At the same time Scripture exalts the sovereignty of God in salvation and regularly speaks of our need for God to grant us spiritual life (see John 1:12-13; 6:44; Acts 11:18; Eph 2:1-5; Col 2:12-13; Phil 1:29; 2 Tim 2:25-26), it calls us to believe in Christ and holds us responsible to do so.
Hyper-Calvinists typically argue that in order for a person to truly respond to the biblical exhortations to repent and believe, that person must have some confidence that they are elect in order to know that they have a warrant to believe in Christ. Specifically, a person should make sure they can discern the work of the Holy Spirit in their life before they put their faith in Christ. Continue reading “Hyper-Calvinism’s Deadly Mistake”
Toward the end of the first volume of his autobiography, Charles Spurgeon relays a somewhat amusing yet instructive anecdote of a time when he would regularly receive comments on his sermons from an anonymous critic. Continue reading “Using Criticism for Our Benefit: A Word from Charles Spurgeon”
In the spring of 1741 Jonathan Edwards visited and ministered to a small congregation in Suffield, Connecticut. This little church was without a pastor for a short time but was blessed with a few excellent servants, including Edwards himself and the great evangelist George Whitefield.
A few months after Edwards visited the church, Elizabeth Hatheway, a member of the congregation, asked Edwards for some spiritual guidance. In response, Edwards wrote this young lady a lengthy letter with 19 points of advice on Christian living. Several years later, the letter was published under the title, Advice to Young Converts. It is currently published along with Edwards resolutions by P & R Publishing.
On point #3, Edwards gives some timely advice on how to listen to sermons.
When you hear sermons, hear them for yourself, even though what is spoken in them may be especially directed to the unconverted or to those that in other respects are in different circumstances from yourself. Let the chief intent of your mind be to consider what ways you can apply the things that you are hearing in the sermon. You should ask, What improvement should I make, based on these things, for my own soul’s good? Continue reading “How To Listen To a Sermon: Eagerness and Examination”
This was a particularly moving quote about John Calvin from T.H.L. Parker:
There is no threshing himself into a fever of impatience or frustration, no holier-than-thou rebuking of the people, no begging them in terms of hyperbole to give some physical sign that the message has been accepted. It is simply one man, conscious of his sins, aware how little progress he makes and how hard it is to be a doer of the Word, sympathetically passing on to his people (whom he knows to have the same sort of problems as himself) what God has said to them and to him.
Obviously this does not mean that Calvin pulled any punches when it came to fully and accurately delivering the whole counsel of God to his people, or that Calvin didn’t possess the qualifications that distinguished him from others as a pastor, but it does picture a man who trembled at the Word that he delivered because he knew it to be for himself as well as those under his care. And since Calvin was so deeply acquainted with his own sins and struggles, and with the great majesty of God, he was able to come to the pulpit with compassion and humility – as a fellow Christian who was seeking to apply the truth to his life first and foremost. Let us pray along with Steve Lawson, “May God give His church in this day humble and holy shepherds who practice what they preach.” Amen.
I’m a high school pastor. During the course of any given week, I usually teach/preach, on average, 2-3 times, one time being during our Sunday morning fellowship group. But this week I get the special opportunity to address the whole church body. I will continue in our Summer’s series on the Psalms with a message from Psalm 63 entitled, Satisfied by Faith: A Psalmists Cure for Spiritual Drought.
As I have been preparing for this Sunday’s message, however, my mind has been drawn to a book I read a few years ago: John Piper’s The Supremacy of God in Preaching. The book is actually a ‘biography’ of Jonathan Edwards that focuses on Edwards’ insights into the ministry of preaching the Word of God. I thought it would be appropriate to peruse and meditate on a specific portion of the book in order to prepare my heart for this Sunday. I also thought it would be helpful to provide Piper’s exhortations for those of you who are preparing to preach this Sunday as well. Continue reading “Preparing for the Pulpit: Piper and Edwards on the Ministry of Preaching”