Monthly Archives: February 2007

The God Delusion? Richard Dawkins Seems To Be the Deluded One

Richard Dawkins has just published The God Delusion, a 416 page tome decrying the improbability and implausibility for the existence of God.

Yet, Alvin Plantinga wrote a scathing review not just of the book, but of the philosophy behind such a premise.  Click here.

Also, if you are a fan of Stephen Colbert, host of the Colbert Report on Comedy Central, then you will enjoy this interview he conducted with Richard Dawkins.  Click here for Part I and here for Part II to view.

Advertisements
Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Martin Luther at the Diet of Worms

An excellent clip from the movie “Luther” (2003). All we ask is to be convinced by Scripture and not by man.

Categories: Uncategorized

Submissive Hearts, Submissive Homes, Part III: Godly Parents, Godly Children

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:1-4, ESV).

In his commentary on Ephesians, James Montgomery Boice (1938-2000) makes a great point that all of us who have children would do well to remember:

It is a conviction of mine that no man has a right to tell other people how to raise their children until he has children of his own and has tried to raise them. As a corollary, I am convinced that no wise man will give advice even then until his own children have grown up and turned out well.

He speaks wise words indeed. No duty on earth is more joyous, more rewarding, and at the same time painstaking and heartbreaking like raising children. Danny Akin one time said that if school were life, marriage would be graduate school and raising children would be doctoral work. With raising children, you not only learn much about children, but oftentimes you learn more about yourself.

This morning, our passage deals with the mutual relationships between parents and children. Yes, I have four children, but I am not qualified by experience to tell anyone how to raise their children. But through the leadership of the Word of God and the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit, we can see what God’s design for this relationship is.

Paul writes this in a very troubling period in history. The Roman Empire gave ultimate rule to the father to do with his children as he pleased. Sadly, too many of these fathers ruled in a selfish, heartless, iron-fisted manner. William Barclay notes in the patria potestas (“the father’s power”), it states:

A Roman father had absolute power over his family. He could sell them as slaves; he could make them work in his fields, even in chains; he could take the law into his own hands, for the law was in his own hands, and he could punish as he liked; he could even inflict the death penalty on his child. Further, the power of the Roman father extended over the child’s whole life, so long as the father lived. A Roman son never came of age.

Roman fathers could also reject their children based upon his first sight of the child as well as the gender. One Roman father wrote his wife, “If — good luck to you! — you have a child, if it is a boy, let it live; if it is a girl, throw it out.”

Christianity has done so much for the elevation of the status of women — and now in this case, for the status of children in society. Paul was well-aware of this mindset of parenting and was also aware of how diametrically opposed his worldview was. But as Solomon said, there is nothing new under the sun. We are still struggling with very similar problems here in 21st America.

Here are some more troubling statistics:
 One million children a year see their parents divorce.
 More than 50% of the children in America’s public school live in single-parent homes.
 35% of America’s children live apart from their biological fathers.
 50% of children who live apart from their biological fathers have never set foot in their father’s house.
 Children in single-parent homes have a 300% greater possibility of a negative life outcome than children raised in homes where both parents are present.
 The majority of children in America have less than 10 minutes of significant and meaningful conversation with their parents each week.

It seems that all aspects of the home are under assault by the enemy. With the divorce rates both inside and outside the church up around the 50% area, with the majority of homes in America in which our children are raised are single-parent homes. Even so many who keep their homes together find themselves ruled by a me-first attitude which leads either to yelling on the one end or cold wars on the other.

This morning, I pray that God’s Word will not only inform us about his will, but will also transform our hearts through His Holy Spirit.

(To listen to the rest of this sermon, click here If you would like to save this to your computer, simply right click your mouse and then click “Save Target/Link As…” and you’re good to go!)

Categories: culture, family | Leave a comment

Mohler on King Discussing Homosexuality


Notice how those who hold to gay ministers that they keep saying, “Who I believe God made me to be” and how in her gay relationship, she “feels whole and complete”  — even though Scripture mandates something completely opposite .  We must be who God made us to be as he has revealed in his word. Notice the man who begins to question Dr. Mohler’s use of the word ‘truth.’ It’s the old Postmodern understanding of truth being how we personally define it rather than an absolute standard. Who made that rule? We must keep those who claim the name of Christ, yet divert from his Word, in prayer.

