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The Net Pastor's Journal, Eng Ed, Issue 14 Winter 2015

Winter 2015 Edition

Author: Dr. Roger Pascoe, President,

The Institute for Biblical Preaching

Cambridge, Ontario, Canada

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“Strengthening the Church in Biblical Preaching and Leadership”

Part I: Two Essential Foundations For Preaching

In the last edition of this Journal, we began to explore the first of “Two Essential Foundations for Preaching” – namely, the preacher’s motivation for ministry, answering the question, “Why do we do what we do?” There are four characteristics of a preacher’s genuine motivation for ministry. Last time we covered the first characteristic – the motivation of a conscious call to preach. The second characteristic of a preacher’s motivation for ministry is...

The Motivation Of A Consecrated Gift To Preach

“My speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (1 Cor. 2:4)

This is divine empowerment – not merely natural training or talent. Each person has certain gifts, either by natural talent or training. Prior to conversion, those gifts are used for self, but after God calls you, he takes all or some or none of those gifts and uses them for his purposes.

I say “all or some” because God may use us in an area of ministry that does not necessarily utilize all our gifts. For example, you may be a very talented athlete, but your athletic gifts may not be applicable to the ministry God calls you to. You may be a business manager, but God may not use your management abilities in the church.

Or, he may use “none” of your natural talents and give you new spiritual abilities. You may not have been a generous person prior to your conversion, and God may give you the gift of giving. You may have been a harsh, critical person before, and God may give you the gift of mercy.

Only God makes a preacher. Man can sharpen the skills of oratory, argument, methods of presentation, and even exegetical skills, but only God can make a preacher. Unless God gifts you as a preacher, it is unlikely that you will become one merely by seeking training from human teachers.

A degree from college or seminary does not indicate God’s call or a gift from God to preach. One must have a call from God to preach. Teachers can give you tools to improve your preaching, but only God can put passion into a man’s heart to preach. God makes preachers and calls them to the task, part of the preparation for which may involve formal education.

Timothy, and every preacher, is charged to do two things:

1. Stir Up Your Gift

“Stir up ... the gift of God that is in you” (2 Tim. 1:6). “The gift of God that is in you” refers to your God-given abilities, talent - those gifts God has given you to use for him in his service. This God-given talent may be so obvious, as in Timothy, that it was confirmed by the laying on of hand by the elders.

Don’t let your gift lie dormant, unused – stir it up! “Stir up” means keep it active and productive and effective through the enablement and empowerment of the Spirit. Utilize your gift for God. So, how do you “stir up” your gift? This brings us to the next point.

2. Do Not Neglect Your Gift

“Do not neglect the gift that is in you” (1 Tim. 4:14). To “neglect” means to make light of it. Don’t make light of (neglect) the gift God has given you. Rather, practise it and develop it. That’s our obligation - to use it for him. Exercise your gift. It’s given to you by God for the benefit of the body of Christ and the glory of God.

The first characteristic, then, of a preacher’s motivation for ministry is a conscious call to preach (as we noticed in our last edition). The second, is a consecrated gift to preach. The third is...

The Motivation Of A Compelling Aim To Preach

“I determined not to know anything among you, except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2)

There needs to be a burden, a compulsion to preach the truth with a specific aim:

1. To glorify the Son of God (1 Cor. 1:29, 31; Jn. 16:14)

2. To magnify the Word of God (1 Cor. 1:18; 2 Tim. 4:5)

3. To edify the church of God (Eph. 4:12, 16)

4. To satisfy the heart of God (1 Cor. 1:21)

We must preach with the same compelling aim as the prophets. The prophets spoke as a consequence of “the burden of the Lord” which came to them (Hab. 1:1; Zech. 12:1; Mal. 1:1). They were so weighed down with the message from God that they could not refrain from declaring what God had said to them.

This is incarnational preaching. (We’re going to write more on this in the next edition). God spoke to them and they spoke the message of God to the people. The people saw the truth lived out before their eyes.

