DBG Christian Blogs and Sermons

Welcome to the DBG website for Christian blogs and articles written by Josh Buice.

Enjoy the following resources:

  • Christian Blogs
  • Christian Resources
  • Theology Articles
  • Preaching Resources
  • Audio and Video Sermons
  • Family Worship Recommendations

Providing Christian blogs, articles, and sermons on various topics from a biblical perspective.

  • Expository Preaching
  • The Exclusivity of Christ
  • Dangers of the Health, Wealth, and Prosperity Theology
  • Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Jonathan Edwards Was Fired — What Lessons Can the Church Learn?

Jonathan Edwards Was Fired — What Lessons Can the Church Learn?

In 1750, Jonathan Edwards was fired from his church.  A source of controversy regarding the Lord’s Supper created a division between he and his people and this culminated in his termination after more than 20 years of faithful service to his church.  Although Jonathan Edwards desired to make his points clearly known through a sermon series to the people, the leadership thought it would be best for him to put his theological positions in print.  Before the book was finished, printed, and delivered to Northampton, the controversy reached a boiling point.  In a letter to John Erskine on May 20th 1749, he writes the following:

A very great difficulty has arisen between my people, relating to qualifications for communion at the Lord’s table. My honoured grandfather Stoddard, my predecessor in the ministry over this church, strenuously maintained the Lord’s Supper to be a converting ordinance, and urged all to come who were not of scandalous life, though they knew themselves to be unconverted. I formerly conformed to his practice but I have had difficulties with respect to it, which have been long increasing, till I dared no longer proceed in the former way, which has occasioned great uneasiness among my people, and has filled all the country with noise. [1]

By August of 1749, Edwards’ new book had arrived in Northampton, Massachusetts. It was titled: An Humble Inquiry into the Rules of the Word of God Concerning the Qualifications Requisite to a Complete Standing and Full Communion in the Visible Christian Church.  The rift continued to grow wider as the controversy intensified.  By 1750, Edwards decided to lecture on his positions regarding the Lord’s Supper at 2pm on Thursday afternoons. Unfortunately, more guests and curious people from the community attended than members of his church.  Soon therafter, a vote was taken and only 10% of the church was in support of Jonathan Edwards staying as their pastor.  The brilliant minded, pastor-scholar had been fired from his church after more than 20 years of faithful service.

Although the case can certainly be made that Edwards was mistreated in this process, he preached his Farewell sermon on July 1st 1750 and exited the church with class and dignity.  What lessons can the church learn regarding the firing of Jonathan Edwards?

Theology Matters

In many circles within the evangelical church today, theology is minimized.  The case can be made that the pulpit is extremely shallow across the evangelical spectrum, leaving the deeper theological issues to the seminary classroom.  This pattern of dumbing down theology causes pragmatism and church growth techniques to rise to a state of prominence and influence within the evangelical church.

Theology matters for the local church and should not be reserved for a seminary classroom.  Jonathan Edwards understood this reality as he sought to put great emphasis upon God in His preaching.  This eventually cost him his pulpit, but it was a risk worth taking.  Could this brilliant man have found a loop hole and remained silent about the theology of the Lord’s table in order to keep his job?  Certainly, but Edwards was no coward nor was he a man who approached the pulpit as a mere job.  He was a pastor, a shepherd, and a scholar.  He refused to remain silent because theology matters.

Pastors are Students Too

As a student at Yale, Jonathan Edwards penned a list of Resolutions.  The 28th on the list states, “Resolved: To study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly, and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive, myself to grow in the knowledge of the same.”  Often churches call pastors to serve without considering the fact that all pastors are perpetual students.  This was true of Edwards and it should be true of all pastors.  Unless a pastor is merely a marketing team builder, he is constantly reading and challenging his mind to think through big theological issues, practical church matters, and this is a good thing. While the pastor is in his study each week, he isn’t merely reading for the church, he’s also reading for himself.  No matter how long he has served as a pastor and how many degrees he has tagging along after his name, he is still a student of God and all students change positions at times.  The church must realize that even the most seasoned pastor will be brought to a place where he must change his position on a theological issue as he learns something new about God.  Unfortunately, the First Church of Northampton was unwilling for Jonathan Edwards to change his position on the Lord’s table no matter what he had learned about God and the church of Jesus Christ.

Don’t Ignore Your Pastor

Churches should not ignore their pastor’s sermons and his writings.  The church must avoid the same mistakes that plague the immature teenager who refuses to listen to his parents and persists in a rogue and disobedient attitude through life.  Refusing to listen to the man God has placed over the church to oversee the flock of God and to shepherd the souls of God’s people is immature and it leads to disaster.  If your pastor introduces a sermon series, show up with anticipation as to what he will preach from the pulpit.  Seek to know what he is teaching and don’t pass it off as something that you don’t need.  If your pastor has a writing ministry, take time to read what comes from his pen (or his keyboard).  It doesn’t matter if it’s a blog, a book, or a monthly letter to the church, read what your pastor writes.  It will benefit you in terms of theology and practical areas of life.  According to 1 Peter 5, the role of the pastor is to shepherd the flock with faithful oversight as the undershepherd who will give an account to God.  It would not be wise nor beneficial to your soul to ignore your pastor who has been appointed by God for such duties (Heb. 13:17).

