People are always in need of help. It’s a fact of life. Finding the right type of help can be difficult for most. It’s difficult to choose from all the noise offering to change lives for the better. What form of ‘help’ is the right form? Should one seek some counseling? If so, then what type? Even counseling is vast in its practice. There is biblical counseling, therapeutic, psychological, psychiatric, self-motivating and there are a million divisions of these types of help. For many Christians, they look to the church hoping to find help through their pastor or a small group or even a friend. The trend in preaching has taken this approach as well and is viewed by many as just another arm of help in a time of need. If people in large number are seeking to be helped by preaching, then what constitutes a sermon that helps? How should pastors focus their teaching for the sake of their congregation?

A Helpful Sermon Carries Great Assumptions

Visions of grandeur often accompany many well-meaning pastors. They think that if they don’t say the right thing or if they are not creative enough, then church members are going to be lacking. It should be understood that God is supreme over all circumstances and when it comes to His own, He uses all things, good and bad, for their good. So, there is nothing that takes place in this life that is outside the eternal decrees of God. Preaching then must assume this reality, speak from this authority and provide exactly what God has chosen as an answer. Preaching that changes in content depending on the seasons or culture is not preaching. The preacher has become the pundit and no longer has any power to offer help. God alone helps. His word alone is all counsel for good and profit.  (2 Timothy 3:16) Another assumption that the scripture offers is its audience. Not one point of the Holy Writ was composed or sent to unbelieving people. The Scripture is for the church and it only useful for the people of God, those who are in Jesus Christ.

A Helpful Sermon is Contextual

If the above assumptions are cemented helpful preaching should flow naturally from the text of Scripture. Often pastors feel the need to ‘invent’ something that is not seen in the text or even ‘expound’ philosophically on items related to the text. While this is good practice as needed (if the text speaks to the matter), it should be very minimal. What God’s word says has the power to change, not what we are thinking about what God’s word says. Contextual preaching then is the means through which the pastor will most benefit the church. A helpful sermon is one that stands within the text of Scripture and never pulls away from the original meaning. God alone shows what He is saying, He doesn’t need us to break into His mind and offer assistance to Him. Using a sentence out of context is not only ‘unhelpful’ but it is a very prideful engagement. It often shows either a lack of maturity on the part of a pastor, a lack of esteem for the Word of God, or a lack of discernment. Either way, it should be corrected and God’s word should be allowed to do what it was sent to do. (Isaiah 55:11; Hebrews 4:12)

A Helpful Sermon Brings Maturity

Most circumstances in life are out of the control of the ones experiencing them. So, to teach people to do something that is out of their control is a waste of time. It also brings the hearer to a place of despair or worse, a place of false hope. Paul teaches the Ephesian church to speak the truth in love (Eph 4:15) and the church will mature. What is the truth? The truth is spoken when each believer teaches the word of God to each other. It is spoken when it is ‘out of season’ and not received very well for the benefit and joy of another. It is spoken when preaching centers on the purpose of growing the church, which is inclusive of being able to ‘endure’ problems and ‘overcome’ circumstances that are out of their control. It often appears that pastors want to change people’s lives by changing the way they act or think. Scripture changes people’s lives, actions, and thoughts by showing them the power of God and His purposes in all things, even bad ones. True help is growth in grace, growth in Christ, growth in joy and all of these come through God’s word being taught as it is written. A helpful sermon can never point to what man can do or change in order to create the environment or circumstances for help. It must always point to the sufficiency of Jesus Christ and His power, purpose, and provision in all things.

A Helpful sermon continually focuses on the person of Christ and His work of atonement. God alone purposes the assembly and preaching for one reason, that He is glorified in His people. While the Scripture is used to preach Christ unto Salvation, that is done through right teaching of Christ, not through placating to felt-needs and ‘helps’ that have no eternal interests or glory in them. God’s word is the ONLY authority on all matters related to the church. God can do more in one second than all the helpful quippy and creative pep-talks combined in the world over a million years. Teaching God’s word not only helps, it teaches the church to hear the Lord, eat on their own, and to also help others with Scripture. Preaching out of context robs the body of Christ of all the blessings that Scripture brings.

Colossians 3:16-17

[16] Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. [17] And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (ESV)

God alone speaks with authority. He is the Helper. He uses finite men to open their mouths and proclaim His word through which He brings the message of hope and life!

