Matthew R. Perry

Posts Tagged ‘Preaching’

A Hunger for God: Wisdom from A.W. Tozer

In Church Life, For Preachers/Pastors, Sermons on November 10, 2008 at 5:54 pm

In A.W. Tozer’s classic and life-changing work, The The Pursuit of God, he noted the role that religious leaders must place in recognizing the need for a hunger and thirst for God.

There is today no lack of Bible teachers to set forth correctly the principles of the doctrines of Christ, but too many of these seem satisfied to teach the fundamentals of the faith year after year, strangely unaware that there is in their ministry no manifest Presence, nor anything unusual in their personal lives. They minister constantly to believers who feel within their breasts a longing which their teaching simply does not satisfy. …

Sound Bible exposition is an imperative must in the Church of the living God. Without it no church can be a New Testament church in any strict meaning of that term. But exposition may be carried on in such a way as to leave the hearers devoid of any true spiritual nourishment whatever. For it is not mere words that nourish the soul, but God Himself, and unless and until the hearers find God in personal experience they are not the better for having heard the truth. The Bible is not an end in itself, but a means to bring men to an intimate and satisfying knowledge of God, that they may enter into Him, that they may delight in His Presence, may taste and know the inner sweetness of the very God Himself in the core and center of their hearts (pp. 8-10).

What is interesting is that Tozer wrote this in 1948. What do you think? Is Tozer on to something here?

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What is the Future of Expository Preaching? (Bryan Chapell)

In Preaching on September 23, 2008 at 10:10 am

(HT: Kenneth Clayton)

Would Calvin Approve of Some “Calvinists”? I Think Not!

In Calvinism, Evangelism, Gospel, Sermons on September 5, 2008 at 1:40 pm

As part of my DMin project, I am immersing myself in all things Spurgeon. I cannot tell you how much his sermons and writings have fed my soul and strengthened me toward holiness and my calling to preach.

The latest book I’m working through is Iain H. Murray’s Spurgeon v. Hyper-Calvinism. Murray contends that this was Spurgeon’s first major controversy in his ministry at New Park Street Church (soon to be Metropolitan Tabernacle). Though he was only 20 years old at the time, his preaching began to truly gain momentum in London. Yet, some of the Strict and Particular Baptists who held a hard line concerning Calvinism began to exclude Spurgeon.  Spurgeon noted that they felt his “doctrine was too low for them.”

Spurgeon responded not in the newspaper but through his sermons which were published for a penny a copy, having a readership of approximately 20,000 people. 

A Calvinist Preaching Evangelistically?  Absolutely!

The reason they felt that his doctrine was “too low” was that he claimed to be a Calvinist but preached evangelistically.  In a sermon in 1859, during a service in which the foundation stone was laid for the new Metropolitan Tabernacle, he said: “The stone has to be rolled away from the sepulchre of Calvinism yet.  The Calvinism of some men is not the Calvinism of John Calvin, nor the Calvinism of the Puritans, much less the Christianity of God.”  You see, what some called “Calvinism” was a type of teaching which said that there should be no appeal to humanity in regards to responding to the Gospel.  These “hyper-Calvinists” believe that the Gospel call should only be given to the elect sinners, for this is who the preacher should have in view.  

Spurgeon rightly rejected this.  While the Scriptures do speak of God predestining and electing (see his sermon on “High and Broad Doctrine” among scores of others), he saw from the New Testament a mandate not just to talk about the facts of salvation, but to make an appeal toward all sinners to trust Christ.  It is not up to men to determine who they think are elect and not–let God sort that out.  Everyone understands that their salvation is a gift from God.  

But to rely on such a subject emotion as to be one who must wait on emotions and feelings before you believe those commands and invitations to repent and receive Christ is dangerous and ultimately self-centered.  

What Did Calvin Have to Say About Evangelism?