During Controversy – Make Biblical Decisions

When faced with controversy within the church, it’s often easier to make the wrong decision rather than the biblical decision.  The reasons for such mistakes is based on the fact that the devil is perpetually opposed to the church of Jesus Christ.  Schism and division is the speciality of the devil, and when controversy arises in the church it’s difficult to stay on the right path.  Like a thick fog, you often find yourself encompassed by a multiplicity of opinions, slander, and gossip.  It’s the duty of every Christian to examine their heart, their theological positions, and their final decisions through the pure lens of holy Scripture.  We must not forget that our adversary is on the prowl and is seeking to devour us (1 Pet. 5:8).  It’s imperative that we walk by the light of God’s Word (Ps. 119:11).

Jonathan Edwards, in his final sermon titled, A Farewell Sermon, addressed his church with clarity, dignity, and accuracy.  In one part of his sermon, he said the following:

Now in this present state it often happens that when ministers and people meet together to debate and manage their ecclesiastical affairs, especially in a state of controversy, they are ready to judge and censure with regard to each other’s views, designs, and the principles and ends by which each is influenced, and are greatly mistaken in their judgment and wrong one another in their censures. But at that future meeting, things will be set in a true and perfect light, and the principles and aims that everyone has acted from, shall be certainly known. There will be an end to all errors of this kind, and all unrighteous censures. [2]

  1. Jonathan Edwards to John Erskine (May 20, 1749), in The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Letters and Personal Writings, (Yale University Press, 1998), 271.
  2. Jonathan Edwards, A Farewell Sermon, July 1, 1750.

Helpful on Jonathan Edwards:

What Does a Healthy Church Look Like?

What Does a Healthy Church Look Like?

This past Friday, I was invited to preach in the New Georgia Baptist Church where my friend Keith Stell serves as pastor.  The subject of my sermon was “The Marks and Mission of the Local Church” from Acts 2:42-47.  Many books and ministries exist to help educate and equip the church with the goal of making the church more healthy.  As we consider the marks of a healthy church, what does the healthy church look like?  We could go to Mark Dever’s excellent book, Nine Marks of a Healthy Church, for reference purposes, but as we consider this subject, what church could we reference?  Certainly not the church at Corinth with their continuous sin issues.  Certainly not Ephesus with their lack of discernment and unwillingness to follow faithful leadership.  As we explore the Bible for a fitting example, we can look back to the early church in Acts as an example.  Although very young and immature, the early church can teach us some valuable lessons about church health.

They Were Together in Worship

At least twice and emphasized several additional times, the word “together” is used in this paragraph regarding the early church.  They were a together people.  Specifically, regarding worship, they were together in their devotion to four key elements of worship.

  1. Devoted to the apostles’ teaching
  2. Devoted to fellowship
  3. Devoted to the Lord’s Supper
  4. Devoted to prayer

It’s clear that the early church loved the Word of God, but they also loved one another.  The Greek term used here is κοινωνία, emphasizing “close association and mutual interests and communion, fellowship, close relationship, and all of this marked by intimacy.”  What brought these people together in this intimate relationship of love?  It was certainly the blood of Jesus Christ that had been shed for them a little more than 50 days earlier.  Their relationship to the cross and their close proximity to the cross in redemptive history caused them to remember Jesus with vivid detail at the Lord’s table and pray earnestly each day as they sought to remain faithful under pressure and threats of persecution.  They knew the risk of following Jesus, and they would soon watch their leaders die as martyrs for Christ’s sake.

They Were Together in Life

As you read this paragraph, you see the early church together in worship but also together as they lived life together.  They demonstrated genuine Christian hospitality and care for one another.  If a need arose in the life of a fellow church member, they would sell possessions and help meet the needs.  They would visit the temple, meet people, and fellowship together over meals.  I can imagine as people passed by their houses in Jerusalem they would ask, “Why are all of those people in that home so happy and full of joy?”  The Word of God says, “And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts” (Acts 2:46).  The people’s hearts were glad in God.

They Were Together in Mission

The early church is seen visibly carrying out the Great Commission.  They were praising God publicly.  This would involve spoken words of praise, song, prayers, and sermons.  They were telling the good news of Christ who had saved them through His substitutionary death on the cross.  As they would meet unbelievers, they would explain the work of Jesus Christ and how He provided eternal redemption in an eternal covenant by His blood.

Jesus Christ:

  • Fulfilled the law of God.
  • Defeated the grave.
  • Conquered the devil.
  • Satisfied the Father.
  • Paid our sin debt in full.

As they were diligent in sharing the good news of the gospel, they trusted in the sovereign work of God to bring about results.  The results came, and as the text says, day by day, the Lord added to the church.  As we consider what a healthy church looks like, let us consider the young and immature early church as an example.  As we read the book of Acts, we must constantly ask ourselves, “Is this prescriptive or descriptive?”  In this text, it’s both.  It’s a fitting description of how the early church functioned, and it’s a necessary model for us to follow.

