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PROCLAIM! Podcast

PROCLAIM! — the podcast that teaches every Bible-believing Christian how to preach the Gospel by any means necessary in many different settings, including using the internet and the new “podcast pulpit”.

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Our Public Prayer, Part 2 (Proclaim #63)

Welcome to episode #63 of PROCLAIM! — the podcast that teaches every Bible-believing Christian how to preach the Gospel by any means necessary in many different settings, including using the internet and the new “podcast pulpit”.

Our Scripture Verse on preaching is 1 Corinthians 1:17-18 which reads: “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.”

Our quote on preaching today is from Billy Graham. He said, “When we preach or teach the Scriptures, we open the door for the Holy Spirit to do His work. God has not promised to bless oratory or clever preaching. He has promised to bless His Word.”

In this podcast, we are using as our texts, the following three books: “Lectures to My Students” by Charles H. Spurgeon; “The Preacher and his Preaching” by Alfred P. Gibbs; and “Biblical Preaching” by Haddon W. Robinson.

Today, our topic is titled “Our Public Prayer, Part 2” from “Lectures to My Students” by Charles H. Spurgeon.

Let me, therefore, very earnestly caution you, beloved brethren, against spoiling your services by your prayers: make it your solemn resolve that all. the engagements of the sanctuary shall be of the best kind. Be assured that free prayer is the most scriptural, and should be the most excellent form of public supplication. If you lose faith in what you are doing you will never do it well; settle it in your minds therefore, that before the Lord you are worshipping in a manner which is warranted by the word of God, and accepted of the Lord. The expression, “reading prayers,” to which we are now so accustomed, is not to be found in Holy Scripture, rich as it is in words for conveying religious thought; and the phrase is not there because the thing itself had no existence. Where in the writings of the apostles meet we with the bare idea of a liturgy? Prayer in the assemblies of the early Christians was unrestricted to any form of words. Tertullian writes, “we pray without a prompter because from the heart.” Justin Martyr describes the presiding minister as praying “according to his ability.” It would be difficult to discover when and where liturgies began; their introduction was gradual, and as we believe, co-extensive with the decline of purity in the church; the introduction of them among Nonconformists would mark the era of our decline and fall. The subject tempts me to linger, but it is not the point in hand, and therefore I pass on, only remarking that you will find the matter of liturgies ably handled by Dr. John Owen, whom you will do well to consult. Be it ours to prove the superiority of extempore prayer by making it more spiritual and earnest than liturgical devotion. It is a great pity when the observation is forced from the hearer, our minister preaches far better than he prays: this is not after the model of our Lord; he spake as never man spake–and as for his prayers, they so impressed his disciples that they said, “Lord, teach us to pray.” All our faculties should concentrate their energy, and the whole man should be elevated to his highest point of vigor while in public prayer, the Holy Ghost meanwhile baptizing soul and spirit with his sacred influence; but slovenly, careless, lifeless talk in the guise of prayer, made to fill up a certain space in the service, is a weariness to man, and an abomination to God. Had free prayer been universally of a higher order a liturgy would never have been thought of, and to-day forms of prayer have no better apology than the feebleness of extemporaneous devotions. The secret is that we are not so really devout at heart as we should be. Habitual communion with God must be maintained, or our public prayers will be vapid or formal. If there be no melting of the glacier high up in the ravines of the mountain, there will be no descending rivulets to cheer the plain. Private prayer is the drill ground for our more public exercises, neither can we long neglect it without being out of order when before the people. Our prayers must never grovel, they must soar and mount. We need a heavenly frame of mind. Our addresses to the throne of grace must be solemn and humble, not flippant and loud, or formal and careless. The colloquial form of speech is out of place before the Lord; we must bow reverently and with deepest awe. We may speak boldly with God, but still he is in heaven and we are upon earth, and we are to avoid presumption. In supplication we are peculiarly before the throne of the Infinite, and as the courtier in the king’s palace puts on another mien and another manner than that which he exhibits to his fellow courtiers, so should it be with us. We have noticed in the churches of Holland, that as soon as the minister begins to preach every man puts his hat on, but the instant he turns to pray everybody takes his hat off: this was the custom in the older Puritanic congregations of England, and it lingered long among the Baptists; they wore their caps during those parts of the service which they conceived were not direct worship, but put them off as soon as there was a direct approach to God, either in song or in prayer. I think the practice unseemly, and the reason for it erroneous. I have urged that the distinction between prayer and hearing is not great, and I feel sure no one would propose to return to the old custom or the opinion of which it was the index; but still there is a difference, and inasmuch as in prayer we are more directly talking with God rather than seeking the edification of our fellow men, we must put our shoes from off our feet, for the place whereon we stand is holy ground. Let the Lord alone be the object of your prayers. Beware of having an eye to the auditors; beware of becoming rhetorical to please the listeners.