Categories: culture, homosexuality, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Rhett and Link at the Grammys

Some of you may not know who Rhett and Link are.  To quote Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story, “You have my pity.”  They put together some very clean and creative (borderline ingenious) videos online — even one with Southern Seminary President Albert Mohler (click here to see).

They won a radio station contest which allowed them to go to the Grammys in LA.  They arrived — but would they be able to get past the checkpoints — and if so, would they get on the Red Carpet?

They did so.  You will not believe this.

Categories: Humor | 3 Comments

Thy Word Is Truth

“Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17, ESV).

When Jesus spoke this high priestly prayer just prior to His arrest and crucifixion, He sought to comfort His disciples in a number of ways. First, He comforted them with the fact that He would return to take them to where He would be: heaven (John 14:1-3). He continued to comfort them with His Holy Spirit who would serve as Helper (John 15:26, 16:7), Truthbearer (John 16:12-13), Paraclete, and many other functions.

But in John 17:17, Jesus comforts them with Basic Theological Principle #1: His Word is truth. And here, Jesus longs to sanctify them in this truth. They were to be set apart for holy use by His Word, the Word of Truth. Whatever else we discuss on theological matters, if we miss out on the trustworthiness of the Holy Writ, all other matters will be mere conjecture and speculation.

As a preacher and pastor, I could never enter the pulpit before my people with any sense of confidence and rest unless I have understood the nature of the Book from which I preach. This is not merely a great piece of literature; this is not some philosophical work by Immanuel Kant or Rene Descartes; this is not a great scientific work by Stephen Hawking. This is God’s Holy Word. And the truth contained in this makes all other literature, philosophy, or science look, as John Piper once said, like a first grade reader.

We hold the truth in our hands — and this Book springboards us intoall other theological matters, for this is how God has chosen to reveal Himself to His people and to the world.

Let us be beavers for the Book, dear friends.

Categories: Devotional | 2 Comments

Two Main Designs the Devil Has Upon Men

Recently, I was reading one of my favorite Puritan authors John Bunyan and his work Heart’s Ease in Heart Trouble.  Bunyan, most known for his Pilgrim’s Progress (a book every Christian must read), writes on Jesus’ statement in John 14:1, “Let not your hearts be troubled.”  This condition is something we must battle against, especially when an enemy seeks to steal and kill and destroy (John 10:10).

But I was especially captured by what Bunyan wrote concerning the devil:

Two main designs the devil hath upon men:  The one is, if possibly, by all imaginable sleights, temptations, and enticements, he may keep men in a course of ungodliness, to hinder them from coming to Christ by faith and repentance, to deter them from His holy ways.  And when he cannot prosper in this, but that unsearchable, rich, free grace takes hold of some poor souls, and they are snatched out of the devil’s hands, their captivity led captive by that mighty Redeemer, than all the devil’s labor is to hinder their comfort, and to interrupt their peace, and to make their way to heaven as hard and uncomfortable to them as possible, pursuing them with all dejecting and heart-troubling temptations. 

How many of us are experiencing right now the devil’s hindering our comfort and interrupting our peace?   We must first consider if there is some unconfessed sin in our hearts and minds.  Psalm 66:18 tells us that:

    If I had cherished iniquity in my heart,

        the Lord would not have listened.

With this, we see that when the home of our hearts is troubled, it is because we have let the devil in the front door.

Next, we engage in some active warfare.  Jesus says, “Let not your hearts be troubled.”  How do we get past this?  “You believe in God, believe also in me” (John 14:1).  Faith in Christ allays all anxieties and doubts and strengthens one with an unassailable joy in the One who triumphs over our circumstances.

After watching the recently-released movie Luther, there is a scene in which Martin Luther (played to near perfection by Joseph Fiennes) is preaching to his congregation.  He confesses to his congregation that the devil reminds him of his sins and his worthiness of hell.  Then he says, “When the devil reminds you of how you deserve hell, you say to him, ‘Yes, I do deserve that fate, but what of it?  I have one who stands in my behalf and His name is Jesus Christ who purchased heaven for me by His blood for my sins.”  When I saw and heard that scene, I said, “Woo!  Glory!  Preach it, Dr. Luther!” 

