The Net Pastors Journal
Fall 2011 edition
Dr. Roger Pascoe, President,
The Institute for Biblical Preaching
Cambridge, Ontario, Canada
This is the first edition of a quarterly journal for pastors, each edition of which will include articles on some or all of the following topics: preaching, church leadership, pastoral ministry issues, church history, sermon outlines, and devotional articles for your personal encouragement. This website ministry is for pastors particularly and all people involved in Christian ministry generally.
Our mission is to “strengthen the church in Biblical preaching and leadership” and we hope that this electronic publication will do just that as we seek to teach, help, and encourage people in ministry throughout the world, even in some of its remotest parts.
May God bless you in your service for him and may these articles be a source of inspiration and motivation in your declaration of the Word of God and your leadership of the people of God.
By: Dr. Roger Pascoe, President,
The Institute for Biblical Preaching,
Cambridge, Ontario, Canada
Biblical preaching is the public proclamation of a message from God, which is derived from the content of the Scriptures. Biblical preaching involves declaring a message from God for a certain audience at a certain place and certain time, which message comes from God’s Word, the Scriptures, which you explain and apply to the lives of your hearers.
It is vital that such a message be one that has first been personalized in and applied to your own life (what we call “incarnational preaching”) so that what you preach is exemplified in you in such a way that your audience can see the message lived out before them by you.
Biblical preaching is not a lecture; it’s not a speech; it’s not a dramatic monologue. It has a form and function all its own. “A preacher is not an author reading his own manuscript; he is a Voice, a Fire, a Herald, bold and eager in his sacred work – an orator speaking in heaven’s name and strength. There are more authors in the pulpit than preachers.” 1
There are many definitions of biblical preaching (sometimes called expository preaching), such as:
Stephen Olford: “Expository preaching is the Spirit-empowered explanation and proclamation of the text of God’s Word, with due regard to the historical, contextual, grammatical and doctrinal significance of the given passage, with the specific object of invoking a Christ-transforming response.”
Haddon Robinson: “Expository preaching is the communication of a biblical concept, derived from and transmitted through a historical, grammatical and literary study of a passage in its context, which the Holy Spirit first applies to the personality and experience of the preacher, then through him to his hearers.” 2
John Stott: “The expositor pries open what appears to be closed, makes plain what is obscure, unravels what is knotted and unfolds what is tightly packed…Our responsibility as expositors is to open up (the text) in such a way that it speaks its message clearly, plainly, accurately, relevantly, without addition, subtraction or falsification.” 3
J. I. Packer: “The true idea of (expository) preaching is that the preacher should become a mouthpiece for his text, opening it up and applying it as a word from God to the hearers, talking only in order that the text may speak itself and be heard, making each point from his text in such a manner, that the hearers may discern (the voice of God).” 4
I have two definitions – one short and one longer:
My short definition: “Preach the Word” (2 Tim. 4:2)
My longer definition: “Biblical preaching is the proclamation of God’s Word, in the power of the Holy Spirit ... that interprets its meaning accurately, explains its truth clearly, declares its message authoritatively, and applies its significance practically (i.e. with relevance to contemporary life) ... with a view to generating a spiritually transforming response in the listeners.”
All preaching must be biblical. It must be derived from and, in fact, be the Word of God spoken by the preacher. Biblical preaching is God’s truth delivered through a human agent. Thus, biblical preaching requires a high view of Scripture – that it is inspired by the Holy Spirit and, therefore, fully trustworthy. Scripture is the highest authority for Christians in what we believe and how we live. It is, therefore, our only authority for preaching. If we fail to preach the Scriptures, our preaching is not much more than philosophy.
There are two approaches to preaching – one is called biblical (or, expository) preaching and the other is called topical preaching. Topical preaching starts with the preacher deciding on the topic and then developing it through various relevant texts. The dangers in topical preaching are (1) that it can be confusing for the audience to follow because usually a variety of texts are referred to; and (2) it can sometimes be misleading, especially if texts are used out of context (which is often the case). But, topical preaching can be beneficial because it gives the opportunity to present a broad spectrum of Scriptural teaching on a given topic. In other words, it can be a systematic presentation of a biblical topic.
