My Heart Must Be Affected
I just started reading Edwards' "Treatise Concerning Religious Affections" and this paragraph summarizes well the reasons why I must never be content to leave my heart and affections unaffected when confronted with the things of God:
"Nothing is more manifest in fact, than that the things of religion take hold of men’s souls, no further than they affect them. There are multitudes that often hear the word of God, and therein hear of those things that are infinitely great and important, and that most nearly concern them, and all that is heard seems to be wholly ineffectual upon them, and to make no alteration in their disposition or behavior; and the reason is, they are not affected with what they hear. There are many that often hear of the glorious perfections of God, his almighty power and boundless wisdom, his infinite majesty, and that holiness of God, by which he is of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on iniquity, and the heavens are not pure in his sight, and of God’s infinite goodness and mercy, and hear of the great works of God’s wisdom, power and goodness, wherein there appear the admirable manifestations of these perfections; they hear particularly of the unspeakable love of God and Christ, and of the great things that Christ has done and suffered, and of the great things of another world, of eternal misery in bearing the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God, and of endless blessedness and glory in the presence of God, and the enjoyment of his dear love; they also hear the peremptory commands of God, and his gracious counsels and warnings, and the sweet invitations of the gospel; I say, they often hear these things and yet remain as they were before, with no sensible alteration in them, either in heart or practice, because they are not affected with what they hear; and ever will be so till they are affected.—I am bold to assert, that there never was any considerable change wrought in the mind or conversation of any person, by anything of a religious nature, that ever he read, heard or saw, that had not his affections moved. Never was a natural man engaged earnestly to seek his salvation; never were any such brought to cry after wisdom, and lift up their voice for understanding, and to wrestle with God in prayer for mercy; and never was one humbled, and brought to the foot of God, from anything that ever he heard or imagined of his own unworthiness and deserving of God’s displeasure; nor was ever one induced to fly for refuge unto Christ, while his heart remained unaffected. Nor was there ever a saint awakened out of a cold, lifeless flame, or recovered from a declining state in religion, and brought back from a lamentable departure from God, without having his heart affected. And in a word, there never was anything considerable brought to pass in the heart or life of any man living, by the things of religion, that had not his heart deeply affected by those things."
A treatise concerning religious affections (paperback, kindle, libronix, audiobook)
Don't Lead Your Church Into Religious Busy-ness (Quote: A.W. Tozer)
Don’t for one second let the…bustle of religous activity, a surge of religious thinking fool you into thinking that there is a lot of spirituality…Actually, our craze for activity brings few enriching benefits into our Christian circles. If you look into [many churches], you will find groups of half-saved, half-sanctified, carnal people who know more about social niceties than they do about the New Testament…[It is a] never-ending squirrel-cage motion [that] gives the impression that much is being done, when actually nothing really important is ever happening and no genuine spiritual progress is being made. From such we must turn away. In an effort to get the work of the Lord done, we often lose contact with the Lord of the work and quite literally wear people out as well…[Activity alone] is not fellowship at all…The center of attraction in a true church is the Lord Jesus Christ. As for fellowship, let the Holy Spirit define it for us: ‘And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.’
Tozer on Worship & Entertainment: Selected Excerpts
We Are All Very Committed and Gifted Self-Swindlers (Quote: Paul David Tripp)
Sin lives in a costume; that why it's so hard to recognize. The fact that sin looks so good is one of the things that make it so bad. In order for it to do its evil work, it must present itself as something that is anything but evil. Life in a fallen world is like attending the ultimate masquerade party:
- Inpatient yelling wears the costume of a zeal for truth.
- Lust can masquerade as a love for beauty
- Gossip does its evil work by living in the costume of concern and prayer
- Craving for power and control wears the mask of biblical leadership
- Fear of man gets dressed up as a servant heart
- The pride of always being right masquerades as a love for biblical wisdom
Evil simply doesn't present itself as evil, which is part of its draw...Now, what this means personally is that as sinners we are all very commited and gifted self-swindlers...We're all too skilled at looking at our own wrong and seeing good. We're all much better at seeing the sin, weaknesses, and fialures of others than we are our own. We're all very good at being intolerant of others of the very things that we willingly tolerate in ourselves....Accurate self assessment is the product of grace. It is only in the mirror of God's Word and with the sight-giving help of the Holy Spirit that we are able to see ourselves as we actually are.
