Why preach through entire books of the Bible?

16 07 2012

Just some Monday afternoon thoughts on why Pastors should preach through books of the Bible:

1. It’s how we operate with all forms of communication.  You don’t get a letter from someone and just read the middle paragraph and think you have a good grasp on the letter. Yes we are in the “digital” age where we just like to consume bits and pieces of communication at a time but we also are unable to communicate properly without context.  It would be odd to pick up a book, randomly go to page 142 and read a sentence and actually believe you could understand all that was behind that particular sentence.

2. It’s how the Bible was meant to be read.  Let’s say you disagree with #1 and you say “Well, I grab books and only read the important sections and then toss ’em.”  I would say to you, fine, but the Biblical authors wrote with the intention of having their work read in its entirety.  (example, Col. 4:16)  Moses did not write in hopes that someone would read 5 chapters from the Pentateuch.  He wrote with the intention that all 5 books would be read and studied.  If this is how the Bible is meant to be read, then why not teach your people this by modeling it through your sermons?

3. It’s a testimony to belief in the sufficiency of Scripture.  Is Scripture sufficient? Does it contain everything we need for salvation, knowing God, obedience to Him, understanding His will?  If it is sufficient, then we want to know all of it, not just the parts that we believe are important and skip out on the rest.  Does man live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God or not (Deut. 8:3)?  Scripture interprets Scripture.  Therefore, we need to let the Bible itself speak on what it is that we need to know about God and man.

4. It allows you to cover the whole counsel of God’s Word.  Related to the above point, preaching through books allows you (andforcesyou!) to cover all that the Bible says; even things that are controversial.  You can’t dance around Jesus’ teaching on divorce, or repentance, or conversion for example if you are preaching verse by verse through Matthew.  It also keeps the Pastor from just hounding away on his favorite topics or soap boxes.

5.  It’s what your people want need.  I have heard and do hear complaints from time to time from lay persons about Pastors preaching through books of the Bible. But, if the above points are true, then if you’re a pastor, this is what your people need.  And I believe this is what mature Christians want.  Why? Because our desire as Christians is more of Christ.  What better way to give your people more of Christ than preaching His own very Word in its fullness?

6. It allows the Pastor and the people to know what’s coming.  You don’t have to scramble Monday mornings to find what to preach on.  Your people can read, reflect, meditate, pray about, and discuss with family members the next set of verses that are going to be covered.  This will help congregations master certain books of the Bible which will only help them to master other Books of the Bible when studying on their own.  If done properly and consistently it teaches sound hermeneutics without ever having to say the word “hermeneutics” from the pulpit!

7. The benefits far outweigh the “cons.”  Yes, you must be disciplined in preaching through books because each sermon must be in context while at the same time able to stand on its own.  Also, you should be flexible because there may be local or global events that occur (good things, bad things, ugly things) that your people must hear a Word from God on and it may not match up well with your specific text (although sometimes it may).  However, I believe God will bless Pastors who are resolved to preach expository sermons through books of the Bible as the main dose of their preaching simply because this is how God’s Word was meant to be preached to His people (see above statements!).