Biblical preaching, on the other hand, starts with the text, from which the preacher determines the topic. In this case, the preacher is driven by the text first, and the topic of that text second, and he deals only with that text and that topic in his sermon. That is not to say that you will not refer to other relevant texts. We often bring in other texts to support what we are saying and in this way to demonstrate the unity of the Word of God. So, both approaches have validity, but I believe that our primary approach to preaching is to start with the Word and develop the topic that is covered in the passage we have chosen. Whatever approach you take, be sure to “preach the Word!”
So, what is preaching? Preaching involves four things:
In the coming issues of this journal, we will address each of these aspects of preaching. May the Lord bless you as you faithfully seek to glorify Him by accurately and clearly declaring the truth of God for each person’s life.
“Bring a Personal Example - in Thought, Word, and Deed”
By: Dr. Roger Pascoe, President,
The Institute for Biblical Preaching, Cambridge, Ontario, Canada
A role model is an example – someone or something to imitate or to follow. Being a godly role model was very important to the apostle Paul. Not only was he a role model in his own life, but he urges us to also be godly role models in our lives. He puts it this way:
∑ “I encourage you, then, be imitators of me” (1 Cor. 4:16)
∑ “These things happened to them as examples ...” (1 Cor. 10:11)
∑ “Be imitators of me just as I also am of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1)
∑ “Be imitators of me, brothers and sisters, and watch carefully those who are living this way, just as you have us as an example” (Phil. 3:17)
∑ “As a result, you became an example to all the believers ...” (1 Thess. 1:7)
∑ “For you know yourselves how you must imitate us, because we did not behave without discipline among you” (2 Thess. 3:7)
∑ “... to give ourselves as an example for you to imitate” (2 Thess. 3:9)
∑ “... set an example for the believers in your speech, conduct, love, faithfulness, and purity” (1 Tim. 4:12)
Other N.T. writers also emphasize the importance of being a godly role model, or example.
James: “As an example of suffering and patience, brothers and sisters, take the prophets who spoke in the Lord’s name” (James 5:10)
Peter: “For to this you were called, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving an example ...” (1 Pet. 21)
“And do not lord it over those entrusted to you, but be examples to the flock” (1 Pet. 5:3)
Hebrews: “... (be) imitators of those who through faith and perseverance inherit the promises” (Heb. 6:12)
The apostle John, also teaches us the principle that we are to imitate good examples and turn away from bad examples: “Do not imitate what is bad but what is good” (3 John 11). Gaius (to whom John was writing) was to imitate Demetrius as his role model for how to live as a godly leader. Demetrius was “testified by all” (12) – i.e. he had a well-known reputation - as someone who could be trusted; someone to imitate and follow. He was evidently a man of good character, who practised the truth.
Naturally, the fullest and best example is that of God and the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul says: “Be imitators of God as dearly loved children…” (Eph. 5:1ff.). How do we imitate God? We imitate God in both positive and negative ways. Positively, we imitate God by “living in love, just as Christ also loved us ...” (2). Negatively, we imitate God by not allowing any ungodly behaviour practised among us, “as these are not fitting for the saints” (3).
Jesus himself said to his disciples, “I have given you an example that you should do just as I have done for you” (Jn. 13:15). Jesus had just washed the disciples’ feet, giving them the great example of servant-hood and humility, which He urged them to practice in their own lives. Of course, the greatest example of all is the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus on the cross. That was the supreme example of humility, sacrifice, and suffering for the good of others (cf. Phil. 2:1-16).
Being an example to others is what we call “mentoring.” We mentor people in different ways, don't we? There is intentional mentoring where you spend time with someone and they learn from you – how you live, think, act, what you believe, how you react, how you relate to others etc. And there is also “passive” mentoring, where people simply watch you from a distance – they see how you act, hear what you say etc. and they learn from you; they imitate you, sometimes without you even knowing it. This is especially true of pastors. We are watched by our congregations, by our neighbours, by our families, and by those we do business with. They are looking to see how we live and they decide whether we are people who should be followed and imitated. You never know when someone is watching you and the influence you are having on their lives. We are under constant scrutiny in our families, in our workplaces, and in the Christian community.