DBG Weekend Spotlight (4-29-16)

DBG Weekend Spotlight (4-29-16)

Paul Washer preaching on the “narrow way” and explains why it’s necessary to examine yourself to see if you’re in the faith.

Are Allah and Yahweh the Same? – R.C. Sproul, in looking at the differences of Allah and Yahweh, writes, “The most obvious difference is with respect to the Trinity. Christians confess the triune nature of God.”

D.A. Carson Says This Is the “Best Technical Commentary on Ephesians” – D. A. Carson, Research Professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School explains why the EEC commentary is the “best technical commentary on Ephesians.”

Die to Your Flesh and Live – Jon Bloom explains why it’s important and essential to die to your flesh on a daily basis.

Governed by Bad News or Good News? – David Prince explains why Christians must not be governed by bad news.

How the Lord’s Supper Makes a Local Church – A helpful article about the connection of the Lord’s Super and the local church.

Did Jonathan Edwards Inspire the Modern Missions Movement? – Obbie Todd writes, “Thanks to the life of David Brainerd and the pen of Jonathan Edwards, the modern missionary movement was born in the evangelism of Andrew Fuller.”

How to preach under pressure – Ray Ortlund writes, “Blessed be our enemies!  For they teach us, with all their bluster, ever better to know what right faith, true peace and eternal joy are.


Type 1 Diabetes: Big Lessons from a Bigger God

Type 1 Diabetes: Big Lessons from a Bigger God

Two years ago my daughter, Karis, was struggling in school.  She couldn’t concentrate properly, was having vision problems, constantly battling an insatiable thirst, and constantly going to the restroom.  After finally putting the puzzle pieces together, we made the trip to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta on a Sunday evening where my oldest daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.  Our fears were confirmed that night, but it was merely the beginning of the roller coaster that would follow.  Type 1 diabetes is not the same as Type 2 diabetes.  In fact, they’re quite different.  Type 1 diabetes is not necessarily contracted due to family history or poor eating habits.  Type 1 diabetes can fall out of the clear blue sky upon a healthy individual in the midst of a healthy family.  It’s also different in the sense that the pancreas has completely failed and no longer produces insulin which is not the case with Type 2 diabetes.  During these two years, we’ve learned much more than the differences between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, and those lessons bring glory to God.

God’s Grace in my Family

This may sound cliché, but it’s true – I have a wonderful family.  I have watched our family walk through this journey of diabetes together.  We’ve all learned to look at life as a gift from God.  The Lord was more than gracious by giving me my wife – Kari.  I often tell her that she is the best wife in the world, but those words aren’t just flattery, they’re true.  Kari is consistently and faithfully laboring to manage our daughter’s diabetes.  As a homemaker and homeschool mother (and occasional blogger, you can read her article on the first anniversary of Karis’ diagnosis here), she is the primary caretaker for our daughter’s health.  Night and day, my wife is constantly caring for our little girl (who is quickly becoming a big girl).  Not one time has my wife questioned God or blamed God for not caring for our daughter.  I’ve learned to love my family more, to count the blessings of Karis’ life daily, and to love and appreciate my wife more each day through this journey of diabetes.

God’s Grace in Modern TechnologyDexcom-Type-1-Diabetes

In the hospital, we learned to manage this disease through the standard system consisting of blood sugar checks around the clock and manual shots before each meal.  We practiced drawing insulin from a vile and giving shots in the hospital’s crash course during the week of hospitalization at the time of Karis’ diagnosis.  We quickly found ourselves in our home, doing these checks around the clock, and rotating on shot duty.  Within a short time, our daughter decided that she wanted to do it herself.  Soon enough she was giving herself the majority of her own shots.  This process would continue through the first year until she received her pump and Dexcom glucose monitoring system.  Now, through modern technology, we can monitor her blood sugar with an application on our iPhone and give insulin through her advanced pump – all without multiple shots and finger pricks per day.  God has been gracious to allow this great advancement in modern technology.  In the days prior to the 1920s, Type 1 diabetes was a death sentence.  Today, with modern technology, we can treat and manage this disease more efficiently than ever before.  This is certainly due to the grace of God.

God’s Grace in His Providential Protection

Several months ago, our daughter Karis experienced a dangerous low blood sugar crash resulting in a seizure, emergency Glucagon shot, and an ambulance trip to the hospital.  I wrote about the providence of our God and His protection upon our daughter after that horrible event.  Each day as I look at my phone and chart my daughter’s blood sugars, I’m reminded of God’s providence over life and death.  He is the God who gives and takes away.  Not a single bird falls from the sky nor does one single hair fall from our head apart from the sovereignty of God.  As I think about life before the management ritual of Type 1 diabetes and compare it to our life today, it’s a grace that God has gifted to our family in allowing us to see God’s unique and meticulous providence at work on a daily basis.  We all hate diabetes and pray for a cure, but through this disease we as a family have learned to love God and trust Him.

God’s Glory

In the wake of tragedy and pain, we often seek answers from God that will never be revealed in this life.  We often find ourselves demanding answers from God.  The raw emotions that draw out such questions are not necessarily sinful, but can cross a line of sin if a person is not careful.  I’m not sure why God allowed my daughter to develop this awful disease.  I don’t have all of the answers that I would like, but I’m also reminded that I’m not God.  As I reflect on these two years, I’ve never seen my daughter complain about the diabetes routine or question her God.  As the father of a daughter with Type 1 diabetes, I can say that God is using this disease for His glory in my life and the life of my family.