Preach hard, pray with peace, and exalt the Christ brethren.

Pastor James

Never has there been a short supply of error regarding the understanding and teaching of Holy Writ, but error in ignorance and the guile of wolves are distinct. False preachers, pastors, teachers or whatever they may be named, are seemingly more populous as they are popular. Sadly, many people have been snared by the force of such enemies of the cross, while they sit as prisoners of lies rather than victorious saints of Christ through His true word.

So, what makes a false teacher? How can one identify a false teacher and what should one do if they recognize a false teacher? Some clear indicators can set the truth sayers from the truth slayers.

  1. False teachers have a low view of Scripture.  Those who never expose the text of the Bible, never appeal to its argument, never hold a continued filter through it are most certainly going to fall into wild and wicked error. Scripture must be settled as the highest authority over the church and must be the final court on all matters doctrinal. False teachers play the game of pleading to logic and appealing to social norms rather than to the actual written words of God. Any person who claims to teach truth but rarely contextually reveals an argument of scripture should be warned, then avoided. These liars are also very politically minded and find solid time for naturalistic and humanistic sermons while overlooking the entire counsel of the word.
  2. False teachers ignore conversations related to their views of scripture. For believers and lovers of Christ, the bible and its conversation are continued joy. Those who lack the desire to invest in a continued learning and dialog over biblical things are not only void of the Spirit, but also typically those who do not feel they are accountable to discuss such things with “lower level” individuals such as a mealy congregant.
  3. False teachers are quick to jump on the slam wagon without argument. This means that those who continually fail to be faithful to the truth of scripture are more often able to deflect the spotlight by creating a strawman out of those who would oppose them. It is very common for a false teacher to even pray or publicly curse others who would oppose them which is a clear and certain reality they are not in Christ.
  4. False teachers are lovers of pride and people pleasers. They will say anything to make a friend and they will turn any truth to door to get the right response and affection from someone. They preach for power and profit, even if both of these are ego-driven, they gloriously feed the false teacher who is always on the prowl for the next magnificent compliment. They are often quick to narrate their own lives and compose the grandeur of their ministry before men who applaud them and stroke their fur for attention.
  5. False teachers pick their own sermon topics. What is meant by this is that they choose what is low, easy, usable, and self-serving as preaching instruments rather than to secure the glorious doctrines found in the text of Scripture. Avoiding difficult doctrines and ignoring the depths of God’s grace is their practice. They refuse to preach what is good for they desire the praise of men and the mathematics of personal growth over the grand reality that Christ will grow His church in-depth and desire.
  6. False teachers speak from their minds, hearts, wisdom and visions. Prophets are those who speak the words of Christ eternally secured by the written Word. Those who preach what they know and have been told are the devil’s bawds providing demonic insight in order to twist the lives of men around their power while claiming it as God’s. These demonic practices are born of the serpent who questioned and revised the tongue of God to fit his passions. Such practices are never done in ignorance but always by the power of the dark one, the enemy, the devil who has devoured the souls of such men that they would purvey the woes of judgment disguised as light.
  7. False teachers prey on poverty and pain. These courtesans of death promise a better living and a faithful treasure on Earth while the Apostles and the Christ heralded a death sentence for those who are found in Christ as they will be hated by the world. Many would offer the justice of reciprocation and devour impoverished people who plant seeds of faith while eating the shells of the false teacher’s glory. These teachings undermine the satisfaction of the Cross and make manure of the good news of Jesus as a living hope by causing delight in covetousness rather than Christ. Those who are ill and poor are the faithless they say, while they feed on their positions by demanding a proof of faith in monetary offerings. There shall be an eternal weight of damnation on those who teach such things and the crushing of their skulls forever under the winepress of the fury of the judgment of God by the feet of Jesus.
  8. False teachers make much of the ability, will, freedom and honor of men and preach a man-centered gospel which is NO GOSPEL. While sometimes there are well-meaning people who have been taught wrong in practice, the devil has his shepherds and they know his anti-gospel. With golden tongue they spew falsehood like morays slither in the deep teaching people that their works, their efforts, their faithfulness and even their tithes would bring them to security. Easily they forget the transcription of Jesus Christ who said it was the broken and powerless publican who was justified, not the Pharisee. This false gospel is easily adopted and agreed upon because it affords the flesh a sense of completeness that stays the conscience from digging and dreading the possibility of guilt. The true Gospel of Jesus is a hope-filled promise while this man-centered trash is nothing more than a fake ticket to a false ball that leads to death.

