30 October 2006

Ensuring God Speaks to His People

The leadership of TRC has recently embarked on an extended reading of Mark Dever's book Nine Marks as part of our elder/deacon development. As I was contemplating mark one: expository preaching, I was struck by a thought in a different book about the importance of expository preaching--it is a clear channel for God's voice to be given to the church. Here's an edited version of the quote:

The preacher does not have the license to express any and every private opinion about whatever happens to be of personal interest. Luther argued the case rigorously:

If any man would preach, let him suppress his own words. Let him make them count in family matters and secular affairs. But here in the church he should speak nothing except the Word of this rich Head of the household; otherwise it is not the true church. Therefore this must be the rule: God is speaking.… That is why a preacher, by virtue of his commission and office, is administering the household of God and dare say nothing but what God says and commands. And although much talking is done which is outside the Word of God, yet the church is not established by such talk, though men were to turn mad in their insistence on it.

From Luther's quote, we can see that the best pastoral preaching is clear, forceful, relevant exposition of the texts of scripture. That is what distinguishes the ministry of the Word from editorial opinion on economics, politics and domestic affairs.

The amount of true authority in any sermon is in direct correlation to how much of the Master's voice is contained within it. May our hearer's hear His Word and not ours.


Anonymous said...

It is a sound principal to endevour to preach the gospel rather than ones own hobby horse, be it philosophical, political or theological.

It is a weakness of the post reformation church to fail to heed the warning in the first chapter of 1 Corinthians by dividing into human camps and even indulging in personality cults.

I always admired Spurgeon's attitude that he did not want to be counted any more a Calvanist than was Christ.

While the principle is sound the problem is knowing the difference between our own concerns and interests and God's concerns and interests, but that I suppose is the aim of every Christians life, seeking to get rid of any difference and becoming more Christ like in every area of our thoughts.

I suppose that one of the only ways we have in telling whether we have achieved this is by our fruits and the danger here can be seeing success as a fruit when perhaps the opposite is true, at least in a wordly sense.

If my line of reasoning is correct (now that would be a novelty) I wish you a combination of an increase in the sanctification apparent in the lives of your congegation at the same time as viscious persecution by the local powers that be. This would I think be a most "fruitful" response.

Ebeth said...

Amen, brother Doug.

Ebeth said...

Amen, brother Doug.

Doug McMasters said...

Dear Anon,

I do heartily agree that true spiritual maturity evidences itself through sanctification and in troubling times of persecution: "All those who live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution."

Some of that trouble happens from those clearly outside the body of Christ: Jesus told the apostles that if the world hated Him, then it would hate them (John 13-17).

And some of that trouble happens inside the visible body; note Paul's struggles with the "super-apostles" in 2 Corinthians as a classic example.

Additionally, Paul makes a comment in 1 Corinthians 11 in which he speaks about the necessity of division within a church so that those who are approved might become evident.

Struggles without, troubles within. No wonder Jesus said a true disciple would be one who took up His cross and followed Him (to death).

Thankfully, the story has a brighter side. It is impossible to kill a dead man. But better yet--what can such death do to one who died and then rose from the dead? Nothing! And such victory in and through death is ours too in Jesus. So then, accept the death, endure the cross we bear and enter into the triumph that will follow.