Let’s Pray —

Dear friend, if you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, may I encourage you to get to know Him today.

First, accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God’s law. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”

Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

Now this is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.

Romans 10:9-13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Until next time, may God bless you!

The Road from Text to Sermon, Part 7 (Proclaim #62)

Welcome to episode #62 of PROCLAIM! — the podcast that teaches every Bible-believing Christian how to preach the Gospel by any means necessary in many different settings, including using the internet and the new “podcast pulpit”.

Our Scripture Verse on preaching is Acts 20:28 which reads: “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.”

Our quote on preaching today is from Tim Keller. He said, “To reach people gospel preachers must challenge the culture’s story at points of confrontation and finally retell the culture’s story, as it were, revealing how its deepest aspirations for good can be fulfilled only in Christ.”

In this podcast, we are using as our texts, the following three books: “Lectures to My Students” by Charles H. Spurgeon; “The Preacher and his Preaching” by Alfred P. Gibbs; and “Biblical Preaching” by Haddon W. Robinson.

Today, our topic is titled “The Road from Text to Sermon, Part 7” from “Biblical Preaching” by Haddon W. Robinson.

Napoleon had three commands for his messengers that apply to any communicator: “Be clear! Be clear! Be clear!” Clarity does not come easily. When we train to be expositors, we probably spend three or four years in seminary. While that training prepares us to be theologians, it sometimes gets in our way as communicators. Theological jargon, abstract thinking, or scholars’ questions become part of the intellectual baggage that hinders preachers from speaking clearly to ordinary men and women. If we entered a hospital, a television studio, a printer’s shop, a locker room, or a local garage and wanted to understand what goes on there, we would persistently ask, “What do you mean?” Experts in other occupations seldom have to make themselves understood to those outside their profession, but preachers are different. No one is an outsider to religion. Everyone must understand what God says. In fact, it is a life-and-death matter. Therefore, we must anticipate what our hearers may not know and, by our explanations, help them understand.

The developmental question “What does that mean?” then, deals with both the passage and the people. If you imagine some courageous soul standing up in the middle of your sermon to shout, “Pastor, what exactly do you mean by that?” you will become aware of matters that must be talked about to make yourself clear as your sermon develops.

Let’s Pray —

Dear friend, if you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, may I encourage you to get to know Him today.

First, accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God’s law. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”

Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

Now this is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.

Romans 10:9-13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Until next time, may God bless you!

The Qualifications of the Preacher, Part 36 (Proclaim #61)

Welcome to episode #61 of PROCLAIM! — the podcast that teaches every Bible-believing Christian how to preach the Gospel by any means necessary in many different settings, including using the internet and the new “podcast pulpit”.

Our Scripture Verse on preaching is 2 Timothy 2:15 which reads: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

Our quote on preaching today is from Horatius Bonar. He said, “Bold preaching is the only preaching that is owned of God.”

In this podcast, we are using as our texts, the following three books: “Lectures to My Students” by Charles H. Spurgeon; “The Preacher and his Preaching” by Alfred P. Gibbs; and “Biblical Preaching” by Haddon W. Robinson.

Today, our topic is titled “The Qualifications of the Preacher, Part 36” from “The Preacher and his Preaching” by Alfred P. Gibbs.

