Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Thomas Murphy writes:

"It is important for [the preacher's] own sake, it is important for his people's sake, that he should preach every sermon to himself as one of the chief auditors ... even when he is addressing the [unbeliever], for their hearts and his are by nature alike, and the gulf from which he would draw them is the gulf from which he has only narrowly escaped himself."

As quoted by Jerry Wragg, Exemplary Spiritual Leadership (Day One Publications, 2010), 43.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Why Pastors Must Incorporate Prayer in Sermon Preparation
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

Prayer is the single most important factor in a man’s sermon preparation and yet I fear that many neglect this preeminent element. Many are too busy. Many claim they have to work with the original languages and that simply takes a lot of time. Many work at application and spend time on the outline. And, let these not be underestimated, the preacher should work hard at all of these. However, prayer as the most supernatural and powerful part of a preacher’s sermon preparation is, shamefully, one of the most oft neglected and pushed-aside parts of sermon construction.

All preachers know prayer is important. But how many really spend adequate time poring over his text on his knees before God in fervent prayer? How many pulpiteers are men of prayer during the week? How many shepherds bring their sheep before the throne of God in applying that specific sermon text to their own life as he intercedes for them before the throne of grace? How many heralds take hold of God and wrestle with God and beg God for His glory to overwhelm the preacher and the hearers? How many spokesmen for God wrestle with God like Jacob did begging the Spirit of God to supernaturally move and sovereignly draw dead sinners to Christ and His glorious gospel of grace as the Word goes forth?

Why must pastors incorporate prayer in sermon preparation?

1. A Preacher Must Pray and Ask the Spirit to Illumine the Correct Meaning and Appropriate Application of a Text.

2. A Preacher Must Pray and Worshipfully Meditate and Overwhelmingly Bathe and Pore Over His Word So as to Internalize It.

3. A Preacher Must Pray So That He Preaches to His Own Soul That Which He Will Soon Preach to His Hearers.

4. A Preacher Must Pray Because It Forces The Frail Man to Trust in His Sovereign God for Any and All Efficacy of the Spoken Word.

5. A Preacher Must Pray Because God Promises that When We Ask Anything in His Name, He Hears and He Will Do It.

6. A Preacher Must Pray With Humble Reliance on the Spirit of God to Give Him Insight into the Meaning of the Text, the Correct Application of That Text, and the Most Profitable Way to Structure and Herald That Text.

7. A Preacher Must Pray So That God Receives the Glory.

8. A Preacher Must Pray To Ensure that the Message He Gives is Divine and Not Human.

Download the pdf article here.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

    But I have here some true Christians who indulge in secret sins. They say it is but a little one, and therefore do they spare it. Dear brethren, I speak to you, and I speak to myself, when I say this—let us destroy all our little secret sins. 

They are called little and if they be, let us remember that it is the foxes, even the little foxes, that spoil our vines; for our vines have tender shoots. Let us take heed of our little sins. A little sin, like a little pebble in the shoe, will make a traveller to heaven walk very wearily. Little sins, like little thieves, may open the door to greater ones outside. Christians, recollect that little sins will spoil your communion with Christ. Little sins, like little stains in silk, may damage the fine texture of fellowship; little sins, like little irregularities in the machinery, may spoil the whole fabric of your religion. The one dead fly spoileth the whole pot of ointment. That one thistle may seed a continent with noxious weeds. Let us, brethren, kill our sins as often as we can find them. 

One said—"The heart is full of unclean birds; it is a cage of them." "Ah, but," said another divine, "you must not make that an apology, for a Christian's business is to wring their necks." And so it is; if there be evil things, it is our business to kill them. Christians must not tolerate secret sins. We must not harbour traitors; it is high treason against the King of Heaven. Let us drag them out to light, and offer them upon the altar, giving up the dearest of our secret sins at the will and bidding of God. 

There is a great danger in a little secret sin; therefore avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it and shun it; and God give thee grace to overcome it!

Sirs, will ye keep your secret sins, and have eternal fire for them? Remember it is of no use, they must all be given up, or else you cannot be God's child. You cannot by any means have both; it cannot be God and the world, it cannot be Christ and the devil; it must be one or the other. 