Declaring the Word of God must be a burden that compels us to preach it. According to C.H. Spurgeon, a preacher’s compelling aim must be to preach the gospel with sincerity and truth, and completely disinterested from selfish motives. He says that a preacher must have no ulterior motive or self-interest for preaching because the Lord abhors those who commercialize the Gospel and seek to make personal gain from the Lord’s work.

We must preach only because we are convinced that God has called us. Preaching is not a means to any other end than the glory of God and the transformation of people’s lives through the preaching of the Gospel. True preachers serve the living God, not men or self. They are on assignment by God and are responsible to God, and, therefore, their motivation for preaching comes only from God and not from selfish interests.

Some people are encouraged to go into pastoral ministry because they have an innate desire to help people, or because they have a natural ability that can be used in ministry. But that misses the point concerning a true call from God. The call of God is first and foremost a vertical call (a call from God), not a call from self or other people. Without this call of God a preacher cannot survive or endure.

The fourth characteristic of a preacher’s motivation for ministry is...

The Motivation Of A Clear Incentive To Preach 1

The task of preaching is overwhelming at times. This caused the apostle Paul to ask: “Who is sufficient for these things?” (2 Cor. 2:16). He answers his own question: Our sufficiency is from God” (2 Cor. 3:5).

The burden of preaching is great. What keeps us going? How do we maintain drive and endurance? What is our daily incentive? We have three sources of incentive (see 2 Cor. 4:17-5:15):

1. The Incentive Of The Hope Of Glory

This is forward looking, a future orientation of hope. This involves the right perspective - “…an eternal weight of glory…” (2 Cor. 4:17-18). Preachers derive their incentive to keep on preaching from their eternal perspective which outweighs any “suffering” here. We derive our hope by looking, not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen – looking up not around us.

The incentive of the hope of glory also involves the right objective. The first right objective is the realization of a glorified life - “…we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Cor. 5:1-3). Our ultimate incentive is our glorification when our “groaning” and “mortality” will be swallowed up by life. This is the prospect of heaven, of being with and like Christ, when faith will give place to sight (5:7) and our anticipation will become reality. The hope of being with and like Christ should be our incentive each day in our service for him. The future gives value and direction to the present.

Then there is the satisfaction of a glorified Lord - “…we make it our aim…to be well-pleasing to him” (2 Cor. 5:9). That’s the bottom line – to please him.

In addition to the incentive of the hope of glory, there is ...

2. The Incentive Of The Fear Of Judgement

First, our accountability to God “we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ” (5:10). We will have to give account of the things done in the body. Then will be manifested whether what we did in our lives and ministry had the lasting value of gold, silver, and precious stones, or whether it was of no eternal value at all, like wood hay stubble (1 Cor. 3:10-15). This is an incentive to serve God diligently to the end.

Then, there is our responsibility to men “knowing the terror of the Lord, we persuade men” (2 Cor. 5:11). Our knowledge of the judgement of the Lord on those who are not saved is a driving incentive to preach.

3. The Incentive Of The Love Of Christ

This is the greatest incentive of all – “for the love of Christ constrains us” (2 Cor. 5:14). The love of Christ constrains us in two ways. First, The love of Christ compels us. We should be compelled by the love of Christ to reach others. Christ was so compelled by love that he laid down his life for those who were his enemies. We should project the love of Christ through our preaching – his love working in us, compelling us to preach the gospel.

Also, the love of Christ confines us. It confines us within a certain course of action. Jesus was “straitened” (confined) by love – confined to take a certain course of action even though the end meant death. We are confined by the love of Christ to preach his message to a dying world.

Conclusion: Make sure of your motivation for ministry! Paul’s injunction remains irrevocably the incentive for all who give themselves to serve the Lord. “Therefore, my brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” (1 Cor. 15:58).

If our motivation for ministry is genuine, our labour will not be in vain and the proof of it will be at the judgement seat of Christ. Until then, we should press on having a single eye of faith, and a devoted heart of love for God, so that we preach the Word with all diligence and faithfulness for the glory of God and the blessing of souls.

