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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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A Purpose for All Believers

Trusting GodJerry Bridges:

God has an over-arching purpose for all believers: to conform us to the likeness of His Son, Jesus Christ (see Romans 8:29). He also has a specific purpose for each of us that is His unique, tailor-made plan for our individual life (see Ephesians 2:10). And God will fulfill that purpose. As Psalm 138:8 says, “The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me.” Because we know God is directing our lives to an ultimate end and because we know He is sovereignly able to orchestrate the events of our lives toward that end, we can trust Him. We can commit to Him not only the ultimate outcome of our lives, but also all the intermediate events and circumstances that will bring us to that outcome. (Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts)

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A Church of God

John CalvinJohn Calvin:

“Wherever we find the Word of God surely preached and heard, and the sacraments administered according to the institution of Christ, there, it is not to be doubted, is a church of God.”

The Manner of Delivering A Sermon

PreachingWe now come to the end of this series of articles on preaching by Al Martin. I have found his thoughts on this subject to be challenging and Biblical. However, I feel his advice is something we should already know, and have carelessly and rebelliously lost along our way. God help us where we have failed to bring glory to your precious Name! Help us to teach and preach by your Holy Spirit! Now, to Al Martin’s final remarks:

The manner of our delivery [preaching] should be marked by reasonable orderliness. In preaching the truth of God to men, we must never forget that they are men whose minds are so constructed as to be able to receive thoughts in a logical structure. The mind simply cannot receive truth when it comes as one big formless blob. We must seek to send our people home with a few stakes driven into the mind, and certain aspects of the truth of God hung upon those stakes.

Consider with me the necessity of directness in the manner of our preaching. There is a most excellent section on preaching the gospel in Charles Bridges’ book The Christian Ministry. In this section, he comments on the matter of directness by saying ‘For this end, we must show them from first to last, that we are not merely saying good things in their presence but directing what we say to them personally as a matter which concerns them beyond expression.’ When one reads the sermons from the great preachers of the past, one is struck with their holy directness. One feels as though these sermons of the old masters are boxing him up into a corner where he must do something with the truth with which he is being confronted. Joseph Alleine in his Alarm to the Unconverted stands as a classic illustration of this principle. Again and again, he backs the sinner against the wall, as it were, with questions that cause the sinner to reflect upon his way, upon his own state before God. . . .

May God deliver us from simply saying good things in the presence of a gathered people, and enable us so to preach that men will know that we are saying weighty things to them personally.

What is wrong with preaching today? I am sure that many of the faults are exemplified in my own life and ministry as much as in others, but I would suggest that together we consider the problem of preaching today as a problem of the MAN — in the area of personal devotional experience, in the realm of practical piety, and in the purity of his motivation. What is wrong with preaching today? Some of the problem is in the MESSAGE — the substance of what is preached, and in the manner in which it is being communicated. May God grant that where any of these things legitimately apply to us we may suffer the word of exhortation, and by the grace of God apply ourselves to be more effective communicators of the truth of the Word of God to our own needy generation. (“What is Wrong with Preaching Today?”)

Read more by Al Martin here. . . .

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