Asahel’s Carcass

"Many preachers in our days are like Heraclitus, who was called the dark doctor. They affect sublime notions, obscure expressions, and uncouth phrases, making plain truths difficult, and easy truths hard. 'They darken counsel with words without knowledge.' Studied expressions and  high notions in a sermon, are like Asahel's carcass in the way, that did only stop men, and make them gaze, but did no ways profit or edify them. It is better to present truth in her native plainness than to hang her ears with counterfeit pearls" (Thomas Brooks, Smooth Stones Taken From Ancient Brooks, 177). … [Read more...]

No Partial Force

"The preacher who studies and ponders the Bible as a whole, will not be a half-educated man. He will not see great ideas on one side, but on all sides, because they are so exhibited in Scripture . . . His force will not be lawless and without aim" (Shedd, Homiletics and Pastoral Theology, p. 84). … [Read more...]

Surveying the Text/Nahum

Introduction: We know virtually nothing about Nahum, other than that this prophet was a magnificent poet. We have his name, this short masterpiece from him, and the fact that he was probably from Judah, from a town called Elkosh. He prophesied after the fall of Thebes (3:8) in Egypt (664-663 B.C.) but prior to the fall of Nineveh in 612 B.C. The Text: “The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; And he knoweth them that trust in him. But with an overrunning flood he will make an utter end of the place thereof, and darkness shall pursue his enemies” (Nahum 1:7–8). Summary of the Text: The book is a series of fierce taunts and denunciations of Nineveh, that great city of the Assyrians. These denunciations alternate with various reassurances and promises for Judah. After the attribution, the book begins with a triumphant hymn to God the Warrior (1:2-8), which serves as the introduction to the first great oracle (1:9-2:2). This whole thing is an acrostic poem. Nahum … [Read more...]

Effectual Door

"At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore" (Ps. 16: 11) The Basket Case Chronicles #197 “Now I will come unto you, when I shall pass through Macedonia: for I do pass through Macedonia. And it may be that I will abide, yea, and winter with you, that ye may bring me on my journey whithersoever I go. For I will not see you now by the way; but I trust to tarry a while with you, if the Lord permit” (1 Cor. 16:5–7). Paul’s tentative plan was to pass through Macedonia, which was northern Greece. After that he planned to go down to Achaia, where Corinth was, and spend a bit more time there. He did not want to pass through Corinth briefly, such that he merely saw them “by the way,” but rather wanted to stay with them for a while. If the Lord permitted it, he hoped to spend the winter there with them. It is important to note that even the travel plans of an apostle are surrendered to the providential designs of God. He will do this if the Lord wills it. “But I will tarry at … [Read more...]

No Rock Without a Quarry

"The human mind . . . was made to receive truth into itself, and not to originate it out of itself. The human mind is recipient in nature, and not creative; it beholds truth, but it does not make it . . . The oratorical power of the preacher depends upon his recipiency; upon his contemplation of those ideas and doctrines which the Supreme Mind has communicated to the created and dependent spirit; upon his clearly beholding them, and receiving through this intuition a fund of knowledge, and of force, of which he is naturally destitute" (Shedd, Homiletics and Pastoral Theology, pp. 76-77). … [Read more...]

The Real World Gives Traction

[A preacher's] "power lies, therefore, in that objective world of truth and of being, over against which he stands as a finite and dependent subject. In simple and common phraseology, which so often, however, contains the highest philosophic truth, man's strength is in God, and the mind's strength is in truth" (Shedd, Homiletics and Pastoral Theology, p. 74). … [Read more...]

A Sermon for Five

Introduction Written decisions of our Supreme Court justices are called opinions. Justices who differ with the majority may write a dissenting opinion. But in contrast to all such opinions, the Scripture requires preachers to declare the very oracles of God (1 Pet. 4:11). This is a responsibility that no man should ever take up lightly, and so even the apostle Paul himself cried out, “Who is sufficient for such things?” Momentous subjects should humble us. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court wrote in his dissent, “Just who do we think we are?” (Roberts, p. 3). This is a question that every mortal ought to ask far more frequently than we do, and yet, despite our objective unworthiness, God has called some men to speak the rising sun of His Word, however much the darkening clouds are gathering, and however much those clouds might think they are here to stay. Consequently, in light of the Obergefell decision, a message taken from the pages of God’s Word must be declared to … [Read more...]