(b) A good library. The present-day Christian can also say, with David, “The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage” (Psalm 16:6). Perhaps we little realize the tremendous debt we owe to men of learning, who have devoted their great abilities and vast store of Bible knowledge to the service of Christ and His people. These men have left behind them, in the form of books, the valuable legacy of truth we now possess. We would do well to take every advantage of this. It can be truthfully said of their sacrificial efforts, “Other men labored and ye are entered into their labors” (John 4:38).

Let no man despise books, for in so doing, he despises what God has given. Teachers are a divine gift for the Church’s edification, whether their ministry is oral or written. The person who foolishly refuses to read books written by sound teachers of the Word must, to be consistent, refuse to go and listen to any of them speak! In doing this, he would be taking issue with God who has given them for the specific purpose of his edification (see Eph. 4:11-16). The only difference between oral and written ministry is that the latter is likely to be more profitable! When a person commits himself to writing for publication, he takes far greater care in expressing himself, lest there should be any misunderstanding of his meaning. Thus these good books only await the opportunity of pouring out their treasures at the feet of the diligent seeker (read Proverbs 2:1-12; 3:13-26). While the Bible must ever have the first place in one’s reading, and never crowded out, these other books will prove to be a very valuable adjunct to it and of much spiritual profit.

Needless to say, it will not be the number of books on one’s library shelves that constitute the preacher’s possession, but only those he has really made his own by personal reading. It can be truthfully said that many a good library remains unpossessed by its owner! These books should be purchased with great care. The advice of an experienced Christian should be sought in their selection. It is far better to have a few really good books than a large number of the other kind which merely take up valuable space, to say nothing of the expense in acquiring them. We shall devote quite a little space, later on, to a suggestive list of books for a preacher’s library.

The preacher should also read fairly widely the best of secular literature, including history, poetry and the classics. In this way he will widen his horizons, increase his vocabulary, become better acquainted with good English, and thus learn to express himself better. It is astonishing how much time is uselessly frittered away during the course of every twenty-four hours, which could have been much better utilized in reading. It is always a good idea to take a book everywhere one goes, and read when the opportunity presents itself.

Let’s Pray —

Our Public Prayer, Part 1 (Proclaim #60)

Welcome to episode #60 of PROCLAIM! — the podcast that teaches every Bible-believing Christian how to preach the Gospel by any means necessary in many different settings, including using the internet and the new “podcast pulpit”.

Our Scripture Verse on preaching is 1 Corinthians 1:17 which reads: “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.”

Our quote on preaching today is from Billy Sunday. He said, “Whenever a day comes when I can stand and preach God’s Word without an agony of anxiety lest the people will not accept Christ; whenever a day comes when I can see men and women coming down the aisles without joy in my heart, I’ll quit preaching.”

In this podcast, we are using as our texts, the following three books: “Lectures to My Students” by Charles H. Spurgeon; “The Preacher and his Preaching” by Alfred P. Gibbs; and “Biblical Preaching” by Haddon W. Robinson.

Today, our topic is titled “Our Public Prayer, Part 1” from “Lectures to My Students” by Charles H. Spurgeon.

IT has sometimes been the boast of Episcopalians that Churchmen go to their churches to pray and worship God, but that Dissenters merely assemble to hear sermons. Our reply to this is, that albeit there may be some professors who are guilty of this evil, it is not true of the people of God among us, and these are the only persons who ever will in any church really enjoy devotion. Our congregations gather together to worship God, and we assert, and feel no hesitation in so asserting, that there is as much true and acceptable prayer offered in our ordinary Nonconformist services as in the best and most pompous performances of the Church of England.