Paul David Tripp
Whiter Than Snow: Meditations on Sin & Mercy (Amazon
As Read on my Kindle
Never Once Has He Pardoned An Unpunished Sin
God “will not acquit the wicked;” how prove I this? I prove it thus. Never once has he pardoned an unpunished sin; not in all the years of the Most High, not in all the days of his right hand, has he once blotted out sin without punishment. What! say you, were not those in heaven pardoned? Are there not many transgressors pardoned, and do they not escape without punishment? Has be not said, “I have blotted out thy transgressions like a cloud, and like a thick cloud thine iniquities?” Yes, true, most true, and yet my assertion is true also — not one of all those sins that have been pardoned were pardoned without punishment. Do you ask me why and how such a thing as that can be the truth? I point you to yon dreadful sight on Calvary; the punishment which fell not on the forgiven sinner fell there. The cloud of justice was charged with fiery hail; the sinner deserved it; it fell on him; but, for all that, it fell, and spent its fury; it fell there, in that great reservoir of misery; it fell into the Saviour’s heart. The plagues, which need should light on our ingratitude did not fall on us, but they fell somewhere and who was it that was plagued? Tell me, Gethsemane; tell me, O Calvary’s summit, who was plagued. The doleful answer comes, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani!“ “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” It is Jesus suffering all the plagues of sin. Sin is still punished, though the sinner is delivered.
But, you say, this has scarcely proved that he will not acquit the wicked. I hold it has proved it, and proved it clearly. But do ye want any further proof that God will not acquit the wicked? Need I lead you through a long list of terrible wonders that God has wrought — the wonders of his vengeance?
Poisoning Yourself from the Gilded Pill of Popular Entertainment-Spurgeon
Writing of London's Christian's undiscerning consumption of the media of the day (opera), Spurgeon writes the following. How much more applicable is this to us today. Have you exposed yourself to any gold-covered poisonous entertainment lately?:
Ye can sit in theatres to hear plays at which modesty should blush, I say nought of piety. That the ruder sex should have listened to the obscenities of La Traviata is surely bad enough, but that ladies of the highest refinement, and the most approved taste, should dishonor themselves by such a patronage of vice is indeed intolerable.
But because the pill is gilded, ye suck down the poison: because the thing is popular, ye patronize it: it is lustful, it abominable, it is deceitful! Ye take your children to hear what yourselves never ought to listen to. Ye yourselves will sit in gay and grand company, to listen to things from when your modesty ought to revolt. And I would fain hope it does, although the tide may for a while deceive you.
Spurgeon, C. H.
Spurgeon's Sermons: Volume 3 (electronic ed.).
No. 137 "Mercy, Omnipotence, and Justice"
Repentance Must Be the Goal (Quote: Leahy)
Repentance was a dominant note in apostolic preaching. this has been equally the case in tiems of revival and spiritual awakening. People begin to see sin as god sees it - Rebellion agaisnt God. They become aware of consequences of sin: "The soul who sins shall die" (Ezekiel 18:4,20). That note of repentance is no longer struck as it once was...The "easy believism" of our time does not pierce the sinner's heart, nor does the emotionalism that often passes for evangelism. That note must be recaptured as a matter of urgency if our preaching is to be really effective. Men and women must be made to see the cross through their tears, with "a godly grief" that "produces a repentance that leads to salvation" (2 Cor. 7:10).
Frederick S. Leahy
Is It Nothing To You: The Unchanging Significance of the Cross (amazon)
The Clothes Christ Lost
"Ah, the shame of crucifixion as God's well-beloved Son was stripped naked, according to custom, and nailed to a cross, exposed to public view. Think of that! you do not want to look. One's instinct in such an awkward situation is to avert one's gaze. Do not turn away. Face the shocking reality of that hour. 'Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world' (John 1:29). Behold him now, as he was never seen before and as he will never be seen again. Behold the utter shame to which the Lord of glory lovingly submitted as he died for sinners. His nakedness symbolized all the shame that would have been ours for ever in hell and which we so richly deserve because of sin. There is nothing more shameful than sin. Christ, the substitute for sinners, bore all that shame to the full. Yes, think of that!"
Frederick S. Leahy
Is It Nothing To You: The Unchanging Significance of the Cross (amazon)
At The Cross and Nowhere Else (Quote - Leahy)
If you would have eternal life and go to heaven when you die, then remember that you cannot by-pass the cross. It is here you see your Saviour. It is here your sins are forgiven. It is here you are saved: right here at the cross and nowhere else.
