Recommended Book for Preachers


I’ve been devouring the “Preaching with Bold Assurance” book available through Wordsearch. I’m right now stumbling along with Wordsearch as I just don’t have the income to get Logos outfitted to the point where it can replace Wordsearch. I’m itching a little at how Wordsearch lacks the detailed tools Logos has, but Logos right now lacks the materials I have in Wordsearch that I rely on!

Anyway, I see that on the week this was written (July 16) the “Preaching with Bold Assurance” book is free. Wordsearch gives away more free books than Logos. Perhaps a bad business decision, but it’s outfitted my library with about 30 books I never would have bought, and some I’d wished they’d never given away!

Since I’m currently working on the steps for preaching for someone else and for the blog, this book almost seemed like a direct pointer from God! The essential issue is, “What preaching type to use?”

For those unfamiliar, there’s two or three kinds. My old pastor preferred topical.

Topical Sermons. How do you write topical sermons? “Read through the Bible until something jumps out at you” is the common method. It leads literally to Pastors having multiple health problems, such as stress, heart attacks, high blood pressure, stomach ailments, and so forth. Why? Because it’s Thursday, you haven’t written your sermon yet, and Sunday’s coming REALLY fast.

Easier Way: Get a Torrey’s Topical Bible, and begin going through it. Is that cheating? No more than two pastors chatting and one saying, “I ‘m preaching through 1 John right now”, and you go home and read it and immediately spot something the congregation needs – and preach from 1 John the next day.

I’m only partially a fan of this method. I prefer Expository to topical sermons. Yes, I preached topically, because it wasn’t my pulpit. It belonged to my pastor. No shouting in the pulpit, no banging or thumping it, no apparent anger at sin or rebellion allowed. Right or wrong? Not my place, not my pulpit. I have personal feelings on it, but I’m not the one who has to account to the Lord on how he ran the Lord’s Church.

I only have to account for how well I obeyed the Pastor I was under. Now, I have officially withdrawn from my old church, and absolutely no comment right now about how it’s going there, or why is the new pastor giving his sermon points in Latin?

Expository Sermons: This made headlines when Emerging Church guru Andy Stanley, son of Dr. Charles Stanley, made a well publicized comment to the effect of “Expository preaching is cheating because you don’t have to put in the work at knowing what you’re preaching.” The foolishness of such a statement arises the moment Mr. Stanley attempts to write a sermon series. “Oh. I know what i’m preaching for the next three weeks.”

Here’s a truth. you want your church to be like the “Early Church”? It’s kind of an odd thing to want, and here’s why… there was only one “Early church”, the church at Jerusalem. After that, they became churchES.

The Jerusalem church followed the Jewish preaching cycle. You read from the first 5 books of Moses, then a section from the prophets. The members of the congregation read through the Psalms once a month on their own. The Jerusalem church added in readings from the Gospels. It’s no secret I place Matthew as the first Gospel written, and it was written as best as I can see within 5-8 years of the Lord’s ascension into heaven.

Later Christian writers showed that they added in from the Epistles.

This kind of yearly preaching cycle is called a Lectionary. Today, mostly dead, going-through-the-motions denominations do this. Very few Baptist churches bother with a lectionary. I’m undecided if that’s a good thing or bad. It was, however, the system used in the churches you read about in Acts.

The way to do this is to get a “Read through the Bible in a year” method, and follow it. The congregation reads through it, and the Pastor picks a section of that reading to present his sermon on. This was the direction urged in the Halley’s Bible Handbook. Modern reprints of it do not have this preaching plan in it any longer. I have a 1967 copy and a 2006 copy, and in 39 years they removed that, and adapted Halley’s quotations to that of the NIV. I cannot recommend the new editions any more.

The last method, the one urged in this book, is the simplest. Sunday morning, you’re preaching on either Genesis 1:1 or Matthew 1:1. And working your way through the book. You can go all the way through to Revelation, or you can skip around a bit to other books first.

My hesitation with this method is this… whatcha gonna do with 2 Chronicles??? He has answers, and very good reasons why he thinks preachers should attempt this.

  1. It encourages Christians to dwell in their bibles.
  2. He maintains that if the pastor skips the difficult passages, so will the congregation.