Moreover, if the observation be meant to imply that the hearing of sermons is not worshipping God, it is founded on a gross mistake, for rightly to listen to the gospel is one of the noblest parts of the adoration of the Most High. It is a mental exercise, when rightly performed, in which all the faculties of the spiritual man are called into devotional action. Reverently hearing the word exercises our humility, instructs our faith, irradiates us with joy, inflames us with love, inspires us with zeal, and lifts us up towards heaven. Many a time a sermon has been a kind of Jacob’s ladder upon which we have seen the angels of God ascending and descending, and the covenant God himself at the top thereof. We have often felt when God has spoken through his servants into our souls, “This is none other than the house of God, and the very gate of heaven.” We have magnified the name of the Lord and praised him with all our heart while he has spoken to us by his Spirit which he has given unto men. Hence there is not the wide distinction to be drawn between preaching and prayer that some would have us admit; for the one part of the service softly blends into the other, and the sermon frequently inspires the prayer and the hymn. True preaching is an acceptable adoration of God by the manifestation of his gracious attributes: the testimony of his gospel, which pre-eminently glorifies him, and the obedient hearing of revealed truth, are an acceptable form of worship to the Most High, and perhaps one of the most spiritual in which the human mind can be engaged. Nevertheless, as the old Roman poet tells us, it is right to learn from our enemies, and therefore it may be possible that our liturgical opponents have pointed out to us what is in some instances a weak place in our public services. It is to be feared that our exercises are not in every case molded into the best form, or presented in the most commendable fashion. There are meeting-houses in which the supplications are neither so devout nor so earnest as we desire; in other places the earnestness is so allied with ignorance, and the devotion so marred with rant, that no intelligent believer can enter into the service with pleasure. Praying in the Holy Ghost is not universal among us, neither do all pray with the understanding as well as with the heart. There is room for improvement, and in some quarters there is an imperative demand for it.

Let’s Pray —

The Road from Text to Sermon, Part 6 (Proclaim #56)

Welcome to episode #59 of PROCLAIM! — the podcast that teaches every Bible-believing Christian how to preach the Gospel by any means necessary in many different settings, including using the internet and the new “podcast pulpit”.

Our Scripture Verse on preaching is Isaiah 52:7 which reads: “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!”

Our quote on preaching today is from C.S. Lewis. He said, “The Church exists for nothing else but to draw men into Christ, to make them little Christ. If they are not doing that, all the cathedrals, clergy, missions, sermons, even the Bible itself, are simply a waste of time. God became Man for no other purpose.”

In this podcast, we are using as our texts, the following three books: “Lectures to My Students” by Charles H. Spurgeon; “The Preacher and his Preaching” by Alfred P. Gibbs; and “Biblical Preaching” by Haddon W. Robinson.

Today, our topic is titled “The Road from Text to Sermon, Part 6” from “Biblical Preaching” by Haddon W. Robinson.

Second, the developmental question, “What does this mean?” may also probe the audience. It takes several forms. If I simply stated my exegetical idea, would my audience respond, “What does he mean by that?” Are there elements in the passage that the biblical writer takes for granted that my audience needs explained to them? When Paul advised the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 8 about meat offered to idols, idolatry and sacrifices were as familiar to his readers as shopping centers are to modern audiences. On the other hand, people today are as bewildered about the practices of idolatry as a Corinthian would be in a supermarket. Therefore, when we talk about “food sacrificed to idols,” we must do some explaining. The passage may be misunderstood or, more damaging, misapplied unless our listeners understand the background out of which the problem developed. They must enter into the psychological, emotional, and spiritual tensions posed by eating meat previously offered in sacrifice to heathen gods.

As a case in point, when Paul speaks of a “weak brother,” he does not necessarily mean someone who is easily tempted to sin. Instead, he has in mind an overscrupulous Christian who has not applied theology to experience. The weak Christian does not fully appreciate that “no idol is anything in the world” but is only a creation of superstition. In modern churches, therefore, many overscrupulous people who consider themselves “strong” would, in Paul’s mind, be “weak.” In a treatment of this passage, therefore, what Paul took for granted with his readers requires extensive explanation today.

In 1 Corinthians 12:13 the apostle observes: “We were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink” (NIV). Here again Paul assumes that his readers understand the baptizing work of the Holy Spirit. We cannot necessarily assume that our congregation has that knowledge. A reference to “the baptism of the Holy Spirit” now causes some noncharismatic listeners to shift uneasily in their pews and wonder: “What does that mean?” “What do people in my denomination think about it?” “Isn’t that an experience important to charismatics, and doesn’t it have something to do with speaking in tongues?” In a charismatic congregation listeners may assume that they know what the baptism of the Holy Spirit is but wonder what it has to do with Paul’s argument. If we were preaching on this passage, therefore, we could not ignore those responses. Instead, we would anticipate them in our preparation, and we might decide to devote some time in the sermon to expanding on the baptism of the Holy Spirit even though Paul did not.

