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The Privilege Of Watching God’s Word At Work (via John Chester)

In this post about preachers and preaching, John Chester remarks about one incredible privilege that preachers have, particularly those who are blessed to preach to congregations where they can pretty much see everyone, and who are able to be free from a manuscript long enough to observe how people are reacting to God’s Word:

There is one other profound blessing that the pastor receives because he is looking into the faces of the congregation. The living and active nature of the Word of God is impressed on him as never before. [Of course this only applies to pastors who actually preach the bible!] From behind the pulpit I have seen people burst in to tears, tears of joy at the thought of heaven and the hope we have in Christ, and tears of conviction in response to a powerful truth of Scripture. I have seen the look cross a visitors face the split second they become offended by the gospel, and I have seen someone sitting with their arms defiantly crossed melt and soften as the Word of God washes over them. It is a unique blessing to be able to see how people respond to the preaching of the Word of God.

Read the whole post here.

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Which Books Of The Bible Get Preached From The Most? (via Oli Tucker)

Having preached through Psalms and now approaching the end of John’s gospel on Sunday nights at MGPC over the last six or so years, it will soon be time to commit to something new.
This article by Oli Tucker surveys a web application that hosts recorded sermons and discovers which books of the Bible have the most sermons preached from them.
It’s no surprise that nineteen most popular books are from the New Testament, but there are some interesting observations.
The types of churches that use the hosting site are more likely to be committed to sequential expository preaching rather than topical or lectionary texts, so it points out some common emphases in the conservative evangelical culture, as well as some areas that can be over looked.
As evangelical churches skew toward preaching entry-level material in topical guise I’d only expect these sorts of differences to increase. The whole counsel of God becoming the curated counsel of God, so to speak.

From the article:

As with many things in life and ministry we do, at times, need our hands holding over the fire even when it comes to preaching the whole counsel of God and preaching Christ from all the Scriptures. I guess the question this exercise has exposed is: do we know enough to be sure we are actually doing that, and therefore serve our churches well?

Read the article at Strand Blog.

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Preaching Hopeful Realism (via Joel Beeke)

In writing that good sermons need to preached realistically, idealistically, and optimistically, Joel Beeke writes why optimism is essential.
If you’re listening to a sermon tomorrow may it contain this element:

A Hopeful Realism
The believer also needs to hear from the pulpit the optimistic preaching of the Christian life: that one day I will be as holy as Jesus is holy and I’ll be married to him forever. I’ll be his bride and there will be a utopian marriage between me and him and in heaven this glorious idealism will be perfected in eternal optimism.
If that truth isn’t taught, then we can sort of stay settled in this life. We put our tent stakes in the soil too deeply and think this earth is all there is. Whereas optimistic preaching about the future teaches us that this life here is just like an introduction to a book and eternity is the whole book and we’re always living with one eye on eternity.
I need that optimistic view of the eternal destiny of the believer—that God will make amends for everything on that great day and I will enter the joy of the Lord.

Read the rest of the post here.

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Sometimes You Can Get The Necessary Information, But Lack Essential Context

Sometimes sermons can be all push and no pull.
The facts are communicated as information – perhaps all imperatives, but preaching illustrates and seeks to draw – something of a winsome invitation.
Bible preaching does both: instructs and invites.
This is when news becomes good news.
Saw this précis of movie that reminded me of the principle.
It tells you what the movie is about, but doesn’t really tell you what the movie is like.

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The Need For Repitition (via Stephen Kneale)

There is a need for some types of repitition in preaching.
Just because you’ve said it once doesn’t mean everyone’s heard and understood.
But this doesn’t mean you simply arrive at the same point mechanically in the sermon every week.
It’s also why meeting together during the week and talking about the sermon can help people understand and apply the teaching of the text more clearly.
Stephen Kneale

… we can assume that our preaching has achieved far more than it has. It’s not at all uncommon for preachers to finish a series in whatever book they’ve been in and assume, because they’ve stood up and spoken about it systematically each week, their members now have Numbers or Acts or whatever locked down. No need to ever mention those things again because our people now ‘know them.’ At the risk of stating the obvious, it just ain’t so.
I suspect the tendency comes from a few places. For one, the guy preaching has spent so much longer in each passage than anybody else. He probably does know the book reasonably well by the end of the series. But we quickly forget that the 15-hours or so spent on each sermon makes the 30-40 minutes of those listening to it seem paltry by comparison. In a reasonably short series of 6 sermons, your people will have listened to c. 3-hours of preaching whilst, at 15-hours per sermon, the preacher has spent 90-hours in the book. We quickly forget our people haven’t spent the same time reading, contemplating and exegeting the passage as the preacher.

Read the rest at Building Jerusalem.

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Preaching Won’t Love You (via Lewis Allen and The Preacher’s Catechism)

May those of you who gather to hear God’s word tomorrow witness proclamation that is based on love of God and hearers, not based on love for the act of speaking.
From Lewis Allen’s The Preacher’s Catechism – Q&A 32: What is the summary of the Ten Commandments for preachers? – Loving the Lord your God and your neighbour, not your preaching is the goal of the law.

Preachers are ambitious. At least, we should be. If we don’t long that people will meet the risen Christ through our ministry, then what do we want to achieve through preaching? We need to root out that false godliness which wants little and is content with even less. Some reason that as long as we’ve preached orthodoxy, then God must be glorified. Isaiah 55:11 is quoted as the proof text of this dismal spirituality. Hearers might be left feeling empty, but our consolation — and we hope theirs, too — is that the Word will not return to God empty. But if our hearers are not presented with Christ in such a way that they are compelled to receive Christ by faith, then what has been achieved? A preacher who aims at merely saying what the Word says, with no prayerful longing that the Word would bear fruit, isn’t a God-honoring servant.
The danger lurks, though. Every preacher has experienced it to different degrees. Give your heart to preaching and expect it to love you back and fulfill all of your needs, and you’ll be bitterly disappointed. Preaching doesn’t love anyone. You can’t expect that it’ll satisfy your heart. Any preacher who seeks to find his life in his pulpit ministry is kidding himself all the way to idolatry. Preaching will pass.

The Preacher’s Catechism, Lewis Allen, Crossway, 2018, pg 162.

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The Warning Signs Of Preaching Idolatry (via Lewis Allen and The Preacher’s Catechism)

From Lewis Allen’s The Preacher’s Catechism – Q&A 23: What does the second commandment teach us? – You shall not make a preaching idol of your image or anyone else’s.

Here are some warning signs that you could be in danger of preaching idolatry:
You can never read the Bible for your own soul’s profit. It just doesn’t seem important anymore. Now you’re consumed with studying the Bible for the sake of others. In fact, when you do sit down to read your Bible, you actually start noting how you could preach the passage, and you’re halfway through preparing an out- line before you realize it. Maybe your soul is starting to shrivel just as your work expands.
You can never say no to a sermon. You get restless when you’re not preaching on a Sunday. You struggle to listen to the truth of a sermon, because instead you’re critiquing the sermon. You’re always looking for more opportunities to preach. Called you may be, and compelled to preach — well, that’s a given; but are you a preaching obsessive?

The Preacher’s Catechism, Lewis Allen, Crossway, 2018, pg 126.