Also, feel free to contact us atMiles McKee Ministries,PO Box 353, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL, 32004orMiles McKee8 Ard Beg, Newbawn, County Wexford, Ireland.Or at www.milesmckee.com
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What is effective or good preaching?
In the following excerpts, Al Martin describes how we may begin to distinguish great preaching from poor:
“A thing is judged to be good or bad in terms of its proximity to an absolute standard. Of course, in the realm of what is effective or good preaching, there is no single, comprehensive standard.
However, I believe we can glean from the Scriptures an accurate standard as to what good preaching is by examining the preaching of the prophets, of the apostles, and of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Another basis of comparison is to be found in the lives, ministries, and sermons of the great preachers of past ages.
When I use the term ‘great preachers’, I am not thinking of men who are
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“It is the conviction that there is nothing in us or done by us at any stage of our earthly development because of which we are acceptable to God. We must always be accepted for Christ’s sake or we cannot ever be accepted at all. This is not true of us only ‘when we believe,’ it is just as true after we have believed. It will continue to be true as long as we live. Our need of Christ does not cease with our believing nor does the nature of our relation to Him or to God through Him ever alter no matter what our attainments in Christian graces or our achievements in Christian behavior may be. It is always on His ‘blood and righteousness’ alone that we can rest. There is never anything that we are or have or do that can take His place or that takes a place…
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A beautiful portrait of God’s Grace. A must read my friends.
WHILE THE GLORIOUS aspects of God’s grace are innumerable, many believers deprive themselves by confining such an attribute for only those moments in times of trouble. The power of God’s grace, through which we were saved from eternal judgement and wrath, is reverberated throughout our entire Christian life (in the good and bad situations) in the same qualitative manner. The benevolence of God is revealed in this way: “He Who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things?”(Romans 8:32).
It is this same grace, by which God drew us from the mire of filth (the very power of God that raised His Son from the dead), that keeps us and is already laid up for us throughout our pilgrimage: “Oh, how abundant is Your goodness which You have stored up for those…
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Some of our readers will probably be surprised to hear about the difficulty of saving faith. On almost every side today is being taught, even by men styled orthodox and “fundamentalists,” that getting saved is an exceedingly simple affair. So long as a person believes John 3:16 and “rests on it,” or “accepts Christ as his personal Savior,” that is all that is needed. It is often said that there is nothing left for the sinner to do but direct his faith toward the right object: just as a man trusts his bank or a wife her husband, let him exercise the same faculty of faith and trust in Christ. So widely has this idea been received, that for any one now to condemn it, is to court being branded as a heretic. Notwithstanding, the writer here unhesitatingly denounces it as a most God-insulting lie of the Devil. A natural…
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by Tom Ascol
Throughout evangelical history, where evangelical Calvinism has spread among Bible believing Christians, charges of hyper-Calvinism inevitably arise from those who do not know the difference. That pattern is being repeated today both within and beyond the borders of the Southern Baptist Convention. Examples of such careless accusations are not hard to find.
One of the most recent and most egregious came in the exhibit hall during the recent Southern Baptist Convention in Houston, Texas. On Monday, June 10, 2013, the day before the convention actually began, Baptist21 interviewed the president of Louisiana College about the treatment of some Calvinistic professors whose contracts were not renewed by the administration. In the course of responding to questions that he had been sent in advance, Dr. Joe Aguillard (though he probably would not identify himself as an Arminian) proved Lloyd-Jones’ point.
That display of doctrinal misunderstanding reminded me of the present need to clarify repeatedly and rigorously difference between Calvinism and hyper-Calvinism. Some writers and teachers seem to confuse them so often and so willingly that one must wonder if the practice is intentional. In one sense, hyper-Calvinism, like Arminianism, is a rationalistic perversion of true Calvinism. Whereas Arminianism destroys the sovereignty of God, hyper-Calvinism destroys the responsibility of man. The irony is that both Arminianism and hyper-Calvinism start from the same, erroneous rationalistic presupposition: Man’s ability and responsibility are coextensive. That is, they must match up exactly or else it is irrational. If a man is to be held responsible for something, then he must have the ability to do it. On the other hand, if a man does not have the ability to perform it, he cannot be obligated to do it.
The Arminian looks at this premise and says, “Agreed! We know that all men are held responsible to repent and believe the gospel [which is true, according to the Bible]; therefore we must conclude that all men have the ability in themselves to repent and believe [which is false, according to the Bible].” Thus, Arminians teach that unconverted people have within themselves the spiritual ability to repent and believe.