Jesus Christ offers ease to the heart for the trouble of the heart.  Many times, all we need to do is recall the promises of God and the redemptive work of Christ and that will cure what ails us.

Categories: Devotional | Leave a comment

American Idol, American Shamefulness

Tim Challies, uber-blogger extraordinaire, wrote an incredibly convicting piece concerning a cultural phenomenon known as American Idol. As someone who in the past has truly enjoyed watching this show, I realize I am much like the average viewer he describes. I realize that I joke about those who cannot sing more than I praise those who can sing.

What I failed to realize was that before these hopefuls come before Simon and Randy and Paula, they have already gone through two screenings. Has AI duped these folks who have no singing talent into thinking they actually have some? Are they truly setting these people up high on a pedestal, only to have them put down by the laughter of Randy, the pity of Paul, and the skewering of Simon? In front of 41 million viewers?

william-hung.jpgAnd what of us! We watch! We cringe! We are amazed at the talent — good and bad! They produce conversation around the water cooler and are the fodder of jokes and punchlines for weeks on end. All I have to do is mention William Hung and Red, and nothing else needs to be said for the picture to be painted.)

We really need to look at ourselves and see if American Idol is really good for the American soul? Is American Idol really conducive to the Christian worldview who sees everyone made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) and with that comes a certain dignity that we should certainly uphold? Do we really understand that these are human beings with human feelings aspiring toward a very real dream they were led to believe they could attain?

It reminds me of the story of a man in Roman times who at first refuse to go to the coliseum to see the lions tear someone to shreds. He found it barbaric. Finally, he gave in. At first, he covered his eyes. Soon, he peaked through his fingers to see. Soon after, he found himself cheering it on with the masses.

We have a way of being desensitized to the most heinous activities around us. How much as American Idol desensitized us to the value God places on humanity?

What are your thoughts?

Please take time to read all of Tim’s article by clicking here.

Categories: culture | 2 Comments

Why Revival Services Are Still a Good Thing

Written to the Boone’s Creek Baptist Church, Lexington, KY
Laying the Foundation, Vol. 1, no. 9
(c) 2007

As you know, each Spring we have our yearly revival services where we prayerfully bring in a speaker who is faithful to the Word of God and reliant on the Spirit of God as he is used by God to preach to the people of God and woo souls into the Kingdom of God (got all that?). This year, our revival services kick off with a youth rally on Saturday, March 17, followed by services on the 18th-21st (Sunday morning at 11:00 a.m., then Sunday night through Wednesday night beginning at 7:00 p.m.).

Recently, my good friend Mark Combs (who is pastor of Salem Baptist Church in Salem, KY) and I were having an interesting conversation about revival services. Growing up, I always took them for granted. We discussed how oftentimes it seems as if people wrongly mistook revival services as an appropriate (and often only) time to engage in evangelistic work — and even then, it is done by the musicians and the preachers, not necessarily by the people of the church.

Because of this misuse of revival services, we as young pastors try to avoid singing the “because-that’s-what-we’ve-always-done-before” blues. As a result, this conversation made me contemplate this one simple question: “Are revival services still a good thing?” Have they outgrown their usefulness? Have we moved on to other more productive types of ministries and meetings?

Since I’ve been at Boone’s Creek, we have had revival services each Spring. These revival services have been good for the brothers and sisters in Christ in our church for a number of reasons.

Revival Services are an Initiated Time in the Word

I am convinced after being in the ministry for fifteen years that we must be proactive in readying ourselves for when the Spirit of God chooses to move on his people. Too many well-intentioned evangelicals who love Jesus and want to see souls saved and see Christians committed to their Lord and his church make the mistake of thinking they can manipulate situations through preaching or other special events which will be key in having folks “come to Jesus.” We think we can tell the Spirit when to move, but we just can’t.

You see Jesus himself tells us in John 3:7-8: “Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.’” We do not know when the Spirit of God will move. This is on God’s timetable — not an activity or a movement that can be manipulated by any human. Too many folks look down on revival services for that reason —- too many man-centered churches using man-centered techniques.

