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...]

On Christian Disobedience #4

Introduction: In the light of the Supreme Court’s decision this last week, where they sought to sanctify and dignify something that God has declared confused and abominable, our responsibility as Christians to think through a biblical understanding of our relationship to the state becomes even more pressing. We have already learned that no human government is absolute, and that when a human authority commands us contrary to the law of God, we must obey God rather than man. But now we must consider what to do when a lesser authority commands us contrary to the lawful requirements of a higher human authority. In short, we have to discuss whether limited government is a biblical concept. I want to argue that it is, by good and necessary consequence. Unlimited government is, by definition, idolatrous. The Text: “Then these presidents and princes assembled together to the king, and said thus unto him, King Darius, live for ever . . . Then these men assembled, and found Daniel … [Read more...]

Surveying the Text/Jonah

Introduction: Jonah is a short book that records the famous story of a message being given to the prophet Jonah by God, and he rebels against the idea of delivering it. His motive for rebellion was that he despised Nineveh, and he knew that God was far more merciful than Jonah was disposed to be. So he fled in the opposite direction, and his goal was to get a long way in the opposite direction. The Text: “Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee. But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than … [Read more...]

Flow Like a Torrent

"At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore" (Ps. 16: 11) The Basket Case Chronicles #194 “The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:56–58). Death hurts the way it does because we are sinners and deserve to die, and death is as inexorably powerful as it is because of the law of God. The law is immutable because God’s character is unchanging, and death rides piggyback on the law. But through the gospel, God has devised a way to remove the sting of death and has executed a plan that overthrows the power of death—without overthrowing the law. Death is undone by resurrection, while law is not undone by resurrection—rather law is glorified and is revealed in its true character, which is that of … [Read more...]

All In

"The oration, in this view, is not so much a product of the man, as it is the man himself, -- an embodiment of all his faculties and all his processes . . . The sermon is designed to produce an effect upon human character; and this, not upon its mere superficies, but its inmost principles . . . [it] aims at the whole nature of man" (Shedd, Homiletics and Pastoral Theology, p. 47). … [Read more...]

On Christian Disobedience #3

Introduction: We continue to consider the increasingly relevant subject of Christian resistance to tyranny. But as we look to the Scriptures, beware of the danger of excitement over “right-wing red meat.” If ever a conflict with the magistrate comes, it must be a plain matter of submission to divine authority, and not an obvious example of a scofflaw who has just recently discovered a few Bible verses. It must be a matter of an upright man standing before a lawless throne, and not two dogs fighting over a piece of meat. The Text: “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath . . . Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” (Rom. 12:18–13:10). Milestones in Paul’s Argument: Not only is general context important in understanding “Romans 13,” but it is also crucial to grasp the much-neglected … [Read more...]