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9Marks Explained : A Letter From Mark Dever

Maybe I Do Want Topical Preaching?

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Dear Mr. Young Expositional Preacher. I am a member of your church. Call me Johnny Average Church Member.

First of all, I am very grateful for your commitment to expositional preaching. Don’t lose the commitment. I know a guy named Leeman who wrote a book on the supernatural power of expositional preaching, which I read, and, on the whole, think I would affirm.

But I need your help. I’m trying really hard to be a better husband, and worker, and citizen, and parent, and to wear all the other hats I have to wear. I need to know how to be a man, how to fight stress, how to have a better prayer life, how to make a difference in my neighborhood. I mean, Greek verb tenses and Old Testament typological structures are sort of interesting to me, at least if it’s one of those Sunday mornings when I’m pepped up on several cups of Joe.

Yet I’m trying to figure out what those things have to do with how I go to work on Monday, and how I speak to my little girl, and what I do with my money. These are the decisions that face me as soon as I walk out of your building.  And I have to be honest with you, this is why those big mega-church guys and their topical sermons are appealing to me. They give it to me straight.

Now I know what you’re thinking, because I’ve picked up some of your lingo on The Gospel Coalition website. You’re thinking, “Johnny Average Church Member, it sounds like you’re looking for ‘how-to’ moralism. I preach Christ-centered sermons!”

Yes, thank you, give me Christ-centered sermons. But if Jesus is Lord, shouldn’t that fact affect how I go to work on Monday, and speak to my little girl, and spend my money? What does the gospel have to say to me in all those places? What does the gospel say to me about stress, and retirement, and serving in government, and talking to my friend with a gambling addiction?

It seems to me that your gospel-centered expositional sermons should get to all the stuff that topical preachers preach about, right?  Your preaching should be giving people all that and more. I think you call it sermon “application.” Shouldn’t your applications make expositional sermons topical, so to speak? Shouldn’t they, over time, cover all the topics of people’s lives? Shouldn’t the members in your church feel like they’re not missing anything?

 Okay, okay, I know there’s still a huge difference between your average topical sermon and your average expositional sermon, which is crucial. The Bible doesn’t exist, and church gatherings don’t happen, and sermons aren’t preached, simply to help people like me do this or that better. And a steady diet of topical preaching can make it seem that way—like the point of the whole church exercise is to improve my daily life. When really, the whole point of gathering and listening to preaching is to behold God, and to hear whatever he wants to say. I know that. I know I need his Word exposed, no matter what it says. I know I need to hear all of it, even the parts that seem obscure and irrelevant.

I’m just saying that I need you to show me how those obscure bits are relevant, even if those Hebrew chiasms are as naturally fascinating to you as they are to my Sunday School teacher who doesn’t get out much. I need you to show me how those chiasms help me to trust more, hope more, love more, and what that faith, hope, and love look like in the different areas of my life. Make sense?

Connect the dots for me. How do I get from justification by faith alone to being a manly man who cares well for his aging parents?

Okay, I admit, I don’t really want you to give up the expositional thing. I just want more from you. I want to have my cake and to eat it, too. Call me biblically greedy. I want you to apply your sermon in my life so that I’m learning all the helpful stuff they’re learning over at Topical Tommy’s church.  Okay?

Thanks for listening, Mr. Young Expositional Preacher. For real, I thank God for you, and the fact that you’ve chosen the harder, more faithful path.

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Wish my pastor read this...

Maybe you could pray for him to read this. Or better still...pray for him in His preaching...rather than leaving nameless comments on websites.

"Preaching that does not explain the implications of the text is not true preaching." - Jerry Wragg

Precisely. It sounds as if the writter is suffering from lack of exegetical application, not the lack of topical preaching.

Good thoughts. Apostolic preaching certainly reflected topical focus at times.

The unique nature of Christ's Ekklesia also broadens the ministry of the word to include the participation of others within His Body. God's royal priesthood can often bring to bear upon any topic greater collective wisdom and experience than one or a few preachers.