In our next edition of the Net Pastors’ Journal, we will look at the second essential foundation for preaching: the preacher’s incarnation of the message

Part II: Preparing For Preaching

“Studying the Text”

Before we can begin to prepare a sermon, we must study the text. In the last edition of this Journal, we outlined some biblical principles for studying the text – accurate interpretation, analytical interpretation, and authoritative interpretation.

In addition to biblical principles for studying the text, I want to suggest...

A Practical Approach To Studying The Text

As we stated above, biblical preaching demands accurate interpretation of the Scriptures. Let me now develop an exegetical methodology with some practical suggestions for achieving accurate interpretation. The two disciplines that are vital to this commitment are exegesis and hermeneutics. What do we mean by these terms?

Exegesis is the task of investigating and determining the meaning of the text by discovering what the author intended to communicate to his original audience; exposing (bringing into view; drawing out) the meaning of what the author wrote and meant. This is the opposite of eisegesis, which is imposing on the text what is not there and which the author did not intend to say or mean.

Hermeneutics is the philosophy and methodology that guides the exegetical process. It is the interpretive discipline that sets out guidelines, techniques, and principles that govern the exegetical process (e.g. in deciding between interpretive options).

Integral to this process is “bridging the gap” between the ancient text, language, culture, audience and the contemporary language, culture, and audience; bridging the gap between what it meant then and what it means now in today’s context (i.e. its relevance, significance). David Larsen explains it this way: “The biblical text comes alive... when correspondence occurs between the situation the biblical writers address and the situation of the modern reader or hearer.” 2

The Word of God is living and powerful and no more so than when it is preached so that the written word of God’s ancient people becomes the spoken word for God's people today. Therefore, we need to determine what it meant then in order to determine what it means now - what its message is for us today. The basic, most accurate, and practical approach to studying the text in order to determine what it says and means is what I call the Grammatical-Historical-Contextual-Theological approach.3 This is an expanded version of what is commonly called the grammatical-historical method.

To fully and properly understand the text, we need to study the grammar, the context (historical and literary), and the theology. This approach to studying the text helps us arrive at the best understanding possible of what the original author meant.

Study The Grammar

Grammatical study is fundamental to biblical preaching. This is the attempt to discover through grammatical observation and analysis precisely what the author meant. We are trying to answer the questions: “What did the text mean then? How do we explain it in our culture today? What does it mean to this congregation?” This is where the detailed, heavy work takes place in the research process.

The purpose of this procedure is to understand the specific words, phrases, clauses, sentences, paragraphs and the relationship between them in such a way that you discern the author’s meaning. To do so, ask the following questions of the text ...

a) What is the subject? What is the text about?

b) How is the subject expressed? What is being said about the subject? These thoughts make up the theme and structure of the sermon.

c) Why is the subject written about? What does the writer want to accomplish in this passage? What response is he expecting? What is the application of the text to life?

A comprehensive knowledge of grammar and the ability to conduct grammatical analysis is essential to the accurate understanding of the written Word. For example, you must be able to identify the subject and complements of the clause or sentence.

Grammatical study consists of two subcomponents:

1. Studying Sentences And Paragraphs (Syntax)

This is an examination of the structure of the passage in order to determine, as best we can and as accurately as we can, the author’s intended meaning. This has to do with how the author conveys meaning by the arrangement of words to form phrases, clauses, sentences, and paragraphs, and their functional relationship to each other (i.e. the way in which words are put together to form thought units) with a certain flow and interrelationship.

We need to study the flow of words and their interrelationships in order to arrive at an accurate understanding of the text. This is how we discover the overall theme and purpose of the passage. We will see how syntactical study works when we look at textual structure in a subsequent edition of this Journal.

2. Studying Words

In studying the words, we want to explore the various ways they are used to convey meanings (semantic range of meaning) and the various ways they are constructed to convey meaning (morphology).

So we need to examine the possible semantic range of meaning of each word (most words can have more than one meaning) as it was used historically in the day the document was written. From the semantic range, our task is then to uncover (1) what meaning the author had in mind when he used that word (this is usually discovered from the context and subject matter); and (2) what the contemporary equivalent might be.

