Sermon Summaries (9/10/06)

What was preached in your church this weekend?


12 Responses

  1. During a week of meetings with Dr. Duffy, the Lord had been preparing my heart for this Sunday. The assigned passage for Children’s Worship Service, Luke 19:11-27, was especially appropriate. The basic idea is that each of us must faithfully invest the resources given to us by the Lord. When our Lord returns, our “investments” will be evaluated.

    During the evening service, I preached a message called “Time for the Lost” from Luke 19:1-10. There is much to learn about evangelism from our Lord’s actions toward Zacchaeus. He not only noticed the “unreachable man”, but went so far as to speak with, and spend time with him. It’s too easy to notice the sinners in our community, but much more difficult to interact with them.

  2. Hi Chris

    Sunday was the Sermon on the Mount in two messages, first the Characteristics of Kingdom Citizens and second an Invitation to Exceed the Righteousness of the Pharisees. Both of these messages emphasized the need to change your way of thinking. It is interesting that the sermon is preceded by the rising opposition of the Pharisees, then the selection of the 12. The Sermon on the Mount is designed first and foremost with the disciples in mind, I think.

    In the afternoon I preached on Answering a Wavering Prophet, organized around three questions asked in the passage, one by John and two by Jesus. The question for doubters and deniers is, ‘what will you do with Jesus?’. The bottom line for anyone confronted with Christ should not be doubt or denial, but faith, which produces rest.

    A more full summary is available here:

    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

  3. Interesting, Don. I’ve been preaching through Matthew…since 1999. (yikes) I especially enjoyed my time in the Sermon on the Mount, and I was helped much by DMLJ.

    And Andy, I just preached on evangelism last week. My text was II Corinthians 5:17-21, which especially emphasizes that reconciliation is a work of God alone, but a message which he commits to those who are reconciled. The “reconciled to reconcile” theme reminds me of the children’s game “sharks and minnows.” Those who have been tagged aren’t “out,” but are added to the “it” group. Does that make sense?

    I’m convinced, however, that Christians don’t need to hear more about evangelism. They need to love the Gospel. Then they’re discussing it won’t be a duty, but a very natural and delightful thing. We’re poor witnesses because we’re poor worshippers. If the Gospel would move our hearts to worship, it would also move our lips to witness.

  4. Hi Chris, I am assuming in your preaching through Matthew you occasionally take breaks for other topics/occasions? I am an enthusiastic advocate of the glacial pace in expository preaching. I preached through the Gospel of John from October 2000 to May 2005. To me, this is the way to go. Of course we had breaks from time to time. Usually the month of December I preach on Christmas. But taking your time through a book really seems to let the Word soak into hearts in a profound way. That’s why I thought my 12 message series through Malachi this summer was a bit too short.

    Our current survey series is an anomaly, but will produce a helpful overview. We hope that it can be part of a discipleship course to teach new converts or just biblical illiterates in the future. I think we can get all the notes and the audio on one DVD, then distribute that as we have opportunity.

    We will finish the NT in April, just in time to head down to SC for my son’s wedding. Then I plan to start Romans and get back to the glacial pace. We will finish when we finish and I am so looking forward to it!

    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

  5. Don,

    Yes, I’ve stepped away from Matthew often. For example, I’ve spoken much here about an 8-week series on worship, a 4-week series on the Gospel, etc. However, I am intentionally speeding up. Though thoroughness is a good thing, I fear that sometimes we lose the forest for the trees. In fact, the few times I’ve heard Dever preach, he has handled an entire chapter. When he was done, I didn’t just understand some basic principles or even a few verses, but an entire section of Scripture, how it is explained, illustrated, applied in the text, etc. I think I tend to go to slow, not to fast. FWIW.

    We also have adopted a 6-year schedule for Sunday nights called “God’s Whole Counsel.” It forces us to address every portion of Scripture, every theological division, every major life relationship, etc. It’s been great. I’ll post a pdf of it soon, Lord willing. The burden of preaching “the whole counsel of God” is a difficult one without some sort of plan, and 8 years per book won’t quite get it done. :)

  6. This is not a real big deal with me but, from my perspective in the pew, I don’t prefer the glacial pace through books. Believe me, I can understand the desire to mine all the gold out of a passage. But, I lose the focus and context of the book when we go at such a slow pace. The individual messages are fine but I lose how the unit fits into the book, how it advances the theme, or how it contributes to the immediate context. There is a fine line between being thorough and being tedious. At the very least, though, if you are going to take a glacial pace, please work through another book or another topic during the Sunday night service. Unless you are a Spurgeon or a Minnick, variety can help keep a congregation’s attention.

  7. Believe me, Andy, I can make the big picture tedious also!

    Well, the key to the glacial pace is frequent review. That’s what Minnick does. You also have to do preview and overview messages so that you can place the details in the right picture.

    It is ok to handle a longer portion of the Scriptures on occasion, or as a preview or overview or review as I said, but you aren’t really doing exposition if you are simply whipping through a book like Matthew or John in six months.

