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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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Sickness Or Sin?

There are many in the academic fields who advocate that sin does not exist and what we might call sin is predestined by our physical bodies. They view addiction as a problem of predispositioned chemicals and the architecture of the brain. Thus sin becomes treated as a sickness which an unlucky individual catches. He has no choice and is not responsible. Dr. Benjamin Wiker writes more on this subject:

Is gambling an addiction or a sinful habit? What about pornography? Overeating? Drinking? Shopping? Checking email? Texting? Watching television? Playing video games? Working? They’ve all been called addictions. Is that really what they are?

If we follow this line of reasoning out to its logical conclusion, then it would be logical to call all bad or destructive behavior, “addictive,” so that “addicts” of whatever kind are helpless victims of forces beyond their control. A woman gambles because she cannot help it. A man drinks because he cannot help it. A woman shops because she cannot help it. A man throws himself into internet pornography because he cannot help it. Addicts, helpless victims, one and all.

The obvious problem with this view is that it entirely destroys morality by denying the possibility of good, freely-chosen action. We should call them what they really are: sinful habits. Or we could use the more exact and compact word, vices. A sign of the correctness of this word is that “vice” contains the notion of addiction—a kind of helpless slavery—even while it affirms the presence of free will and moral culpability. . . .

Continue reading. . . .

John Stott On Expository Preaching

John Stott

Quoting John Stott:

All true Christian preaching is expository preaching. . . . To expound Scripture is to bring out of the text what is there and expose it to view. The expositor prizes open what appears to be closed, makes plain what is obscure, unravels what is knotted and unfolds what is tightly packed. The opposite of exposition is ‘imposition’, which is to impose on the text what is not there. But the text in question could be a verse, or a sentence, or even a single word. It could equally be a paragraph, or a chapter, or a whole book. The size of the text is immaterial, so long as it is biblical. What matters is what we do with it. Whether it is long or short, our responsibility as expositors is to open it up in such a way that it speaks its message clearly, plainly, accurately, relevantly, without addition, subtraction or falsification. In expository preaching the biblical text is neither a conventional introduction to a sermon on a largely different theme, nor a convenient peg on which to hang a ragbag of miscellaneous thoughts, but a master which dictates and controls what is said.

Powerful Expository Preaching

Harry A. Ironside

Harry Ironside

Ray Stedman shares below from a sermon entitled “The Accountability of the Preacher”:

[Dr H.A. Ironside] told me when he was a boy in Los Angeles, 14 years of age, . . . he got a job as a helper to a shoemaker — cobblers, they called them then. . . . [His boss was] a believer, a wonderful, godly man, whose name was Dan. And it was young Harry Ironside‘s task to take leather which had been soaked all night in a tub of water to toughen it, and then take it on an iron anvil and with a wooden mallet beat the water out of the leather. And by that process so toughen it and yet soften it so that it was both pliable and enduring. . . . But it was a tedious task — just endlessly beating at leather until all the water was gone. And what made it even more difficult was that just a few doors down the street was another cobbler’s shop run by a very godless man, a blasphemous, profane man. And one day Harry Ironside walking by noticed that this man didn’t bother to beat the water out of the leather. He’d pick the leather up out of the tub and cut out a piece, and nail it on the shoe with the water splashing in every direction. And one day Harry ventured to stop, and said to him, “Sir, you know I work down the street at Dan’s shop, and I noticed that you don’t bother to beat the water out of your leather. Why is that?” And he said the man gave him a rather evil wink, and said to him, “Ah, they come back all the quicker this way.” So Harry Ironside went back to his shop and he said to his employer, “Sir, why do we do this? It’s such a hard job to beat all this water out, it takes so long! And the man down the street says if you just take it out you can put it on the shoe and the customers will all come back quicker this way.” Well, he said the old man looked at him. And he didn’t say a word. He just took off his apron, and he took him by the hand, led him over to a bench and sat him down. And he said, “Harry, I apologize to you for not having told you more fully what is involved. But you know, son, I expect to see every pair of shoes I’ve ever made in a big pile at the judgment seat of Christ. And I expect the Lord to take those shoes and go through every one, and examine the work I did. And then I expect, I imagine oftentimes, he’ll take one and he’ll look at me and say, “Dan, that’s not up to par. You didn’t do a very good job there.” But others, he’ll encourage me by saying, “Dan, that was a splendid job.” You know, when I make shoes, I keep remembering that. And I want to so make shoes that every shoe I make will pass the judgment of the Lord at the judgment seat of Christ.”

Harry Ironside said, “I’ve never forgotten that. And I resolved in my own heart that every sermon I preach will be able to pass the judgment of my Lord.” I’ve never forgotten that story either. I think all my sermon notes and perhaps videotapes of how I’ve delivered them are going to be stacked up beside the judgment seat of Christ. And there the Lord is going to go through them and say to me, “Ray, you didn’t do so well on this. You shirked your preparation time. You didn’t really grasp this passage, did you?” And I’ll have to say, Yes, Lord, you know all things. But what I really pray for, and what I really want, and what motivates my heart deeply, is that every message I preach in fear and trembling, with the realization of the poor human vessel the Lord has to work with will nevertheless pass the judgment of the Lord because I depend both in the preparation and in the delivery on the Spirit of the living God and am willing to work at it until I understand what He has to say.

Now I think that’s what the apostle Paul is talking about. That’s the accountability of a preacher. As under rowers of Christ, obedient to what the captain says, we do our work in view of the judgment seat of Christ.

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