Many more attributes and realities could be said of the false teacher. What say yee?  See the depth of their deceit?  See the continual replication of the deadness of man’s soul who hangs on every word? Is your pastor a false teacher? Well, are YOU a false listener?  What do you do? Try it out and see, note the patterns and sit down to bring to light what is bad so that Christ would be glorified. If it wins him over, then praise the Lord together. If not, then run for your lives.

Also though let each of us ask ourselves? Are we proclaimers of truth or error? Do we recapitulate the traditions of men through false teachers while saying it is good?  May the Lord keep us all in check by His word and through His Spirit lest we also find ourselves apostate.  Trust in Jesus Christ Alone brethren, He is our guide, our God, our hope, our life, our truth, our peace and all that is in us that is Good!

Some thoughts to ponder,

Pastor James

Over a decade ago we painfully transitioned to integrated family worship. This means that all people who are part of the family of faith, all ages, sit together under the preaching of the word of God. The first year or two it was difficult for many reasons: we couldn’t handle our children, other people didn’t know what to do about a kid who may make a noise, it was different, visitors were caught off guard…. the list could go on. But ten years later, while there are always matters to deal with along with 30 children sitting in the services at any given time and three infants on the way in the fall, we have seen so much more blessings from this decision than any of these pains would discourage us. And every now and then we see a little light and encouragement on how God teaches children in the midst of the church.

This past Lord’s day one such example was given and in my experience, it was the youngest example of “listening” I have ever seen.  My two year old daughter was doing her usual: sitting with grandparents and back and two between folks in the church trying to “talk quietly” and “listen.” Usually this is cemented with a well-placed snack. (meh).  The text for the day was 1 Thessalonians 4:15 – “See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.” For the introduction and then as a reminder halfway through the message (63 minutes this day), I was making the case that our natural instinct when hurt is to hurt back. I used the illustration of how our children, even at a young age reveal depravity and sinfulness even though they do not know or recognize it as rebellion. I was discussing how we are patient with them as they progress and grow and in the same manner God has been patient with us and even patient with “vessels of destruction.”  Either way, God is patient and we are patient.

I alluded to a basic expression of rebellion that most children do, the crying for no reason, the testing, looking, whining etc. and in the midst of this example my two year old looks at those around her and says, “My daddy’s talking about me.”  A low chuckle birthed from that area of the congregation and an epiphany was born. We know that God is sovereign to teach through the word and no matter what “educators” teach, God is greater than our ability to teach. The New Testament shows us that children flocked to Jesus as He taught ALL PEOPLE; and they understood Him. We learned by statements like this that children hear, listen and by the grace of God, understand. Not only was Abby listening (even though it appeared she wasn’t), she resonated with the experience of her sinful actions as they were illustrated, without the use of her name.

Remember beloved, our God is gracious and can pierce the hearts and minds of the infantile, the ignorant, the young, the old, the stubborn and the incapable. He is mighty to save and reveal even those things that are impossible to see. Scripture teaches through the mouth of Jesus that unless our faith be like the little children we cannot inherit the kingdom of Heaven. This shows us that ALL OF THE WORK of salvation is God’s doing, not man’s. Glory be to God for His faithfulness. I have hundreds of examples like this of children hearing and understanding deep things, but this is by far the youngest and I thought I would share.

Grace & Peace,

Pastor James

In my entire life I have been inundated with ideals, philosophies, strategies, theories, plans, events, and efforts to engage the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If I were to frame and paste every “certification” in evangelism techniques I have it would cover a good 1000 square feet of wall for sure.  While I don’t want to sound crass or ungrateful for many who serve the Lord in an effort to reach people with the gospel, I have to maintain a strict understanding of what scripture teaches and how God alone gives life to unbelievers in spite of the style and engagement of human beings. In my brief two decades in ministry I have discerned several reasons why people do not share their faith.

They are not in the faith

According to scripture, MOST people among the fellowship of local congregations are NOT in Christ. They enjoy the life of church, but not the giver of life. Jesus says that many are going through the broad way and few will find and enter the narrow gate. He says that He is the door to Heaven, not the ways or words of man. So, for a large majority of people, they don’t share the faith because they don’t have it to share. No one can give what they do not possess.

