Archive for June, 2012

Note to Self

June 22, 2012

I have been enjoying the book “Note to Self” by pastor and blogger Joe Thorn. It is about “the discipline of preaching to yourself.” I want to share with you from chapter 9 “God Does Not Answer To You.”

Theology is a way to know and respond to God. It is something you tether to God, not something you tether God to. This is important to keep in mind when you are working out theology in your present circumstances. Even when God has clearly revealed himself, and you feel as though you have the answers to some of the big questions of life, it does not mean that your experience will always mirror what you think are the logical outworkings of those doctrines.

You know that God is sovereign and good, and that should be enough to comfort and direct you. It should calm and quiet you. It should stop your complaining and start your worship even in the midst of the most painful experiences of life. But you cannot live in that sweet spot of theology if you are using theology to tie God down in his operations.

The problem will not be with God being “consistent” but with the outworking of your own theology and what you expect from God in the most practical ways. Do not attempt to base your interpretation of God on our circumstances, but see your circumstances in light of who God has revealed himself to be. Seasons of affliction and unanswered prayer do not mean that God likes to hurt you or leave you in the dark. In fact, you know the opposite is true; God works for your holiness and happiness in his Son through affliction; and even in the darkest times of life when he seems silent, he is with you to guide and protect you.

What this means for you is to remember that God does not answer to you or your theology. You answer to him and can rest on what he has revealed of himself in his Word.


Review of “The Priority of Preaching”

June 5, 2012

The Priority of Preaching
©2009 by Christopher Ash
Published by Christian Focus Publications
125 pages

I picked up this small book because I had so thoroughly enjoyed another of the author’s works Listen Up! A practical guide to listening to sermons. I am so glad I did. This is one of the best books on preaching that I have read in a long time. Christopher Ash works for The Proclamation Trust as Director of the Cornhill Training Course, a one or two year course designed to train preachers and Bible teachers in Great Britain. This book is unique, it is a book about local New Testament church preaching but based upon the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy. “I have chosen Deuteronomy because it seems to me that Deuteronomy gives us God’s mandate for preaching. It’s a curious book, in some ways, because nothing really happens in it” (p. 21). “Deuteronomy is the mandate for the people of God to assemble under the preached word of God, or to be more accurate, the written word preached. This is why Deuteronomy is not really a law book, but a preaching book” (p. 23).

The three chapters of this book were originally presented by the author at a pastor’s convention in 2008. He produced them in book form “for ordinary ministers who preach regularly to ordinary people in ordinary places, who may dream of being world-renowned but are going to be spared that fate” (p. 12).

The focus of chapter one is authority. Using Deuteronomy 18 as a basis, Ash concludes that the preacher’s authority is a “borrowed authority” in which God speaks to us by the voice of a man. He unfolds his argument by showing that Moses was the first of many prophets whose revelatory role would ultimately be fulfilled in Christ. Since Christ is ascended, preachers continue the proclamatory work of the prophets. Along the way, Ash has some very insightful comments to make about the shortcomings of Bible Study Groups and how to overcome these failings.

The emphasis of chapter two is urgency, passion and engagement. Examining Deuteronomy 30, he asserts that preaching transforms the church. God’s people are transformed by the preached word of God (p. 46). True preaching isn’t a monologue. The preacher is to be answering the “silent questions” of his listeners as he engages the text. The preacher should be so thoroughly consumed with his text that he “ought to be able to continue his sermon without his notes if necessary” (p. 68).

In chapter three he turns his attention to the local church assembly. Applying Deuteronomy 4, he explains how preaching and assembling are related. He lays out why Christian ought not to forsake assembling together, starting at Sinai and ending at Zion.
The local church is a foreshadowing of when all believers are united around the throne.
Only the preached word of grace in Jesus Christ (p. 98) can truly mend a world broken by racial, cultural and economic divisions.

Don’t allow the size of this book convince you that it doesn’t have much to offer. This reviewer has barely scratched the surface. Preachers of the Word need the edification this book provides.