Next we need to study the form and structure of words. Traditional grammar classifies words based on eight parts of speech - verbs, nouns, pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, and interjections. Each

So, in studying words, we need to determine what part of speech it is, how it is used in the sentence, and the form of the words used. Nouns have three basic forms: (1) number (singular or plural); (2) case (nominative, accusative, genitive, or dative); and (3) gender (masculine, feminine, or neuter). Verbs also need to be parsed as to their form (tense, voice, and mood).

Word studies provide excellent insight into the passage. They safeguard the preacher from explaining something that the text does not mean or say, and they open up the historical, geographical, and literary context.

Be especially careful in looking up unknown words, key words, difficult words, and factual words like names of people and places, dates, numbers, and historical data.

Study The Context

This is where we research issues related to contextual and introductory matters. The biblical error of most cults is typically rooted in contextual inaccuracy. They take texts out of context and give them their own private interpretation.

God chose to reveal himself within various contexts:

a) Cultural context. The life setting, the type of people, the way their society operated etc. What were the customs and traditions of the people addressed?

b) Economic and political context. What was the political scene and economic conditions going on behind the scene?

c) Geographic context. What was special about the climate, terrain etc that impacts our understanding of the text?

d) Historical context. What factors of time and circumstances impacted what the author wrote and, therefore, what he meant. Try to gain a sense of the history of the text (i.e. the history behind the text) by asking: What was going on historically that impacts what the author is saying? Also, try to gain a sense of the history about the text by asking: Who is writing? Why was it written? To whom was it written? When was it written? What is the subject? Where was it written (location of writing and recipients)? By answering these questions you will be more able to place the text within the historical realities that were going on around the writing of the text.

e) Literary context. In order to “rightly divide the word of truth” and be contextually accurate, we must never take a verse out of context. As Dr. Olford used to say: “A text out of context is a pretext.”

So, never interpret a Scripture passage or verse in isolation. Move from the immediate context (the verses and passages round it) to the broader context (its book) and to the broadest context (the canon). Ask: what role does the passage play in the immediate context of its chapter or section of the book? Survey the flow of thought in the unit of thought itself and how it connects to the surrounding passages, the book as a whole, and the canon of Scripture. Try to gain a sense of the structural relationship of the text to the context. Know what comes before and after the passage.

Understand the major divisions of the book in which the passage is located. Get a sense for its primary features, basic themes, emphases, patterns, and key words. Know why this book is in the Bible – what role the book as a whole plays in its Testament and section of the testament (e.g. gospels, epistles).

And always be sure to consider the literary genre of the passage - e.g. prose, Hebrew poetry, allegory, narrative, parable, gospel, apocalyptic, prophetic, wisdom, epistolary etc. Genre recognition helps you to understand how the literature works. Every type of literature communicates in a different way and is subject to different interpretation. Look at the key characteristics of the literary genre in which the document is written and determine how that genre impacts meaning.

Study The Theology

Theology has to do with who God is, what he is doing, how he relates to human beings etc. A theological study of the text, therefore, is the determination of what the passage is telling us about God and divine truth. “Teaching” in Paul’s terminology (2 Tim. 4:2) means the explanation of the theological (doctrinal) meaning of the text.

The Bible is a book about God. So, we want to know what the text is saying about God - his will, works, his character, his nature, his world, purposes, plans, kingdom, rule.

In order to interpret Scripture accurately, every text must be interpreted in the light of its theological significance both within the passage, text itself, the book and the canon. You need to understand the theological significance of the text...

(1) within the thought of the author; and

(2) within the context of biblical revelation.

This process helps you concentrate on permanent principles and precepts – not just facts, figures, and textual specifics. Ask: what are the principles that transcend time and culture? That’s what we want to know and to preach. We want to know:

(1) what the text reveals about God;

(2) what the text reveals about our relationship to God and to one another; and

(3) what ethical instruction the text contains.

So, study the passage for its theological significance. What is the writer telling us that is of theological significance and, therefore, timeless? View the text theologically. Focus on its essential truths. Write them out.