  1.  We are grateful for the gift of life (James 1:17).
  2. We are blessed by the gift of family (Psalm 127:3-5).
  3. We are reminded of the frailty of life, so we aim to build our family on the foundation of the gospel that never fails (Psalm 136:1-2; Rom. 8:35-39).
  4. We are thankful for God’s providence (Matt. 10:29; Matthew 6:25-34).
  5. We are appreciative for good technology (James 1:17).
  6. We learn to place our trust in the Lord of glory (Psalm 146:3-5).

The day of my daughter’s diagnosis started with church in the morning followed by an unexpected trip to the hospital for the diagnosis.  That day ended with the two of us snuggled up together in the hospital bed reading Romans 8 and with tears rolling down my cheeks, I assured my little girl on the strong foundation of God’s Word that she had nothing to fear.  At the time of her diagnosis, Karis was a new Christian and she needed to trust in the Lord who saved her from sin to now save her from diabetes.  We’ve learned some big lessons and we serve a God who is bigger than diabetes.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. — (Romans 8:35-39 ESV)

DBG Spotlight (4-27-16)

DBG Spotlight (4-27-16)

What is free will?  In this lesson taught by R. C. Sproul, he describes the different views and definitions while upholding the biblical view.

10 Things You Should Know about J. I. Packer – Leland Ryken writes, “When I spent two days with Packer in the Crossway offices in June of 2014, he repeatedly told me that he has never cultivated a following. How, then, did he make it onto Time magazine’s list of 25 most influential evangelicals? His published writings have been the main vehicle for spreading his name and influence.”

Building the Museum of the Bible – “When finished in 2017, the Museum of the Bible will be 430,000 square feet of exhibits dedicated to the Bible. The total cost will exceed $1 billion. The Green family, the same clan that owns the Hobby Lobby retail chain, has put up the seed money behind the project, including about $50 million to purchase the real estate on which the building sits.”

DeYoung, Nichols, and Lohmann on Scriptural Authority 500 Years Ago—and Today – This interview by Ryan Hoselton is worth your time.

Resolving Apparent Contradictions in Scripture – You will appreciate this short excerpt from a sermon preached in the 2010 Ligonier National Conference by Derek Thomas.

The Depressed Homemaker’s Greatest Need – David Murray provides some helpful tips and healthy reminders about encouraging those ladies who make their home their daily job.

Does Jen Hatmaker Argue for LGBT Inclusion? – A successful blogger and author, Jen Hatmaker stepped into controversial waters with her statement on LGBTQ issues back in 2014 titled, Where I Stand.  Two years later, on April 23rd, she took to Facebook where she once again used very controversial language including the phrase, “gay Christian.”  At the time this article was written, she had grossed over 35k likes and more than 7k shares on her April 23rd Facebook post.

Dropbox’s latest idea could change the way you think about cloud storage – For those of you who use Dropbox (and who doesn’t?), this will be a big game changer.

How to Listen to a Sermon

How to Listen to a Sermon

One of the most woeful mistakes a church could make would be to teach the people that preaching is something that happens after worship.  One of the fundamental truths necessary for a healthy church is embedded in this statement, preaching is worship.  Albert Mohler has gone on record as stating, “Preaching is the first mark of the authentic church, the essential mark, the mark without which the other marks do not matter,” he said. “… Where this mark is not found, there is no church.” [1] That sentiment did not originate with Dr. Mohler.  His position is clear, but he and others stand in a long line of men who have taught that very truth.

If preaching is the essential mark that validates an authentic church, much emphasis must be placed on preaching in the life of the church.  With such a priority that rests upon preaching, the way in which a church listens, interacts, and cooperates with the preached Word is likewise extremely important.  Like test-taking, most people have never been taught how to listen to a sermon.  Listening to a sermon is often an assumed giftedness.  You know what they say about assumptions, right?  How should a person listen to a sermon?  Is it merely listening that matters?  Does posture matter?  Should technological gadgets and tools be used during preaching?  Is it proper to pray during a sermon?  Learning to listen to a sermon properly will be a spiritual boost to your Christian life.

Listen with Expositional Ears

The best method of biblical preaching is undoubtedly expositional preaching.  A consistent diet of verse-by-verse preaching is the best way to explain the Bible, teach the Bible, preach the Bible, and it likewise brings about the most consistent spiritual growth in the church.  In order for people to grow while sitting under an expository preacher, they must learn to listen with expositional ears.  That involves a heart that is inclined and willing to be taught through this method of preaching.  J. I. Packer writes, “We complain today that ministers do not know how to preach; but is it not equally true that our congregations do not know how to hear?” [2]

If a church has been accustomed to topical preaching pulled from the latest newspaper headlines, it may take them a good season before they grow to accept and understand the importance of expositional preaching.  In the end, a church can have a great expoistor in the pulpit, but if they’re unable to hear with expositional ears, the church will become stagnant and frustrated.  Put forth good effort to support your pastor as he preaches expositionally and seek to listen accordingly because in doing so you will unify the church and grow in grace.