Oh! that God would give you grace to resign all; for what are they worth? They are your deceivers now, and will be your tormentors for ever. Oh! that your eyes were open to see the rottenness, the emptiness and trickery of iniquity. Oh! that God would turn you to himself. Oh! may God give you grace to cross the Rubicon of repentance at this very hour; to say, "Henceforth it is war to the knife with my sins; not one of them will I willingly keep, but down with them, down with them; Canaanite, Hittite, Jebusite, they shall all be driven out."

From CH Spurgeon

Monday, February 11, 2013

Why I Believe Open-Air Preaching Is Effective
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

I love open-air preaching.  Do I get scared? Are there times when I am tempted to fear man? Of course. But I must remind myself time and time again that it is not about me anyway; it’s all about Christ and His sufficient gospel.

I want to provide a number of reasons why I personally am convinced that open-air preaching is effective.

1. Open-Air Preaching Obeys Christ’s Command to Compel Sinners to Come to Him in the Highways.
In a parable, Jesus says to “go out into the highways and along the hedges, and compel them to come in, so that my house may be filled” (Luke 14:23). I believe that in my standing up in the public plazas outside where nonbelievers pass by or congregate together, I am endeavoring to follow Christ and what He spoke to His disciples.

2. Open-Air Preaching Takes the Biblical Gospel to the Pagans Who Probably Don’t Know the Biblical Gospel.
Many nonbelievers think they know what Christians believe. Sadly, many have grown up in churches or have been taught an unbiblical gospel. I desire to take the biblical gospel — as rarely as it is preached today — to the pagans who need to hear this biblical gospel so that they may be saved. The biblical gospel is that God is so holy that His wrath currently rests upon all unbelievers. His wrath will soon be kindled and all His enemies will eternally perish under His hand. The problem they have is that God’s wrath needs to be appeased; it needs to be diverted. And this is precisely the gospel as God initiated and solved this problem as Jesus Christ humbled Himself and lived a sinless life perfectly obeying the Law of God and yet God the Father crushed His Son on Calvary’s cross. He poured out His infinite wrath and eternal judgment upon Jesus Christ when He was on the cross. This is the doctrine of propitiation. God’s wrath is appeased and turned away only in Christ. A person must repent of sin and believe in the gospel and thus evidence true Spirit-given regeneration by living a life following Christ, loving Him, and abiding in Him. This is the gospel message that pagans must hear!

3. Open-Air Preaching Allows Many Who May Never Step Foot in a Bible-Teaching Church to Hear the Gospel.
Let’s face it, there are many who enjoy the darkness, masses who run their way into eternal hell because they love their sin & hate Jesus as a Savior. They have exchanged eternal life for temporary and passing pleasures. They live in sin and damn their souls forever. Many unbelievers will not walk into a Bible-teaching Church and so I believe that open-air preaching takes the biblical gospel to them rather than waiting for the pagans to come to us.

4. Open-Air Preaching Demonstrates the Urgency of the Gospel Message.
Many churchgoers believe that ‘friendship evangelism’ is a biblical methodology for sharing Christ with non-Christians. This, however, is unbiblical and there is no example in the Bible of making a relationship with someone first so that the door will then be open and the friendship established to share Christ at a later point. This presumes that we will have a ‘tomorrow’ to share Christ with someone. No one is guaranteed tomorrow. Far from friendship evangelism, we have evangelistic begging. We have urgent pleading. We have statements such as: “Today is the day of salvation” (2 Cor 6:2) and “We beg you to be reconciled to God” (2 Cor 5:20) and “Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts” (Heb 3:7, 15; 4:7). This is urgent! Hell is hot and wrath is waiting to receive all those who die in their sin and have not repented. There is a profound earnestness that must characterize our evangelism and ministry. Open-air preaching is one way that the urgency of the gospel message is demonstrated as the preacher stands and urgently, passionately, and lovingly begs sinners to repent of their sin, believe in the gospel, and be spared from judgment. He is a watchman crying out to the people warning from coming danger!