More thoughts here:
http://www.lambblood.com/a-higher-standard-for-the-church.html

I'm so blessed to read this article!!!

chris@ttac: Hi, thanks for the reply. The prbelom is not with Jesus and His apostles. The prbelom is with people who claim to be apostles today. They laud it over the people and act like they are in charge. What they say is right and you cant question them(Acts 17:10-11) and many times their teachings are contrary to the Bible.Jesus only ever built 1 church(Eph 2:20 & Acts 2 the church was built about 2000 years ago by the apostles and prophets) so those elected apostles did what they were supposed to do. Also Jesus said the gates of Hades would not prevail against His church. Today Catholics, OACs, Charismatics and many others claim to have apostles, who is right? Are all of them right? If all of them are correct then Christ is divided because they all have different teachings and are clearly many different churches? If they are not all real apostles, please explain to me which apostles we have to believe the pope? AOC apostles? Charismatic apostles? anyone who claims to be an apostle?from Greek apostolos, from apostellein to send away, from apo- + stellein to sendI did say in an earlier post that if a congregation sent someone, that person would be an apostle, like Barnabas in Acts 14. Barnabas was not chosen like the 12 and Paul were chosen by Jesus. The people who claim to be apostles today claim to be like Peter and Paul who were directly chosen by Jesus, they do not claim to be like Barnabas who was sent by the Antioch church.2 Timothy 3:15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. If scripture is able to do all of this, why would you need some guy claiming to be an apostle(like Peter and Paul)? Paul is saying here that scripture is able to give us everything we need and we don't need these apostles of today, Jesus is Lord of all not them. Because all scripture is God breathed it is perfect since every aspect of God is perfect.Jesus also said: John 6:63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. John 12:48 The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. Where would we find the words of Jesus? In the Bible is it not?2 Cor 11:3 But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 4For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough. 5Indeed, I consider that I am not in the least inferior to these super-apostles. 6 Even if I am unskilled in speaking, I am not so in knowledge; indeed, in every way we have made this plain to you in all things.12 And what I do I will continue to do, in order to undermine the claim of those who would like to claim that in their boasted mission they work on the same terms as we do. 13For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.

Brilliant. Pray for me! I am trying but I need help.

Great post. Sometimes topical is the way to go. We seem to forget that the gospel itself is a topic! Even Spurgeon was largely a topical preacher; he just remained entirely gospel-centered in those topics.

Thanks for the post,
Justin

Not to completely disagree with Mr. Leeman, but for me, I've always found the fact that people feel as if they need someone to explain to them how to be a "better person" or "better Christian" to be a silly and trite. If a Christian cannot hear the Gospel or a scripture placed in its context and apply that daily in their lives, then I am at a loss for what you consider to be the ultimate priority in life.

Mr. Leeman states "But if Jesus is Lord, shouldn’t that fact affect how I go to work on Monday, and speak to my little girl, and spend my money?". Mr. Leeman, if you can't go to work on Monday morning with the understanding that Jesus Christ has forgiven you and that you should do the same for those at work that do you wrong, then I don't know how an entire sermon on this personal level is going to help you out. To me, its pretty straight forward. As far as speaking to your little girl, come on now, really? You are a father, with the Holy Spirit inside of you, you know EXACTLY how to speak to your daughter. And on the point of spending your money, that's your business my friend. No pastor should dictate his ideas to you. That is not what he's there for.

I'm sorry if this come across in a harsh way, but this topic hits so close to home for me. I am recent member of "topical church" and I felt cheap and petty every time I left that "church" building. Like God was my personal Genie, ready to give me my every wish. I was finally able to explain to my wife exactly how I felt and told her how much I missed the Gospel and all the complexities that come with it. After all, is the Gospel not the reason I call myself a Christian. So we are currently visiting and expositional church and I am blown away by how different it is and how I take something other than "how can I be better" from church. I take more of a "how awesome is God to love me to send his Son for my wretchedness". Too many people leave churches on Sunday mornings focusing more on the me...than the Him.