The author deals with the first problem with this approach – it’s often done by people who cannot preach their way out of a paper bag. They’re dull. Boring. He maintains preaching must be done to change lives. And he gives valid tools to do it (although I question one approach he got from I’m guessing a person who does seminar’s for a living).

The author is an educator at a Southern Baptist seminary (or was – I’m not sure which) and apparently was part of the first inroads of New Calvinists to corrupt the Southern Baptist Convention. So you’ll have to dodge Calvinist buzzwords in the book. It’s the only thing that brings my review of it down a little.

If you are preaching, and you follow my blog at all (I think there’s only a couple of you) read this book. Let me know if it has convinced you or not. I’m still trying to decide which approach is the most valid.

I’d like some feedback on this. Go ahead and tell me what you think. Here’s the questions I’d like answered, and I may well make it a sticky poll!

  1. What kind of preaching style do you prefer? Topical, Random, or Expository?
  2. If Expository, do you prefer Lectionary, reading cycle, or just right through the Bible?

Any other thoughts you have on this I’d like to hear.

Saturate Your Brain


I’m working on a blog series for pastors on sermon writing. THe very first thing I need to mention is this…

Saturate your brain.

If you’re preparing for the ministry, if you’re in your last year of Seminary and getting ready to actually get a job, you have one priority now.

Saturate your brain.

Personally, my feelings is that a Pastor needs to mark off time in his calendar for study. He can even tell the congregation, “unless you want wimpy, powerless sermons, I need at least this much time a day for study.”

I’d make that three hours minimum. i’m hearing all the pastors laughing, because in reality, you’re often spending 54 hours a week in church business and maybe 2 hours a week in study. And that time is your sermon prep time.

Consider it this way. You set up appointments on your calendar. There’s the James family, they need counseling on this. There’s the Simths, they’re having problems with this. Tuesday at 10 AM.

If Jesus Christ were to call you on the phone and say, “I need to talk with you this week. i’t’s important”…

Would you tell him your schedule is full? “I’m sorry, Lord, but the Jameses have a financial problem and…”

Or would you say, “Yes Lord. I’ll reschedule someone.”

Your Bible study time is your appintment with Jesus Christ. If you explain it to your congregation this way, they’ll understand it.

Pastors are expected to have a large library. At the very least, your Ministry laptop should be crammed with Bible software and hundreds of commentaries, dictionaries, encyclopedias, etc. Either one of the Wordsearch preaching libraries or one of the Logos ones.

I know everyone’s big on the PC Bible study software, but alas… as I’ve stated before. with no demo, I can’t evaluate it.

You have to USE them. You have to take some time and READ all the books. There’s no use in owning a dozen commentaries if you don’t read them. If I was a full time pastor, I’d look at what options I have to put a calendar online so people could see I have appointments. The first block of the day would be locked off for “Pastor’s Study”.

Everything AFTER the study time, yes.

got a big church and lots of programs? Either streamline, or learn to delegate!

Set up a “three times a year” reading plan in Quickverse, Logos or Wordsearch.

Perhaps add in a Lectionary for general reading as well.

Read through your preaching calendar.

And use some of the preformatted reading plans in Logos. I had little use for “seven days on covenants”, but I read it anyway.

It takes me about 35 minutes to read through my Bible reading. Another few minutes for reading through the preformtted plans and any lectionary stuff I can fit in. I’m getting two hours a night of Bible and ministry reading and study. It’s not enough in my mind. A year ago, long periods of study would tire my brain out. Now I’m used to two hours. With practice, you can get it to three.

If you want to preach with power, with authority, only ong hours of study and lots of prayer will accomplish that,

Quick and Easy Fuel for Sermons


Want a quick and easy resource for sermons, that you can draw upon when you’ve only got two hours to write a sermon?

Start a blog. Especially an apologetic blog.

Need a lot of sermon illustrations?

Start a blog. Especially an apologetics blog. And copy people’s comments into the sermon as an illustration. I don’t mean the “you’re absolutely right” comments that I get once a quarter, but rather the daily “you heretic! How dare you take the Bible literally!” comments I get every other day.

fodder for sermons

Who is Israel?