They are ill equipped by methods and memorization

Being ill equipped is either one of two things: First, it is not being taught anything about sharing the faith, living the faith or the like and second, it is being taught that sharing the faith is a method, system, strategy etc. that completely disregards the commands and practice of God’s word. When people learn to throw a ball, they don’t need lessons and strategies dealing with their finger placement, rotation of spin, muscle retention in the fingertips, or the methods of measuring the arch, friction, or force of the ball moving through the air.  They just need to pick it up and throw it to someone. Scripture teaches that sharing the faith is done in only TWO ways. Through the teaching of God’s Word either through preaching or daily living. Matthew 28:19-21 teaches that all Christians are to just simply teach others to obey Christ through the Scriptures. There is nothing more to it. I guess the question should then look to the first point, do those who profess Christ even know what He has certainly said they will be and do in the first place?

They are fearful due to a lack of power from God’s word

Fear intimidates many in the faith because they see all the magnificent oration and presentation skills of so many and their ability reason and engage in dialog and debate. They feel as if they would never be able to do these things and in a biblical sense, they should not do them. Paul says to the Corinthian church that he did not come in “eloquence of speech” or in wisdom but in “fear and much trembling” being nearly “unable to speak.” He says this because that was his ability, not what we think when we consider successful evangelism. When we put ANY ANY ANY ANY ANY ANY ANY stock in one’s ability to share the gospel, we have dismissed the cross of ALL ALL ALL ALL ALL ALL ALL ALL power. Read 1 Corinthians 1 for the proof.

They don’t have the word of God in their fellowship 

I won’t claim that many people sit in ignorance of their own doing on this matter but I will say that for the most part they sit under talking but not teaching. Teaching requires something being learned and when all one gets from a so-called preacher is stories, examples, personal reflection, commentary or worse, life lessons, they are NOT getting any teaching from Scripture because it doesn’t teach these things. It doesn’t need these things. It doesn’t requires these things. If God’s word is preached as it is written, the the wisdom of man moves into the garbage and God’s wisdom who is Christ Jesus Shines clearly to empower HIS true church to teach others the same.

They think it requires a response by all who hear

Sadly, the efforts of sharing the faith in the last 100 or so years has been compacted to a few verses, a technique or two and then a request for a response to which men, beginning with Satan in the garden then to Charles Finney during the SGA, has gladly put their seal upon as the “right” response for the gospel “plan” or “presentation.”  I will remain focused on this point but if you read more and listen more you will see I have very little tolerance for this “bewitched” practice of damnation that plagues the world today settling the hearts of many who believe they are born again when they are not.  God’s word demands a response and the effect of teaching people to obey Christ and to believe in Christ and to repent of their desires to find JOY in Christ is either God saving them through the hearing of the gospel (Christ died for the ungodly for the judgement of sins) or hardening them through the idea of legalism or rejection of the truth. (Rom 1)  We should not lead people through a process of saying or doing anything but rather engagement to be continually committed to the joy of Christ through the fellowship of the saints around the word and worship. (See Matthew 28 again if you need to.)

Share the faith, share the gospel, live the life of a child of God and stick to the word of God and watch God make disciples!   μαθητεύω (For my Greek Loving Peeps… take a gander at that verb found in Matt 28:19)

In the end, many practices or lack there of regarding evangelism are a direct result of either not knowing or not trusting in the promises of God. Scripture teaches that all who see the Kingdom of Heaven and Enter it are “born of God” (John 3) and that only through hearing of the words of Christ will God create life in that hearing unto faith. (Rom 10:17)  So, when the church begins to reduce God’s saving grace little more than being sincere like when you get married, make a new year’s resolution or commit to a job, then we have failed the cross most certainly and it’s no wonder why so many Christians just are not willing to engage in a losing, false converting game of cat and mouse.

Matthew 28:19–20 (ESV)

19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

See this text. It brings with it decades if not near centuries of man-made manure of purveying a godless hope for the gain of self glory and head counting producing false celebration, false worship and false churches for the world to love and enjoy. Jesus says simply that sharing the faith in obedience to Him is on two things:

  1. As you “GO” – so we have to be in the world doing our daily things.
  2. “Make disciples” – this is what we think we’re doing by “committing” people to Christ or sharing the “process” of salvation when Jesus clearly explains it.
    • Making disciples is bringing them into the flock of Christ evidenced by Baptism or inclusion into the local church. This would be those who desire to “know” and “learn” Christ who profess in their own understanding that they are born again by Him. (A whole new discussion)
    • Making disciples is teaching them to observe (0bey) ALL His commands.

