy or pursue Christian hedonism. Hedonism is condemned every one of the 7 times it is mentioned in the New Testament, buy joy occurs many times and is always encouraged.

The Cult of Christian Leadership

The Corinthians wanted Apollos to return to them but he could not go back, 16:12. Instead, they had to be watchful and stand firm in the faith, and do everything in love, 16:13. Remember, if you don’t have love, your ministry adds up to zero, 13:3. The family of Stephanas had devoted themselves to the service of the saints (despite being waited on by servants themselves), 16:15. Paul says that ministry is about service. It is not to orators but to servants that the church must submit, 16:16.

Remember Jesus’ example: He was the teacher who washed people’s feet, John 13.

You will have to deprogram the assumptions about what the ministry is.

The Collection for the Saints

There had been much mishandling of the Jewish tax, sent from Jewish citizens to Jerusalem, that the Romans sent guards to collect it. Those who had been transmitting it might even stay in luxury hotels.

The Corinthians had of their own initiative raised the issue of a collection, 16:1-4, giving the background to 2 Corinthians 8:8-9.

Paul is fastidious about money. Be very careful about money. Never handle money. It is important for ministers not to know who are the givers.


1 Corinthians teaches us to deal with the presenting problem in a pastoral way. Show them the way forward. Never see them as problem people, but as people with gifts who have problems like we do.

Remember that if you never deal with a fundamental, underlying problem, there will not be progress in the Christian life. If people are abounding in the work of the Lord, it is amazing what an effect that has.


"… What is your life? It is even a vapour that appears for a little time and then vanishes away." James 4:14.