George Whitefield on Original Sin

7 07 2012

“Though the doctrine of original sin, is a doctrine written in such legible characters in the word of God, that he who runs may read it; and though, I think, everything without us, and everything within us, plainly proclaims that we are fallen creatures; though the very heathens, who had no other light, but the dim light of unassisted reason, complained of this, for they felt the wound, and discovered the disease, but were ignorant of the cause of it; yet there are too many persons of those who have been baptized in the name of Christ, that dare to speak against the doctrine of original sin, and are angry with those ill-natured ministers, who paint man in such black colors. Say they, “It cannot be that children come into the world with the guilt of Adam’s sin lying upon them.” Why? Desire them to prove it from Scripture, and they will urge this very text, our Lord tells us, “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Now their argument runs thus, “It is implied in the words of the text, that little children are innocent, and that they come into the world like a mere blank piece of white paper, otherwise our Lord must argue absurdly, for he could never pretend to say, that we must be converted, and be made like wicked creatures; that would be no conversion.” But, my dear friends, this is to make Jesus Christ speak what he never intended, and what cannot be deduced from his words. That little children are guilty, I mean, that they are conceived and born in sin, is plain from the whole tenor of the book of God. David was a man after God’s own heart, yet, says he, “I was conceived in sin.” Jeremiah speaking of every one’s heart, says, “the heart of man is deceitful and desperately wicked above all things.” God’s servants unanimously declare, (and Paul cites it from one of them) “that we are altogether now become abominable, altogether gone out of the way of original righteousness, there is not one of us that doeth good (by nature), no not one.” And I appeal to any of you that are mothers and fathers, if ye do not discern original sin or corruption in your children, as soon as they come into the world; and as they grow up, if ye do not discover self-will, and an aversion to goodness. What is the reason your children are so averse to instruction, but because they bring enmity into the world with them, against a good and gracious God? So then, it is plain from scripture and fact, that children are born in sin, and consequently that they are children of wrath. And for my part, I think, that the death of every child is a plain proof of original sin; sickness and death came into the world by sin, and it seems not consistent with God’s goodness and justice, to let a little child be sick or die, unless Adam’s first sin was imputed to him. If any charge God with injustice for imputing Adam’s sin to a little child, behold we have gotten a second Adam, to bring our children to him. Therefore, when our Lord says, “unless ye are converted, and become as little children,” we are not to understand, as though our Lord would insinuate, that little children are perfectly innocent; but in a comparative, and as I shall show you by and by, in a rational sense. Little children are innocent, compare them with grown people; but take them as they are, and as they come into the world, they have hearts that are sensual, and minds which are carnal. And I mention this with the greatest concern, because I verily believe, unless parents are convinced of this, they will never take proper care of their children’s education. If parents were convinced, that children’s hearts were so bad as they are, you would never be fond of letting them go to balls, assemblies, and plays, the natural tendency of which is to debauch their minds, and make them the children of the devil. If parents were convinced of this, I believe they would pray more, when they bring their children to be baptized, and would not make it a mere matter of form. And I believe, if they really were convinced, that their children were conceived in sin, they would always put up that petition, before their children came into the world, which I have heard that a good woman always did put up, “Lord Jesus, let me never bear a child for hell or the devil.” O! is it not to be feared, that thousands of children will appear, at the great day, before God, and in presence of angels and men will say, Father and mother, next to the wickedness of mine own heart, I owe my damnation to your bad education of me.”

From Whitfield’s Sermon Marks of a True Conversion Matthew 18:3

Sermons galore for iPhone

29 06 2012

Do you use your iphone to listen to various preaching and preachers but want to conserve precious memory?  The new podcast app is definitely your answer!

What you can do with this app is virtually subscribe to all the podcasts you want without having those podcasts actually downloaded to your phone.  Granted, you will  have to have service or wifi in order to listen to the podcasts but this saves you tons of memory.  Also, instead of having to dowload several individual apps in order to listen to sermons without downloading them you can now just down load the new podcast app and have all the sermons at your fingertips.  Below are some screenshots of a few of the podcasts I enjoy:

(if you click the “catalog” button at the top left of the app you can search and subscribe to your own desired podcasts)

That “Same Old Story”

14 12 2010

Well, here we are again… It’s less than two weeks before Christmas and this week most pastors are preparing to share that “same old story” from Luke 2.  Every year it’s the same thing… How can I tell this story in a new or creative way? How can I keep my congregation from tuning me out since they have heard this story so many times?

I want you to remember something: It’s a marvelous story! Don’t worry about how to present this story in a new or creative way because it is wonderful just the way it is!  It’s most amazing story in history and without it we would still be wandering in darkness.

This Sunday I’m preaching Luke 2:1-7.  During the course of my study for the message I began to think about explaining to my church the necessity of the incarnation. 

We know that ever since the moment mankind fell in the Garden that we have been storing up wrath for ourselves.  This is because God is completely Just.  As R.C. Sproul says, we have committed “cosmic treason” against God by setting ourselves upon His throne.  This means that if there is to be reconciliation between us and God then our sin debt must be paid. But how?

In the Old Testament we see the foreshadowing of what needed to take place: the shedding of blood.  However, the blood of bulls and goats is insufficient to pay for our sins (cf. Heb. 10:4).  In order for payment to be sufficient for God’s justice, the sacrifice had to be perfect.

Well, what about an Angel? Couldn’t God have sent forth an Angel to live in perfect obedience?  This is problematic for several reasons, but some of the main issues are this: Angels are created beings unable to withstand the full wrath of God that had to be poured out.  Also, an Angel is neither God nor man and therefore could not mediate between us.  And of course the sacrifice must be willing, otherwise God’s justice would be compromised. 