The hyper-Calvinist takes the same premise (that man’s ability and responsibility are coextensive) and says, “Agreed! We know that, in and of themselves, all men are without spiritual ability to repent and believe [which is true, according to the Bible]; therefore we must conclude that unconverted people are not under obligation to repent and believe the gospel [which is false, according to the Bible].”
In contrast to both of these, the Calvinist looks at the premise and says, “Wrong! While it looks reasonable, it is not biblical. The Bible teaches both that fallen man is without spiritual ability and that he is obligated to repent and believe. Only by the powerful, regenerating work of the Holy Spirit is man given the ability to fulfill his duty to repent and believe.” And though this may seem unreasonable to rationalistic minds, there is no contradiction, and it is precisely the position the Bible teaches.
Why are these things so important to our discussion? Baptists have been confronted with these theological issues throughout their history. The Arminianism–Calvinism–hyper-Calvinism debate has played a decisive role in shaping our identity as Baptists, and particularly our identity as Southern Baptists. The Southern Baptist Convention has never welcomed either Arminians or hyper-Calvinists within their ranks. It has, however, from its beginning been home to evangelical Calvinists. In fact, though we cannot say there were only Calvinists among the original generation of Southern Baptists, Calvinism was certainly the overwhelming doctrinal consensus among the delegates that met in 1845 to form the convention.
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A man who wants to see a country, must not hurry through it by express train, but he must stop in the towns and villages, and see what is to be seen. He will know more about the land and its people if he walks the highways, climbs the mountains, stays in the homes, and visits the workshops; than if he does so many miles in the day, and hurries through picture galleries as if death were pursuing him. Don’t hurry through Scripture, but pause for the Lord to speak to you. Oh, for more meditation!
Charles H. Spurgeon (1834 – 1892)
You gotta love Carl Trueman. He just says a thing so crisply and clearly. I envy his students at Westminster Theological Seminary, it must be an absolute joy to attend his lectures on a regular basis. Here he writes about the contemporary abuse of the phrase “semper reformanda“:
“One of the great clichés in the church of recent years has been the hackneyed phrase ‘ecclesia reformata semper reformanda est’, which translates as something like ‘the reformed church is always in need of reforming’. In the hands of many of today’s church people, this has taken on the status of a virtual axiomatic truth, to the extent that it may surprise some that the phrase is not actually found in the Bible nor, as far as I can see, in the works of the major 16th-century Reformers. Of course, the principle is a good one, as long as one…
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Transcript excerpt from a message by Dr. John Macarthur, spoken at the Truth Matters Conference 2011:
Some people say, “You know, we have to kind of change the message cause we’re not getting results. We’ve got to deal with this message because it’s not very effective.” Really? Well the next point I want to give you is this. If you really understand the glory of the gospel, you know the results depend on God. Okay? The results depend on God.
Remember the parable of the sower? What does it say about the sower? Nothing, absolutely nothing, it doesn’t say whether he uses his left hand, right hand, throw high, low, curve ball. It didn’t say anything about the sower. What does it say about the bag he carried the seed in? Nothing, didn’t say anything about that. What does it say about the method he used to throw it? Nothing, absolutely nothing. It’s a parable about soil, it doesn’t even say anything about the seed other than the seed is the truth, the gospel. It’s not about your technique in throwing the seed, it’s about the state of the soil. I don’t do soil work. That’s Holy Spirit work.
I love that passage in Mark, the parable where Jesus says the farmer sows the seed and goes to sleep because he has no idea how it grows. That’s right. You say, “We not getting the results.” Really, you think you’re in charge of results? I hear there’s some discussions, “We have to overcome consumer resistance.” Lots of luck. Consumer resistance is called depravity. Consumer resistance means the sinner is unable and unwilling, left to himself.
Look at (2 Cor 4) verse 3, this is so… this is so reasonable, this whole presentation of Paul makes so much sense, it just flows the way you think. Some of you are already saying, “Well, it gets discouraging. Paul, look, you’re going from town-to-town-to town, the churches are small, the churches are full of trouble. The town rejects you. The leaders reject you. The populace rejects you. They want to kill you. The Jews are after you. You’re really not having much success.
Here’s his answer. “Our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those that are perishing.” That’s a category of people. That’s the default position of the entire human race. I’m not the problem.
Well how did they get like that? Verse 4, “The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ who is the image of God.”
