Tuesday, March 23, 2010

True Preaching Part 3: "The Anointing"

I was once told after a sermon that my message was anointed. That of course went immediately to my head. I got all puffed up and thought I was "hot stuff" for God. Of course it went away immediately the next time I had to preach. My thought was, "How do I make this sermon anointed too?" "What did I do the first time, so I can get that anointing again?"

Jim Shaddix exploded my preconceived idea in his book "The Passion Driven Sermon" which is what I have been reviewing for you, my reader. His clarification of anointed preaching has given me hope and has also taken away the mystical hocus-pocus I thought I had somehow magically received. It has given me hope because anointed preaching isn't entirely wrapped up in the preacher/evangelist. It is a combination of things: the preacher, the Scriptures, and the Holy Spirit.

The Pastor should never speak for himself, but only for God.

Pastor's are to speak the Words of God as given in the Bible. I was listening to a horrible sermon lately that showed how many preachers are putting their own subjective feelings and thoughts on the same par as the Word of God. This preacher was saying things like, "God revealed to me..." and then he finished that thought with silly things that in no way were attributal to God. Silly things, such as, when one is in prayer one should take deep breaths, this helps the mind to think more sharply and relax more. I am sure these things are true, but that is in no way on the same level of divine revelation as the Scriptures. Pastor's are to speak with only the authority of the Word, their authority is derived from the Word. The Bible warns not to add or delete from the Word.

The Scriptures themselves are most powerful. All that a preacher needs is found in the Word of God. in Second Timothy Paul tells his protege that all scripture is profitable for teaching, for correction, for reproving, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete and thoroughly equipped. Then in Ephesians Paul writes that Pastors are to equip the saints. The only way this is to be done is through the use of explaining the Scriptures. The Bible contains everything people need for walking in greater holiness. This is what God requires most.

A third part that makes up anointing is the Spirit of God Himself. The Word tells us that we are under going metamorphis, a transforming of our minds. The old has gone and the new is coming. We are now on this earth justified and being sanctified, yet one day we will stand before Jesus and be glorified. The Spirit is the One Who comes alongside us and enables us to live this crucified life. He enabled the apostles to remember all that our Lord had spoken so they could write His words down. Jesus promised that the Spirit would help them when they were on trial to speak up for the cause of Jesus Christ. So too, the Spirit will bring Scripture to our remembrance when we need it and He will empower us to speak on Jesus' behalf when we testify for Him before men.

If the scriptures where inspired by God then don't you think that our preaching will be anointed if we speak clearly the truths of the scriptures? The Pastor must preach so that his audience comes to understand the meaning of the text as it was meant for the original audience. Then the Pastor can relate those same principles into our day.

I love to hear preachers who are fired up in the pulpit. Old preachers and saints call this "unction." When a Pastor gets in that pulpit their should be a little unction in that sermon. I know for myself it has come when I am prayed up, know my material, and I understand that I am speaking on behalf of God to His people. God wants to move in them and He uses the man of God in the pulpit expounding the Scriptures.

Go and preach my fellow Pastors!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

True Preaching Part 2: "The Voice of the Bible"

In the book "The Passion-Driven Sermon" by Jim Shaddix the author gives the Pastor a strong arguement for expository preaching. He gives the layman a strong arguement for why he should sit underneath this type of preaching. He describes how preaching is like bringing a voice to the Bible. The goal for a Pastor is that the congregation will hear clearly God's voice through the Bible in the sermon.

Pastors are to maximize the actual truths of the Bible. The author gives an illustration out of Nehemiah. If you have heard any sermon or read a book about Nehemiah it probably had to do with leadership. Yes, Nehemiah deals with leadership, but this is secondary to the actual story. The story is about God being faithful to His covenant people. The Bible is all about God, always! Bad preaching takes these secondary issues and heightens them to paramount levels.

This is why it is so necessary for a Pastor to be locked away in his study to first discover - what is God saying. To often Pastors start at the end of the sermon-process asking, "What is this text saying to me?" This can be dangerous because we put our subjective spin on the Bible. The first step in all good Bible study is to determine what God is simply saying. What is He saying to the original audience? What were the implications for them? Why did God say this particular thing to them? Only after this preliminary hard work is done can a Pastor ask, "Now, how does this original message effect me today?"

Another bad habit we Pastors have is to isolate a verse for our own use and limit God's message. We love to do this with Micah about robbing from God. Yes, that passage does speak about robbing from God through our tithes and offerings, but the complete picture of that prophetic book is so staggering, it should cause the Spirit of God to break out into a revival! Pastor, be careful about how you use God's Word. Do you not realize this is God's Word? Not just a book!

As the Pastor seeks to magnify God's voice through his sermon, the congregation should magnify the message through their listening.

The author gives three important principles from Scripture for how a congregation should respond to expository preaching. First, going back to Nehemiah it says the people called for Ezra to bring the Book, the law of Moses, that it might be read to them. So Ezra and the Levite priests read it and explained it to the people from early morning until midday. The people responded with raised hands, "Amens," and bowing prostrate in worship before the Lord. They revered the written word of God. Second, in Acts the new disciples committed themselves to the apostles teaching. In fact it says the lost watched from the peripheral being in amazement at all that was happening in this band of beleivers. Can you imagine the respect and awe of the lost who saw Ananias and Sapphira drop dead at the entrance to their meeting place? There was a holy reverance for the things of these Jesus followers. Third, listening must be combined with conviction. If we beleivers demand the Word to be brought to us and expect God to speak then conviction will follow. Paul told the Corinthians that an unbeliever coming in and hearing a prophet speak would come under conviction as opposed to hearing unintelligable tongues being spoken. The power of God is displayed in biblical expository sermons. It is conviction that we need most, not warm fuzzies.