Yet (having said all that), what we are responsible for is getting ourselves ready when he does choose to move. We must certainly be proactive as individuals and as a community of faith to get our vessels ready. When we expect company, we make a full-fledged effort to get our houses ready. Revival services serve that function: where a people of God initiate a time in the Word of God so that when his Spirit moves, we are ready because the Word has readied us.

First Corinthians 2:3-5 sums this up beautifully:

And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.


Revival Services are an Anticipated Time in the Word

Whenever we schedule a revival service, we obviously find a Spirit-led speaker who will come ready to open up God’s Word. About two months prior to this, we begin to promote these special services, giving our people a chance to anticipate this special time in the Lord.

During this promotion time, we must be careful. How easy it would be to promote special singers, special fellowship dinners, or even to promote the preacher delivering the Word of God. This year, Bro. Mike Caudill from First Baptist Church, Hindman, KY, will be our guest preacher. Mike has a pastor’s heart with a passion to see people come to Christ and know God through his holy Word.

Yet we cannot elevate the people and events in the service above the reason why we have these special services: to be reawakened to the glories of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to be motivated by those glories to put feet to our faith. This is what we must anticipate. This is what we must promote. Not people, places, or events —- we must promote Jesus Christ who is the Gospel. Hear Jesus’ words from the Gospel of John

You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me … How can you believe, when you receive glory from one an other and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God (John 5:39, 44, ESV)?

Revival Services are a Concentrated Time in the Word

Revival services are about concentrating on the Spirit of Christ reawakening our heart to the joy of the Gospel. We believe the Gospel is not simply a set of facts we have to hold to to get to heaven. If that were the case, the Pharisees would be knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door before all others. No, the Gospel is a way of life, something that the Christian must continually preach to himself in order to live a life of worship before God not just in church but in all areas and in all relationships. Revival services (or whatever you choose to call them), are four days and five services of redirecting our focus on Christ who we pray will awaken our hearts to a passion and a delight for himself.

In our culture, it is impossible to concentrate on any one thing. We have so many options. I sit here at my computer and can be distracted by e-mail, iTunes, web pages with sermons and news items, telephone, and even men hammering outside as they install their windows. I can go home and be distracted again by phones as well as television, books, and a myriad of other household activities. We are an ADD/ADHD culture who seeks to either multitasks or impatiently moves on to another project when the original project bores us. C.S. Lewis noted that “we are far too easily pleased.” I would add that our culture is far too easily bored and distracted.

Revival services give us an opportunity to focus and concentrate on the Word of God (the Scriptures) that shows us the Word of God (Jesus Christ —- John 1:1). God has used these revival services to help change lives if for no other reason that to help us concentrate for these few services during the week on His Word.

Ever notice how those who go off to a Christian camp or on a missions trip seem changed when they come back? They have concentrated that particular time on Kingdom work and Kingdom thoughts. This revival service can serve in just that way.

The Apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 10:3-6:

For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.

Revival Services are an Extended Time in the Word

How long does one have revival services? Generations ago, no one would think twice about having a two-week long set of meetings where God would visit and do awesome things for the Kingdom of Christ. Nowadays, three or four day meetings are typical. Why so long?

We are creatures of habit and routine, are we not? It takes humans very little time to adjust to a situation — and when we do, it takes just as much time to adjust back to the original setting. Having revival services for an extended amount of time is key for our constitutional make-up. We often need a day or two to get the ‘self’ out of the way so we may be receptive vessels to receive God’s Spirit. Oftentimes, these extended times enlighten us as to how must ‘self’ has clouded our communion with Christ and our siblings in Christ, as well as our communication with God in worship and prayer.

This year, our revival services are from March 18-21. This means we will have two services on Sunday (normal), then a service on Monday night (OK, that’s weird having church on Monday, but … o-k, I’ll come), then Tuesday night (“You know, God really touched me on Monday night — I wonder what he will do tonight!”), then finally Wednesday night (“I know this is normally prayer meeting night and I usually don’t make it to that, but this is the last night of the services, and God’s really awakening my heart — I must come tonight to see how these times will end”).