John Calvin and his theology have come under considerable fire.   Some reject Calvinism because they deem that he and his theology discourage evangelism and even prayer.  The objection is, “If God has already chosen who will be saved, then why bother sharing the Gospel?”  Calvin addresses this himself:

Since we do not know who belongs to the number of the predestined and who does not, it befits us so to feel as to wish that all be saved. So it will come about that, whoever we come across, we shall study to make him a sharer of peace . . . even severe rebuke will be administered like medicine, lest they should perish or cause others to perish. But it will be for God to make it effective in those whom He foreknew and predestined (John Calvin, Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, trans. J. K. S. Reid, London: James Clarke and Co., Limited, 1961, p. 138)

So those Calvinist who not only reject sharing the Gospel with all peoples or at least de-emphasize it.  This is not biblical and, ultimately, its cruel.  How could someone who calls themselves a Christian believe that Christ and his apostles taught that sharing the Gospel takes away from God’s sovereign grace.  Yes, Christ says that he has called out a people from this wicked world (John 6:37, 44; Matthew 11:25-27), as does Paul (Ephesians 1:3-4, Romans 8:29-30), as well as Peter (1 Peter 1:3-6).  It comes along the same theme of God calling the people of Israel out from the world (Genesis 12:1-3; Deuteronomy 7:7-8).  

But did not Jesus also say, “Come unto me” (Matthew 11:28).  Did not Paul say, “Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.  For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me” (Colossians 1:28-29, ESV)?

Ray Van Neste notes concerning Calvin and Calvinism, “Calvin’s doctrine of predestination did not make the preaching of the gospel unnecessary; instead, it made preaching necessary because it was by the preaching of the gospel that God had chosen to save the predestined.”  (I would highly recommend reading the entirety of Van Neste’s article.)  With this, Calvin even set up a school of missions where he would send out missionaries to teach the Gospel that was recovered during the Reformation.  

Conclusion

So if you hear a nasty rumor that Calvinists are not concerned with evangelism, those “Calvinists” are not from the ilk of John Calvin in the least.  We know that God is already at work in those whom He has called— we can evangelize with confidence.

You Can’t Love Jesus and Reject the Bible

In Sermons on May 25, 2008 at 3:02 pm

(This is Part I of a sermon preached at the Boone’s Creek Baptist Church, Lexington, KY, on Sunday, May 25, 2008.)

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:17-20, ESV).

When we come together, our goal is for you to love Jesus more when you leave than when you walked in. For those of you who may have never submitted to Christ, our prayer is that you would see all that he accomplished for you on your behalf by taking our sin and its penalty and removing us from this world’s curse and emptiness. For those of you who may be followers of Christ, but the flame of fire and dimmed to a small ember, our desire is that you would not be like the Ephesian church in Revelation where you have “abandoned the love you had at first” (Revelation 2:4).

So, is loving Jesus enough? I just want to answer with an undeniable, “Yes!” I suppose the next question you all may ask me is, “Why would this question even come up?” Sadly, because we have a number of folks who really question the very nature of the Scriptures. But it’s the same principle with our marriages and our children. You can say, “I love my wife and kids.” But if you neglect them, ignore your vows to them, and exclude them from the day-to-day aspect of your life, you do not truly love them. You may get a warm feeling, but you are failing to see the nature of marriage and parenthood.

In this passage of Scripture, Jesus teaches us about what it means to love and be devoted to him. Some were intrigued by him and curious at his teaching and demeanor, and thought that was enough. Others were comparing him to the Pharisees, of whom many considered as the spiritual leaders and examples. Jesus in these four verses takes time to tell us what it really means to love him.

1. You cannot say you love Jesus, but reject the Bible.

In Matthew 5:17-18, Jesus says, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.”

Do you find yourself separating Jesus from the Bible? When I was in college and seminary in the early 1990s, I would find myself sitting under a professor who, in an effort to be more spiritual and less dry and academic, would warn us not to commit what was called “bible-olatry,” or a worship of the Bible. They would give us a warning not to put our heads so deep in the Bible. Just love Jesus. After all, they would say, there are so many interpretations that it’s hard to know what the Bible is saying (especially the Old Testament). I was taught by these professors that for the majority of the Old Testament, the stories were transmitted orally for many years before they were written down, so we really cannot know for sure how many adaptations and changes took place — so just cling to Jesus.