Ultimately, I think that's the difference between topical and expositional preaching. The former focuses on us, the latter focuses on Him.

Thank you for GETTING IT! Somewhere in Christianity's history, going to church became an act which people believe is all about them, not Jesus. I cannot honestly tell people I "preach the Word" if I am not, well, "preaching the Word," as it appears in its own context.

Further, if Christians would simply read their Bibles outside of Church, it would shock them to find out what they can learn on their own. And I'm not talking about reading some "Daily Crumb" devotional, either, but really reading the Word of God in a book-by-book way, not a verse here and a verse there. They say they want God's Word to tell them how to live their life, yet they refuse to dig in and find it!

We call it a "worship service" for a reason; we go there to worship. If you go to a worhip service looking to satisfy yourself, then who are you looking to worship? God? Or, are you essentially looking to worship at the altar of Self? If it is Self you are looking to satisfy, it is Self you are looking to worship.

This is great! I think the difficulty many listeners have with expositional preaching is that the truth is laid bare. And that's it. Bare. All the verb tenses are correctly identified, gender/number/case issues correctly interpreted, and syntax set out in proper order. But listening to this kind of preaching can feel like sitting down at a table with random ingredients piled at the center. Great cooks DO SOMETHING with the right ingredients to present amazing delicacies. Let's help our hearers by showing them (via faithful exposition) what these things mean (via faithful application).

guest - can you get it in his hands; post it on facebook or mention how great you thought this article was?? AND, be in prayer for your pastor, that even if he doesn't read it...he gets it :)

And thank you for posting this - I'm sending it to my pastor and a few friends too. I'm a youth pastor and plan on teaching exegetically, but I need to remember that especially for kids - they need the word, but they need to be trained in how to make it make sense to everyday, too. Thank you!

Amen, Brother Leeman! I have heard wonderful expositional preaching, that applies Scripture well to the lives of the hearers - and I've heard the type that frankly, I didn't mind because I love theology and tenses and such things, but frankly, it bored other people to tears!

Some of us naturally love that stuff - "the Hebrew chiasms". And it's easy to take an attitude of, "It's God's Word! Everyone should love this!" But...God created the world. Yet I hate science! As preachers or teachers, we have to do both - yes, make Scripture and the finer points of theology attractive to people. At the same time, recognize that not everyone will love it the same way we do. People need both - Scripture, and the application of Scripture to life.

And all God's people said, "Amen."

Thanks. All expositional is not always helpful. Sameness leads to tameness. All of our sermons, regardless of what form they take, must have a narative flow and feel or congregations will not listen. I'm not certain Jesus ever preached an "expositional" sermon? I know we're not Jesus, but I certainly want to follow his example.

I had a pastor once who gave me an exegtical Greek lesson in every sermon. I was certain that he knew Greek ... I wasn't certain that he could help me with my struggles to live for Christ.

Tony / Thanks for dropping by, Jen! Appreciate your thuoghts greatly. I like the taking time for ourselves being greedy thought My wife mastered this a few years ago. She HAS to take time to herself for about 6 hours, once a week. Otherwise she is just burned out and much less effective.Thanks again!

It sounds as if Johnny Average is suffering from lack of exegetical application, not topical preaching. Any text preached without showing its practical application in our everyday lives has not been preached expositorily. Read...Unfold...Apply. Next passage...repeat.

Hahahahha, this is so great!

My associate and I talk about this all the time! We tag-team teach (alternate Sundays), and while we recognize the value of expositional preaching, it simply doesn't work in our context. We constantly use the language of "connecting the dots" for our community so people understand how to respond to the teaching practically. They want to--not because they are consumed with moralism, but because they sincerely want their Christian faith to mean something in the X's and O's of life.

I think it's a totally false dichotomy that SOME expository preachers set-up: either expositional, Christ-centered preaching or topical, man-centered "messages."