Let’s Pray —

The Qualifications of the Preacher, Part 35 (Proclaim #58)

Welcome to episode #58 of PROCLAIM! — the podcast that teaches every Bible-believing Christian how to preach the Gospel by any means necessary in many different settings, including using the internet and the new “podcast pulpit”.

Our Scripture Verse on preaching is Exodus 4:10-12 which reads: “And Moses said unto the Lord, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue. And the Lord said unto him, Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.”

Our quote on preaching today is from Horatius Bonar. He said, “Christ crucified is to be the burden of our preaching the substance of our belief from first to last. At no time in the saint’s life does he cease to need the cross.”

In this podcast, we are using as our texts, the following three books: “Lectures to My Students” by Charles H. Spurgeon; “The Preacher and his Preaching” by Alfred P. Gibbs; and “Biblical Preaching” by Haddon W. Robinson.

Today, our topic is titled “The Qualifications of the Preacher, Part 35” from “The Preacher and his Preaching” by Alfred P. Gibbs.

(3) The provision of it. God has both anticipated and supplied the need for the preachers’ education. The student must now lay hold upon this provision and make it his own by diligent application. It is one thing for food to be provided, but quite another to appropriate it for one’s self. It is possible for a person to starve to death in the midst of plenty, simply by a failure to eat the food that has been supplied. Let us look at this abundant provision for the preacher’s education.

(a) The Bible. The preacher will not lack in facilities to improve his education. The Bible comes first and foremost. In fact, the study of the English Bible is a magnificent education in itself, and no one’s education is complete without it. Viewed only as literature it is unsurpassed. “It is cast into every form of constructive composition and good writing: history, prophecy, poetry, allegory, emblematic representation, judicious interpretation, literal statement, precept, example, proverbs, disquisition, epistle, sermon and prayer. In short, all the rational shapes of human discourse are included” (Maclagan).

The Bible is a library in itself and, of course, must be the preacher’s constant companion, and his “Inquire within about everything.” There is no other book in the entire world that can, for one moment, compare with it. It dwarfs into utter insignificance all secular literature. The preacher must saturate himself with the Holy Scriptures. This can only be done as he reads and rereads it, and it thus becomes part and parcel of his very being, influencing and governing his thoughts, words and acts. He must be “a man of the Book” and a master of its contents. He should be able to quote from it freely and thus make its beautiful language his own.

Let’s Pray —

The Preacher’s Private Prayer, Part 9 (Proclaim #57)

Welcome to episode #57 of PROCLAIM! — the podcast that teaches every Bible-believing Christian how to preach the Gospel by any means necessary in many different settings, including using the internet and the new “podcast pulpit”.

Our Scripture Verse on preaching is Luke 18:1 which reads: “And he [Jesus] spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;”

Our quote on preaching today is from E.M. Bounds. He said, “.What the Church needs to-day is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more and novel methods, but men whom the Holy Ghost can use — men of prayer, men mighty in prayer. The Holy Ghost does not flow through methods, but through men. He does not come on machinery, but on men. He does not anoint plans, but men — men of prayer.”

In this podcast, we are using as our texts, the following three books: “Lectures to My Students” by Charles H. Spurgeon; “The Preacher and his Preaching” by Alfred P. Gibbs; and “Biblical Preaching” by Haddon W. Robinson.

Today, our topic is titled “The Preacher’s Private Prayer, Part 9” from “Lectures to My Students” by Charles H. Spurgeon’.