This may seem to be the most basic of questions, but Christianity has been corrupted by a false doctrine that has held sway since Augustine – that of The Church replaces Israel.

It seems logical, and if you read the Bible from that perspective, it seems to hold together not too badly. If you begin to spiritualize certain passages, it most certainly seems to make more sense. And if you spiritualize all references to Israel being the Church, even into the land being divided by the sons of Jacob, it makes even more sense.

But stop there.

What does Spiritualize mean? I used to hear this when I was a Messianic a lot (really, that word should be Messy Antics, the Jewish nickname for the cultish group of Gentile Christians wearing yarmulke and tallis). I never stopped to analyze that word.

SPIRITUALIZE, v.i.

1. To refine the intellect; to purify from the feculences of the world; as, to spiritualize the soul.

2. In chemistry, to extract spirit from natural bodies.

3. To convert to a spiritual meaning.

Obviously, those people who believe The Church replaces Israel (and Messianics), the definition intended is not #1 or #2. If I give you a sermon illustration, and relate it to a text it has nothing to do with… that is spiritualizing.

So, how do you spiritualize something already spiritual?

Oh, you mean allegorize.

AL’LEGORIZE, v.t.

1. To form an allegory; to turn into allegory; as, to allegorize the history of a people.

2. To understand in an allegorical sense; as, when a passage in a writer may be understood literally or figuratively, he who gives it a figurative sense is said to allegorize it.

An allegory is very simply, taking something that means what it says and giving it a different meaning. For example, if you take the text “The stone rolled away” and proceed to give the various stones each a different meaning, and “What is the stone in your life?”

It’s effective, it pleases people – and it is a gross distortion of what the Biblical text is talking about.

So if we ALLEGORIZE The Church as Israel… then this doctrine, known as “Replacement Theology” makes perfect sense. But then again, you can allegorize any verse into any meaning. No kidding. I can take “Thou shalt not steal” and allegorize it into telling you that you should!

I mention this in connection with preaching to let the preacher know – if you decide to preach expositorally, you will sooner or later run into a passage you’re just going to throw up your hands and say, “I don’t know.” And the temptation to allegorize it will be very strong. Especially when you go to your Bible handbooks and commetaries and they always skip right over that verse.

Either pick the very next passage to preach, or present the verse with all its possible meanings to the congregation. I’ve done that, and as I was preaching it, the meaning suddenly was plain to me. It’s the semi -Inductive sermon method “who, what when, why where”.

Dealing with The Church equals Israel, let’s look at WHAT “The Church” and WHO Israel is.

That’s a really big hint right there. Israel is a “Who” and “The Church” is a “what”. Church is ἐκκλησίᾳ, from the lemma καλεω, to call. τέξεται δὲ υἱὸν καὶ καλέσεις τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ Ἰησοῦν “thou shalt call his name JESUS” shows the word in action. To call, to identify, to summon, so to speak. Kaleo is one of those words often learned in the first month of Greek, for an obvious reason. It’s used a lot.

Ek is the prefix “Out of”. Ekklesia therefore is to be called out of. That’s a what, not a who.

Ἐξ Αἰγύπτου ἐκάλεσα τὸν υἱόν μου. Out of Egypt have I called my Son. It is almost the word Ekklesia there. It is Ekalesa.

Here’s how you understand it. “The Church” is a called out assembly. And originally, it applied to Jews. Who were called out of Israel.

Logic and Greek should prevail here. How can that which is called out of that something else be that something else at the same time?

“Well, we replace Israel.”

So then, who gets Raptured? “The Church”? Yes. The word Church and ChurchES (another big hint there) can be found 19 times in Revelation 1-3. It’s not seen again until the end of Revelation.

Another big hint.

The church goes somewhere, and suddenly the Bible starts talking about Israel. Saints are mentioned, but they are out of every tribe. And tribes such as Assher and Naphtali are mentioned.

HINT.

If “THe Church” replaces Israel, why does the Bible start talking about Israel in Revelation chapter seven when up until then it has used the word Church many times? Church, churches…

If the Bible uses the word “churches” to refer to more than one church, we should too. “But what about the Universal church?”