How can a church cultivate a community of expositional people?  It begins with the pulpit, but the pew matters greatly in this equation.  Are you talking with your friends in the church about the value of sequential expository preaching?  Are you seeking to develop good habits and methods of learning during the expository sermon?  Preaching matters, but if the people don’t have ears to hear, worship is not happening.  Alistair Begg said, “When Ezra preached to the people in Nehemiah 8, the attitude with which the listeners came to hear him was crucial. We need to follow their example by committing ourselves to attend expectantly, listen carefully, and apply the Scriptures properly. Then we can leave the service with joyful hearts.” [3]

Look for the Main Point

Looking for the main point doesn’t involve looking all through the Bible during the sermon.  The main point of the passage being preached should be the main point of the sermon.  Listen carefully to your pastor’s sermon, and take time to carefully follow his movement through the text.  Looking for the main point will keep you focused on the text and will cause your heart and mind to be connected in the midst of the sermon.  Furthermore, it must be stated that looking for the main point of the sermon is not merely for the pastor who is preaching in the pulpit.  The main point of the sermon is for everyone to search out and grasp.  Although we should search through the text like Bereans, that exercise is not merely theological and the outcome should not turn us into Bible brats – ready and wiling to argue at the drop of a hat.

Apply the Sermon Personally

Not every preacher will be the same in the way he approaches application.  Some preachers are immediately practical in their sermon delivery while others are far less practical in their stressing of the application.  This is where is’t essential for every person who is listening to a sermon to apply the sermon to them personally.  Important questions to ask during and after a sermon include:

  1. What is God seeking to communicate to me?
  2. Through this text, did God reveal sin in my life?
  3. Through this text, did God encourage me in some way?
  4. How does this text affect my devotion to God?
  5. How does this text affect my worship of God?
  6. This text is more than a story.  What is God seeking to do in my life through this sermon?
  7. Why am I uncomfortable?  Could it be an indication of sin?
  8. What does this text communicate about our church as a whole?  How can I benefit our church through obedience to Christ?
  9. What does this text reveal about my family?  How can I communicate the truth to my family?
  10. What are the immediate applications that require action today and the long range applications that will require action days, months, or years into the future?

It’s extremely important to approach the personal application of a sermon through prayer rather than a mere checklist of practical considerations.  When praying through the personal application of a sermon, it can allow you to be honest with your anger, disunity, idolatry, materialism, or lack of contentment.  A quick benediction followed by a race to the local buffet will not suffice.  Most people expect the pastor to do all of the preaching and application for them, but when we put in the effort of genuine self-introspection and self-application it will pay high dividends spiritually.

Cautions to Consider

Don’t catch up on your annual Bible reading plan during the sermon.  The preaching of a sermon is not the time nor the place to catch up on your Scripture reading.  Flipping all through the Bible while the preacher is trying to preach the sermon is not the best method for taking in the truth of the sermon.  When considering how to listen to a sermon, we must remember that listening matters.  Trying to search out topics, catch up on Bible study, or researching out a theological point is not the best way to listen to a sermon.  Preaching is a time of worship, not personal research hour.

Use technology carefully during the sermon (and please silence your phone).  Regarding technology, be careful and be wise.  It could likewise be said – be considerate.  Is it ever appropriate to take a picture of the preacher or the entire congregation during the preaching of the sermon?  Yes, there is a time and place for such occasions, but it’s likely not the typical Sunday worship service.  If you would like to document the occasion or capture the scene, it would be best to do that early in the sermon as opposed to right in the middle of the preaching.  It will not disrupt people nearly as much in the beginning as it will in the middle.  However, live blogging and live tweeting sermons should be reserved for very selective occasions.  For the typical Sunday sermon, live quoting and live tweeting your pastor’s sermon on social media is not the best way to take in the content of his preaching.  Be careful when using technology devices during a sermon.

Stop trying to write every possible note down during the sermon.  Trying to take notes on every point and seeking to write down every juicy quote from the pastor’s sermon is not only impossible, but it will impair your ability to listen.  Jotting down a few notes and keeping your attention focused on the sermon is the best method.  You can always go back and listen to a playback of the sermon later in order to get the exact quote or statement from your pastor’s sermon.  This will enable you to remain focused and in a state of worship during the sermon.

Although I’m a preacher and I listen to a good number of sermons each week, I’m still learning how to listen to a sermon in the most efficient and effective way.  Taking notes and examining the text along with the preacher is important, but it’s also not a seminary classroom or hermeneutics class.  The worship of God is key, and we must approach the sermon with a heart of worship each week.  Consider these helpful words by John Piper:

Skillful listening is a non-negotiable skill for everyone who enters a church building on Sunday or plays a sermon through headphones during the week. Scripture calls us not only to consider carefully what sermons we listen to, but also how we listen to those sermons. [4]

  1. David Roach, “Preaching is first mark of a true church, Mohler tells seminarians”, Baptist Press, posted Monday, February 06, 2006.
  2. J. I. Packer, A Quest for Godliness: The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life, (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 1990), 254.
  3. Alistair Begg, Made For His Pleasure, (Chicago: Moody Press, 1996), 158.
  4. John Piper, Take Care How You Listen: Sermons by John Piper on Receiving the Word(Minneapolis: Desiring God Foundation, 2012) – Website.

