a puritan's blog

O God, stamp eternity on my eyeballs…

Monthly Archives: September 2010

Topical fluff vs. Expository Faithfulness

I recently heard a quote from Perry Noble from NewSpring church about how foolish people are when they make requests that they want to go deeper in the Word of GOD. The short video clip can be found here and here.  Please listen before you continue reading.

So, in essence what is being communicated is that the topical norm (the weekly preaching) will be fluffy and will cater to your present ability, your willingness right now to obey.  Did you hear that?  I heard that Perry Noble’s highest form of obedience is tithing.  Hmmm, sounds like he doesn’t completely know what tithing is or, maybe, what obedience is.  I also heard that he is able to confuse the heck out of people by bringing ‘deeper’ messages or teaching.  However, Perry Noble is not the issue nor do I want to throw bricks through his tender, shallow glass house.  The issue is topical preaching, which is the national norm for the evangelical, mainline protestant, seeker-friendly church.  So, can I briefly lay-out for you, dear reader, the thrust and importance of the opposite – Expository preaching

BLUF(Bottom Line Up Front) — Expository Preaching is the only way to preach; rather, this is the only way pastors should preach.  Let’s ask a few questions:

What is preaching?

It is a mystery; it is foolishness and it is the power of GOD:  “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).  Ephesians further builds the mystery of preaching by this, “…that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel…” (6:19). In Romans 1, Paul says the gospel is the power of GOD to salvation for everyone who believes.  The above three characteristics of true preaching is not negotiable.

What is preaching not?

It is not the wisdom of man nor of the learning of man – it is the gift of GOD.  2 Thessalonians 2:7-12 speaks of a great delusion that has come upon men that they have believed a lie.  This is not some future event it is currently the vogue, the norm and the church at large. 

What are true preachers up against?

Powers and principalities who serve lies are our greatest foe.  These powers use men to lie to the world.

What is our preservation against such foes?

The love of the truth is our preservation against such foes

Who is our preservation against these foes?

Jesus the Christ, who is the embodiment of truth, the substance of truth is our preservation against such foes.  We must be lovers of Jesus.  Those that are dead to the body of flesh and alive to the Holy Spirit are fit to preach; Nay, not just preach but be branded Christians, Martyrs and Victors over all things, even death and this life.

The issue is not depth.  The issue is regeneration.  The truth, whether you love it or not, is that there are many deceived, many hell-bound who are doing much, much, much work in the name of GOD! 

What are the types of preaching?

Anecdotal.  Testimonial.  Topical.  Expository. 

In topical preaching, the one preaching has been impressed with a certain topic and then uses scripture to support his topic.  However, the scriptures are our only impetus for preaching.  They contain all we need to know for life and happiness.  It is our source.  What happens when preachers are topically driven in their weekly messages is that they become the source of truth.  It looks like this:

 

In Expository preaching, the one preaching has been impressed or pricked by his daily reading or selected passage and exposits or explains what GOD is speaking in it.  This is very effective.  Out of one passage you get a fuller view of GOD and His full counsel to us.  The scripture builds your sermon and provides the topic(s) in it.  Compared to Topical, which is narrowly focused on one topic, Expository preaching is wide and vast, and hits many topics as the fuller counsel of GOD is explained from the scripture passage in context.  It looks like this:

 

What are the Risks of Topical Preaching?

Confusion.  Much of the congregation will not grow beyond the preacher’s shallowness.  Mis-led authority.  Fear-based.

What are the Benefits of Expository Preaching?

God is the authority.  It enables confidence.  Scripture is highly regarded.  GOD is more exalted and glorified.  The congregation is built up and empowered.  It is not here-say but what GOD says (notice the trick-play with words). 

Expostional Preaching is particularly relevant for these postmodern days.