The result of real evangelism is that CHRIST IS WITH US ALL until the end of age. Amen.

Pastor James

Devil in Pulpit

While trying to steer away from the ever so common polemic per se, it is necessary, for the sake of the Gospel-called men and the church of Jesus Christ who have been purchased by His blood, to further equip the saints and warn them of the continued encroachment of unregenerate clergy front staging the churches of the world.  This series will exposit the text of Holy Scripture in reference to God’s calling and equipping of the man of God as one who will “give an account” for the shepherding.  While not popular, I pray it will serve as a reminder to us all that the enemy is active and at work and that God will not be mocked.  Further it will prayerfully expose darkness and bring many to the light of repentance as they are daily being fed sinful and man-centered garbage in the name of God’s Son.

It seems more and more today that many so-called Christians love to profess Christ as a merciful Lamb who paid their way to glory but have no evidence of such truth.  The fact is that unless a man is born again, he isn’t saved and a whole-hearted choice to be saved isn’t salvation nor has it ever been.  The outcome of such Christians is that they hate others, avoid people who are not like them, talk evil of others, even speaking evil of God’s people in authority over them such as presidents and governors while never laying their lives down nor their knees in prayer thus forgetting that their claim of redemption is neither true nor evidenced.  While I could sit and show why this is the case, I think it begins with the shepherds who look over them.  So, we will start there.

Please pray that the Lord’s will be done and if it is to be, this series and subsequent published book will further the cause of Christ. Hold fast to the confession of hope in Christ and may the Spirit of God go before us and show us all our certain savior and the vast need we have for Him.

This series contemplates the reality that in so many circumstances, the people of God act and live as though the Gospel has no power in their lives and in as much, the Gospel must not work.  Over eight weeks in preparation for the “Horrors of Christmas” (wrath, judgement, horror and hell) series, we have discovered that the Gospel IS power in the life of the church and when we fail to rest by faith in the gospel of Christ, we are the problem, not Christ.  Worship with us through this look and pray as God prepares us to move into Titus in January.

 

Considering sheep as an animal helps pastors understand much about God’s instruction to us as we shepherd His flock.  One main reality that is continually driven home to my heart is the reality that sheep are most of the time very timid and easily frightened.  Because of this, I believe Peter understands the need to admonish Elder/Teacher/Pastor/Shepherds to consider the kindness of the Great Shepherd when tending to His sheep.  Often times Pastors consult with other pastors and one thing leads to another and the realm of oversight of the flock becomes an “us” vs. “them” battle whereby the shepherds begin to feel like they alone are wise and the sheep are all rebellious herds railing toward destruction and must be beaten into submission.  All to well, those of us who have pastored for any length of time understand that this mindset is easy to allow to settle within and also would readily admit that we have damaged some sheep because of it.  So, I want to take just a moment to share a fresh remembrance out of our Elder training today from 1 and 2 Peter.

 So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: 2 shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; 3 not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.5 Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:1-5, ESV)

As we closed with this passage, it became very apparent the reflection of oversight was governed by the gentleness of the Chief Shepherd who lays His life down for the sheep.  The good shepherd, as should the pastor, provides comfort, protection, food, hope, grace, and humility to the flock of Christ and therefore reflect the power of God in the Gospel.  Even when rebuke and correction is required, it should be done, toward the sheep, in a gentle and corrective manner, not a condemning manner.  It appears that most believers are intimidated by the Pastor, mainly because the pulpit is so protected and bold and “up there.”  But, the demeanor of the preacher should not be bold and ruling when down from the platform, but gentle and eager to hear and lead.

Sadly, I have failed in this area more than I would like to admit, but God is faithful and gracious and if nothing else, in my error, I can lead other men to right shepherding and save the pain of shearing the sheep to closely with the blade of correction.  Pastors sometimes feel that they must “make the sheep see”.  But everyone knows it is not the mouth that opens the ears and eyes, but the Word sent by the Spirit that makes men see and believe and walk upright before the Lord.