All that to say, if there was to be reconciliation between God and man, here are the requirements of the Sacrifice:

  1. The Sacrifice must have the capacity to perfectly obey God’s Law. (To make right what went wrong in Eden)
  2. The Sacrifice must have the ability to relate to God and man for reconciliation. (100% God and 100% Man)
  3. The sacrifice must have the capacity to withstand the full weight of God’s wrath without being annihilated into oblivion. (again, God’s justice demands payment for our sin)
  4. The Sacrifice must be willing.

The standards are such that for all eternity only ONE can fulfill all.  Only One took on flesh and blood, and bones and guts to perfectly obey God’s Law.  Only One withstood the full weight of God’s wrath during the crucifixion. Only One was willing to do His Father’s will.

His name is Jesus.  God sent His Son into the world for the sake of His people and His glory.  He didn’t wrap His gift to us in pretty Christmas paper, He wrapped in flesh and blood.  He didn’t lay it under a pretty Christmas tree in a warm cozy mansion.  He came to the manger.

Praise God, this story will never get old…

The Christian Hope in Suffering

10 08 2010

We’ve recently had some tragic deaths in our community this past week.  In response to those things I wanted to post some notes from my sermon on Sunday.  The text is Romans 8:18-30. Now first of all, I want to say that I understand how richly packed these 13 verses are.  We literally could probably preach 100 sermons from this text alone! The sermon from Sunday was more of a “fly over” of these verses due to time constraints.  Because of the situations in our church this is a passage that the Lord laid on my heart to preach.  However, this is a passage that all Christians need to be reminded of because we all will experience different levels of suffering in this life on almost a regular basis until Jesus returns or we leave this life to meet Him in glory.

I. Understand Sufferings’ Cause (v. 19-23)

Key Word: SIN

When God created this world He created it in a state of no suffering.  Adam and Eve had the perfect set up, a place where they could enjoy life and God without the presence of human Sin.  But the Fall, in which we all had a part with Adam, ended this state of no suffering.  Back to our passage, Paul says that Creation is groaning because of Sin.

We need to understand the full effect of the Fall. In one since I don’t think we will ever really be able to fully understand the depths of our own depravity but passages like this in Romans 8 help remind us that Sin is a big deal. That everything is out of whack because of Adam’s decision (and ours) to disobey God.  This doesn’t always mean that a direct sin causes a direct suffering (although that definitely can be the case).  In other words, it doesn’t mean that because you lied God gives you cancer.  It means that because of this broken world, bad things happen.  Yes, we are all held culpable for Adam’s Sin and we all deserve death, but many passages of Scripture tell us that God, because of His love, grace, and mercy, does not delight in our suffering or even our death (cf. Lam. 3:32-33, Ezekiel 18:32).

II. Feel Sufferings’ Comfort (v.24-27)


Continuing in our passage, Paul says that not only is creation groaning, but we too are groaning.  He explains that although we are “saved” in the hope of Christ, we have not ultimately met that salvation until we see Him face to face.  Christians still face sufferings.  In fact, sometimes we face more sufferings because we are Christians (persecutions, trials, etc.).  We are still very much dependant creatures even though we are saved.  The truth is that now we are able to acknowledge our dependency and Who we must be dependant upon: Jesus Christ.

Paul goes on to say that the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, helps us in our weakness. I believe in context that this is all tied to suffering (see v.18 and 28)! And then Paul says that not only is Creation groaning, and that we are groaning, but that the Holy Spirit of God is groaning in our behalf! This means that when we suffer we have not been left alone.  We must fight the urge to “be strong” and try to get through this on our own.  We must become weak and allow God to work in our hearts.  Sometimes suffering causes so many emotions that we just don’t know what to say and the Bible says that in those times the Holy Spirit will talk for us (cf. 8:26).

In our weakness, the strength of God is shown and He is glorified (cf. 2 Cor. 12:7-10).  Also, Hebrews 4:14-16 tells us that Jesus is able to relate to our trials because He is the God-man.  Remember Jesus’ response when Lazarus died? He wept! Yes, Paul says that he can do all things…But all things through who? Christ!  During times of suffering God must be our strength.  We must not be proud and deny our own human inability.  We must become weak and turn to God as the only source for true healing and comfort.