Pastor, magnify the voice the God through His Word in your sermon. People are hungry for a word from God. You have the privilege and responsibility to bring Him to them. Don't waste their time with dog and pony shows. Leave the entertainment to the entertainers! Preach the Word!

Christian, listen to the preached word as if your life depends upon it. Expect your Pastor to bring you a Thanksgiving meal in his sermon. If you don't see the Lord lifted up from his sermon, pray for him, and you might even need to let him know, "I can watch Youtube videos at home, bring me the Book on Sunday!"

Monday, March 15, 2010

True Preaching Part 1: "The Shepherds Stewardship"

I just finished a book about preaching. It was fabulous! It answered the question: "Why preaching expositorally?" Expository preaching is line upon line preaching all the way through a book of the Bible. I am convinced this is the only reliable and God-honoring form of preaching. In the next couple of blogs I want to report some of what I learned. This helps me to process and gives you a reference for true preaching.


The first thing I want to delve into is the responsibility preachers have. They are to be men who illuminate the Scriptures. There is NO new revelations being given by the Spirit of God. Ephesians 4:11 tells us that God gave prophets and apostles and evangelists, and pastor / teachers for the equipping of the saints. There has been a progression of bibilical revelation. That progress began with prophets - Moses, Elijah, Jeremiah, and even John the Bapitst. These were men who recieved direct communitcation from the Spirit of God to them. We know that Moses was a man who spent time with the Lord face to face. There were prophets in the early days of the church, we read of them in Acts.

Then came apostles, the twelve who spent three years living with Jesus. Listening, watching, and ingesting all that our Lord did. These men, along with the prophets, ushered in the church-age. Paul, Peter, John, and James began writing as the Spirit prompted them, letters to believers. The prophets began to slide out. By the time the apostles were all dead the church still had many copies of these letters and thus began the creation of the churches holy sciptures.

Now, today, men of God, take that written, God-inspired word and illuminate it. This is the chief operation of any preacher, pastor, evangelist, and teacher, to rightly divide the Word of God. Preachers must take a text and dive deep into its meaning. We have 2000 - 4000 years of history to fill in. This is an ancient book, and Pastors are to be the resident experts of its content. The preacher is to take this book and make it understandable to modern worhippers. A Pastor is a good reporter, he understands his topic and brings it to the attention of the people.

DANGER! False preaching adds extra-biblical information as authoritative and then we have reduced God's word. Any therapist can evaluate marriages and then come up with principles to show how to have a good marriage. This is truth that God ordained, but it is not essential truth for the church. The Word of God reveals to us God's standard. It gives us enough information that sets the bar for us. The problem with modern day preaching is that preachers think all people want is "how-to" sermons. Preachers don't believe that preaching on the glory of God in marriage is enough. They presumptiously beleive, "Believers, already know that. They want to know how good marriages work." A faithful expository Pastor will mine the depths of God's word and reveal to hungry believers the needed nuggets to strengthen marriages. Yes, other books are helpful, but God's word gets to the core of the issue, ALWAYS. The root of knowledge is what believers need. The Bible provides it, and the faithful Pastor will reveal it.

"How-to" sermons are nothing more than candy bars. But, expository sermons are a Thanksgiving dinner. If your Pastor is using all kinds of stories, and videos, and dramas then he might be attempting to water down the truth. He wrongly thinks that people don't want deep doctrine, they just want the "rubber meets the road" stuff. If your Pastor uses his pulpit to talk about anything other than the Word of God, like politics and entertainment, then he is prostituting the preaching of God's Word and feeding you candy bars. The Man of God is to take the Bible, lay it open on that pulpit and begin to illuminate what is inside. Believers think they know all there is to know. Sorry, but that is wrong. You and I haven't even begun to scratch the surface of all the gold and jewels that await us in the Bible.

I pray you will come back for more.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Jesus Descended where? More, more...

If you read the verses I asked you to in "Jesus Descended Where? More" than you should be thoroughly confused. Where did Jesus go? Did He go to Hell? What did He do there? Let me take you to another verse.

In Ephesians 3 Paul writes saying he was commissioned to preach the unfathomable riches of Christ to the Gentiles (nations) about the mystery of Christ. This mystery had been hidden throughout the centuries of the Old Testament, but now it was all coming to light in Jesus. Ephesians three goes onto say that God's multi-facted wisdom would now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. These are the demonic horde who run rampant over the earth. The church exists to show demons the gracious love of God.

You see, the demons in Genesis six tried to spoil the "Seed of the woman." This would taint God's promise that a seed of the woman would stomp on the serpents head. The seed would give Satan the death blow. So, Satan and his horde invaded the earth and somehow manifested themselves and impregenated woman (hard to believe? Yes. Jude says they left their proper abode.) Their sin was so perverse that God chained them up in the abyss. It is here that Jesus went sometime between His death and resurrection and basically put it to them. Showing them Himself, that their evil plan did not work and that He, the "Seed," had proven fatal to them and that they would receive their death blow.

Revelations says that Satan will be bound here during the Millenium. Towards the end of the Millenium some of these demons and Satan will be released to try one last time to overtake God. They don't and are finally sentenced to the lake of fire, Matthew tells us this is why God created the lake, for the rebellious angels.

You would think Satan would get it, but he never does. He will probably be in Hell for all eternity continually plotting to "rule the world." Pride consumed him, he thinks he is all that.

Christian, you are well-loved if you confess Jesus. Thank Him today for saving you and using you and your church to continually stick it to Satan and his horde. God is a loving and forgiving Savior, we are the proof!