Your example can be as profound as the Thessalonians who ... “became imitators of us (Paul says) and of the Lord when you received the message with joy that comes from the Holy Spirit, despite affliction. As a result you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia …” (1 Thess. 1:6-10). What they saw and heard from the apostle Paul became the bedrock of their own lives and witness, so that they in turn became examples to others. That’s the impact that a role model can have on others! You cause others to observe what you do, what you say, what you think, and how you feel, and, as a result, they follow you, because you are an “example to the flock” (1 Pet. 5:3).
So, let’s be very conscious and intentional about being a positive, godly, Christian role model that others can confidently follow. There are many aspects of being a godly role model. In this article, we will look at only one and then i subsequent issues we will examine other aspects. Today, we want to look at what it means to be ...
The apostle Paul was a mentor to Timothy. He urged Timothy to be an example of commitment: “Set an example for the believers in your speech, conduct, love, faithfulness, and purity … take pains with these things; be absorbed with them, so that everyone will see your progress” (1 Tim. 4:12, 15). Commitment means “taking pains with these things; being absorbed with them.”
If we are to be godly role models in our Christian lives and our pastoral ministry, we must be completely absorbed with what God has called us to. The Christian life is one of complete commitment, if we are to be genuine disciples of Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “Not one of you can be my disciple if he does not renounce all his own possessions” (Lk. 14:33). That certainly sounds like 100% commitment, doesn’t it? And it is that kind of commitment that gets the attention of others and influences them to also give the Lord their complete commitment.
Of course, as pastors and church leaders, this injunction is even more pertinent. If we are not sold out to God, then who will follow us? Why would anyone want to follow us? Our lives must be radically different and so purely motivated, that other people recognize that we are wholly committed to being disciples of Christ in word, thought, and deed. We are to have the daily discipline and commitment of athletes, farmers, and soldiers, the apostle Paul says (2 Tim. 2:4-6). What are the characteristic of these people that we are to demonstrate in our own lives?
First the soldier (2 Tim. 2:4). The requirement of good soldiers is their commitment to disciplined in endurance. They must always be on duty. They must always be alert for signs of the enemy. They cannot sleep on the job nor become slack in their loyalty and obedience to “the one who recruited (them)” to serve as soldiers. Their duty is to serve and protect their country. That’s their undying commitment no matter what the circumstance may be.
Second, the athlete (2 Tim. 2:5). The primary characteristic of athletes is probably their commitment to discipline exertion. Athletes must be very self-disciplined in their committed to continuous exercise and training in order to become the best that they can be in their sport. Athletes must forego many of the pleasures that their friends enjoy because of their self-disciplined lives. They have to get sufficient sleep, eat the right food, avoid bad habits, and give up other activities (which may be perfectly acceptable in themselves) so that they can pursue their goal. Of course, athletes are bound by more than simply their commitment to disciplined exercise. They are also bound by their commitment to disciplined obedience. Athletes must know and obey the rules scrupulously. Otherwise, the danger is that they might win the race but afterwards find out that they have been disqualified for breaking the rules of the game (cf. 1 Cor. 9:24-27). Then, their efforts would have been in vain.
Third, the farmer (2 Tim. 2:6). Farmers are an example of the commitment to disciplined endeavour. They must labour and toil over their crops, preparing the soil, planting the seed, and removing the weeds. This takes self-discipline, for no one else is going to make the farmer do this. He could decide to take life easy. Take a few weeks off work. Let the fields and crops take care of themselves. But the results would be disastrous. The successful farmer labours continuously over his crops. And when he has done his work, he then must exercise complete dependence, for only God can send the sunshine and the rain to make the crops grow. The farmer is limited in what he can do. Even though he may work very hard, he can’t make a plant grow – only God can. That requires complete dependence.