THere isn’t one. The words “Called out assembly” are synonymous with Kehillat in Hebrew. Kehillat has always been translated assembly. an Ekklesia is an assembly.

So it’s a universal assembly!”

No. The Koine Greek does not use the word that way. If you SEE (hint) a group, and many of them assemble to start shouting about something (like Diana of the Ephesians) and want to do something (like say, stone Paul) – that’s an Ekklesia. “I will build my called out assembly.” It has to be a local, visible assembly – in one location. Think of it being related to our use of the word “Crowd”. “The Universal Crowd. Makes no sense.

Israel, on the other hand, is a people group, a family, a nation. I remember applying for a job, and they had “White, black, hispanic” checkboxes. I showed it to the employer and asked what do I check because I’m Jewish. He said, “THat’s a religion, not an ethnicity.”

Not from my point of view.

Here’s the big ugly monkey wrench that spoils the whole replacement theology issue – if the Church is always a local, visible assembly, and if we use the word churchES for multiple churches, then the reference church, singular, cannot mean Israel.

And the other monkey wrench in the machine is this…

How does it mess things up when people like myself, Michael brown and Ray Comfort convert to Christianity? Do we replace ourselves, being Jewish?

Why would the Bible use the word Church and churches many times in Revelation 1-3, begin using Israel for the rest of Revelation, and then switch back to using the word Church again, if they were the same thing?

Answers to all of it… There is no Universal Church (it’s a mis-applying of the wrong word), the church is not Israel. Israel is the Jewish people, and those grafted INTO it. Members of Israel may join the churches. THe Gentile people become grafted into the branch that is Israel. The churches do not replace anything. If I convert to Christianity, I do not suddenly become a Gentile that replaces myself. I remain a Jew. A fulfilled, completed Jew.

this was the reasoning done by John Darby as he read through the Bible over 140 years ago. It’s been the reasoning of many Christians over the centuries.

It has been branded “dispensationalism”. I call it Doctrine and Bible.

If the Bible makes a distinction between Jew and Gentile, so should we. If the Bible uses the word “Church” as a what and “Israel” as a who, so should we.

If this sounds like fuel for a good sermon, it is. Dispensationalism makes distinctions that the other viewpoints such as Calvinistic Covenant Theology completely fudges. This is where John MacArthur fights a difficult battle, trying to wean Calvinists from Covenant Theology, where historically they have been wedded. I think if MacArthur would just dump the Calvinism, he’d find suddenly Scripture open up to him in a whole new way. He’s having to battle 5point calvinism with dispensationalism, and making little headway.

Let’s summarize our points.

  • The church is always Biblcially a local, visible entity – a congregation.
  • Israel is the Jewish people
  • The church is a what, Israel is a who.
  • The churches are raptured, Israel remains
  • the Gentiles are grafted into Israel through faith
  • Jews like myself and Ray Comfort may find Jesus Christ and join churches, without replacing ourselves.

See, all you need is a sermon illustration and an altar call.

Sunday School or not to Sunday School?


Sunday School.

Some people are starting to question its effectiveness. It was originally invented to teach children whose parents could not afford schooling how to read and write. It was done with the Bible and Bible readers for children.

It turned around into a Baptist thing, where Sunday School became kind of a chance for the congregation to learn something about the Bible.

And when Pastors got way too busy for teaching Sunday School, it really began to be a job for deacons.

But since most deacons have little insruction in Bible doctrine, pre-printed class notes became a requirement.

At this time, I’m pretty much blaming much of the sorry state of the SBC on bad Sunday School curriculum.

Seriously. Oh, sure, Modernists and Calvinists helped mess the books up, and so did New Evangelicalism, and the Bible Babble Buffet.

Now doctrine is so thin and washed away that it’s almost undiscoverable in the SBC Sunday School curriculums.

So, what to do?

Some of the New Calvinists are actually calling for its abolition. I’m kind of on their side on that.

Unless you can completely transform Sunday School into not relying on pre-printed booklets – I’m completely in favor of aboloshing it.

Or unless your church switches to the ABSS series by DAvid Cloud. Either route – just use the Bible (what a novel idea!!!) or throw away all the Lifeway booklets and start buying the ABSS materials by Way of Life. Lifeway, bad. Way of Life, Good,

Here’s where Sunday School has to change.