Is It Nothing To You: The Unchanging Significance of the Cross
John Newton on Being Gracious in Controversy
Excellent gospel-informed advice from John Newton that I must read, consider, and live by whenever in controversy:
As to your opponent, I wish, that, before you set pen to paper against him, and during the whole time you are preparing your answer, you may commend him by earnest prayer to the Lord's teaching and blessing. This practice will have a direct tendency to conciliate your heart to love and pity him; and such a disposition will have a good influence upon every page you write.
If you account him a believer, though greatly mistaken in the subject of debate between you, the words of David to Joab, concerning Absalom, are very applicable: "Deal gently with him for my sake." The Lord loves him and bears with him; therefore you must not despise him, or treat him harshly. The Lord bears with you likewise, and expects that you should shew tenderness to others, from a sense of the much forgiveness you need yourself.
In a little while you will meet in heaven; he will then be dearer to you than the nearest friend you have upon earth is to you now. Anticipate that period in your thoughts; and though you may find it necessary to oppose his errors, view him personally as a kindred soul, with whom you are to be happy in Christ for ever.
But if you look upon him as an unconverted person, in a state of enmity against God and his grace, (a supposition which, without good evidence, you should be very unwilling to admit,)
he is a more proper object of your compassion than your anger. Alas! "he knows not what he does." But you know who has made you to differ. If God, in his sovereign good pleasure, had so appointed, you might have been as he is now; and he, instead of you, might have been set for the defence of the Gospel. You were both equally blind by nature. If you attend to this, you will not reproach or hate him, because the Lord has been pleased to open your eyes, and not his.
Gospel Perspective in Trials
More than anything else I could ever
do, the gospel enables me to embrace my tribulations and thereby
position myself to gain full benefit from them. For the gospel is the
one great permanent circumstance in which I live and move; and every
hardship in my life is allowed by God only because it serves His
gospel purposes in me. When I view my circumstances in this light, I
realize that the gospel is not just one piece of good news that fits
into my life somewhere among all the bad. I realize instead that the
gospel makes genuinely good news out of every other aspect of my
life, including my severest trials. The good news about my trials is
that God is forcing them to bow to His gospel purposes and do good
unto me by improving my character and making me more conformed to the
image of Christ.
Preaching the gospel to myself each
day provides a lens through which I can view my trials in this way
and see the true cause for rejoicing that exists in them. I can
embrace trials as friends and allow them to do God's good work in me.
A Gospel Primer
for Christians: Learning to See the Glories of God's Love
Limited Atonement & God's Love
"It is necessary for believers to understand the special nature of God's love for them. 'The Son of God loved me and gave himself for me' (Gal 2:20), is not a statement that gives security to all. To deny the special love of GOd, and to believe that Christ loves all men equally, is to suppose that Christ has done no more for those the Father has given to him than for mankind at large. But if CHristians are no more loved than those who will finally be lost, the decisive factor in salvation becomes, not God's grace and love, but somethin in them, and their perseverance becomes dependent upon themselves. To widen the atonement, and to speak of it only in terms of general love, is to take away its saving power. The believer in Christ needs to know that the love which embraces him is eternal, almighty, and immutable. It does not hang upon his faith for it went before faith."
The Cross: The Pulpit of God's Love
Similarly: From Shai Linne's The Atonement:
Disobedience: An Acceptance of Athiesm
Disobedience always involves the acceptance of atheism, whether so stated in words or merely acted on in life (there is no significant difference between denying God's existence and acting as if God does not exist)
Frame, J. M.
The doctrine of the knowledge of God
Plan to Pray (Quote: D.A. Carson)
Much praying is not done because we do not plan to pray. We do not
drift into spiritual life; we do not drift into disciplined prayer. We
will not grow in prayer unless we plan to pray. That means we must
self-consciously set aside time to do nothing but pray.
What we actually do reflects our highest priorities...
It is better to pray often with brevity than rarely but at length. But the worst option is simply not to pray—and that will be the controlling pattern unless we plan to pray.
Carson, D. A.
A call to spiritual reformation : Priorities from Paul and his prayers
The One Thing We Need Most Urgently (Quote: DA Carson)
The one thing we most urgently need in Western Christendom is a deeper knowledge of God. We need to know God better.
