All articles filed under: Preaching

Why a Great Tribulation?

Preaching through Mark 13 was hard. The themes taken up in this chapter—the destruction of the temple and fall of Jerusalem, the Great Tribulation, Second Coming of Christ, and faithful discipleship—are both humbling and exhilarating to study. I remember coming to verse 14 and the “abomination of desolation.” I sought to demonstrate from the text how this future event will take place during an unprecedented period of tribulation on earth—indeed, “such tribulation as has not been from the beginning of the creation that God created until now, and never will be” (v. 19). The Great Tribulation is significant not only because it exceeds in horror any known event in human history, but also because it marks the period of time immediately preceding the Second Coming of Christ. Therefore, Jesus exhorts us to “be on guard” or “take heart” or “not be led astray” from the path of discipleship (v. 23). I had several questions of this text. One of my questions was, Why? Why a Great Tribulation? Why would God do this? I offered three …

Jordan Peterson and Gospel Hope

[The following is the conclusion from a recent sermon I gave from Acts 2:25-36.] With all that is going on in the world today at large and in your life in particular you may be tempted to grow weary and lose heart. This was the case for one Jordan Peterson fan who attended his recent book tour event in Indianapolis, Indiana. Peterson is a clinical psychologist and University of Toronto professor, and the author of the national and international bestseller 12 Rules For Life: An Antidote to Chaos. His book tour has sold out venues across America. An intellectual and self-help guru, Peterson is offering his own brand of hope and finding a huge market. At Peterson’s book tour events he lectures for about an hour and then moves to a time of Q&A. The questions are sent via Twitter so he opens his laptop to mine the best ones for the audience. According to a person at the event, Peterson answered some “light” questions before coming to one where he paused and said, “This is a serious one.” …

Preaching as Longing

What do people do who long for something? They run toward it. This struck me anew on my way back from a recent mission trip to Ethiopia. Upon arriving back in the states my heart was longing to see my family. When I saw them for the first time in 10 days I made a beeline to embrace Anna and the kids. Indeed, longing is not a weak emotion—longing moves you to run toward the object of your affection. Longing for Christ as Longing for Heaven As Christians we long for Christ. Therefore, we design our lives around the single, earnest pursuit of Him. Isn’t this what Jesus meant when he said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). In other words, our lives are not about seeking “all these things,” but Christ. This is the note the author to the Hebrews strikes. He says that one of the ways we “run with endurance the race set before us” is by …

The Menaces of God’s Word

To be ready to preach on Sunday requires resting your head on holy things throughout the week. And on Saturday evening it is especially important to have some reading of a devotional nature. Tonight I went to Thomas Watson’s The Godly Man’s Picture. I was particularly moved by chapter four, “Showing the Characteristics of a Godly Man.” In this chapter Watson details 34 specific characteristics that mark a godly man. In characteristic number 9, “A Godly Man is a Lover of the Word,” Watson writes of the “menaces” of God’s Word: A godly man loves the menaces of the Word. He knows there is love in every threat. God would not have us perish; he therefore mercifully threatens us, so that he may scare us from sin. God’s threats are like the buoy, which shows the rocks in the sea and threatens death to such as come near. The threat is a curbing bit to check us, so that we may not run in full career to hell. There is mercy in every threat (61). A …

A Preacher’s Decalogue

As a seminary professor, I am deeply grateful for how the new year has opened with seasoned pastors and teachers offering their wisdom for young (and not-so-young) preachers. For example, in “Advice to a Young Preacher” Peter Adam outlines fourteen indispensable principles for preachers, none more important than the first: Learn to love the Bible. We love God, so we love His words. We know the mind of God from the mouth of God and we live by every word that comes from His mouth. Preacher, learn to love all of the Bible. Learn to meditate on it day and night. Fill your mind and heart and life with God’s truth. If God’s words are not in your mind, heart, and life, they will not be on your lips. Learn the self-discipline to avoid reading your ideas into the Bible. Whenever you read the Bible, don’t think, “I know what this means, so I don’t need to read it carefully.” There is always more to find, more to uncover. Indeed, no man should preach who …

Technology and Preaching

I recently had a student tell me that he preached in a church in Tennessee that had him speaking from a platform that turned into the equivalent of an IMAX experience for the congregation. The technology allowed him to “take” his listeners to places like outer space and the holy land of Israel with moving, high-definition digital images, changing weather patterns, and movie-theater quality sound. As he was selling me on this experience and the value of it for all churches, I kept thinking to myself, “In all this noise, how could they hear a word he said?” But being distracted from my student’s words is not the biggest risk of using technology in preaching. The greater danger is missing God himself. My theology of preaching understands the preaching exercise as nothing less than a monologue from heaven. In other words, the expositor (peaching as monologue from God requires exposition of biblical texts) is a messenger for God as he heralds the truth of any particular biblical passage. This, of course, is how the apostle …

The Bible and Preaching

Kenny Chesney has a song that sums up powerfully the current cultural milieu facing the Christian preacher. Appropriately named ‘Noise,’ Chesney laments our chaotic world of countless competing “voices” vying for our allegiance – a world full of noise: Twenty-four hour television, gets so loud that no one listens Sex and money and politicians talk, talk, talk But there really ain’t no conversation Ain’t nothing left to the imagination Trapped in our phones and we can’t make it stop, stop This noise Yeah we scream, yeah we shout ’til we don’t have a voice In the streets, in the crowds, it ain’t nothing but noise Drowning out all the dreams of this Tennessee boy Just tryin’ to be heard in all this noise So, in our noisy world, how is a preacher to be heard? What hope do we have that our words won’t fall on deaf ears? How can we be confident that our sermons will cut through the noise? What the Bible Is If the preacher is going to be heard in our …