Starting January 8th we're launching into a 10-week series on how the gospel transforms (among other things), our marriages, death and grieving, singleness, health, sex, and one's personal sense of vocation. At first glace, this may appear to be very topical, "man-centered," self-help spirituality. However, I defy anyone to listen to one of our message's and defend that position. We preach the full gospel (manger, cross, crown), but always make sure there's a movement and obvious connect to the ground-level realities of our congregants lives.

All those topics can be dealt with as they come up expositionaly in the scripture. Being expositional does not have to mean irelevant. Letting the topics come out of the text that the preacher is wrestling with seems to me to be the best and guards against it coming from us. I have a hard time believing that solid expositional preaching, allowing the word to apply to our lives would not work in any context.

after hearing a steady dose of topical week in and week out I don't want it anymore. But R. Cofield is right. All true exposition leads to proper application. If you don't help connect the dots you're not really expositing the text.

This is the very helpful internet site i have found straight answers here and i also genuinely enjoy the particular efforts from the article writer with this article pertaining to sharing great tips. Many thanks!

I think some of the readers of the article missed the point! I don't think he was encouraging a mix of both types of preaching (read Mark's book!), but rather it is vital not to forget relevancy and application in expositional preaching. The best book I read in seminary on expositional preaching, and one I still use as a model to teach others is called "Preparing Expository Sermons" (original I know) by Ramesh Richard. It forces both Biblical Accuracy but at the same time relevancy to the audience... a worth while resource.

Maybe a clarification would help. By topical is it meant that the entire sermon revolves around a topic (marriage, work, $, parenting, etc)? Or does the author mean that he needs/desires the application of the sermon to address these topics?

Essential to a biblical hermeneutic (topically speaking, that word carries the meaning "what is the truth of this scripture how is that applied to life, not how does my life interpret this scripture right now") is to understand as much about the scripture as possible. With that, the application to my life is made.

Just curious, do I read Job 38:1-11 as I sit by the campfire, under the stars with a hot cup of coffee and say "God is awesome, look at this mighty sky!" Or do i read it as a family member who just lost a young relative to cancer and say, "God, if you are so great as the creator, why can't you heal cancer?!"
OR maybe I read it in both places for the truth within it and then find how that truth meets me with a cup of coffee or Kleenex.

Who best illuminates the Word? Man or the Holy Spirit? As God's ambassadors, be faithful, Christian, to the Word.

chris@ttac:Interested reader is not mainkg general statements. If you are a faithful member of the OAC then you will know that they believe that every word that is spoken from an apostle or officer is the word of God and they believe that is is a fact. So if you say that not every word that comes from them is the word of God then how do you choose what is and what is not. This is the point that myself and I think interested reader is trying to make. The Bible contains the Word of God without any errors. There is no need to doubt whether it is true or not, unlike the old apostolics who believe that every word they have is the true word of God. chris@ttac I think you should study this doctrine so you can have a better understanding what it is all about. I can say this because I was a faithfull member there and I have witnessed officers who believes that what they give you is from God, but afterwards it fails them. In my experience even an apostle prophesied in error. My friend, God does not make mistakes.They believe that it is a fact that they are the only church that has the truth and that the whole world will join this church. Look at what Matt 7:13-14 says: Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. The scriptures says that not everyone will enter the kingdom, but the old apostolics believe that the whole world will become old apostolics(hence enter the kingdom). That means that they contradict the scriptures.

Good article and this is a good response...

I am recent member of "topical church" and I felt cheap and petty every time I left that "church" building. Like God was my personal Genie, ready to give me my every wish. I was finally able to explain to my wife exactly how I felt and told her how much I missed the Gospel and all the complexities that come with it. After all, is the Gospel not the reason I call myself a Christian. So we are currently visiting and expositional church and I am blown away by how different it is and how I take something other than "how can I be better" from church. I take more of a "how awesome is God to love me to send his Son for my wretchedness". Too many people leave churches on Sunday mornings focusing more on the me...than the Him.