When it comes to knowing God, we are a culture of the spiritually stunted. So much of our religion is packaged to address our felt needs-and these are almost uniformly anchored in our pursuit of our own happiness and fulfillment. God simply becomes the Great Being who, potentially at least, meets our needs and fulfills our aspirations. We think rather little of what he is like, what he expects of us, what he seeks in us. We are not captured by his holiness and his love; his thoughts and words capture too little of our imagination, too little of our discourse, too few of our priorities.
In the biblical view of things, a deeper knowledge of God brings with it massive improvement in the other areas mentioned: purity, integrity, evangelistic effectiveness, better study of Scripture, improved private and corporate worship, and much more. But if we seek these things without passionately desiring a deeper knowledge of God, we are selfishly running after God's blessings without running after him. We are even worse than the man who wants his wife's services-someone to come home to, someone to cook and clean, someone to sleep with-without ever making the effort really to know and love his wife and discover what she wants and needs; we are worse than such a man, I say, because God is more than any wife, more than the best of wives: he is perfect in his love, he has made us for himself, and we are answerable to him.
Carson, D. A.
A call to spiritual reformation : Priorities from Paul and his prayers
The Gospel and the Room of My Life
And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him (Col 2:13-15)...
In that place between wakefulness and dreams, I found myself in the room. There were no distinguishing features save for the one wall covered with small index-card files.
They were like the ones in libraries that list titles by author or subject in alphabetical order. But these files, which stretched from floor to ceiling and seemingly endlessly in either direction, had very different headings. As I drew near the wall of files, the first to catch my attention was one that read "Girls I Have Liked." I opened it and began flipping through the cards. I quickly shut it, shocked to realize that I recognized the names written on each one.
And then without being told, I knew exactly where I was. This lifeless room with its small files was a crude catalog system for my life. Here were written the actions of my every moment, big and small, in a detail my memory couldn't match.
A sense of wonder and curiosity, coupled with horror, stirred within me as I began randomly opening files and exploring their contents. Some brought joy and sweet memories; others a sense of shame and regret so intense that I would look over my shoulder to see if anyone was watching. A file named "Friends" was next to one marked "Friends I Have Betrayed."
The titles ranged from the mundane to the outright weird: "Books I Have Read," "Lies I Have Told," "Comfort I Have Given," "Jokes I Have Laughed At." Some were almost hilarious in their exactness: "Things I've Yelled at My Brothers." Others I couldn't laugh at: "Things I Have Done in Anger," "Things I Have Muttered under My Breath at My Parents." I never ceased to be surprised by the contents. Often there were many more cards than I expected. Sometimes there were fewer than I hoped.
I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the life I had lived. Could it be possible that I had the time in my twenty years to write each of these thousands, possibly millions, of cards? But each card confirmed this truth. Each was written in my own handwriting. Each signed with my signature.
When I pulled out the file marked "Songs I Have Listened To," I realized the files grew to contain their contents. The cards were packed tightly, and yet after two or three yards, I hadn't found the end of the file. I shut it, shamed, not so much by the quality of music, but more by the vast amount of time I knew that file represented.
When I came to a file marked "Lustful Thoughts," I felt a chill run through my body. I pulled the file out only an inch, not willing to test its size, and drew out a card. I shuddered at its detailed contents. I felt sick to think that such a moment had been recorded.
Suddenly I felt an almost animal rage. One thought dominated my mind: "No one must ever see these cards! No one must ever see this room! I have to destroy them!" In an insane frenzy I yanked the file out. Its size didn't matter now. I had to empty it and burn the cards. But as I took the file at one end and began pounding it on the floor, I could not dislodge a single card. I became desperate and pulled out a card, only to find it as strong as steel when I tried to tear it.
Defeated and utterly helpless, I returned the file to its slot. Leaning my forehead against the wall, I let out a long, self-pitying sigh. And then I saw it. The title bore "People I Have Shared the Gospel With." The handle was brighter than those around it, newer, almost unused. I pulled on its handle and a small box not more than three inches long fell into my hands. I could count the cards it contained on one hand.
And then the tears came. I began to weep. Sobs so deep that the hurt started in my stomach and shook through me. I fell on my knees and cried. I cried out of shame, from the overwhelming shame of it all. The rows of file shelves swirled in my tear-filled eyes. No one must ever, ever know of this room. I must lock it up and hide the key.