Who is Jesus?

Who is Jesus?

Yesterday I preached Mark 12:35-37 in our morning worship service.  After a lengthy series of questions hurled at Jesus, He now turned to ask a question of His own.  In fact, as it was Wednesday in the Passion Week, Jesus is only two days from being nailed to the Roman cross.  It was at this moment, in His final confrontation with these skeptics, that Jesus desired to make His identity clear.  It would serve two purposes.  First, it would solidify this reality for His disciples and it would serve as a final humiliating theological fact for His opposition – one they were unwilling to accept.  There is no greater question to consider in this life that could possibly transcend this simple question:  Who is Jesus?

The Question of Identity

Jesus’ question was simple, but yet profound.  He asked, “How can the scribes say that the Christ is the Son of David” (Mark 12:35)?  While speaking in the third person, Jesus distanced Himself from the equation on purpose in order for the skeptics to consider the question fully.  The point was much like Jesus’ statement about Abraham in John 8:58.  The One who predates the prophet came after him.  The Christ predates David, yet, He came after Him.  In the minds of those who opposed Jesus, they were still awaiting the Christ to come.  They were unwilling to accept the fact that the Christ of God was standing before them.

The title of Christ, Χριστός in the Greek means, “The anointed One of God – the Messiah.”  Jesus had made it abundantly clear that He is the Christ.  He demonstrated it through His preaching, His miracles, and the fact that He fulfilled all of the Messianic prophecies.  Jesus once asked His disciples this question and it’s recorded in Matthew 16.  Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is” (Matthew 16:13).  They responded, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”  Jesus responded with another question, “But who do you say that I am?”  Peter responded, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  The disciples came to understand that He is the Christ, but their faith was often weak.  No matter what Jesus did, the unbelieving skeptics were blind and deaf spiritually and could not see the truth.

The Prophetic Foundation of Jesus’ Identity

Jesus quoted from Psalm 110, a well known Messianic Psalm to establish the foundation of His identity.  In His quotation of David, he likewise upheld a firm commitment to the inspiration of Scripture.  It was David himself who wrote, but he wrote in the Spirit of God.  This statement is in tune with 2 Peter 1:21 and 2 Timothy 3:16.  Jesus had a high view of Scripture.

Psalm 110 is a very important Psalm.  Without question, it’s about the Messiah.  The entire Psalm is focused on the Messiah.  There is no theological and exegetical digging necessary to see if it’s a true Messianic Psalm, it’s clear from the beginning.  The interesting point regarding Psalm 110 is that it’s the most quoted Psalm in the New Testament.  Psalm 110:1 is quoted many times, some 27 times in the New Testament.  This is one very important song written down by King David, and Jesus quotes it one last time before He goes off to the cross in order to establish His true identity.

The Son of David is the Sovereign Lord – the Messiah.  Although He comes after him, the Son of David was before Him.  Earlier when Jesus was passing by blind Bartimaeus, he called out with passion to Jesus saying, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me” (Mark 10:47)!  Unlike the religious establishment of the day, blind Bartimaeus could see that Jesus is the Son of David.  Although the skeptics refused to connect the dots from 2 Samuel 7 and Psalm 110 to Jesus, later John the Apostle was given the Revelation where Jesus said, “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star” (Revelation 22:16).

The Rhetorical Question Focused on Jesus’ Deity

How can David call the Christ both Lord and son?  This would require something miraculous – something the Sadducees would reject.  The incarnation fulfilled this prophecy in totality.  The Christ who is Lord became a man and by clothing Himself in human flesh, He was able to come through the line of David and be called – son.  This put on display the mind blowing truth of Jesus’ deity.  He was both God and man – the God-man.

Regarding Creation – Jesus was not only with the Father when light was spoken into existence (from nothing), but He was the One doing the act of creating.  This is made clear in Colossians 1:16.

Regarding Prophetic Proclamation – Jesus fulfilled all of the promises of the Messiah.  From the place of birth to His name, His suffering, shame, and eventual sacrifice for His people.  He became the Prophet greater than Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15), the Priest greater than Melchizedek (Hebrews 4:14), and the King greater than David (Philippians 2:5-11; Revelation 19:16).

Regarding Salvation – Jesus came to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10).  He upheld the law of God in perfection and died a substitutionary death for sinners (1 Peter 2:24).  After being put to death, Jesus was resurrected from the dead on the third day.  After preaching and appearing to many people over a period of 40 days, He ascended into heaven and fulfilled Psalm 24 as He sat down at the right hand of the Father in a place of prominence, prestige, honor, and sovereignty.

The skeptics refused to believe the preaching of Jesus, but on this day, the great throng gladly heard Jesus.  What about you?  Do you gladly hear Jesus?  Jesus is not a cosmic boogeyman nor is He a figurine you unbox at Christmas. His identity demands worship and devotion.

