Power in the Pulpit by Jerry Vines & Jim Shaddix

Power in the Pulpit is a textbook on expository preaching. It is comprehensive in its scope yet practical and accessible. It is a must-read for preachers who love the Truth and a desire to keep God’s Word the focus of their preaching ministry. After all, if it isn’t God’s Word, it isn’t preaching.

The book comes in three parts:

1. The Preparation for Exposition – This section deals with the definition and philosophy of expository preaching as well as the development of the preacher.
2. The Process of Exposition – This section gives practical instruction for studying the text and organizing the sermon.
3. The Presentation of the Exposition – This section equips the preacher for effective sermon delivery.

Power in the Pulpit is a classic on expository preaching. It is deeply challenging, yet it encourages the preacher to the monumental task of preaching. It is an exaltation of God’s Word. It is a challenge to God’s servant. It will change the way your approach sermon preparation and delivery.

As Kingfishers Catch Fire by Eugene Peterson

“Sixty years ago I found myself distracted,” Peterson writes. “A chasm had developed between the way I was preaching from the pulpit and my deepest convictions on what it meant to be a pastor.”

This was the beginning of Peterson’s journey to live, preach, and teach a life of congruence; no more separation between Sunday religion and daily living.

As Kingfishers Catch Fire is a collection of forty-nine sermons Peterson first preached at Christ Our King Presbyterian Church during nearly 30 years as their pastor (1962 – 1991). The sermons are divided into seven groups of seven.

  • Preaching in the company of Moses (Law)
  • Preaching in the company of David (Psalms)
  • Preaching in the company of Isaiah (Prophets)
  • Preaching in the company of Solomon (Wisdom Literature)
  • Preaching in the company of Peter (Gospels)
  • Preaching in the company of Paul (Epistles)
  • Preaching in the company of John (Johannine Literature)

The result is a collection of sermons or teachings that brings God’s Word into our daily lives to inform how we should, and by God’s grace can, live.

There is no doubt that Peterson is an excellence writer. His familiarity with the Bible is evident. He is a masterful storyteller. He paints pictures of everyday life lived in a real world on a canvas of God’s Word.

I would recommend this book primarily to pastors and preachers. Even though it is a book of sermons, it will probably challenge you personally more than it will become a mine for material. As always, the book should be read prayerfully and thoughtfully.

*I received a free review copy from bloggingforbooks.com in exchange for my personal, unbiased review.

Learn From The Devil

In January 1548, Hugh Latimer confronted preachers who were more engaged in business and pleasure than in preaching. He preached a famous sermon at St. Paul’s Cathedral in which he named the most diligent preacher in England:

And now I would ask a strange question: who is the most diligent bishop and prelate in all England, that passes all the rest in doing his office? I can tell, for I know him who it is; I know him well. But now I think I see you listening and hearkening that I should name him. There is one that passes all the other, and is the most diligent prelate and preacher in all England. And will ye know who it is? I will tell you: it is the devil.

He is the most diligent preacher of all other; he is never out of his diocese; he is never from his cure; ye shall never find him unoccupied; he is ever in his parish; he keeps residence at all times; ye shall never find him out of the way, call for him when you will he is ever at home; the most diligent preacher in all the realm; he is ever at his plough: no lording nor loitering can hinder him; he is ever applying his business, ye shall never find him idle, I warrant you…

Oh that our prelates would be as diligent to sow the corn of good doctrine…

Therefore, ye unpreaching prelates, learn of the devil: to be diligent in doing of your office, learn of the devil: and if you will not learn of God, nor good men; for shame learn of the devil.

We all have a thing or two to learn from the devil when it comes to the matter of diligence. He works tirelessly to the damnation of souls. Let us work tirelessly to the saving of souls.

Pray diligently.
Fast diligently.
Worship diligently.
Watch diligently.
Witness diligently.
Preach diligently.
Teach diligently.

Souls depend upon it. Souls that the devil seeks to destroy. He is working diligently. Are you?

The Preaching of Foolishness

Studies in First Corinthians – III

“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18).

“For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” (1 Corinthians 1:21).

I would like to share a story with you from Alan Redpath’s The Royal Route To Heaven. He writes:

I heard an eminent professor of theology say to students in his seminary class, “Gentlemen, I ask you to remember that you are called upon to know something of the foolishness of preaching, not the preaching of foolishness.” In my heart I retorted, “He is wrong! The word of the cross is absolute foolishness.” It says so in my text: to those who are perishing, the word of the cross is foolishness.