Time spent in quiet prostration of soul before the Lord is most invigorating. David “sat before the Lord;” it is a great thing to hold these sacred sittings; the mind being receptive, like an open flower drinking in the sunbeams, or the sensitive photographic plate accepting the image before it. Quietude, which some men cannot abide, because it reveals their inward poverty, is as a palace of cedar to the wise, for along its hallowed courts the King in his beauty deigns to walk. “Sacred silence! thou that art Floodgate of the deeper heart, Offspring of a heavenly kind; Frost o’ the mouth, and thaw o’ the mind.” Priceless as the gift of utterance may be, the practice of silence in some aspects far excels it. Do you think me a Quaker? Well, be it so. Herein I follow George Fox most lovingly; for I am persuaded that we most of us think too much of speech, which after all is but the shell of thought. Quiet contemplation, still worship, unuttered rapture, these are mine when my best jewels are before me. Brethren, rob not your heart of the deep sea joys; miss not the far-down life, by for ever babbling among the broken shells and foaming surges of the shore.

I would seriously recommend to you, when settled in the ministry, the celebration of extraordinary seasons of devotion. If your ordinary prayers do not keep up the freshness and vigor of your souls, and you feel that you are flagging, get alone for a week, or even a month if possible. We have occasional holidays, why not frequent holy days? We hear of our richer brethren finding time for a journey to Jerusalem; could we not spare time for the less difficult and far more profitable journey to the heavenly city?

Isaac Ambrose, once pastor at Preston, who wrote that famous book, “Looking unto Jesus,” always set apart one month in the year for seclusion in a hut in a wood at Garstang. No wonder that he was so mighty a divine, when he could regularly spend so long a time in the mount with God. I notice that the Romanists are accustomed to secure what they call “Retreats,” where a number of priests will retire for a time into perfect quietude, to spend the whole of the time in fasting and prayer, so as to inflame their souls with ardor. We may learn from our adversaries. It would be a great thing every now and then for a band of truly spiritual brethren to spend a day or two with each other in real burning agony of prayer. Pastors alone could use much more freedom than in a mixed company. Times of humiliation and supplication for the whole church will also benefit us if we enter into them heartily. Our seasons of fasting and prayer at the Tabernacle have been high days indeed; never has heaven’s gate stood wider; never have our hearts been nearer the central glory. I look forward to our month of special devotion, as mariners reckon upon reaching land. Even if our public work were laid aside to give us space for special prayer, it might be a great gain to our churches. A voyage to the golden rivers of fellowship and meditation would be well repaid by a freight of sanctified feeling and elevated thought. Our silence might be better than our voices if our solitude were spent with God. That was a grand action of old Jerome, when he laid all his pressing engagements aside to achieve a purpose to which he felt a call from heaven. He had a large congregation, as large a one as any of us need want; but he said to his people, “Now it is of necessity that the New Testament should be translated, you must find another preacher: the translation must be made; I am bound for the wilderness, and shall not return till my task is finished.”

Away he went with his manuscripts, and prayed and labored, and produced a work–the Latin-Vulgate–which will last as long as the world stands; on the whole a most wonderful translation of Holy Scripture. As learning and prayerful retirement together could thus produce an immortal work, if we were sometimes to say to our people when we felt moved to do so, “Dear friends, we really must be gone for a little while to refresh our souls in solitude,” our profiting would soon be apparent, and if we did not write Latin Vulgates, yet we should do immortal work, such as would abide the fire.

PODCAST: The Road from Text to Sermon, Part 5 (Proclaim #56 with Daniel Whyte III)

Welcome to episode #56 of PROCLAIM! — the podcast that teaches every Bible-believing Christian how to preach the Gospel by any means necessary in many different settings, including using the internet and the new “podcast pulpit”.

Our Scripture Verse on preaching is Acts 10:42 which reads: “And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead.”

Our quote on preaching today is from Reinhard Bonnke. He said, “You may not be allowed to stand on the pulpit in your church to preach, but every junction in your area is a pulpit, stand there and preach.”

In this podcast, we are using as our texts, the following three books: “Lectures to My Students” by Charles H. Spurgeon; “The Preacher and his Preaching” by Alfred P. Gibbs; and “Biblical Preaching” by Haddon W. Robinson.

Today, our topic is titled “The Road from Text to Sermon, Part 5” from “Biblical Preaching” by Haddon W. Robinson.

1. We Explain It: “What Does This Mean?”

The first developmental question centers on explanation: What does this mean? Does this concept, or parts of it, need explanation?