Yet, they do not end, do they? It would be ludicrous to say, “OK, the revival services have ended — now back to business as usual.” If you have anticipated and prepared your heart spiritually for what God purposes in your heart, then your business as usual will become one who lives a life eyes wide open, awakened to the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Blessed is the man who walks not in the
counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers
(Psalm 1:1-3, ESV)

Revival Services are an Edifying Time in the Word

Face it —- we’re selfish. We spend our time simply trying to figure out how to improve our personal situation. Too many come to church to have their personal needs met or to ‘get a blessing’ or to figure out how to ‘get right with the man upstairs’ (a dangerous expression if there ever was one). It’s inward-focused. It’s all personal.

And it’s not biblical.

Yes, Christ did die on the cross so that we as individuals may come to him and be reconciled to him by grace through faith (Romans 3:24-26). Yet in the Scriptures, our lives are never divorced from the community of faith known as the Church. And our lives are never separated from the world in which God placed us.

Look at Paul’s heart in Romans 9:1-3

I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit— that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh.

You may read that and say, “Huh? Paul, are you willing to forfeit your salvation so your kinsmen of Israel may know Jesus?” That’s his passion —- and if you read through the book of Acts, you see his great effort in the power of the Spirit to go to the Gentiles so they may know the great salvation provided in Christ —- often to the expense of his own personal safety.

While revival services were never intended to be the sole evangelistic role a church plays, these services most certainly open eyes to our need to see the lost as Christ sees. We see the shepherd in Luke 15 who leaves the 99 sheep to go find the lost one —- and a party ensues over the finding of the lost sheep. This is the heart of God and it must be our heart as well.

Hear this: revival services are for Christians, not the lost. You cannot be re-vived until you have been ‘vived.’ You cannot be re-awakened until you have come out of your sin and slumber to your situation through faith in Christ’s work on the cross. When we are reawakened, we take that passion into the mission field God has placed us: work, home, school, travel, bowling alleys, golf courses, fishing holes, supermarkets —- everywhere. This is how Christ’s body works.

Conclusion

I am not against revival services —- I’m against man-centered, man-manipulated, entertainment-driven, and ill-focused revival services. May God tune our hearts to sing his grace as we seek all seek to be tuned to the Holy Spirit of God —- with His Word as our tuning fork. Hope to see you at the revival services this coming March.

Categories: Church Life | 3 Comments

"Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture" by Graeme Goldsworthy (A Review)

goldsworthy.jpgGraeme Goldsworhy serves as lecturer in Old Testament, biblical theology, and hermeneutics at Moore Theological College in Sydney, Australia. He has authored numerous works, including Gospel and Kingdom, The Gospel in Revelation, Gospel and Wisdom, and According to Plan.

The purpose of this work “is to provide a handbook for preachers that will help them apply a consistently Christ-centered approach to their sermons” (ix). He also acknowledges the use for lay-leaders who have “had little or no formal training” (ix), thus he aims to keep technical language to a minimum. Goldsworthy understands the need to display “the function of biblical theology” (ix) in moving the listener from the text to the hearer. With this conviction, he seeks to bridge the gap between biblical studies and biblical theology.

Summary

Goldsworthy divides this work into two parts: Part I is entitled “Basic Questions We Ask About Preaching and the Bible” and contains chapters 1-9. Part 2 deals with “The Practical Application of Biblical Theology to Preaching” and contains chapters ten through eighteen.

In Chapter 1, entitled “Nothing but Christ and Him Crucified,” Goldsworthy notes how central the gospel is theologically and experientially in the person of Jesus Christ in both the Old and New Testaments. Chapter 2 seeks to answer the question, “What is the Bible?” Goldsworthy contends that an evangelical is “one who maintains adherence to the conviction of the final authority of the Bible as God’s word written” (11). The Bible is the one Word of the one and true God — a conviction which Goldsworthy believes must be proclaimed in light of both the Enlightenment and postmodern mindsets which both denounce the authority of Scripture.
Chapter 3 seeks to answer the question, “What is Biblical Theology?” “Biblical theology,” writes Goldsworthy, “involves the quest for the big picture . . . of biblical revelation” (22). Through this quest, principles arise out of the Bible’s unity revealing God’s progressive plan and purpose amongst the redeemed. Chapter 4 seeks to answer yet another question: “What is Preaching?” Goldsworthy believes that evangelicals must ask the hard questions about preaching. He believes by looking into the New Testament in a “holistic way” (32), the interpreter sees what prominent doctrine comes to the fore concerning the various events as well as those issues concerning Christ, the focal point of biblical theology.