It should be graded. If you’re new to the church, you start out in New Christian 1.

If you’ve completed that group, go on to group 2.

That kind of thing. Actual schools tend to have a class system, where one teacher just teaches second grade. So, consider that. Mr. Beasly the Deacon just teaches the Church History class.

Let’s start thinking along those lines. What say you all?

Tim Laheye, passed at 90


Although I’m opposed to the leaven of Evangelicalism, and its anti-Fundamentalism stamp, I’ve read a lot by Tim LaHeye, and if he only could have gotten a sense of the doctrine of the Inspiration and Preservation of the Bible, I think (perhaps overly optimistically) he would have changed to a Fundamentalist overnight.

I’ve recommended his “How to Study The Bible For Yourself” book (with some reservations of course – I disagree with his recommending any Bible but the King James) on this blog. I hope people consider it, as it has given me a lot of resources to my Bible study. His “The Rapture” book is also recommended.

It was funny to me that he passed on yesterday at the age of 90, as I was just thinking last week he probably wouldn’t live much longer.

There’s a lot of controversy about was he a Freemason (I saw no evidence of it, but some people were able to make the connection) and about his support of certain people. The problem with that I blame on Evangelicalism and its “Don’t judge” philosophy, and the belief in a Universal church, which means the unity a local church is supposed to have now is superimposed on all people who call themselves Christian whether they are or not.

So, I know there are people that disagree with me. Certainly, I wish he could have been a fellow fundamentalist.But I think Tim Laheye was one of the greatest champions of our age in the truth of a pre-trib rapture. And he was a strong advocate of the average Christian trying to understand prophecy, and of studying the Bible for themselves.

I guess I’ll have to pick up the slack on that now!

Faithful Men


This one is written the same as yesterday, but from the other side.

I guarantee in every church of more than 20 people, there’s someone in the pulpit waiting to be asked to do something.

The local church is not your personal personality cult. To hog the limelight when there are people waiting to step into the gap… you’ll only have yourself to blame the day after a difficult blowup at the church.

Why hasn’t the pastor picked you?

7 My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house. Numbers 12:7 (KJV)

35 And I will raise me up a faithful priest, that shall do according to that which is in mine heart and in my mind: and I will build him a sure house; and he shall walk before mine anointed for ever. 1 Samuel 2:35 (KJV)

14 Then Ahimelech answered the king, and said, And who is so faithful among all thy servants as David, which is the king’s son in law, and goeth at thy bidding, and is honourable in thine house? 1 Samuel 22:14 (KJV)

13 And I made treasurers over the treasuries, Shelemiah the priest, and Zadok the scribe, and of the Levites, Pedaiah: and next to them was Hanan the son of Zaccur, the son of Mattaniah: for they were counted faithful, and their office was to distribute unto their brethren. Nehemiah 13:13 (KJV)

2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. 1 Corinthians 4:2 (KJV)

2 And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. 2 Timothy 2:2 (KJV)

THere’s a word in common there. Start being that word.

Faithful.

Here’s the first thing. Be faithful.

  1. Faithful in prayer. Start everyday. Just 5 minutes a day. Grow from there.
  2. Faithful in the word. Read every day. Set a once a year through the Bible reading pattern. By the second year – if you really want to be used by the Pastor in something – twice a year. If you are aiming for the ministry, and have a CALL to the ministry, you had better be willing to increase that to three times a year!
  3. Faithful in church. Aim for every Sunday morning at first. Then after a couple of months, aim for every Sunday night. Once you’re there, aim for every Wednesday night prayer service.
  4. If your church has Bible class before Church, aim for that as well. I’ve got some questions about Bible classes the way they’re done, and I’ll be getting to that tomorrow!

Bottom line – if you want to be used in your local church – be faithful. If the Pastor is not responding, ask him. talk to him. THe pastor charge of my seminary is acutally one of those who the Pastor of his church (Gary Stieff) never recognized at first as being called to the Ministry. After that… there you go. Once the Pastor realized, he recognized the pastor of my SEminary as being called to the Ministry.

This could be your story as well.