    Our current series has been doing the overview as the primary means of preaching. It is a blessing and is helping our folks get the big picture. But the details are necessary as well. In the past, I have only done a series in one of the services per week. When we do Romans, I am thinking of doing it in the AM and the PM (and possibly Wednesday as well). We will get through it faster. There will be more continuity to the services, and perhaps some motivation for the people to attend all services. And for the preacher, studying one book at a time seems appealing. I haven’t done ever done it this way, so we will see how it goes. There may be some disadvantages that I am not yet anticipating.

    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

  8. Chris,

    If you’re getting your help in Matthew from DMLJ, no wonder it has taken you this long to get through Matthew! JK! Although, I think DMLJ only preached through two books of the Bible during his ministry. He didn’t have time to get to all the rest! :-)

  9. Martin Lloyd-Jones? He looks brief compared to Joseph Caryl, who took 24 years to preach through the book of Job!

    Here is an interesting and relevant article about preaching through long sections of the OT that I found when looking for that information on Caryl’s series on Job.

  10. I remember Minnick mentioning Caryl one time. I think he talked about seeing an annotated copy of his commentary on Job.

    A few more comments on the subject. I appreciate the article Andy linked to. Excellent advice. I notice he laments the short pastorates that seem to be the trend. This is a hindrance to exposition, in my opinion. I have been here for 21 years now. This gives us time to work on things together.

    I notice the article writter also mentioned relative experience in preaching. Early in my ministry, I attempted to start Mark and at another time John. I just didn’t have the capacity to really get going at that time. I did preach through Leviticus fairly early, but I was not going at the glacial pace. I think it took about 8 months or so as I recall. But with experience, preaching grows in depth, or it should. I find that my sermon preparation is deciding what to leave out more than trying to find a topic.

    I also would say that some books don’t lend themselves to glacial preaching. While I think I would like to have had a longer time in Malachi, I don’t think I could have done much more than 20 messages as opposed to the 12 I did. The OT tends to lend itself to much more broad strokes than the NT. (Or maybe I haven’t matured enough as a preacher yet!)

    The other thing about extended series is that you can’t slavishly follow your schedule. You have to be flexible enough to allow interruptions. If you follow Minnick, as I do, you will note that he may be working on a series, but he hits many other topics along the way, leaving a series sometimes for a month or more at a time until he can come back to it. I think that if you are addressing the ‘holistic’ spiritual needs of the congregation, there is a great deal of profit in working at the same time methodically through an exposition.

    Minnick’s predecessor, Jesse Boyd tended to stick with his exposition more, but he wasn’t quite as detailed as Minnick. I sat through Revelation with Pastor Boyd while I was in school. It was a real delight. (I also caught some of Revelation from Harold Sightler, in my first year at BJ — it was an experience!)

    Ok, I guess that’s all for now. You see me rambling on one of my favorite topics, preaching. I try to listen to all the preaching I can, but I have sons to mow my lawn! I catch sermons in my truck when I am travelling about in the city.

    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

  11. Now I know that Don is given to startling statements, so maybe I should chalk this up to some of his infamous “exaggeration for effect,” but I have to respond to this:

    “It is ok to handle a longer portion of the Scriptures on occasion, or as a preview or overview or review as I said, but you aren’t really doing exposition if you are simply whipping through a book like Matthew or John in six months.”

    I think what you’re confusing, Don, is exposition and exegesis. Exposition, simply defined, is unpacking or “exposing” a passage of Scripture. That can be done at many levels: a book, a chapter, a paragraph, or a verse. Exposition is not examining every possible use of the genitive or even addressing every possible interpretation of every verse that has been put forth in 2,000 years of church history. That’s called “Greek Exegesis of ________” and you can take it for credit. :-)

    Pastors should take Greek Exegesis classes so they can tell their people what the Bible says without their people having to learn Greek! Maybe I’m too simple-minded, but why not just teach our people Greek and buy the best commentaries for them? Why bother preaching? Let’s do the exegesis (and do it thoroughly!) in our studies, and then bring the exposition to our people.

    I have found that one of the most helpful things I have done for our people in my (admittedly) short time as a pastor is give them the big picture by preaching through 2 Peter in three messages, Jude in two messages, 1 Thessalonians in two messages, Romans in eight messages, etc.

    I must confess, after covering the book of Romans (every verse!) in eight messages, I seriously wondered how much textual exposition is done at the “glacial pace” vs. textual preaching. Granted, I didn’t examine every lexical or exegetical interpretation, but I did unpack the book and gave people a framework in which to place their own study and reading of the book.

    I do think there is a place for detailed exegesis, but the “glacial pace” often loses the forest for the microscopic lichen specks on the bark of the trees.

  12. Well, point taken, Mark. But I don’t mean examining all the possible uses of the genitive is preaching. We have mentioned Lloyd-Jones a good deal in this, and that is not what he did. There must be a good deal of heralding going on when we are preaching, but I am for the slow approach. The big picture is important also, but it is best used as part and parcel of the slow approach, in my opinion. And I’ll stand by my dramatic statement!

    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

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