Following these example of commitment (soldiers, athletes, and farmers), let me encourage you to put in the time and the energy necessary to conduct yourself well in your private life and your public ministry by being an example of commitment, through disciplined endurance, disciplined exertion, and disciplined endeavour. Let people see that you are committed to your Christian testimony and ministry. Let others see that you are serious about the Christian life and that your pastoral ministry is not just a job for you but a vocation, a calling.
Don’t be half-hearted about your Christian life and ministry. Mediocrity has no part in the Christian life. All that we do must be done for God’s glory and that means we do it with all our might, with excellence, and with whole-hearted commitment.
By: Dr. Michael A. G. Haykin
Professor of Church History and Biblical Spirituality
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky
Why we need to remember the past
One of the good gifts that God has given to human beings is that of memory and the facility to remember the past. Remembering our own personal past is absolutely vital to knowing who we are and having a sense of personal identity. We all know how diseases that ravage a person’s memory destroy the ability of that person to function in any meaningful way in the present. The same holds true for communities and nations. When a community or nation forgets its past and where it has come from, it finds itself completely disoriented and ultimately unable to move head into the future. Not knowing where it has come from, it cannot chart a path to the future. Of course, like any good gift in our fallen world, this gift can be abused. It can bind a person, and even a community, to the past in hopeless regret or unforgiving bitterness or revengeful hatred.
But if it is true that knowledge of the past is vital to meaningful living in the present and the future, and I believe it is, then modern Evangelicalism faces a very uncertain future for we are living in a day when knowledge of our past as Evangelical Christians is abysmally low. Who were our forebears and what did they believe? What was their experience of God and how did that shape the churches they founded, churches which we have inherited? What made them what they were and what can we learn from their lives and thinking to live better lives as Christians in our day? Far too many Evangelicals neither know nor do they care. In this regard, they are actually indistinguishable from modern culture, which is passionately in love with the present, eagerly anticipating the future, and totally disinterested in the past, or if nodding interest is shown in the past it is used as a vehicle for escapist entertainment. There is no serious grappling with the past to derive wisdom for the present or future. Evangelical forgetfulness of the past is thus actually a species of worldliness.
The Scriptures, on the other hand, make much of remembering: 5
∑ 1 Chronicles 16:12/Psalm 105:5: “Remember the wondrous works that he [that is, the Lord] has done, his miracles and the judgments he uttered.”
∑ Hebrews 13:7: “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.” [Note: this call to remembrance comes after the longest chapter in Hebrews, chapter 11, where God’s heroes of faith are remembered].
∑ Micah 6:5: “O my people, remember what Balak king of Moab devised, and what Balaam the son of Beor answered him, and what happened from Shittim to Gilgal, that you may know the saving acts of the LORD.”
∑ Deuteronomy 24:9: “Remember what the LORD your God did to Miriam on the way as you came out of Egypt.”Cp. Luke 17:32: “Remember Lot’s wife.”
In this quarterly feature of this journal, we want to remember events and people from the past, from the early days of the Church to the great Reformation and to more recent events and people. We do so because the events of those days have helped make us what we are today. If the events of those years had not happened things would be quite different today. We are going to remember not only, though, to gain a better idea of where we have come from, but because people from that day can give us wisdom for the present.
Jesus’ Authoritative Preaching 6
By: Dr. John MacArthur, Pastor
Grace Community Church, Sun Valley, Calif.
“From that time Jesus began to preach” (Matt. 4:17)
Our Lord heralded the gospel message with certainty. His mission was not to dispute or argue with His opponents but to preach the truth of salvation. He did not merely proclaim certainties, but He did so with the utmost authority (cf. Matt. 7:29).
The scribes could not teach with authority because they had mingled so many man-made opinions and interpretations in with biblical truths that any sense of authority for them had long since disappeared. It was thus quite astounding when the people again heard one like Jesus preach with real authority, as the prophets had (cf. Matt. 7:28-29).
Jesus also preached precisely and only what His Father commissioned Him to proclaim, which no doubt gave added weight to His authority. He testified to this fact quite directly, “I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak” (John 12:49; cf. 3:34; 8:38).