For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. 19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:16-21, ESV)

Peter is clear that the instruction of God is not myth but a proclamation of what they had witnessed.  However, it is not the experience of witnesses that matter to the fullest, but the sovereign word of the living God that creates the testimony of God through Jesus Christ.  Peter explains that their witness is to that which the Word indeed pointed, so that the word of the Lord will indeed to all that it was intended to do.  So, when shepherding, do so in a loving manner because the scripture will be harsh enough as it says in Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

So, just as before in answering the question, “What Should a Pastor Really Be Doing?“, I would make sure that the “how” a pastor does what he does in regard to the sheep is in a gentle and humble spirit.

For His Glory by His Grace,

Pastor James

“Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord” — ACTS 3:19.


WHAT A PITY it is that modem preachers attend no more to the method those took who were first inspired by the Holy Ghost, in preaching Jesus Christ! The success they were honored with, gave a sanction to their manner of preaching, and the divine authority of their discourses, and energy of their elocution, one would think, should have more weight with those that are called to dispense the gospel, than all modern schemes whatever. If this was the case, ministers would then learn first to sow, and then to reap; they would endeavour to plough up the fallow ground, and thereby prepare the people for God’s raining down blessings upon them.

Thus Peter preached when under a divine influence, as I mentioned last Wednesday night: he charged the audience home, though many of them were learned and high and great, with having been the murderers of the Son of God. No doubt but the charge entered deep into their conscience, and that faithful monitor beginning to give them a proper sense of themselves, the apostle lets them know that great as their sin was, it was not unpardonable; that though they had been concerned in the horrid crime of murdering the Lord of Life, notwithstanding they had thereby incurred the penalty of eternal death, yet there was a mercy for them, the way to which he points out in the text; “Repent ye therefore,” says he, “and be converted,” and adds, “that your sins may be blotted out.” Though they are but few words, they are weighty; a short sentence this, but sweet: may God make it a blessed sweetness to every one of your hearts!

But must we preach conversion to a professing people? Some of you perhaps are ready to say go to America; go among the savages and preach repentance and conversion there; or, if you must be a field preacher, go to the highways and hedges; go to the colliers; go ramble up and down, as you used to do, preach conversion to the drunkards: would to God my commission might be renewed, that I might have strength and spirit to take the advice!

Possibly others will say, do not preach it to us; pray who are you? I answer, one sent to call you to repentance; and although I might, yet I will not come so close to you at present, as to inquire in my turn, who are you; yet permit me to pray, that while I am preaching God’s Spirit may find you out; and not only let you know who you are, but what you are; and then you will not be easy with yourselves, nor angry with a minister of Jesus Christ for preaching conversion to your souls.

Repentance and conversion are nearly the same. The expression in the text is complex, and seems to include both what goes before and follows “turning to God”: and if the Lord is pleased to honor me so far tonight to be useful to sinners, as well as saints, I will endeavour to shew you,

First, what it is not to be converted; secondly, what it is to be truly converted: thirdly, offer some motives why you should repent and be converted: and fourthly, answer some objections that have been made against persons repenting and being converted, and yet at the same time, if you come and examine them, they know not so much as speculatively what real conversion is; the general notion many have of it is, a person’s being a convert from the Church of Rome to the Church of England.

There is a particular office in the large prayer book, to be used when any one publicly renounces popery in the great congregation. When this is done, that prayer read, and the person said Amen to the collects upon the occasion, every body wishes him joy, and thanks God he is converted; whereas, if this is all, he is- as much unconverted to God as ever; he has in words renounced popery, but never took leave of the sins of his heart. Well, after this he looks into the church, and does not like that white thing called a surplice; he looks, and thinks there are some rags of the whore of Babylon left still: now, says he, I will be converted; how? I will turn Dissenter: so after he is converted from the Church of Rome to the Church of England, he goes to the dissenting church: maybe, curiosity may bring him to the Methodists, those monstrous troublesome creatures, and, perhaps, he may then be converted a third time, like their preaching, like their singing; O dear, I must have a Tabernacle-ticket, I must have a Psalm-book, I will come as often as there is preaching, or at least as often as I can; and there he sits down, and becomes an outside converted Methodist, as demure as possible: this is going a prodigious way, and yet all this is conversion from one party only to another. If the minister gives a rub or two he will take miff perhaps, and be converted to some other persuasion, and all the while Jesus Christ is left unthought of; but this is conversion only from party to party, not real, and that which will bring a soul to heaven.