III. Trust Sufferings’ Conqueror (v. 28-30)

Key Word: GOD

Now, these final 3 verses (8:28-30) could honestly be 90 out of the 100 sermons we mentioned earlier! There is a lot of truth here, but I want to talk about how these 3 verses pertain to our suffering.

First of all, God is not a God of “reaction”.  God is a God of action!  This passage does not mean that “all things” are “good”.  Hurting and suffering are not good things. But guess what? NOTHING can escape the providential sovereignty of God. The good, the bad, the neutral are all used by God to bring about His plan! All things here means this: ALL THINGS, everything, God is in control of, and using, all.

God is not caught off guard by our suffering, rather it is in His plan to bring about our sanctification.  Through suffering He is making us more and more like Jesus.  This is why “all things work together for good” for those who love God. We know that all things work together for our good because we desire to be like Christ and for God to be glorified.

Now, R.C. Sproul comments “God orders His providences so as not to cancel out secondary causes”.  This means that humans are still held responsible for our actions.  The story of Joseph really helps to illustrate this: Gen. 50:20.  Also, so does Christ going to the Cross: Acts 4:26-28.  In other words, God was in complete control of these things that were bad and that were done with the intention of causing suffering.  The whole time one force was pushing towards evil God was the ultimate force in control of those situations pushing them towards good.  The more evil people thought they were doing, the greater good God was completing! God is in control of every particle of dust that you stir up traveling down a dirt road- Not only is He in control of it, but He has ordained the very place that each particle of dust will land!

The anchor for this whole passage of Scripture is Romans 8:29-30. What solid truth! Before the foundations of the world God chose a group of people (refered to as the “elect” in the Bible) who He would save from total depravity and conform them into the image of His Son!  When we think of the splendor of God’s election, then we should be comforted to know that God is so much bigger than our suffering (cf. 8:18).  He will ultimately conquer our suffering and one day we will reside with Him forever in a place where there will be no more suffering!

C.H. Spurgeon said this about suffering: “I have learned to kiss the wave that strikes me against the Rock of Ages.”  Simple statement, but hard to apply to our lives in the midst of our trials.  I know that during this time many people are feeling a wide range of emotions.  There are no words that I have that can ease your suffering.  The Bible, however, has those words.  During your time of suffering I pray that God comforts you, and that you will turn to Him as your source of peace and strength.

Count the Cost

13 07 2010

If you’ve ever been involved in a building project then you know that often times the bid you get for construction turns out to be lower than the actual cost. There’s always something unforeseen that happens that makes things a little more expensive than what you were planning.

Soon I’m preaching on Luke 9:57-62. As I’ve began studying this passage this thought keeps coming to me: “What has following Christ cost me?”. I mean in this passage of Scripture there are three different instances of Jesus explaining what it means to follow Him.

I see implications here of forsaking our comforts, traditions, and relationships all for the sake of Christ. And yet I still wonder, “Has following Jesus cost me any of these things?”

I’m afraid in America and especially in the “Bible belt” that following Christ costs us very little. In fact, I can think of several instances where “following Jesus” is actually more advantageous for one’s social, economic, and even political situations. See, the question is not “what if” Jesus is asking me to give up things to follow Him or even “when” will Jesus call me to give up things… The question is “How has Jesus asked me to give up these things for the sake of the Gospel?”

What areas of your life do you still have that are uncrucified? Yes, obviously comforts, traditions, and relationships are not bad things. But in relation to the Gospel calling them “secondary” is an understatement!

Have you counted the cost of following Jesus? Do you see why it’s impossible for us to do on our own? To follow Christ we must first “repent and believe the Gospel” (cf. Mark 1:15). Once we have done this God begins to change everything about us making us more and more like Jesus through the process if sanctification.

The point is today that some may read this post and feel sad or even angry. But for those who’ve trusted Christ I hope it’s an encouragement knowing that we forsake all for the Glory of Christ! That the battle is already won, the Way has already been made and our call is to FOLLOW!

Are you counting the cost? Can you truly say today to Jesus “I will follow you wherever you go?”, knowing He walks a path that turns the priorities of this world on their head?

Mother’s Day Sermon 2010

6 05 2010

At the end of the day, motherhood matters because we are charged with the awesome task to train the next generation and, together with their fathers, arm them to be warriors for Christ.” – Mary K. Mohler

Still doing some studying for the message Sunday morning, but as I read and reflect I thought I’d give you the basic outline of the sermon…

First off, my “Series” for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day is “Faith Legacy.” As I’ve blogged about before I’m trying to emphasize the importance of parents cultivating their children’s relationship with Christ.  My title, Motherhood Matters, is not really creative or original but it grasps my proposition that motherhood is a high calling.