Conclusion. Studying the text using good study principles and methods is hard work, but must be done in order to “rightly divide the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15) so that we may clearly explain and apply the Scriptures.

Part III: Leadership – Being A Godly Role Model

“Your Personal Surrender to the Holy Spirit,” Pt. 4

Godly leaders live Spirit-filled Christian lives. But what exactly is the Spirit-filled life? What does it look like? How can we pursue it ourselves? In seeking to understand this concept better we have already discussed in previous editions of the NET Pastors Journal, (1) The meaning of the Spirit-filled life (Spring 2014); (2) The necessity of the Spirit-filled life (Summer 2014); (3) The reality of the Spirit-filled life (Summer 2014); and (4) The activity of the Spirit-filled life, specifically Spirit-filled unity in the church in Eph. 5:19-21 (Fall 2014). In this edition, we continue to explore the activity of the Spirit-filled life in the very practical and personal arena of...

Spirit-Filled Harmony In The Home (Eph. 5:22-6:4)

Unity in the church depends on harmony in all our relationships and that harmony begins at home. People who are filled with the Spirit live consistent, Spirit-filled lives in every arena of life – church, home, workplace, the world.

The idea of mutual submissiveness expressed in Eph. 5:21 characterizes both the preceding passage (5:19-21) dealing with unity in the church and the subsequent passage (5:22-6:4) dealing with harmony in the home.

Harmony in the home stems from the Spirit-filled relationship between husbands and wives as well as children and parents. First, harmony between husbands and wives (Eph. 5:22-33).

Harmony between husbands and wives is initiated by a Spirit-filled wife yielding to her husband respectfully (5:22-24, 33). “Wives submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord” (22). Since the fall, submission doesn't come naturally for any of us. Eve wanted to dominate the relationship with Adam, rather than enjoy mutual submission and creation equality.

The nature of true, Spirit-filled submission is to voluntarily yield yourselves. This yielding isn’t imposed on wives; it’s something Spirit-filled wives do willingly. They yield (submit) to their husbands as to the Lord - in the same way as they do to the Lord; out of obedience to the Lord, recognizing that the Lord has invested certain authority in their husband and, therefore, that behind their husband is the Lord. Thus, to yield to your husband is to yield to the Lord. Submissive harmony is marked by this spirituality.

The basis for their yielding is “because the husband is head of the wife, just as Christ also is the head of the church; and he is the Saviour of the body” (23). Submission presupposes headship and the basis for the wife’s submission is the husband’s headship which comes from God. That’s why Spirit-filled wives yield to their husbands, because they recognize the divine order and authority in society.

There is a correspondence between Christ’s headship of the church and the husband’s headship of the wife. “Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything” (24).

Harmony in the home not only stems from a Spirit-filled wife yielding to her husband respectfully, but it also stems from a Spirit-filled husband loving his wife redemptively (5:25-29). Notice the following aspects of redemptive love.

a) Redemptive love is a selective love (25a). Christ “loved the church” – his bride, his body. His love was selective, exclusive, only for her. Spirit-filled husbands only have eyes for their wife (1 Tim. 3:2).

b) Redemptive love is a sacrificial love (25b). “Husbands love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave himself.” Spirit-filled husbands must love their wives with the same kind of sacrificial love with which Christ loved the church, a love that is willing to die for her – to give himself.

c) Redemptive love is a selfless love (25c). “Christ also loved the church and gave himself.” He gave up his rights and privileges, renounced his power and position, and gave himself. He didn't send someone else; he made the ultimate selfless sacrifice. He didn’t think of himself, but entirely of her.

d) Redemptive love is a substutionary love (25d). He gave himself “for her” – on her behalf, He took her place, suffered the death she should have suffered.

e) Redemptive love is a sanctifying love (26-27). “That he might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word” (26). Christ’s immediate purpose was to make his bride holy. To this end, He has sanctified us positionally. We are fully sanctified at the moment of conversion, set apart from the world and for God. And He continues to sanctify us practically. Throughout our lifetime he makes us more and more like himself in character and conduct.