Based on this divine authority, Christ sends us out into the world as His ambassadors by saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations” (Matt. 28:18b-19a). All believers who are faithful witnesses for the gospel will proclaim God’s certain truth by His authority – and with His power.
Ask yourself: The authority of Jesus that registered with the people of His day also had something to do with His authenticity. If people don’t show respect for God and His Word today, how much of it is due to a lack of authority in His people? Pray that we would exude His grace-filled reality.
By: Dr. Roger Pascoe, President,
The Institute for Biblical Preaching
Cambridge, Ontario, Canada
The purpose of providing you with sermon outlines in The NET Pastors Journal is to help you with your sermon preparation. Often, one of the most difficult parts of sermon preparation is discovering the structure of the Scripture passage you are going to preach. In subsequent issues of The NET Pastors Journal I plan on discussing in some detail how to go about finding the structure (or, outline) of the passage as the biblical author intended it.
These sermon outlines are intended to show you the finished result of some of my own sermon outlines. I hope you will be able to see how they relate directly to, and come directly out of, the Scripture passage itself.
The main points in these sermon outlines are statements of the principles that are being made in the passage, all of which relate to the single topic of the passage. These principles are worded in a way that connects them to the hearers of the sermon. By using this form of stating the main points, the sermon is not a lecture on a piece of ancient history, but a message from God to your hearers today. As they hear these main points throughout the sermon, they are drawn into the sermon because they see that the principles of the passage relate to their lives - their problems, their behaviour, their decisions, their attitudes, their spirituality, their family etc.
I am going to begin with a series of outlines on the Gospel of John. These outlines will not be in chapter and verse sequence but will be grouped by:
). Because these sermons are recorded for radio listeners (not church services), you will probably find that there are several sermons to cover one outline.
Please feel free to use these outlines yourself. You may use them exactly as they are published or you may modify them if you wish. Whether you use these outlines or not, my hope is (and the purpose for publishing them is) that you will see where the principles come from in the Scripture passage and how to word them for your contemporary audience.
Here, then, are three sermon outlines from Jesus’ seven supernatural deeds.
Subject: Faith in Action
1. Confidence that Jesus knows about our circumstances (2:3)
2. Confidence that Jesus cares about our troubles (2:4)
3. Confidence that Jesus responds to our needs (2:5)
1. Obedience in things that make no sense (2:7)
2. Obedience in spite of what others might think (2:8)
1. Faith recognizes where the undeserved blessing comes from (2:9-10)
2. Faith recognizes what the undeserved blessing point to (2:11)
Subject: Faith in God’s Word
Background / setting: 4:46
1. We see physical needs where God sees spiritual needs (4:47-48)
2. We persist ignorantly where God resist wisely (4:49-50a)
1. Faith begins with belief in God’s Word (4:50b)
2. Faith acts in obedience to God’s will (4:50c)
3. Faith is confirmed by evidence of God’s work (4:51-52)
4. Faith is proven by conviction about God’s truth (4:53)
Subject: The Response to Jesus’ Authority
Background / setting: 5:1-5
1. Jesus asks a searching question: “Do you want to be made well?” (5:6-7)
1. Jesus gives a stirring command: “Rise, take up your bed and walk” (5:8-9)
1. Jesus issues a solemn warning: “Sin no more ... “ (5:14)
1. The controversy over Jesus’ action on the Sabbath (5:10-13, 15-16)
1. The controversy over Jesus’ claim to deity (5:17-18)
1 Joseph Parker, cited in Stephen F. Olford, Preaching the Word of God (Memphis: The Institute for Biblical Preaching, 1984), 34.
2 Haddon W. Robinson, Biblical Preaching: The Development and Delivery of Expository Messages (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1980), 20.
3 Stott, Between Two Worlds (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1982), 126.
4 Paraphrased from The Westminster Directory, 1645
5 All Scripture references are from the ESV.
6 John MacArthur, “Jesus’ Authoritative Preaching” in Daily Readings from the Life of Christ (Chicago: Moody Publisher, 2008), January 29.