The question, “What does this mean?” can be pointed at different targets. First, it can be directed toward the Bible: “Is the author in the passage before me developing his thought primarily through explanation?” When Paul wrote to his friends at Corinth, he explained how the diversity of gifts granted to its members should work for, and not against, unity in the congregation. He sums up his idea in 1 Corinthians 12:11–12: “But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills. For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ” (NASB). In the verses surrounding this statement Paul explains the concept either by breaking it down into particulars, such as enumerating spiritual gifts, or by illustrating it through the example of a human body. By that analogy he explains that a church, like a body, consists of many different parts, but each one contributes to the life and benefit of all. A preacher handling this section of the Corinthian letter should be aware that Paul expands his thought primarily through explanation, and that explanation will probably be the major thrust of a sermon from this passage.

When the apostle Paul wrote to his young associate Titus, he wanted him to appoint elders in Crete. In Titus 1:5–9 Paul explained to Titus what he was to look for in appointing overseers in the churches. He wrote:

The reason I left you in Crete was that you might put in order what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you. An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. Rather he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. (NIV)

Paul’s subject is “What are the qualifications for a leader in the church?”

His complement is “The candidate must be ‘blameless.’”

Paul states that twice. The apostle explains what “blameless” means in three concrete frameworks: the candidate’s family life, his personal life, and his ministry. A sermon based on this passage will do a great deal of explaining of the particulars that Paul lays down. (In addition, you might want to consider other characteristics that might go into a “blameless” leader today.)

Let’s Pray —

PODCAST: The Qualifications of the Preacher, Part 34 (Proclaim #55 with Daniel Whyte III)

Welcome to episode #55 of PROCLAIM! — the podcast that teaches every Bible-believing Christian how to preach the Gospel by any means necessary in many different settings, including using the internet and the new “podcast pulpit”.

Our Scripture Verse on preaching is 2 Timothy 2:15 which reads: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

Our quote on preaching today is from George Herbert. He said, “Knowledge is but folly unless it is guided by grace.”

In this podcast, we are using as our texts, the following three books: “Lectures to My Students” by Charles H. Spurgeon; “The Preacher and his Preaching” by Alfred P. Gibbs; and “Biblical Preaching” by Haddon W. Robinson.

Today, our topic is titled “The Qualifications of the Preacher, Part 34” from “The Preacher and his Preaching” by Alfred P. Gibbs.

(2) The advantage of knowledge. Anything that better equips a preacher to proclaim “the glorious Gospel of the blessed God” more effectively deserves his most earnest consideration. Spurgeon said, “If I can be a ram’s horn for God, this is good; but if a silver trumpet, that is far better.” All other things being equal, from a spiritual standpoint, the educated preacher has a decided advantage over the uneducated. His knowledge of grammar and his command of words is greater, as well as his correct use and pronunciation of the words by which the message is conveyed. His range of general knowledge is wider, and all this store of information will prove to be of great use in illustrating and driving home the points he wishes to make.

We may well thank God that all the men of great learning are not on the side of the devil. Moses was an intellectual giant. We are told he was “learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was mighty in words and deeds”. When he made his great choice for God, and turned his back on Egypt’s treasures and pleasures, God used him mightily as a leader of Israel, inspiring him to write the first five books of the Bible. The apostle Paul is in a similar category. Brought up at the feet of Gamaliel, the greatest teacher of his time, he received a splendid education. When he was brought to know Christ, he gladly and unreservedly placed all he was, and all he had, at the disposal of his Lord and Master. By divine inspiration, the greater part of the New Testament has come to us through his pen.

One has only to look at his bookshelf to see the honored names of men who combined a high degree of intellectual attainment with a higher degree of spirituality. Though these men of God are now with Christ, their “works do follow them,” and their writings are still used to bless and edify the people of God.

The average audience of today is better educated than that of a generation ago. The widespread media networks have contributed very largely to the forming of a far more discriminating audience than was possible forty years ago. On the whole, these media programs are couched in good English, clearly enunciated and correctly pronounced. Surely it is not too much to expect that the Gospel preacher, with the greatest and grandest message in the entire world, should be able to tell out the good news in equally good forceful English, clearly enunciated and correctly pronounced.