It depends on who you are talking to: those who are perishing or those who are being saved. To those who are perishing, the word of the cross is absolute foolishness. It is a contradiction to all of the science, philosophy, education, and knowledge of this world.

Let us hear the word of the cross spoken on a hill just outside of the walls of Jerusalem:

“Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). This prayer of Christ for His murders doesn’t make any sense, humanly speaking.

“Today shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). This pity given to the guilty from the innocent as they both suffer seems strange to human logic.

“Woman, behold thy son” (John 19:26-27). The concern of her well being in the hour of His death is at the very least the result of the purest of hearts.

“My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). Now alone, utterly cut off, He is introducing a countless multitude to glory through His suffering.

“I thirst!” (John 19:28). Out of the agony of these parched lips flows rivers of living water.

“It is finished!” (John 19:30). Obedient unto death, forsaken by friend and foe, Jesus has paid the price! The innocent died for the guilty!

What is the word of the cross in your life and mine? It is power through weakness, life through death, resurrection through crucifixion.

Those who are perishing say it is foolishness. If that is so, I was saved by the preaching of foolishness.

Eat This, Preacher

Ezekiel 2-3 conveys to us the commissioning of Ezekiel’s prophetic ministry. It is full of instruction for today’s preacher.

In chapter 2, God tells Ezekiel two time in ten verses, “speak my words to them whether they listen to you or not” (my paraphrase). Preacher, preach the Truth. Preach the Truth if they listen and respond. Preach the Truth if they ignore you and continue to do evil. Do not mix the Truth with any lie in hopes that they will listen. Mix it with love and preach it regardless of the hearers response.

In chapter 3, God gives Ezekiel instructions on receiving and delivering the message. “Eat this scroll” (3:1). That seems a bit strange. The instruction for today’s preacher is clear. Eat this, Preacher. Be full of the Word. Read your books. Read your blogs. Listen to other preachers. Scan the news for illustrations. But above all else, be full of the Word.

Don’t stop there, Preacher. After God fed the Word to Ezekiel, He advised him to allow the Word to sink deep into his own hear first. “Listen to them careful for yourself” (3:10). Preacher, if you are not preaching the sermon with your life first, it will not be effective when you preach it with words; regardless of how much they shout.

Now that you are full of the Word and your life has been changed, you are ready to preach to others. “When you receive a message from me, warn people immediately” (3:17). Warn the wicked that they must turn from their sin. Warn the righteous that they must not turn away from their righteous behavior. This is your task, Preacher. You will be held accountable.

Christianity vs Truth! What?

There is a troubling trend in Christianity today.  Sometimes it is blatantly and brazenly professed and sometimes it comes incognito, made to look like worship.  It is a belief that truth cannot be known.  We can’t really understand anything about Scripture or about God.  As I mentioned some preach (I hesitate to call what they do preaching) this from their platforms whether it be sermons, books, or blogs.  And others try to pass it off as worship, “God is so great and wonderful!  We can’t possibly understand or even really know Him!”

Wait a second!  Christianity is ALL ABOUT TRUTH!  Truth is knowable.  In fact, God WANTS us to KNOW.  That is the purpose of His Word.  Scripture is the measure, the standard, and the TRUTH.  It is God’s all-sufficient, complete, and unchangeable guide and gift for His people.  And while it is true that we cannot fully comprehend God, for His ways are higher than our ways, there is a lot that we CAN know.  He has revealed it to us through His Word.  Yet knowledge of the Bible ranks pretty low, even among “born again” believers.  The preaching and teaching of Bible Truths is disappearing from many churches and is being replaced by entertaining speeches.  The love of God’s Word is waning in the hearts of His people.

There are many that believe that the authority of God functions separately from written Scripture.  They believe that Scripture cannot be fully authoritative at the level of its functioning in the life of the Church today.  There is a dismissal of the importance of doctrine and the assumption that it is neither central, nor important in the lives of the post-modern day Christian.  As a result, we have a lot of murmuring and complaining about Truth, and a lot of shouting and rejoicing about many other subjects.  The Christian Church is distracted!

We have to get back to Bible Teaching and Bible Preaching.  People, our pastors should not have to worry about us getting bored or anxious to leave when they begin teaching us Biblical Truths.  We need to encourage them to teach to us and preach to us, like never before, the Truth of God’s Word.

We need to embrace God’s Word, embrace God’s Truth, and embrace the One at the center of its message.

Without Truth, there is no Christianity!

For more on this, I suggest David Well’s The Courage to be Protestant  from which most of these thoughts were inspired.

What Do You Have To Say About Truth?  Don’t Lie!