Personal and Accountable

"At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore" (Ps. 16: 11) The Basket Case Chronicles #195 “And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem. And if it be meet that I go also, they shall go with me” (1 Cor. 16:3–4). In the previous verses, Paul had instructed the saints in Corinth to take up their collection Sunday by Sunday so that there would not have to be a last minute push. Their giving was to be part of their worship on the Lord’s Day, and their giving was not to be motivated by the duress of deadlines. Christian generosity is steady and deliberate, not momentary or panicked. When we come to his instruction here, we notice some additional principles. Paul writes ahead to have them take up their collections. He then tells them that when he arrives, they will appoint delegates to accompany their gift. The collection was for the saints in Jerusalem, and delegates from Corinth were going to … [Read more...]

A Flaying Hatred

"In the midst of all this clamor for fine writing and florid style, the preacher should be a resolute man, and dare to be a plain writer . . . This determination will affect his whole sermonizing . . . It will appear in the composition and manner, in a stripping, flaying hatred of circumlocutions, and of all unnecessary ornament. The preacher whose head is right, and whose conscience is right, will soon come to possess a love for this plainness. He will not be able to read authors who do not understand themselves. He will be impatient with a public speaker who does not distinctly know what he is saying" (Shedd, Homiletics and Pastoral Theology, pp. 68-69). … [Read more...]

Surveying the Text/Micah

Introduction: Micah was a younger contemporary to the prophet Isaiah, and ministered across the reigns of Jotham (c. 740 B.C.) and Hezekiah of Judah (who died 687 B.C.). Other contemporaries would be Amos and Hosea, which accounts for similar themes—they were all confronting the same kinds of cultural problems. The two great ones were idolatry and social injustice. The name Micah is a shortened form of a name that means “who is like YHWH?” The Text: “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; And what doth the Lord require of thee, But to do justly, and to love mercy, And to walk humbly with thy God?” (Micah 6:8). Summary of the Text: In our text, we find a succinct treatment of what true religion looks like. Is God impressed with high pomp or pretentious sacrifices? What could I give that would earn God’s favor? The answer is nothing, nothing whatever, which men of understanding have always understood since the world began. If salvation is not all of grace, then there is no … [Read more...]

Simply Plain

"The preacher should toil after this property of style, as he would toil after virtue itself. He should constantly strive, first of all, to exhibit his thoughts plainly. Whether he shall add force to plainness, and beauty to force, are matters to be considered afterwards. Let him in the first place begin at the beginning, and do the first thing" (Shedd, Homiletics and Pastoral Theology, p. 67). … [Read more...]

A Plain as a Punch

"There is prodigious power in this plainness of presentation. It is the power of actual contact. A plain writer, or speaker, makes the truth and the mind impinge upon each other. When the style is plain, the mind of the hearer experiences the sensation of being touched; and this sensation is always impressive, for a man starts when he is touched" (Shedd, Homiletics and Pastoral Theology, p. 64). … [Read more...]

Sunday Collection

"At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore" (Ps. 16: 11) The Basket Case Chronicles #195 “Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come” (1 Cor. 16:1–2). This passage contains one of the hints in the New Testament that reveals the practice of Sunday worship in the first century. Paul brings up the matter of a collection for poverty relief among the saints, telling the Corinthians that he had given the same requirement to the churches of Galatia, and he looks for them to do the same. Paul doesn’t want to start from scratch in taking up a collection, so he tells them to start collecting beforehand, week to week. He specifically says that this is to be done on the first day of the week, which is Sunday. If the money was to be “laid by” in the individual homes, then … [Read more...]