The problem is not your technique, the problem is the heart. You have all these people coming up with pragmatical ways to do effective evangelism. Really? It’s overcome consumer resistance to make the message more palatable. We’ll say more about that in some of the other portions of Scripture. You put yourself in the position of…I wrote a book Slave, some of you seen the book Slave? Imagine trying to sell that message in a world full of slaves. By the way, a crucified Jew in Jerusalem who was rejected by His people, rejected by His leaders, who was executed as a common criminal by the Romans rose from the dead, He’s the true and living God, the only Savior and He wants you to be His slave. Oh really? And by the way, you have to reject all other masters, confess your sin, repent and turn to Him as the only source of salvation.
Who is this again? A crucified Jew? This is what Paul is preaching in the Gentile world. And you need not only to put your faith in Him, but you need to confess Him as Lord and you’re His slave.
That’s a hard sell. You can’t overcome consumer’s resistance in a pagan/Gentile world when you’re talking about a crucified Jew to Gentiles who have no Old Testament background, who have no understanding of the sacrificial system, and you’re asking them to believe that this crucified Jew is God incarnate, the only Savior, the only true and living God, the only hope of salvation and you’re supposed to become His slave. That won’t fly, humanly speaking. That’s why it says in 1 Corinthians 1, as we will see later, preaching the cross was…what?…foolishness.
The results depend on God. That’s been the joy of ministry. I’m in charge of sowing, I’m not in charge of growing. I can’t give life. God alone gives life. And I love this, watch this, verse 5, “We do not preach ourselves.” Some method that we’ve concocted, some personal stories about us. “But Christ Jesus as Lord,” and we’re calling everybody to become slaves for Jesus’ sake.
You say, “Well how in the world do you expect to have any results at all with a message like that?”
Here’s the answer, verse 6, “Oh, for God who said light shall shine out of darkness who is the one who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.”
Is that not the most profound verse? You know what he’s saying? He’s saying creation, God said, “Let there be light.” And He spoke it into existence. That’s the model for salvation. God steps into the darkness of the sinner’s heart and turns on the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
This is what makes ministry so thrilling. If you get all wrapped up in results, you’re going to wind up preaching yourself and your technique and your style. You’re going to get caught up in your wardrobe and your shtick and your music and your cultural adaptations.
Well, if you understand the glory of the gospel, you also understand your personal insignificance. So what have we been saying? If you understand the glory of the gospel? Just review; you understand the superiority of the New Covenant, the mercy of ministry, the necessity of a pure heart, the fact that the Scripture is to be preached accurately, that spiritual results depends solely on God. And that you are personally insignificant… insignificant.
Posted by John Samson on August 20, 2013 11:14 PM
The Belgic Confession (1561) is unique: it is the only Reformation confession written by a martyr. As you read through the Confession, you keep in mind that it comes from a world where believers were regularly dying for their faith. Here is a letter written by the author of the Belgic Confession, Guido de Brès (1522–1567), to his wife on the 12th of April, 1567. He was in prison and he knew that he was going to die for what he had confessed:
“The grace and mercy of our good God and heavenly Father, and the love of His Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ, be with you, my dearly beloved.
Catherine Ramon, my dear and beloved wife and sister in our Lord Jesus Christ: your anguish and sadness disturbs somewhat my joy and the happiness of my heart, so I am writing this for the consolation of both of us, and especially for your consolation, since…
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– A.A. Hodge (1823–1886), Outlines of Theology…
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5 “For does not my house stand so with God?
For he has made with me an everlasting covenant,
ordered in all things and secure.
For will he not cause to prosper
all my help and my desire?
– 2 Sam 23:5 –
Recollect this, O thou who art tried in thy children—that prayer can remove thy troubles. There is not a pious father or mother here, who is suffering in the family, but may have that trial taken away yet. Faith is as omnipotent as God himself, for it moves the arm which leads the stars along. Have you prayed long for your children without a result? and have ye said, “I will cease to pray, for the more I wrestle, the worse they seem to grow, and the more am I tried?” Oh! say not so, thou weary watcher. Though the promise tarrieth, it will come. Still sow the…
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Thomas Chalmers (1780–1847) apparently received a letter from a woman who feared that she did not see enough of her own personal sin to draw near the Saviour. He replied:
“I would first, then, say to you, that you are not to wait till you have mourned enough for sin ere you accept the Saviour. You complain that you have not such deep views of sin as experienced Christians speak of; but how did they acquire them? They are the fruits of their experience in Christ, and not of their experience out of Christ. They had them not before their union with the Saviour. It was on more slender conceptions of the evil of sin than they now have that they went to Christ, that they closed with Him, and that they received from His sanctifying hand a more contrite spirit than before — a more tender conscience than before…
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THE religion of the Bible is a frankly supernatural religion. By this is not meant merely that, according to it, all men, as creatures, live, move and have their being in God. It is meant that, according to it, God has intervened extraordinarily, in the course of the sinful world’s development, for the salvation of men otherwise lost.