Chapter 5 asks, “Was Jesus a Biblical Theologian?” Goldsworthy notes, “The unity of the Bible is a matter of theological conviction and faith because of the testimony of Jesus and the nature of the gospel” (51). Chapter 6 deals with the type of unity the Bible possesses. Goldsworthy does not believe this is merely an “academic question” (63). He disavows any need for theologies dealing with only the Old Testament or only the New Testament. He examines how the gospel provides in the Scriptures “both unity and diversity” (64). Chapter 7 addresses the gospel’s function in the Bible. He advocates the gospel being not only the interpretive key to the entire Scripture but that the Gospel is “the theological center of the whole Bible” (86) as well as the structure of all history and the end times.

Chapter 8 addresses the nature of the structure of biblical revelation. Goldsworthy notes, “Expository preaching can only proceed if it places the text into the salvation-historical context so that its inter-textual relationships can be seen” (99). Through understanding that history’s structure has its “high points in Abraham, David, and Christ” (100), the structures comes into shape as the interpreter sees Christ’s person and work fulfilling every piece of God’s progressive revelation. Chapter 9 concludes the first part of this book by asking, “Can I Preach a Christian Sermon without Mentioning Jesus?” Goldsworthy answers in the negative. He puts the question in another way that crystallizes his point: “Why would you even want to try and preach a Christian sermon without mentioning Jesus” (115)? Goldsworthy notes that “the evangelical preacher needs to resist the modern hijacking of hermeneutics by purely literary and linguistic interests that ignore the ultimate purpose of God’s word, which is to proclaim Christ to a lost world” (122).

In addressing the practical application of biblical theology to preaching in Part II of this work, Goldsworthy contends that two primary epochs span salvation history: creation to the first portion of Solomon’s reign, then the second part of Solomon’s reign until the exile and return. Having this paradigm in place will assist the preacher greatly as he preaches redemptive history to his people.

Chapter Eleven addresses preaching from Old Testament Law. Goldsworthy recommends preaching this portion “with Christian eyes,” not only starting from Sinai and working toward the New Testament, but also starting from the Gospel and working backwards. Chapter 12 deals with preaching from the Old Testament prophets, Goldsworthy notes that “all prophecy after Moses reinforces and reapplies this definitive Mosaic Ministry” (170). These prophets span the entire Old Testament History. Chapter 13 addresses how to preach from the wisdom literature. Goldsworthy notes how Solomon in relation to the Temple is key to understanding this genre. Yet, “wisdom points to our responsibility to try to understand life and reality in the light of Christ so that we might make wise decisions” (188).

In Chapter 14, Goldsworthy details how to preach from the Psalms. “The Psalms, then, reflect upon the saving deeds of God and upon human failings. They, like the narrative history and the prophets, describe the disintegration of the kingdom and the longing for the day when God will act to save his people” (197). In Chapter 15, Goldsworthy outlines how to preach from the apocalyptic texts. In Chapters 16-17, Goldsworthy helps the preacher in preaching through the Gospels, the Acts, and the Epistles. In Chapter 18, he concludes this book by helping the preacher preach biblical theology as a whole from all of Scripture.

Critical Analysis

Goldsworthy desired to bring a Christ-centered approach to the preaching of the entirety of Scripture and succeeded admirably. His strong convictions of the authority and primacy of Scripture stem from his position, which “is one of reformed and evangelical theology” (xv). He continues, “On this basis I seek to establish my biblical theology as a primary hermeneutic tool for understanding the significance of the biblical text and as a vital expository tool for preaching” (xv). His conviction of the Scriptures being the Word of God, of Jesus being central to every theme in Scripture, and of history reflecting the saving purposes of God are expounded through this work.