The reason we all need help in our marriages, need help when we go to work on Monday, need help when we speak to our children, etc. is because we have a sin problem. The solution for that sin problem is the gospel and the best application is not to tell us how to live, but to tell us how to die. We can only get that from the gospel, from the news that Christ died for us, that we may then die to self.

A preacher should preach to the heart, not to one's behavior. Behavior does not truly change without the heart first changing. So if we want to become better spouses, employees and parents, we need someone to address our heart and the sinful condition that saturates it. The behavior will follow.

I prefer expositional sermons that focus on the nature of God, Jesus Christ, man's sin, and so on, than topical sermons. Good expositional sermons are intended to make a change from within (exposing man's wretchedness and God's greatness) so that the hearer may figure out how to apply it in his or her own particular situation. Topical sermons might address the outward issue (moralistic how-tos), but it could lack the force to make a direct change inside the hearts of people.

Isn't the nature of God, or Jesus Christ, or man's sinfulness all, well, topics? Being topical doesn't necessarily imply moralistic how-tos; instead, a topical sermon can focus on teaching the attributes of God in an expositional way, based on texts that describe those attributes.

The way I see exposition vs. topical, in the broadest possible terms, is exposition implies picking a book of the Bible and preaching through it, whereas topical implies picking a topic (even the gospel is a topic) and choosing a text that clearly teaches on that topic, and performing exegesis (rather than eisegesis) of that text to help shed light on the topic.

I think we've bucked so hard against the trend of moralistic/topical sermons as seen in many churches today, that we've allowed them to infuse terms with completely definitions (i.e. topical means moralistic).

Justin

This is another view from Joe average church member:

I am putting forth another view, as I hear more and more the above view.

Sometimes I wonder if I am strange, and/or different. I do not want the preacher to tell me what I ought to do on Monday. I don't want him to tell me specific things to do. The preacher can not know every specfic need of every church member.

I want to really know what the biblical text means. I want him to expound on the particular text he is teaching from. I want to know what it means in its historical context, then what are the implications for today. I want to hear what are the verb tenses, I want to hear the etomolgy of the greek and hebrew words. It helps me understand the text better. I want to see how this preacher reached his conclusions about the text, it helps me in my own Bible study, as I see his example. I am then able to study more on my own and reach accurate interpretations and conclusions about the text.

See....Then when I understand what the text means and its implications, then I can figure out, and discern through prayer, and the indwelling Holy Spirt, what to do with it on Monday. I don't want to apply some pastors sermon to my life, I want to apply the biblical text to my life. As I understand the text better, then I am able to help/disciple/counsel others better.

An additional note is this: In receiving Biblical Counseling training, I see the tremendous value of one on one and small group ministry. That is where one can really get help for specific situations on Monday morning, from people who have "been there done that", and have worked through those situations and applied the scripture.

Now I do understand different peoples situations, needs, desires, preferences.

Not offense, Scott, but I believe you are assuming far too much from the Joe average church member. Yes, there are some who know their Bibles better than the preacher & others who can quote Calvin & Spurgeon with the best of them. I have no doubt that you "can figure out... what to do with it on Monday," but please don't assume that everyone is as biblically/theologically educated, intelligent, and spiritually mature as yourself.

In working with college students & the post-college, I can assure you that drawing applications from even the "What are its implications for today?" portion of the sermon is not a sure thing. The lines from present-day implications to practical life are not easily drawn by many Christians.

I'm not saying you have to have specific people and their specific situations in mind (and yes, this is done best in one-on-one settings), but drawing the connection between "loving one another" & being patient with an annoying roommate who blow-dries her hair at 6am when you were up until 4 studying for an important final... yeah, that link needs to be drawn. Otherwise, "loving one another" says on the level of "doing good stuff" for other people and misses the 6am-fighting-bitterness-in-my-heart kind of love.