Do you say it is irrelevant.  See this

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This is all my Calvinism…

In an interesting and peaceful encounter with John Wesley (Arminian), Charles Simeon, an avowed Calvinist, before drawing a weapon to dual, as is the case with many Calvinists and Arminians, asks some pointed questions as to draw out the sword of the Spirit in the matter.  What is beneficial to assert is two things: the battle lines between both camps are hostile and, unity in essentials are necessary for the white flag to be waved: we must drop our swords to pick up the flag of surrender or by the sword we will die!   

Let’s look at this brief encounter (It is found here  and  here )

Simeon:  Sir, I understand that you are called an Arminian; and I have been sometimes called a Calvinist; and therefore I suppose we are to draw daggers. But before I consent to begin the combat, with your permission I will ask you a few questions. Pray, Sir, do you feel yourself a depraved creature, so depraved that you would never have thought of turning to God, if God had not first put it into your heart?

Wesley:  Yes, I do indeed.

Simeon:  And do you utterly despair of recommending yourself to God by anything you can do; and look for salvation solely through the blood and righteousness of Christ?

Wesley:  Yes, solely through Christ.

Simeon:  But, Sir, supposing you were at first saved by Christ, are you not somehow or other to save yourself afterwards by your own works?

Wesley:  No, I must be saved by Christ from first to last.

Simeon:  Allowing, then, that you were first turned by the grace of God, are you not in some way or other to keep yourself by your own power?

Wesley:  No.

Simeon:  What then, are you to be upheld every hour and every moment by God, as much as an infant in its mother’s arms?

Wesley:  Yes, altogether.

Simeon:  And is all your hope in the grace and mercy of God to preserve you unto His heavenly kingdom?

Wesley:  Yes, I have no hope but in Him.

Simeon:  Then, Sir, with your leave I will put up my dagger again; for this is all my Calvinism; this is my election, my justification by faith, my final perseverance: it is in substance all that I hold, and as I hold it; and therefore, if you please, instead of searching out terms and phrases to be a ground of contention between us, we will cordially unite in those things wherein we agree. (Moule, 79f)

John Wesley wrote in another spot concerning Calvinism saying, “The sum of all this is: One in twenty, suppose, of mankind are elected; nineteen in twenty are reprobated. The elect shall be saved, do what they will: The reprobate shall be damned, do what they can” (Works, Vol. 10, p 370).

D. Philip Veitch says this: “Arminianism/Wesleyanism is, at base, anti-God. I speak of the theological system, not the poor folks lacking discernment about it. For those ingesting the Catechism of the 1979 BCP, this will be hard news, since that isn’t even Arminian. It’s institutionalized, constitutionalized, and establishmentarian Pelagianism.”

Iain Boyd says pointedly, “I think the point to draw from Simeon’s interaction with Wesley is that you can feel deeply your need for redemption and have a poor theology. On the other hand you can check the box for all five points of calvinism, and still not feel deeply indebted to the free grace of God in the cross. As a Calvinist, I’m often convicted that many of my Arminian brothers show the truth of doctrines in their lives that I only show through my teaching. It is shameful to me to think that Wesley did much more for the church in his day (bad theology and all) than I will in my entire life time simply because he loved Jesus very deeply.”

In conclusion: “Simeon (himself a Calvinist) had little sympathy for uncharitable Calvinists. In a sermon on Romans 9:16, he said, ‘Many there are who cannot see these truths [the doctrines of God’s sovereignty], who yet are in a state truly pleasing to God; yea many, at whose feet the best of us may be glad to be found in heaven. It is a great evil, when these doctrines are made a ground of separation one from another, and when the advocates of different systems anathematize each other. . . . In reference to truths which are involved in so much obscurity as those which relate to the sovereignty of God mutual kindness and concession are far better than vehement argumentation and uncharitable discussion (Horae Homileticae, Vol. 15, p. 357).’”

For a complete view of how complementary these differing doctrines are I refer you to a sermon given by Keith Daniel called The Tightrope Walker.

Can there be a Complementarian view on these things?  Talk to me…

Sermon Player –

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