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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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The Preacher and Scholarship

Quoting James Montgomery Boice:

We have a pernicious doctrine in contemporary evangelicalism . . . which says that if a minister is average in skills and intelligence, he should take an average church. If he is above average, he should take a larger church. If he is really exceptional – if he is keen about books and simply revels in the background, content, and application of the Word of God – he should teach in a seminary. Ugh! I am convinced that those with the very best minds and training belong in the pulpit, and that the pulpit will never have the power it once had (and ought to have) until this happens.

When I say this I do not suggest that the pulpit should become a seminary lectern, though it would be better that than the sad stage prop it has become for many minister-entertainers. Obviously a sermon is not a lecture. It is an exposition of a text of Scripture in terms of contemporary culture with the specific goal of helping people to understand and obey the truth of God. But to do that well the preacher must be well-studied. To do it exceptionally well he must have exceptional understanding of (1) the Scripture he is expounding, (2) the culture into which he is expounding it, and (3) the spirituality and psychology of the people he is helping to obey God’s Word. These understandings do not come merely from native abilities or mere observance of life. They come from hard study as the preacher explores the wisdom of both the past and the present to assist him in his task.

I would be overjoyed if the chief accomplishment of this chapter would be to turn some young scholar away from a life of academic teaching to what I am convinced is a richer and far more rewarding life of using that same scholarship to teach the whole counsel of God within our churches. (“The Preacher and Scholarship,” chapter 3 in The Preacher and Preaching, edited by Samuel T. Logan [Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing, 1986], p. 91-92)

Ancient Bible Texts Consistent With Modern Translations

The Bible and its reliability:

The sands of Egypt have yielded early copies of New Testament books from about 200-250 A.D. These copies preserve large portions of Luke, Acts, the Pauline Epistles, and Revelation. It may be said that these earliest manuscripts show a text practically the same as that used in the American Revised Version. There is one fragment of John called the Rylands Papyrus dated about 125 A.D. A translation of it reads exactly like the American Revised Version. These facts reinforce the famous dictum of Westcott and Hort that not one-tenth of one per cent of the text of the New Testament is in dispute, and none of this is about any doctrine of faith.

Knowing You Are A Christian

The “altogether Christian” obeys God. He does not obey one command and simply choose not to obey the other. He has respect for all the commandments and seeks to leave every sin behind and love every duty. Matthew Meade discusses the discernment of your spiritual growth below:

[H]ow shall I come to know whether I am almost or altogether a Christian? If a man may go so far and yet miscarry, how shall I know when my foundation is right, when I am a Christian indeed?

Christ is a King, Priest, Prophet, and all as Mediator. Without any one of those offices, the work of salvation could not have been completed. As Priest He redeems us, as Prophet He instructs us, as King He sanctifies and saves us. Therefore the apostle says He is made of God unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. Righteousness and redemption flow from Him as Priest, wisdom as a Prophet, sanctification as a King. Now many embrace Christ as a Priest, but yet they own Him not as a King and Prophet. They like to share in His righteousness, but not to partake of His holiness. They would be redeemed by Him, but they would not submit to Him. They would be saved by His blood, but not submit to His power. Many love the privileges of the gospel, but not the duties of the gospel. Now these are but almost Christians, notwithstanding their close with Christ; for it is upon their own terms, but not upon God’s. The offices of Christ may be distinguished, but they can never be divided. But the true Christian owns Christ in all His offices. He does not only close with Him as Jesus, but as Lord Jesus. He says with Thomas: “My Lord, and my God.” He does not only believe in the merit of His death, but also conforms to the manner of His life. As he believes in Him, so he lives in Him.

The altogether Christian has a thorough work of grace and sanctification wrought in the heart, as a spring of obedience. Regeneration is a whole change. All old things are done away, all things become new. It is a perfect work as to parts, though not as to degrees. Carnal men do duties but from an unsanctified heart, and that spoils all. A new piece of cloth never does well in an old garment, for the rent is made worse (Matt. 9:16). When a man’s heart is thoroughly renewed by grace, the mind savingly enlightened, the conscience thoroughly convinced, the will truly humbled and subdued, the affections spiritually raised and sanctified, and when the mind and will and conscience and affections all join issue to help on and with the performance of the duties commanded, then is a man altogether a Christian. Here the almost Christian fails. He does the same duties, but he does them not in the same manner. If he pray, he regards not faith and fervency in prayer; if he hears, he does not mind Christ’s rule: “Take heed how ye hear.” If he obey, he looks not to the frame of his heart in obedience; therefore miscarries in all he does. These defects spoil all. (“Almost a Christian”, 1661)

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