More importantly, it models how to go from implications to applications. Whether it hits me or not, I can learn how to move from one to the other by seeing it modeled in the preaching. Even if it's hearing how "loving one another" applies to a wife being understanding with he husband when he's unknowingly inconveniencing & frustrating her by where he keeps tossing his workout clothes when he gets home from the gym, that can help a person see how "loving one another" applies to the unwanted hairdryer alarm.

Basically I'm saying this: the most dangerous thing we can do is assume people will know how to apply what we teach.

I heartily agree with you! There are many different types of people out there. And not everyone can draw that conclusion about how to handle an annoying roommate. I too have worked with College age young people.

Forgive me if I stated my point too strongly, or just worded it badly. I just wanted to evoke some thought on another type of church member that is out there, that's all. I was really just talking about me. I guess that is why I made the comment up front "Sometimes I wonder if I am strange and/or different".

I am a strong supporter of Expository Preaching, particularly of verse by verse preaching. (And by the way, one can do great Expository Preaching in a topical manner. I think you would agree).

I belong to a PCA church, so our pastor is an exegetical preacher. (The only book he preaches "topically" is Proverbs, but I don't think anyone can/should avoid doing that.)

However, our church is also made up of Small Groups. That's where a lot of the application is made, and we're led by men and women who help us see how God's Word applies to Monday mornings and Friday nights. :)

I think American Christians need a good dose of both each week. Not to mention, a daily time in the Word/prayer on their own. (For that portion of our worship, our pastor makes a study guide for us to use each day. It prepares us for the next week's sermon and small group.)

Wow!! This is what I have been thinking for a long time. My family attends a PCA church that practices expositional preaching and I love it! I have learned so much! My prayer during the sermon is that the preacher would make it practical. It is like sitting in a seminary class. Great, but we are simple folk and maybe need a little assist. Thank you for this post!

I just read Preaching with Bold Assurance, which makes an excellent case for making applications within an exegetical context. It was a great read! Look it up.

That is certainly a number of inspiring stuff. Didn't know which thoughts might be this kind of diverse. Thank you for all the excitement to provide such information right here.

Member OAC:Thank you for taking the time to try and help me see the light. I aidrme your passion and commitment as a loyal servant in the house of the Lord. I have taken in everything you have posted but I wish to make a few pointers.In retrospect, I've realized that I shouldn't have posted on this forum to begin with without speaking to my Priest first.Unfortunately, the old man can sometimes get the better of all us and I pray each and every day and night that the old man is crucified so that the Christ gift can become a deed in my life and overcome the fleshly desires and lusts.Member OAC, as a brother, you and I both know that this is not how we break bread or testify. The fact that this discussion is not a recognized church activity or that it has not been opened up in prayer concerns me and makes us vulnerable to evil spirits. This is why I have not responded any more.I understand that you are trying to bring the light fourth unto others (including myself) who are in darkness. It's hard to resist. But, by trying to preach the word this way, people cannot truly hear or understand the word of God. Unfortunately, not everyone will be on the same wavelength and understand the context of what each of us trying to illustrate which can distort peoples perspectives on the OAC. Regrettably, I have already made this mistake in some of my earlier posts and I plan not to make the same mistake again.There is a reason why we have a mouth, two eyes and two ears. The seed can only be sown in our heart of understanding once we use our natural bodies to its fullest potential and not half heartily. That's why the lord uses our natural bodies as instruments to go fourth and do the righteous deeds but in the correct way.Lastly, just to try and make my point clear, I'm sure the Apostle wouldn't support this way of testifying or breaking bread either. So respectfully, Member OAC, I'm not trying to patronize you but I think there is much better way to bring fourth the light as opposed to the way we have all been attempting to do so thus far.Respectfully

Thanks for the article. I am always bewildered by the debate between topical and expository preaching. I heard a quote one time that said "Once every five years I preach a topical sermon and when I am finished I get on my knees and ask forgiveness." Unfortunately, that is how many preachers feel.

