Lloyd-Jones on the main thing
Here's a little more from Lloyd-Jones on finding and keeping the main message (we would say, theme) of a passage:
The thing I am concerned about is that you make certain that you really are getting the main message, the main thrust and import of this particular text or statement. It is quite astonishing to note how good men can avoid doing this…nothing is more important than we should be sure that we have got at the main thrust of the text amd let that come out….let it lead you, let it teach you. Listen to is and then question it as to its meaning, and let that be the burden of your sermon.
Over the pond? Don’t despair….
It was 1991 when Dick Lucas and around a dozen or so pastors sat down in a room at Tyndale House Publishers in Carol Stream (a suburb just north of Chicago). They studied 1 Corinthians 13 together. Eyes were opened. God spoke through His Word. And what was born in many of those men—including Kent Hughes and David Helm—was a life-long commitment to Biblical exposition as THE way to preach and do ministry for the glory of God. Ten years and several ‘preaching conferences’ later, the Charles Simeon Trust was founded by Kent and Dave and a few others. It was founded out of a conviction to spread God’s Word through training others in expository preaching and Bible teaching—a conviction we have always shared with the Proclamation Trust.
The Charles Simeon Trust’s function, when it was founded, was primarily to manage the growth and spread of the conferences beyond Wheaton. And in the almost 11 years since its founding, we have grown from conference per year to 20 in our present year. Most of them are focused in North America: 13 in the United States, including one for women Bible teachers, and two in Canada. Kenya and India also each host two. These conferences focus on practical instructional teaching, modeling good Biblical exposition, and working in small groups on sharpening our skills in handling God’s Word. And through the years, we have enjoyed the ongoing partnership of the Proclamation Trust by welcoming numerous dear friends to lead our conferences: Dick Lucas, David Jackman, William Taylor, and later this year we will welcome a new friend in Vaughan Roberts.
In addition to the conferences, over the last 10 years, we have also been equipping young men and women in an in-person, year-round, training scheme based in Chicago. More recently, we have brought the best of our training scheme and the best of the conferences together in an online format (available anywhere in the world that there is an Internet connection) called the Simeon Course on Biblical Exposition. Like all that we do, it is practical, hand-on training for those who want to improve in their handling of God’s Word.
For more information about the work of the Charles Simeon Trust in the United States, visit us at www.simeontrust.org.
His masters voice
For various reasons which are too complex to explain I've been flicking through Lloyd-Jones Preaching and preachers again (now, sadly, out of print). There are some real nuggets here and perhaps I will blog on one or two. Some are surprising too. My great mentor used to listen to classical music at the beginning of his sermon work which I always found slightly puzzling until I read this:
Music does not help everyone, but it greatly helps some people.
He then cites the example of Karl Barth who used to listen to Mozart every morning.
I can tell you why Karl Barth went to Mozart. He did not go to him for thoughts or ideas, he went to Mozart because Mozart did something to him in a general sense. Mozart put him into a good mood, and made him feel happy in his spirit. He released him, and set him free to do his own thinking, A general stimulus in that way is often more helpful than a particular intellectual one….anything that does you good, puts you into a good mood or condition, anything that pleases you or releases tensions and relaxes you is of inestimable value. Music does that to some in a wonderful way. So put on your gramaphone record, or whatever it is – anything you know that will help you.
I guess there are lots of pieces of advice one could download from the 'doctor.' This is probably one of the more obscure…! (For the very young reader, this picture is 'His master's voice' – what we would now call a logo. It was a music label sold to EMI. However the name lives on….in the abbreviation HMV).
Grace and the Old Testament
If the Old Testament is part of the unfolding story of the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Cor 8.9), then it must follow that every Old Testament book can be couched in those terms. Dane Ortlund (Bible publishing director at Crossway and, I assume, related to the other Ortlunds?) posted an interesting list of titles (or we would call them theme sentences) for each Old Testament book. Seeing as I'm writing about Numbers, I looked up that one first.
Numbers shows God’s grace in patiently sustaining his grumbling people in the wilderness and bringing them to the border of the promised land not because of them but in spite of them.
I like it. Couching everything in terms of one word which reflects one particular (although major) component of the gospel is always going to be limited of course. It will not refect the individual nuances of different books. But the exercise is useful in that it makes the reader (or in our case, preacher) think how the book relates to the gospel of Jesus.
This is an old post, but was tagged by Justin Taylor so it's back on my radar screen. Interesting. You can read the whole list here.
The Corinthian Question
I am about to start teaching 1st Corinthians to the second year students. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the mass of commentaries that have been written on this letter. And it is equally easy to feel confused by the chronology of events. It seems that over a seven year period, the apostle Paul made 3 visits and wrote 4 letters to Corinth:
Good letter in the Times last week
Just every now and then there is one, you know (a good letter, that is). It was last Thursday, but it's taken me until now to post it.
Sir, Delighted as I was to hear of Professor Turner’s warning on biblical exposition (Canon Stagg, letter Jan 10, responding to Edward Solomon, letter, Jan 7), we candidates for the Congregationalist ministry at the former New College, Hampstead, London, were even more solemnly warned by Principal John Huxtable during our 1960s sermon classes: “Gentlemen, I wish you would read the Bible more: it sheds such light on the Commentaries.”
The Rev Dr Peter C. Jupp
Department of Divinity, University of Edinburgh
I heartily concur. Commentaries are friends and helps. But please, not first, not second even. Read, read, read and use a little brain first, second and even third. And, in fact, the second letter of this correspondence will sound familiar to any well trained preacher:
Sir, The way Edward Solomons quoted Deuteronomy xxx, 19 (letter, Jan 7) in connection with issues relating to terminal illness reminded me of the warning Professor H. E. W. Turner used to give to Durham theological students in the 1950s and early 1960s: “a text out of context is a pretext”.
Canon Michael Stagg, Norwich
New Credo issue available now
One of the best new things on the internet is Credo magazine, OK, as a baptist, I may be biased, but this serious publication is not in-your-face baptistic. In fact, in this particular issue, you might not even know. The main topic for the issue is inclusivism, which itself is a varied thing. At its least extreme, it is that people will be saved without responding to the gospel which many, many evangelicals believe (for example, in the universal salvation of infants – although I am a dissenter when it comes to this doctrine). More overtly, inclusivism means being saved without hearing about Christ or even, in extremis, being saved outside of Christ. There are some thought provoking articles, not least that by UK all round hero Mike Reeves! He's live at this year's EMA by the way! Download the full and free edition here.
Urgency in preaching
I was teaching John 9 at Cornhill earlier in the week and we were puzzling over Jesus' words when he says "We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world." Here's our puzzle: presumably Jesus is speaking of the time when he is arrested, tried, crucified and buried, as the time of "night". But given that he will be raised, will ascend, and will pour out his Spirit to continue his ministry through the apostles (Acts 1:1-5), what does he mean by speaking of his ministry before the Cross with such a sense of urgency? After all, there was never a sense of panic about Jesus' ministry; he wasn't rushing around in a hurry trying to give sight to everyone, and so on. To put it bluntly, we wanted to ask, "What exactly is the urgency?"
Had a brief chat the other day with John Sparks who is a trustee of Parish Nursing. This is an interesting organisation which encourages the provision of nurses to churches (not just Anglican ones, despite the name). It's not going to fit into every church situation, obviously, nor is it going to be a ministry around which a church is structured or driven. Nevertheless, there may be some merit in thinking through the concept and getting in contact with them if you want to find out more. I guess the exact nature of how it works would depend on your circumstances and the particular individual you had; we'd want to make sure that gospel was central, for example.