The result was many of my fellow student brothers in the ministry (and for a time, myself included) would walk out of those classrooms thinking that you could actually take one without the other. As a result, those students would often go into the pulpits of our local churches teaching that very thing. They would seem to show that you that you could make a distinction. With all due respect to these professors and many others dotting our landscape, we must realize that Jesus never, ever makes this distinction. To try and separate Jesus from the Scriptures may sound noble and pious but it is confusing and dangerous.

All through his ministry, he notes how he does what he does “so the Scriptures may be fulfilled.” Why did he go here? The people and even the Pharisees could tell that he was a rabbi because (1) he taught about the Law, and (2) he had disciples. But he was different in that he went against their traditions. Jesus was accused of “eating with tax collectors and sinners,” plus he would on occasion converse with women. According to Jewish tradition, holy men did not do either one of these things. Because of this, the Pharisees and the people were confused and would even say that he was not from God and was wanting to do away with all of the Old Testament.

Is this what Jesus is saying? No, he came to finish and fulfill the Old Testament. But how did he do that? Some say he simply came to accomplished all of the law and to live a perfect life. Did he do this? Yes. Romans 8 tells us that “By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:3b-4). But let’s not miss the full reason.

D.A. Carson noted that “Jesus does not conceive of his life and ministry in terms of opposition to the Old Testament, but in terms of bringing to fruition that toward which it points. Jesus continued and completed the work the law and the prophets began. Every moral, civil, and ceremonial law points in some way to Christ.” Romans 3:21 even says, “But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it.”

So why did he come? What is the “fulfillment” part? Let’s put it this way: have you ever had someone come up to you pointing out a problem they see? Let’s just say that on occasion (sarcasm intended) that happens to me. They come up to me and issue a problem. Some even come up and offer a solution: “Bro. Matt, what you should do is … ?” Yet there are some that go even further and say, “And Bro. Matt, I’ll take care of it.”

Romans 3:20 says, “For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.” In other words, the Old Testament tells us that God made everything and made everything for a purpose. But the Old Testament also reveals God’s will and way — and how we have rebelled and fallen short. God in his goodness lets us know that we are under judgment. That’s our problem. But the Old Testament also prophecies that a solution will take place: not by works but by One who comes. But then he goes a step further by saying, “I’ll even take care of the problem and be the solution.”

Jesus came fulfill the demands of the law which we have violated and have separated us from him, but also to fulfill all that the prophets said about him. Let me ask you: are you rejecting the Bible, all the while saying you love Jesus? See, in theory we hold to a high view of Scriptures, but yet we reject reading the Scriptures as part of our daily walk with Christ. We may say that the Bible is hard to understand, or we may say that since we are already in the Kingdom then there’s no sense in continuing on. So there are many ways to reject the Scriptures. May this not be the case with us!

The Gospel in Six Minutes (John Piper)

In Evangelism, Gospel on March 24, 2008 at 10:47 am

Liveblogging from Salem, KY (10/13/07): I made it

In Uncategorized on October 13, 2007 at 8:41 pm

Praise God! I made it to Salem in fairly good time. The 250 mile trip took approximately four-hours. I took the Blue Grass Parkway from Lexington to Elizabethtown, got on I-65 South for about 15 seconds, then travelled on the Western Kentucky Parkway for about 120 miles. Driving from the WKP to Salem was a scenic bonanza. I enjoy the picturesque nature of Kentucky immensely.

Tomorrow, I begin my series of sermons at Salem Baptist Church on “Questions the Culture Asks (But Christians Are Afraid to Answer).” You can find the sermons on this subject that I preached in September at the Boone’s Creek website .

I would like to thank the Ohio River Valley Baptist Association for allowing me to stay in their guest room (called “The Prophet’s Room which was dedicated here by the associational WMU back in 1995). It was here that I saw the University of Kentucky beat LSU 43-37 in a nationally televised football game. I’m a UofL fan, but I’m finding myself not only falling in love with the Commonwealth of Kentucky but also all that it has to offer.

Not only that, but Salem Baptist has stocked their refrigerator with snacks, breakfast foods, soft drinks, and water for my stay here. I am thankful for their gracious hospitality.

Please pray that the Spirit of God would move in our midst here.

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