The Works of Benjamin B. Warfield, Volume 1: Revelation and Inspiration (Grand Rapids, MI; Baker Book House; 2000) p. 3.
One major thesis in Carl Trueman’s The Creedal Imperative, is that all Christians have creeds. He argues well that no Christian or church simply believes the Bible. In other words, no Christian, when asked what they believe, is going to start reading Genesis 1:1 and end at Revelation 22:21. Every church and Christian will give a summary of what they believe when asked. That is essentially their creed or confession.
Trueman tells the story of a man who once told him that he had “no creed but the Bible.” He then writes, “What he really should have said was: I have a creed but I am not going to write it down, so you cannot critique it; and I am going to identify my creed so closely with the Bible that I am not going to be able to critique it either.”
“There are numerous obvious ironies here, not…
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“Finally, we can observe that the sincerity of God’s offer even to the non-elect is in accordance with the truth that God does desire, delight and approve of things which, for other reasons, He has not determined to carry into effect. This distinction can be illustrated from God’s commandments. His commandments express what He desires should be done. When the Israelites disobeyed them He cries – ‘O that my people had hearkened unto me.’ ‘O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments! then had thy peace been as a river . . .’ (Ps. 81:3; Is. 48:18; Deut. 5:29). Unmistakably such verses express what was God’s desire. Yet we must say that though their actions were, in their own nature, displeasing to God, He had nevertheless willed and permitted such conduct for wise and holy ends. Similarly with the Gospel offer. God desires that everyone should believe it; He has no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezek. 33:11) but delights…
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A License to Sin under Grace? No Way!
Jon J. Cardwell
“What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but undergrace? God forbid.” —Romans 6:15
Since Christ has fulfilled the law whereas no other man can keep it or observe it perfectly, and since we have been freed from the bondage of the law, does that mean that those who are in Christ by God’s grace are not under any obligation to holiness because we have been freed from the law and are now under grace?
The apostle’s answer: “God forbid.” No way! Absolutely not!
There are many Christians that have drawn this very same conclusion, and thereby, live a life of licentiousness (and certainly there are many professing “Christians” who walk in sinful superficiality, living as they please because their hearts are still dead to God, but the true believer is not immune from this attitude because the flesh lusts against the Spirit, according toGalatians 5:17). The difference between the bondage under sin and the pardon of sin is so incredibly vast in measure, and so overwhelming, that if a soul’s conversion is not tempered in the Word of God by the illuminating guidance of the Holy Spirit, licentiousness may be the outcome. Another may be legalism, but that will be covered a bit later.
LEAVE YOUR COMMENT. Let us know your thoughts.
Read the previous article in this series, “Set Apart for Service to God” (Romans 6:14).
The Gospel contemplates every descendant of Adam as a fallen, polluted, hell-deserving and helpless sinner. The grace which the Gospel publishes is his only hope. All stand before God convicted as transgressors of His holy law, as guilty and condemned criminals, who are not merely awaiting sentence, but the execution of sentence already passed upon them (John 3:18; Rom. 3:19). To complain against the partiality of grace is suicidal. If the sinner insists upon bare justice, then the Lake of Fire must be his eternal portion. His only hope lies in bowing to the sentence which Divine justice has passed upon him, owning the absolute righteousness of it, casting himself on the mercy of God, and stretching forth empty hands to avail himself of the grace of God now made known to him in the Gospel. – A.W. Pink, The Attributes of God, p. 70.
“We have elsewhere observed, that forgiveness of sins never can be obtained without repentance, because none but the afflicted, and those wounded by a consciousness of sins, can sincerely implore the mercy of God; but we, at the same time, added, that repentance cannot be the cause of the forgiveness of sins: and we also did away with that torment of souls—the dogma that it must be performed as due. Our doctrine was, that the soul looked not to its own compunction or its own tears, but fixed both eyes on the mercy of God alone. Only we observed, that those who labour and are heavy laden are called by Christ, seeing he was sent ‘to preach good tidings to the meek;’ ‘to bind up the broken-hearted; to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;’ ‘to comfort all that mourn.’ (Mt…
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