Do you gladly hear the gospel of Christ and does it make you glad in God?  The truth of this gospel presented by Jesus leads us to sing:

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
Ho­ra­tio G. Spaf­ford, 1873.

DBG Weekend Spotlight (4-22-16)

DBG Weekend Spotlight (4-22-16)

In the 2016 T4G, they used a few special videos titled, “Voices from the Past” and this particular video is titled, “What shall we do?”  It’s worthy of your time as we all consider what we’re going to do from this day forward as the Reformation continues.

Is it Ever Legitimate to Complain to God or to Express Anger to God? – R. C. Sproul deals with a controversial topic that every child of God will face at some point in their life.

What Can We Take to Heaven? – Barnabas Piper writes, “You can’t take the stuff of this life with you when you die. Not your house or car or kids or 401-K or 403-B or lake house or book collection or dog or cat (because cats don’t go to heaven). When you’re dead you’re gone. So what is the point of all the effort to enrich this life? Is it simply to make our few years on this terrestrial ball more tolerable and meaningful? I hope not because even a meaningful eight decades mean little when compared to eternity.”

5 Reasons Why the New Calvinism Is Worth Supporting – You might have a few select differences on doctrine or practical positions, but the New Calvinism is worthy of your support.

T4G Resources – Take time to listen to the sermons from the most recent T4G conference.  I especially enjoyed the “Voices from the Past” special productions.

Like Any Prince – Yesterday, Prince died.  As Jon Bloom makes clear in his article, like any prince, we all shall die.  He writes, “And so it is with us all. As the psalmist wrote, “like men you shall die, and fall like any prince” (Psalm 82:7). Prince has fallen. And so shall we.”


Preaching and Teaching Are Not the Same

Preaching and Teaching Are Not the Same

When I sit with my family around the table for a meal on the Lord’s day, I will typically ask, “What did I preach about today?”  I love hearing my children answer the question with correct answers, although occasionally I have to step in and assist them with the answer.  I don’t typically ask “What did I teach about today?”  I could ask about my teaching, but I typically ask about my preaching.  In the sermon, both elements of preaching and teaching are present.  Exactly where is the overlap and how can you discern between the two?  Does the church need both teaching and preaching?

The Differences Between Preaching and Teaching

Preaching and teaching have a certain amount of similarities, but we must be clear – preaching is not teaching and teaching is not preaching.  J. I. Packer once wrote, “Preaching appears in the Bible as a relaying of what God has said about Himself and His doings, and about men in relation to Him, plus a pressing of His commands, promises, warnings, and assurances, with a view to winning the hearer or hearers…to a positive response.” [1]

Paul spoke of these two acts and apparently noticed differences and similarities at the same time (1 Tim. 5:17; ).  Preaching is the act of proclamation.  In the life of the church, the preacher preaches the Bible.  Taken from specific terms found in the Bible, preaching has the goal of heralding the truth of God’s Word.  The Greek word, κηρύσσω, used by Paul in 2 Timothy 4:2 means, “to act as a herald and make an official announcement, to proclaim aloud, to make public declarations.”  The picture here is one of the town herald who would enter a village, gain everyone’s attention by blowing a horn or signaling to everyone to gather around, and then immediately after the hush of the people, he would make a public declaration on behalf of the king and with the authority of the king himself.  Haddon Robinson writes, “Ideally each sermon is the explanation, interpretation, or application of a single dominant idea supported by other ideas, all drawn from one passage or several passages of Scripture.” [2] Preachers make public declarations with the authority of the King of kings.  That is what preaching consists of – proclaiming the truth of God’s Word.  Preaching involves: 

  • Proclamation
  • Explanation
  • Confrontation
  • Exhortation
  • Correction
  • Persuasion
  • Motivation
  • Edification
  • Illustration
  • Application
  • Conclusion

The act of preaching involves passion, compassion, and a desire to impart truth at the same time.  Martyn Lloyd-Jones defined preaching by writing:

What is preaching? Logic on fire! Preaching is theology coming through a man who is on fire. A true understanding and experience of the Truth must lead to this. I say again that a man who can speak about these things dispassionately has no right whatsoever to be in a pulpit; and should never be allowed to enter one. [3]

Precision is necessary in preaching, and it should have a healthy balance between the head and the heart.  Divorce the head from the heart, and you will have a train wreck of emotion in the pulpit.  Disconnect the heart from the head in the pulpit and you will have a running commentary of cold theology that does not lead the congregation to proper doxology.  Tears of joy, conviction, and eyes that dazzle in the glory of God is the goal – not yawns of boredom.  Preaching is best accomplished through careful, expository, and passionate theological statements that are heralded from the sacred desk of God.  Save your gadgets, laser pointers, video clips, and other teaching tools for the classroom.  Preach the Word.