Goldsworthy rightly promotes understanding the Scriptures as the one true Word of God.

I am simply saying that the way the Bible presents its message, a message that reaches the climax in the person and work of Jesus of Nazareth, provides us with the principles we need. Biblical theology is nothing more nor less than allowing the Bible to speak as a whole: as the one word of the one God about the way of salvation (7).

Goldsworthy diligently presents the case to the expositor and interpreter to let the Bible speak on its own terms. This mindset is especially needful in a Western culture heavily influenced by the Enlightenment that questions the authority of biblical texts and its meaning therein, as well as postmodern thought that questions the nature of absolute truth. Goldsworthy advocates a confidence found in God’s Word and its historical perspective. “Secular history presupposes human observers of events and evidences; biblical history presupposes the revelation of the divine ordering of events” (27).

In dealing with the role of history, Goldsworthy continually outlines how history reflects the saving purposes of God.

Once the historical framework is recognized, the task is to try to understand how the biblical writers present the account as one that reveals God’s purposes and acts. The unity of the biblical history lies in the selective way in which the story is pursued in certain directions and not by other possible routes (69).

Later in this work, he makes a statement which would startle most secular (and even evangelical) thinkers:

History happens because of God and his purposes. … Salvation history refers to that aspect of universal history in which God is specifically active both to reveal and to effect the salvation of his people. . . . God is working to redeem a great multitude from every nation, tribe, and language group” (88).

These quotes serve as a powerful reminder for both expositor and layperson alike. Every event that happens in our world happens with an end goal in God’s eye. Goldsworthy reminds the expositor of the Bible’s unity and how God revealed his word and work progressively through history. Thus effectively demolishing the notion that the Bible is simply a collection of random writings and that history is a progression of random events.

Goldsworthy also displays a pastoral heart. In Chapter 1, Goldsworthy notes that evangelical preachers stand in the tradition of the apostles, yet preachers often relegate the gospel to simply the events surrounding the initial decision. As a result, these preachers display a “failure to think through how the link between the people and events of the Old Testament are to be made with … New Testament people” (3). He notes in Chapter 9 how the preacher should install a Christian Education program to help the congregation understand the unity of the Scriptures. He notes this again in Chapter 11 in helping Sunday School teachers avoid teaching the historical narratives in isolated segments. He notes, “A comprehensive Christian education program … will be designed with an eye to the need for every Christian to be nurtured in the four areas of Bible knowledge, theology or Christian doctrine, practical issues of Christian living, and skills for particular ministries” (130). He also advises drawing up a preaching program “that includes one or more series based on historical narrative texts” (151), providing a wider look at the theological thrust of the entire Scriptures. This mindset gives the expositor a much needed glimpse into the necessity of having his congregants in mind not only as their preacher but as their shepherd. Preachers are tempted to simply believe that their work is done when they preach their sermons, but they must also take their parishioner

The only weakness in this volume was the Bible version Goldsworthy used to bolster his case. As mentioned earlier, he comes from a reformed and evangelical background through which he sought to “establish my biblical theology as my primary hermeneutic tool for understanding the significance of the biblical text and as a vital tool for expository preaching” (xv). Why then would Goldsworthy use the New Revised Standard Version of the Scriptures in a book with this particular aim? When discussing Jesus’ title of Son of Man, he noted how the NRSV translates the phrase in Daniel 7:14 as “one like a human being” and acknowledges that “it obscures the link with Jesus’ technical use of it.” First of all, the verse to which he refers is Daniel 7:13, not 7:14. Secondly, the phrase in the Hebrew literally reads vn”ßa/ rb:ï (bar enesh) which translates “Son of man.” He uses a faulty mistranslation as a basis for his argument.

Conclusion

This book serves as one of the finest works dealing with preaching from the Old Testament as Christian Scripture. Though this work may be too technical for many novices to this area, Preaching The Whole Bible as Christian Scripture is a work well worth undertaking.

Goldsworthy, Graeme. Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture: The Application of Biblical Theology to Expository Preaching. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2000. 272 pp. $25.00.

Categories: Book Review, preaching | 1 Comment