Sanctification involves the washing of water in (or, by) the word – spiritual cleansing through the agency of the word of God. The “washing of water” is figurative of spiritual purification. The means of cleansing is the word of God that washes us clean from the defilement of the world. So, there is this daily aspect of spiritual cleansing that makes us fit for communion with a holy God.

This is the kind of love that Spirit-filled husbands ought to have for their wives, seeking their spiritual cleansing, their progressive sanctification to be more like Christ. The ultimate goal, of course, of sanctification is “that he might present her to himself, a glorious church, not having spot nor wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish” (27).

The ultimate goal of every Spirit-filled husband is to present his wife before God in all her spiritual beauty, for God’s pleasure and glory. Glorious because the glory of God shines from her. Glorious because she is arrayed in the splendour and beauty of a bride on her wedding day. Glorious because she will be free from every spiritual blemish (spiritually beautiful) – no wrinkles; no age spots; no evidence of earthly pollution or traces of defilement; no moral or spiritual stain; but a bride adorned for her bridegroom, the holy, spotless Lamb of God.

f) Redemptive love is a sympathetic love (28-29a). “In the same way (that Christ loved the church, so) husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one yet hated his own flesh.” “Sympathy” is a relationship between persons in which the condition of one induces a parallel or reciprocal condition in another. That’s what is meant here. You consider your wife as your own flesh and you treat her as such. There is a harmony of feeling, a sympathy between what you feel for yourself and what you feel for her. Whatever happens to her happens to you. However she feels, you feel. She is a member of your body, just like your arm or leg. That’s the intimacy, unity, and bond of the marriage relationship; no distinction between yourself and your wife. You love her as you love yourself. That’s a sympathetic love, a reciprocal feeling for her.

g) Redemptive love is a sustaining / supportive love (29b-30). “For no one yet hated his own body, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.” When you love your flesh, you take care of it, you provide it with needed and nutritious food, you sustain it. Just as you care for your own body with nourishment and protection and exercise, so you do spiritually for your wife. It’s a sustaining love.

Because she is your flesh, you express your love for her by protecting her from danger, by preserving her to live a life for God’s glory, by meeting her spiritual, emotional, sexual, and physical needs. And all of this is in accordance with the principle of Gen. 2:24.

This is the love a Spirit-filled husband is to have for his wife. Your love is to be selective (eyes only for her), sacrificial (pay the utmost price for her; if necessary, die for her), substitutionary (take her place; suffer for her), sanctifying (making her more and more like Christ), sympathetic (giving the same love and attention to her as you would to your own body), and sustaining / supportive (nourishing and cherishing her). She is a member of your body. She is your equal who voluntarily submits to your leadership. So, make sure you earn her voluntary submission.

What’s the conclusion of the matter? “Let each of you (husbands) in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband” (5:33). For the husband it’s matter of love for his wife. For the wife it’s a matter of respect for her husband.

Part IV: Sermon Outlines

John 18:33-38, Jesus’ Dialogue With Pilate

For the English audio version of these sermons, click on these links: Link 1 - John 18:38-19:3; Link 2 - John 19:4-9; Link 3 - John 19:9-10; Link 4 - John 19:11-12.

Title: The Persuasion of Power, Parts 1, 2, 3, 4

Point #1: See previous edition of this Journal.

Point #2: The Kingship of Jesus Exposes a Conflict of Powers (18:38-19:12)

1. The controlling power of public opinion (18:38b-19:6)

2. The crippling power of fear (19:7-9a)

3. The confident power of knowledge (19:9b)

4. The conceited power of position (19:10)

5. The comprehensive power of God (19:11)

1 Adapted from Stephen F. Olford, Anointed Expository Preaching (Broad & Homan), 295-303

2 David Larsen, Telling the Old, Old Story,” 79.

3 Adapted from Walter C. Kaiser Jr., Toward An Exegetical Theology (Baker, 1981), 67-147.

Related Topics: Pastors

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