Of course there is lousy topical preaching but the same goes for expository preaching also. I have read and listened to expository preaching that was dry and boring with not an illustration to lighten anything. How many times have a read the sermons of a very well known expositor and found that for half the message he does not even touch on the passage of the day. Then there is also topical preaching that is nothing more than motivational speaking.

It's been said to many times but it's true "balance is the key'. If you are preaching biblically with observation, interpretation and application, whether topical, textual or expository you're doing ok in my books.

Blessings

I had recently preached through the book of Genesis with somewhat mixed reactions. It was easy to find an application in just about every chapter with a pretty full scope of situations and topics, fully loaded with types and early seeds of doctrine. There were many congregants that appreciated and benifited, but yet I had a lot of critisism from fellow preachers, due to the norm of what i call 'cherry picking' preaching in my particular area. I am fully persuaded that there is a sore need for exegetical preaching in our day, I have found that most people are not even sure what it is they are supposed to believe anymore. They are told to just have faith, but they dont know what the object of that faith should be. And I know that unless God the Holy Spirit is pleased to 'turn the lights on' that no amount or style of preaching will benifit anyone. It has been difficult at times, but lets keep on keeping on.

We live in a world where people have been conditioned to expect things to happen quickly, (fast food, microwaves, etc.) this too often includes answers to our personal problems and struggles.

Scripture never promises this. It promises that if we diligently follow the Lord and seek Him wholeheartedly and persistently then we will begin to be transformed into His image. As that transformation takes place we will begin to gain greater understanding of how to respond to life and the problems we face.

We want easy answers to problems that are extremely complicated. Only those who’s minds have been transformed by the Word of God and the Spirit will find the capacity to deal with life effectively and consistently.

Where we fail is that we do not want to make the commitment, (to pay the price) to the spiritual disciplines (prayer, Bible reading and study etc.) so that we will be transformed by the renewing of our minds. (Rom. 12:1-2)

Many Christians think that our initial salvation (read Justification) is the end of the race but the reality is that when we are saved we are just beginning the race and the process of transformation. (read Progressive Sanctification)

God is not going to give us quick fixes but He will supply us with wisdom as our minds are transformed.

The point being that He does not want just a lot of infant believers but is in fact looking for mature disciples. Being a disciple requires long term determination not just quick answers to the immediate problems we face.

Charles Spurgeon, in his inimitable style had this to say, On The Choice of a Text, in his book titled, Lectures To My Students:
I am asked whether it is a good thing to announce arrangements, and publish lists of projected sermons. I answer, Every man in his own order. I am not a judge for others; but I dare not attempt such things, and should signally fail if I were to venture upon it. Precedents are much against my opinion, and at the head of them the sets of discourses by Matthew Henry, John Newton, and a host of others, still I can only speak my own personal impressions, and leave each man to be a law unto himself. Many eminent divines have delivered valuable courses of sermons upon pre-arranged topics, but we are not eminent, and must counsel others like ourselves to be cautious how they act. I dare not announce what I shall preach from tomorrow, much less what I shall preach from in six weeks’ or six months’ time, the reason being partly this, that I am conscious of not possessing those peculiar gifts which are necessary to interest an assembly in one subject or set of subjects, for any length of time. Brethren of extraordinary research and profound learning can do it, and brethren with none of these, and no common sense, may pretend to do it, but I cannot. I am obliged to owe a great deal of my strength to variety rather than profundity. It is questionable whether the great majority of list preachers had not far better burn their programs if they would succeed. I have a very lively, or rather a deadly, recollection of a certain series of discourses on the Hebrews, which made a deep impression on my mind of the most undesirable kind. I wished frequently that the Hebrews had kept the epistle to themselves, for it sadly bored one poor Gentile lad. By the time the seventh or eighth discourse had been delivered, only the very good people could stand it: these, of course, declared that they never heard more valuable expositions, but to those of a more carnal judgment it appeared that each sermon increased in dullness. Paul, in that epistle, exhorts us to suffer the word of exhortation, and we did so. Are all courses of sermons like this? Perhaps not, and yet I fear the exceptions are few …

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