5. Open-Air Preaching Follows an Example Set by Jesus and the Early Apostles (and Many Others in Church History).
Jesus Himself taught in the open (Mark 4; Matthew 5-7). John the Baptist preached in the wilderness (Matt 3:1-10). Paul preached on Mars Hill (Acts 17; cf. Acts 26). Jonah preached in the open city (Jonah 3:1-5). Jeremiah lifted his voice in the Temple courts (Jer 7:1-4). Whitefield, Wesley, Spurgeon, Edwards, and many others in church history have heralded the gospel of Christ in the open fields, in parks, in city squares, in plazas, and on street corners. To lift up one’s voice and loudly proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ in the open to nonbelievers present (or passing by) continues the example set forth by many in the Bible and in church history.

6. Open-Air Preaching Trusts Completely in the Glorious Sovereignty of the Spirit of God to Awaken a Sinner and Grant Him Repentance and Faith.
Like any biblical form of evangelism, open-air preaching fully relies on the sovereignty of God to awaken a dead sinner and grant him new life in Christ. When an open air preacher proclaims Christ in the open, it is not a smooth presentation that will win souls, nor is it a fancy oratory, nor is it a manipulative method of evangelism of decisionism seeking to get ‘converts.’ There is a robust and unshakeable reliance on the sovereign regeneration that the Spirit of God imparts to the utterly deadened sinner with the subsequent repentance from sin and faith in Christ that the sinner will have. Open-air preaching demands a complete trust in the Spirit of God who will open the hearts of the ungodly so that they may hear the truth, believe the truth, and follow the truth.

7. Open-Air Preaching Builds Boldness and Encourages Other Believers in Evangelism & Soul-Winning.
Every time the open-air preacher ascends the “box” upon which he will preach, spiritual battles rage. No open-air preacher is immune to fear. However, as the preacher stands in the open fields and in the public squares and lifts his voice to the glory of God and exalts the gospel of grace, he builds boldness in his bones. Furthermore, he encourages other believers to see that God works through faithful messengers who take the biblical gospel and impart it faithfully to sinners so that they may hear the truth.

8. Open-Air Preaching Shouts the Gospel of God to the Glory of God as an Act of Worship to God with Profound Joy in Christ!
If for no other reason at all, open air preaching is effective because the man of God preaches the gospel of God to God. God loves to hear His own Word. God cannot refuse to listen to His own Word when His servants speak it back to Him! When a man takes the gospel and has the sole passion to glorify God in the lifting up of His voice, God will be glorified. In this kind of spiritual service, it is an act of worship on the preacher’s part to God and thus God is honored and magnified. Furthermore, the evangelist has an unspeakably wonderful and a supernaturally profound joy in Christ as he preaches the gospel. Even if no one outwardly repents and even if there are no seeming visible changes on the street at that time, the open-air preacher can confidently assert that he uplifted God’s gospel and that Christ was magnified and worshiped. When this happens, this guarantees the effectiveness of open-air preaching.

Download the pdf article here.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Excellent biblical counsel from Richard Baxter:

Both husband and wife must mortify their pride and strong self-centered feelings. These are the feelings which cause intolerance and insensitivity. You must pray and labor for a humble, meek, and quiet spirit. A proud heart is troubled and provoked by every word that seems to assault your self-esteem. 

Do not forget that you are both diseased persons, full of infirmities; and therefore expect the fruit of those infirmities in each other; and do not act surprised about it, as if you had never known of it before. Decide to be patient with one another; remembering that you took one another as sinful, frail, imperfect persons, and not as angels, or as blameless and perfect. 

Remember still that you are one flesh; and therefore be no more offended with the words or failings of each other, than you would be if they were your own. Be angry with your wife for her faults no more than you are angry with yourself for your own. Have such an anger and displeasure against a fault, as will work to heal it; but not such as will cause festering and aggravation of the diseased part. This will turn anger into compassion, and will cause you to administer care for the cure. 
Lastly, help each other by an exemplary life. Be yourself, what you desire your husband or wife should be; excel in meekness, and humility, and charity, and dutifulness, and diligence, and self-denial, and patience.
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