But then as I pushed away the tears, I saw Him. No, please, not Him. Not here. Oh, anyone but Jesus.
I watched helplessly as He began to open the files and read the cards. I couldn't bear to watch His response. And in the moments I could bring myself to look at His face, I saw a sorrow deeper than my own. He seemed to intuitively go to the worst boxes. Why did He have to read every one?
Finally He turned and looked at me from across the room. He looked at me with pity in His eyes. But this was a pity that didn't anger me. I dropped my head, covered my face with my hands, and began to cry again. He walked over and put His arm around me. He could have said so many things. But He didn't say a word. He just cried with me.
Then He got up and walked back to the wall of files. Starting at one end of the room, He took out a file and, one by one, began to sign His name over mine on each card.
"No!" I shouted, rushing to Him. All I could find to say was "No, no," as I pulled the card from Him. His name shouldn't be on these cards. But there it was, written in red so rich, so dark, so alive. The name of Jesus covered mine. It was written with His blood.
He gently took the card back. He smiled a sad smile and continued to sign the cards. I don't think I'll ever understand how He did it so quickly, but the next instant it seemed I heard Him close the last file and walk back to my side. He placed His hand on my shoulder and said, "It is finished."
I stood up, and He led me out of the room. There was no lock on its door. There were still cards to be written.
I kissed dating goodbye (amazon)
Printed Word: Multiplying of God's Words
It is scarcely to be conceived how great a benefit has arisen to the Christian cause from the invention of printing. The word of God is that whereby the work of salvation is principally carried on in the souls of men: and the multiplying of copies of the Holy Scriptures, in such a form as to be conveniently portable, and at such a price as to be within the reach of the poor, has tended more than any other thing to keep alive the interests of religion, both in the hearts of individuals, and in the community at large.
Simeon, C. (1832-63).
Horae Homileticae Vol. 4: Chronicles to Job
p. 222 (2 Chron 34:27 Josiah's Penitence)
Shepherding My Heart From Pride & Anxiety
Piper, on 1 Peter 5:6-7 (Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxieties on Him for He cares for you), preached the following observations on pride:
- Pride is Self-Satisfaction
- Pride is Self-Sufficiency and Self-Reliance
- Pride Considers Itself Above Instruction
- Pride Is Insubordinate
- Pride Takes Credit for What God Alone Does
- Pride Exults in Being Made Much Of
- Pride Aspires to the Place of God
- Pride Opposes the Very Existence of God
- Pride Refuses to Trust in God
- Pride Is Anxious Above the Future
Now we can see clearly and feel the force of 1 Peter 5:6–7,
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time …
How? In what way shall you humble yourselves? Answer (v. 7): by “casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you.” In other words, the humblest thing in the world is to do what 1 Peter 4:19 says, “Entrust your soul to a faithful Creator.” Casting your anxieties on God means trusting the promise that he cares for you and has the power and the wisdom to put that care to work in the most glorious way.
That trust is the opposite of pride. It’s the essence of humility. It’s the confidence that the mighty hand of God is not over you to crush you but to care for you just like the promise says. Don’t be proud, but cast your anxieties on him because he will care for you.
Whenever your heart starts to be anxious about the future, preach to your heart and say, “Heart, who do you think you are to be afraid of the future and nullify the promise of God? No, heart, I will not exalt myself with anxiety. I will humble myself in peace and joy as I trust this precious and great promise of God—he cares for me.
"I Almost Never Go To Movies"
I almost never go to movies. The reason is very
simple: there are almost no movies that don’t ask me to be entertained
by attitudes, motives, and actions which Jesus died to eradicate.
Total Abstinence and Church Membership
Sermon from October 4, 1981
Distinct & Countercultural In Our Repentance -Dever
In a fallen world, so many things that come easy are not right; and so many things that are right, don’t come easy. So let’s pray for one another. Pray for our church, that we will be a community strong enough and loving enough that we can help each other be countercultural in these matters. No, we will not save ourselves by being distinct and countercultural. But I will tell you this: in today’s world, we will not be saved without being distinct and countercultural.
God’s people are marked out from others by our repentance; we have turned away from our sins. When you are confronted over your sin, do you hold on to your sin even more tightly and resent the person who confronts you? That is the sign of a person going to hell. The heart won by the grace of Christ has turned loose such defensiveness and pride and has said, “Yes, I’m a sinner. I need help. Step into my life.” God’s people are marked by that kind of repentance.