Possibly, a person may go further, and be converted from one set of principles to another; he may, for instance, be born an Arminian, which all men naturally are; and one reason why I think Calvinism right, is, because proud nature will not stoop to be saved by grace. You that are brought up in an orthodox belief, under an orthodox ministry, cannot easily make an allowance for thousands that have nothing ringing in their ears but Arminianism; you have sucked in orthodoxy with your mother’s milk, and that makes so many sour and severe professors. I knew a rigid man that would beat Christianity into his wife; and so many beat people with their Bibles, that they are likely, by their bitter proceeding, to hinder them from attending to the means God has designed for conversion. What is this but being converted from one set of principles to another; and I may be very zealous for them, without being transformed by them into the image of God.

But some go further, they think they are converted because they are reformed: they say, “a reformed rake makes a good husband,” but I think a renewed rake will make a better. Reformation is not renovation: I may have the outside of the platter washed; Continue reading “Repentance and Conversion | George Whitfield”

Recently the discussion of preaching has been in my ears and before my eyes.  Sadly, like most pastors and church goers, preaching has taken a back seat to “felt needs”, humanism and pragmatic comedy and proverbial enlightenment.  Creativity has taken the place of awe of the Creator and application has replaced worship.

Much needs to be said, however, much has already been said for thousands of years on this topic.  Sadly, the debate will continue and many will dismiss the reality of the present state of the church as “where we are” and try to fix it by continuing down the path of a reducing the Word of God to a plan apart from a Person who is Jesus Christ our KING!

In this, for those who desire to truly know, Spurgeon has a few thoughts on preaching.  Historically, he has been entitled as the “Prince of Preachers” so it would do us well to hear what he has said.  It would also do everyone well to visit 2 Timothy 4

[4:1] I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: [2] preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. [3] For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, [4] and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. [5] As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

(2 Timothy 4:1-5 ESV)

In light of this, the command PREACH THE WORD is enforced by the amazing reality that God in His awesome power and purpose in Christ has come and His Kingdom is established through through His glory therefore, Jesus will judge all creation and one can be certain He will judge preachers according to James 3:1.  Thus, preaching is required of pastors, it is required of those who are called by God, not to deliver man’s creative exploits as derived from the scriptures, but with complete patience one must reprove, rebuke and exhort through teaching of the Apostle’s writing as it was intended to be read and understood.  Many will not approve of such things in the name of “church growth” but Paul addresses that as well, that the time has come where people will not endure the truth.

Look at what Spurgeon had to say in line with this: Continue reading “Preaching is God’s Natural Means to a Supernatural End”

A few weeks ago I jotted down five areas where a pastor should spend most of his energy, time and passion.  As promised, I wanted to come back to these five things and talk about them a little more detailed.  The first of the five was “Feeding the Flock” and in my opinion, is the primary reason pastors are called, equipped and breathe air.  Putting aside my opinion and dogma, let’s visit the scripture in regards to this thinking.

Let’s peek into John’s gospel for a brief moment:

John 21:15-17 (ESV)
15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.”
16 He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.”
17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.

In the New Testament, we see the calling of Peter to feed the lambs and the sheep.  To tend to their well being and secure their existence through proper food.  In John’s gospel we can discover what a pastor is actually supposed to feed the sheep.  Some would say that feeding the sheep is ministry programs, good leadership skills, etc., however, Jesus has another thought about food.  After Jesus radically saves the woman at the well in John chapter four, the disciples come back with food.

John 4:31-34 (ESV)
31 Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.”
32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.”
33 So the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought him something to eat?”
34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.

As Jesus explains later in John 6, He is the food and His food is to “be food” per se.  We see that after Jesus feeds the multitudes in John 6, He escapes and they find him the next day in Capernaum.  After they catch up to Him, this is the dialog.

25 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” 26 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” 28 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” 30 So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform?
John 6:25-30 (ESV)

Jesus exclaims that HE is the true bread that comes down from Heaven.  He is the only real food that matters and that His food, bread (words) will bring life to the dead and joy to the down trodden.  Thus, we must greatly understand that the primary and over-arching purpose of the pastor is to feed JESUS to the sheep.  Everything else is way down the line of importance.  Christ is the preeminent one in all things, thus, He is the preeminent food for the church. Continue reading “Feeding the Flock | What is True Spiritual Food?”