Let’s Pray —

PODCAST: The Preacher’s Private Prayer, Part 8 (Proclaim #54 with Daniel Whyte III)

Welcome to episode #54 of PROCLAIM! — the podcast that teaches every Bible-believing Christian how to preach the Gospel by any means necessary in many different settings, including using the internet and the new “podcast pulpit”.

Our Scripture Verse on preaching is Matthew 6:6 which reads: “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.”

Our quote on preaching today is from R.A. Torrey. He said, “We are too busy to pray, and so we are too busy to have power. We have a great deal of activity, but we accomplish little. Many services, but few conversions; much machinery, but few results.”

In this podcast, we are using as our texts, the following three books: “Lectures to My Students” by Charles H. Spurgeon; “The Preacher and his Preaching” by Alfred P. Gibbs; and “Biblical Preaching” by Haddon W. Robinson.

Today, our topic is titled “The Preacher’s Private Prayer, Part 8” from “Lectures to My Students” by Charles H. Spurgeon.

How much of blessing we may have missed through remissness in supplication we can scarcely guess, and none of us can know how poor we are in comparison with what we might have been if we had lived habitually nearer to God in prayer. Vain regrets and surmises are useless, but an earnest determination to amend will be far more useful. We not only ought to pray more, but we must. The fact is, the secret of all ministerial success lies in prevalence at the mercy-seat.

One bright benison which private prayer brings down upon the ministry is an indescribable and inimitable something, better understood than named; it is a dew from the Lord, a divine presence which you will recognize at once when I say it is “an unction from the holy One.” What is it? I wonder how long we might beat our brains before we could plainly put into words what is meant by preaching with unction; yet he who preaches knows its presence, and he who hears soon detects its absence; Samaria, in famine, typifies a discourse without it; Jerusalem, with her feasts of fat things full of marrow, may represent a sermon enriched with it. Every one knows what the freshness of the morning is when orient pearls abound on every blade of grass, but who can describe it, much less produce it of itself? Such is the mystery of spiritual anointing; we know, but we cannot tell to others what it is. It is as easy as it is foolish to counterfeit it, as some do who use expressions which are meant to betoken fervent love, but oftener indicate sickly sentimentalism or mere cant. “Dear Lord!” “Sweet Jesus!” “Precious Christ!” are by them poured out wholesale, till one is nauseated. These familiarities may have been not only tolerable, but even beautiful when they first fell from a saint of God, speaking, as it were out of the excellent glory, but when repeated flippantly they are not only intolerable, but indecent, if not profane. Some have tried to imitate unction by unnatural tones and whines; by turning up the whites of their eyes, and lifting their hands in a most ridiculous manner. M’Cheyne’s tone and rhythm one hears from Scotchmen continually: we much prefer his spirit to his mannerism; and all mere mannerism without power is as foul carrion of all life bereft, obnoxious, mischievous. Certain brethren aim at inspiration through exertion and loud shouting; but it does not come: some we have known to stop the discourse, and exclaim, “God bless you,” and others gesticulate wildly, and drive their finger nails into the palms of their hands as if they were in convulsions of celestial ardor. Bah! The whole thing smells of the green-room and the stage. The getting up of fervor in hearers by the simulation of it in the preacher is a loathsome deceit to be scorned by honest men. “To affect feeling,” says Richard Cecil, “is nauseous and soon detected, but to feel is the readiest way to the hearts of others.” Unction is a thing which you cannot manufacture, and its counterfeits are worse than worthless; yet it is in itself priceless, and beyond measure needful if you would edify believers and bring sinners to Jesus. To the secret pleader with God this secret is committed; upon him rests the dew of the Lord, about him is the perfume which makes glad the heart. If the anointing which we bear come not from the Lord of hosts we are deceivers, and since only in prayer can we obtain it, let us continue instant, constant, fervent in supplication. Let your fleece lie on the threshing-floor of supplication till it is wet with the dew of heaven. Go not to minister in the temple till you have washed in the laver. Think not to be a messenger of grace to others till you have seen the God of grace for yourselves, and had the word from his mouth.

Let’s Pray —