Message of the Old Testament
Come To God's Word Like It Was the Last Work I May Ever Hear
It may be the last time that God will ever speak to us in his Word; it may be the last sermon that we shall ever hear; we may go from the place of hearing to the place of judging. If people would think thus when they come into the house of God, “Perhaps this will be the last time that God will counsel us about our souls, the last time that ever we shall see our minister’s face,” with what devotion would they come!
Heaven Taken by Storm: Showing the Holy Violence a Christian Is to Put Forth in the Pursuit After Glory
Cited by Mark Dever
Promises Made: The Message of the Old Testament
What Am I Most Aware Of?
When we live more aware of what we need to do than of what Christ has already done, we're drifting [from grace to self-effort].
When Sinners Say "I Do"
Belief In a Sovereign God Shows Itself In a Commitment to Prayer
Belief in a sovereign God shows itself in a commitment to prayer
Message of the Old Testament: Promises Made
Incomprehensibility Means We Will Never Run Out of Things to Delight In
Consider heaven, an eternity with God, where our access to Him has been fully opened and where we no longer have the curse of sin tainting our ability and desire to delight in Him:
Thus, we may know something about God's love, power, wisdom, and so forth. But we can never know his love completely or exhaustively. We can never know his power exhaustively. We can never know his wisdom exhaustively, and so forth. In order to know any single thing about God exhaustively we would have to know it as he himself knows it. That is, we would have to know it in its relationship to everything else about God and in its relationship to everything else about creation throughout all eternity! We can only exclaim with David, "Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain it" (Ps. 139:6).
This doctrine of God's incomprehensibility has much positive application for our own lives. It means that we will never be able to know "too much" about God, for we will never run out of things to learn about him, and we will thus never tire in delighting in the discovery of more and more of his excellence and of the greatness of his works.
Systematic Theology (Libronix)
Return to the Word of God: The Commonality in Judah's Revivals
There were five revival periods during the times of the divided kingdoms of Judah and Israel. These were all identified by a return to the Word of God. They began with a return to the Word of God; revival followed which eventuated in a great moral reformation: (1) Asa—2 Chronicles 14–16 ; (2) Jehoshaphat—2 Chronicles 17–20 ; (3) Joash—2 Chronicles 23–24 ; (4) Hezekiah—2 Chronicles 29–32 ; (5) Josiah—2 Chronicles 34–35 . These periods were the only occasions of blessing in the dark era of the divided kingdoms.
J. Vernon McGee
Making the Midweek Service Significant
Dallas Theological Seminary. (1954; 2002).
Bibliotheca Sacra Volume 111 (111:247).
From the Theological Journals Library
Text Selection: Freedom or Verse-by-Verse
From John Piper, commenting on how a pastor (or teaching church leader) must think about text selection. This was written in the first months of his pastorate at Bethlehem Baptist. It's a very good balance that gives some insight into how Piper has sought to "teach the whole counsel of God":
Two principles have to be balanced out. One is that we
preserve the freedom of the Holy Spirit to interrupt and alter our
plans. We must not be so locked into a verse-by-verse exposition of
this book that he cannot hit us with another text from time to time
that we may need to hear even more. That is the principle of freedom.
The other principle to keep in balance with it is the principle of
discipline. Preachers are sinners who, like all sinners, tend to preach
what they like and avoid what they don’t like. So we must find a way
not to be so selective. Luke tells us in Acts 20:26f. what Paul said to
the Ephesians when he left and what I want to be able to say to you
when my work here is done: “I testify to you this day that I am
innocent of the blood of all of you, for I did not shrink from
declaring to you the whole counsel of God.” A preacher cannot say that,
if he rides one or two hobbyhorses while avoiding other teachings of
Scripture. One of the best ways to fulfill the principle of discipline
is to preach through a book of the Bible.
These two principles, freedom and discipline, are in tension because
it is not always easy to tell whether a desire to interrupt a series
comes from the Spirit or from a fear of the next text. But there is no
escape from this tension and so all I can promise is that I will do my
best under God to listen to the prompting of the Spirit and to declare
the whole counsel of God.
The Aim of Dr. Luke
Sermon from November 9, 1980
HT: Unashamed Workman