Although teaching is similar to preaching, there are differences that must be noted.  Teaching imparts truth to people, but the act and the context will look and feel differently.  The Greek word, διδάσκω, used in 2 Thessalonians 2:15, means, “to tell someone what to do, to instruct, to provide instruction in a formal setting.”  The work of teaching is less heralding and more discipleship oriented.  Teaching is mainly the classroom style of imparting knowledge and seeking to apply it while making sure the student understands the truth.  When teachers teach the truth, there is often a lecturing element to the event.  Often times there will be a discussion element involved in teaching that provides immediate and on-the-spot feedback that’s missing from the context of the sermon.  In the teaching setting, other outside tools such as laser pointers, media devices, audio or video clips, and various other tools are employed to drive home the truth.  These elements are often missing from the preaching event.  John Piper does not encourage preachers to employ visual media in the pulpit while preaching, but suggests that these tools should be reserved for other teaching settings.

The Overlap of Preaching and Teaching

All pastors are called to be teachers (Eph. 4:11).  What I mean in that short pithy statement is that I believe Paul to be labeling the office of pastor as pastor-teacher in Ephesians 4:11.  Therefore, in every sermon there must be teaching.  There is a natural and healthy overlap between preaching and teaching.  Not everyone who teaches will make a good preacher.  Not everyone who is skilled in the pulpit will make a good teacher.  It’s often true that people find their calling and giftedness leading them to spend their primary attention on one of the two as opposed to both preaching and teaching.  Some elders are certainly gifted teachers, but they’re not equally as gifted in the pulpit.  Those individuals typically are not called to be the primary preachers in the life of the church.  Many preachers who are obviously skilled in the pulpit are not as skilled in areas of formal classroom instruction or written communication, but there is always a natural and necessary overlap at some level.

The preacher who never teaches will likely fill his sermons with clichés, jokes, and shocking statements that often cause people to remember the effect as opposed to the truth.  Teachers who never preach are often boring, commentary style, dry, dull, and lifeless communicators.  It’s one thing to know the truth, but quite a different thing to communicate the truth effectively.  There must be an overlap between the preaching and teaching worlds in the hearts and minds of those given to this calling in the church.  Apparently Paul and Barnabas were engaged in both teaching and preachingministry (Acts 5:42; 15:35).

The Need for Preaching and Teaching

The church must have both preaching and teaching.  Without preaching and teaching overlap and giftedness in the church, the people would starve spiritually.  Both preaching and teaching serve the church by equipping the saints for the work of ministry, leading the people to exult in God, revealing the glory of God that leads to doxology, and breaking the hearts of the church for the unbelieving masses among the nations.  Preaching reinforces teaching and teaching reinforces preaching.  The church that minimizes preaching or teaching (or both) will suffer a long list of perils.  Walt Kaiser, in his book, Toward an Exegetical Theology writes:

It is no secret that Christ’s Church is not at all in good health in many places of the world. She has been languishing because she has been fed, as the current line has it, “junk food”; all kinds of artificial preservatives and all sorts of unnatural substitutes have been served up to her. As a result, theological and Biblical malnutrition has afflicted the very generation that has taken such giant steps to make sure its physical health is not damaged by using foods or products that are carcinogenic or otherwise harmful to their physical bodies. Simultaneously a worldwide spiritual famine resulting from the absence of any genuine publication of the Word of God (Amos 8:11) continues to run wild and almost unabated in most quarters of the Church. [4]

The need of the hour is for faithful and passionate expository preaching to be reinforced by precise and careful teaching that exalts God, convicts sinners, and fuels healthy growth.  God desires for the church to grow by proclamation and explanation – preaching and teaching of the gospel (Matt. 28:18-20).  Preachers must not be afraid of going deep and teachers must not be afraid of passionate proclamation.  God’s truth is not reserved for the seminary classroom, so God desires for preachers to teach.  Paul instructed Timothy to do both preaching and teaching.

2 Timothy 4:1-2 – I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.

  1. J. I. Packer, Preaching a Biblical Interpretation in Inerrancy and Common Sense, ed. Roger Nicole and J. Ramsey Michaels, (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1980), 189.
  2. Haddon Robinson, Biblical Preaching, (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1980), 33.
  3. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Preaching and Preachers, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1971), 97.
  4. Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., Toward An Exegetical Theology (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1981), 7-8.

DBG Spotlight (4-20-16)

DBG Spotlight (4-20-16)

In the 2005 Mark Dever preached in the Ligonier National Conference and his topic was titled – “Whatever Happened to Worldliness?”

10 Reasons I Love Being a Pastor – John MacArthur has been a pastor for many years, and he still loves it.

Adam LaRoche Quit Baseball To Follow His Faith, But What He Won’t Say Is Heartbreaking – You might find it interesting to know why Adam LaRoche walked away from a 13 million dollar contract.

Joel Osteen Ordered To Acquire Butcher’s License Due To Exegetical Methods – Satire always has an element of truth, and they didn’t miss it here.

Visual Theology – Tim Challies’ latest project is one worthy of your attention.  With attractive graphics and solid theology, this book is one you want sitting around in your living room for continual review.

2016 Boston Marathon – The third largest field in the race’s history – the 2016 Boston Marathon was a big hit.

Living an Others-Oriented Life – “Being a disciple of Jesus means orienting our lives toward others, just as Jesus did. It means laboring for the sake of others.”

7 Ways to Live with Diabetes to the Glory of God – Josh Philpot talks about life with diabetes and glorifying God through it all.

Social Connections

Featured: Dr. Steven Lawson, from the 2014 G3 Conference