My text is only one verse: 2 Timothy 1:5 I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.”

Here’s why we honor our mothers, not only on Mother’s Day, but also year round:

I. Mothers have Purpose- A mother’s primary purpose of course is to have a child! That may be by birth or adoption. Notice, I did not say a woman’s primary purpose is to have a child.  There are some godly women that God has not called to motherhood.  Although, I still believe all women are born with a certain “mothering” instinct even if some are not called to be mothers.  Anyway, a mother’s ultimate purpose is to pass on her faith legacy. I know that some would say “Well, yes, faith legacy is important, after I clothe my kids and feed them, and take them to school, and clean the house, etc.” But what I’m saying is if a mom is fulfilling her ultimate purpose of handing down her faith legacy then all these other things will fall into place (see Matt. 6:33).  In Timothy’s life we see a faith that was passed down from his grandmother, to his mother, and then to him.  Why are there so many pages of “generations” at various points in the Bible? Why did God tell Israel to do things like leave a pile of stones in certain places, write down records of events, etc.? Because handing down the faith from one generation to the next is God’s idea!

Not only do we honor mother’s because they have purpose, but also because,

II. Mother’s have Power-  Do you know what Moses, David, Jesus, Paul, Martin Luther, Abraham Lincoln, and Cuatro have in common? We all have a mom!  Let’s look at grandmother Lois in our text.  How does she have power? Let’s look at Timothy- He was the pastor of one of the greatest churches we see in the New Testament: Ephesus.  Lois’s influence on her daughter and grandson played a part in God’s redemptive plan! Since she was faithful in sharing the Scriptures (O.T.) with her daughter and grandson, Timothy was molded by God to do great things (see 2 Tim. 2:14-15).

I want to ask all moms: How will you use your power? Do you know what Stalin, Hitler, Saddam Hussein, and Darth Vader all have in common? They all had a mom!  Now, I’m not saying that bad people have bad moms and good people have good moms, but what I am saying is that mothers have tremendous power in shaping the minds and hearts of their children.  You see, if as a mother your ultimate purpose is to pass on your faith legacy, then God has given you the power to do so! How? Look at Deuteronomy 6:5-7!  Mom- Use your power and influence to teach your children about God and His ways. 

It’s great to bring your children to church, but if that’s all you do for them spiritually it’s not enough.  Pray with your children (more than just meal times), read the bible together, talk about the things of God.  And here you might say “Cuatro, you don’t understand, I don’t have a husband, or my husband is not a believer, or my husband is not as committed to Christ as I am.”  I do know those situations can be tough and are not God’s ultimate design for the family.  But look at Acts 16:1…Eunice (Timothy’s mom) was a Jew and her husband was a Greek! The point is, don’t excuse yourself from your calling as a mother, even if your husband is not cooperating.  Motherhood is a special, beautiful, and high calling! Never let anyone tell you that you aren’t making an impact in this world… You have more power than you even know!

A last note on a mom’s power is Titus 2:3-5.  Mom’s that no longer have children living at home still have a huge role to play in the church!  What kind of faith legacy are you older moms/women leaving for these younger moms/women?  Who will walk alongside this younger generation of moms and show them what it means to be a godly wife and mother?  Let’s face it, there are just some things that only women can teach other women (men have no clue)!

Finally, not only do women have purpose and power, but,

III. Mother’s are people too- Another thing I know for sure about Lois and Eunice is that they were human beings.  And the thing I know about human beings is that we mess up (Rom. 3:23).  In fact, take a look at another biblical mother found in Matthew 1:5.

Do you remember Rahab? She was a prostitute in the city of Jericho!  But God used her to be in the lineage of His Son, Jesus Christ.  The only type of people God uses are those who are broken!  So, even if you are not the perfect mother, stop trusting yourself and turn to Christ.

The point is not to read this and go away with added weight on your life and feel like a failure. The point is to feel the calling and conviction of God to be a biblical mother, and turn to Christ as your foundation for being a godly mom. If God can use a prostitute to be a mother in the lineage of Himself, then He can use you to make difference in your home, church, and world.

I hope those who aren’t moms that read this understand a little better about why we honor them.

Dads, tune in for Father’s Day…